Tallahassee, Fla. (ABC) -- A Florida congressional candidate who likes to role play as a vampire and dress up as a Gothic-punk character is fighting back by pointing out that he has also played Jesus in a church play and George Washington in an elementary school show.
Jake Rush, 35, is the Republican candidate for the third congressional district. He appears in a campaign ad with one hand on the Bible.
But the campaign has been rattled by photos showing Rush’s involvement in Live Action Role Playing — LARP for short — in which he poses as a vampire. Journalist Peter Schorsch from SaintPeter’sBlog, reported that Rush masquerades as “Chazz Darling,” posted lewd and abusive statements in online gaming forums, fantasized about snorting cocaine, and threatened to “put on my Rape Face.”
Photos of Rush with blacked-out pupils and makeup-induced facial deformities have confirmed Rush’s participation in the Mind’s Eye Society, a “Gothic-punk” role playing group obsessed with vampires, werewolves, and supernatural rites. Talking Points Memo and several other websites have re-posted the photos.
However, in a statement released by the Rush campaign Wednesday, a fellow gamer named Lee Snyder came forward, saying that he, not Rush, had posted the offensive “Chazz Darling” tweets.
In an email that the Rush campaign says it received from Lee Snyder, the author of the posts says, “I understand comments I made as “Chazz Darling” are being erroneously attributed to Jake Rush. These so called offensive comments made by ‘Chazz Darling’ … were made by me while portraying characters. These comments were made using a shared account, which had several users.”
Rush says he has never tried to hide his gaming and acknowledges membership in Mind’s Eye, but denies making any threatening or sexually explicit statements.
“As a straight shooter, yes, I play and have played video games, role playing games, board games, Yahtzee, Clue, and I have acted in dozens of theatre productions,” Rush said in a statement. The statement included a list of theater and gaming experience, much of which occurred during his years in grammar school and high school.
His campaign even released photos of an elementary school-aged Rush beaming innocently in the George Washington costume.
“Any cursory review of the Internet will show that I have played heroes and villains,” Rush said in the statement. “The very definition of acting is expressing ideas and thoughts that are not your own, just like I don’t believe I am MacBeth, which I have played, I am none of the characters.”
Rush’s opponent, incumbent Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., called Rush’s occult gaming “disturbing.”
“As a husband and father of two daughters and a son, what I’ve read is extremely disturbing and does not reflect my values or the values of the 3rd Congressional District,” Yoho said.
But according to Rush, “as a practicing Christian, I am deeply offended that the opposing campaign and their supporters would take a gaming and theatre hobby and mischaracterize it.”
The Rush campaign released the full list of the candidate’s gaming and theater experience:
• Jake Rush was also in the improv acting club at UF called “Theatre Strike Force.”
• Jake Rush played MacBeth at PK Younge.
• Jake Rush played Jesus in a play at his church.
• Jake Rush played George Washington in a school play.
• Jake Rush auditioned for a minor part in MacBeth at the Hippodrome Theater in Gainesville.
• Robert Rush, Jake’s father, produced an off-broadway play about the impact of Elvis “Elvis People.”
• Jake’s law firm, Rush & Glassman, has been a sponsor of the local community theatre, The Hippodrome, for over a decade.