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Goodlatte Family Feud Not the First to Befuddle Congress

Between Bernie’s son and the Conyers family, this election cycle has seen some familial discord

 Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., doesn’t see eye to eye with his son, as a pointed tweet revealed this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
 Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., doesn’t see eye to eye with his son, as a pointed tweet revealed this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Bobby Goodlatte, son of the Virginia congressman by the same name, spoke out this week in defiance of his father, it struck some as odd. But it wasn’t the first family feud to play out in Congress. Here are a few of the ones we’ve seen this year: 

Apple does fall far from the tree? 

Things got a little awkward for retiring Republican Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte over the weekend, after his son announced he had donated the maximum amount allowed to the Democrat running to replace him.

The San Francisco-based younger Goodlatte tweeted about his contribution, setting off a flood of copycat money. Democratic candidate Jennifer Lewis saw more than $40,000 pour into her campaign coffers in the hours following the tweet.

“I’ve also gotten 5 other folks to commit to donate the max. 2018 is the year to flip districts — let’s do this,” the tweet read.

But Bobby Goodlatte didn’t stop there. On Monday, he tweeted support for newly fired FBI agent Peter Strozk, whom his father had grilled at a congressional hearing in July.

“I’m deeply embarrassed that Peter Strzok’s career was ruined by my father’s political grandstanding. That committee hearing was a low point for Congress. Thank you for your service sir. You are a patriot,” he said.

Watch: Discord at Hearing After Strzok Refuses to Answer GOP Congressman

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Ouch, is that a Bern? 

Bernie Sanders’ son Levi Sanders is running for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District — without the help of his famous father. The senator from Vermont has not endorsed his son, even though he’s put his weight behind dozens of other candidates since his unsuccessful presidential run.

Sanders is sitting this one out because he doesn’t believe in “dynastic politics,” he told the Boston Globe in June. 

“The decision as to who to vote for will be determined by the people of New Hampshire’s first district, and nobody else,” he said later in a statement. 

It could be that Sanders the elder sees this as a chance to disavow the dynasty politics of the Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys and Trumps. Or he may want to keep a bit of distance between himself and his son, who is seen as a relatively weak candidate. 

State Rep. Tim Smith told the Globe that he doesn’t know anyone “in the New Hampshire Bernie community who is excited about Levi running.”

This Braun, not that Braun 

Mike and Steve Braun may have run in the same state, in the same party, and on the same businessman-turned-legislator platform, but to conflate the two would be a huge mistake, according to the brothers.

Mike Braun is running for Senate in Indiana on a Trump-esque, anti-establishment platform. He rarely wears a suit and tie and drives a used pickup truck.

His Porsche-driving, suit-wearing brother, Steve, isn’t running for anything anymore, but until May, he was hoping to snag the GOP nomination in the state’s 4th District.

Mike wasn’t buying it. His consulting team worked with one of Steve’s primary opponents. 

And Steve opened his wallet for his brother’s opponent, Rep. Todd Rokita, though he did so before his Mike joined the race.

Of the two feuding brothers, only Mike survived his primary.

Conyers on Conyers on Conyers 

Long-serving Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations last year, wanted his son to replace him in Congress.

But his great-nephew, Ian Conyers, had other ideas. He mounted a campaign to kick John Conyers III out of the race, saying his relative had failed to collect the requisite signatures to run. 

In the end, neither hopeful became the heir apparent. Ian lost in a crowded primary, and John didn’t even make it on the ballot.

So who won in the end? That depends on who you ask.

Watch: Jackson Lee Reads Conyers’ Resignation Statement

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The odd Nicholson out  

As Wisconsin heads to the polls Tuesday night, one GOP Senate candidate isn’t counting on his parents’ votes. Kevin Nicholson’s brother and parents have maxed out their campaign contributions to the Democratic incumbent, Tammy Baldwin

That doesn’t faze him, Nicholson said.

“My parents have a different worldview than I do, and it is not surprising that they would support a candidate like Tammy Baldwin who shares their perspective,” he said earlier this year. 

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