One of the newest candidates running for the House in 2020 is a former professional wrestler who appears to be misleading both the media and voters about his arrest for battery at a Waffle House.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Daniel Rodimer launched a Republican bid for a battleground House seat in Nevada last week, promising to “tag team” Washington D.C. with President Donald Trump. Rodimer isn’t a political novice; he’s run for state office before. And he has lined up the services of former White House press secretary Sean Spicer in his attempt to find his way to Congress.
But his campaign is still unconventional, if for no other reasons that not many candidates for federal office have been dogged by violent incidents at late-night food stops in which they reportedly boasted that they like to “fuck” people up.
Back in 2011, Rodimer—better known to WWE fans as Daniel Rodman before he left the wrestling organization in 2007—was arrested at a Florida Waffle House for misdemeanor battery.
Rodimer, who is running to unseat Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), has portrayed himself in interviews as the victim of the incident, unjustly charged after he tried to defend a friend from bullies. He told the Nevada Independent during a failed state senate run in 2018 that he was arrested after he “pushed a bully.” And when he was interviewed about his congressional bid recently on Fox & Friends, he insisted that he was simply standing up for a friend who was being threatened by a gang of bullies who were inexplicably mad that the friend was wearing Rodimer’s old wrestling outfit as a Halloween costume.
“On Halloween, I was dressed up and one of my little buddies at law school, he was dressed up in my WWE outfit,” Rodimer said. “And sure enough, three or four guys started, you know, picking on him, pushing him around. Sure enough, I walked over just tried to stop it, and the guy started pointing at me, pointing at me. I’m looking at the guy, I’m like, ‘Really?’ And shirt up, just a shove, that was about it. But my shove’s a big shove.”
But police records and sworn witness statements reviewed by The Daily Beast reflect an incident almost entirely at odds with Rodimer’s depiction of the incident. According to the documents, Rodimer was at a Waffle House in Naples, Florida, near his law school—the conservative Ave Maria—early in the morning of Nov. 1, 2010. Around 2:30 a.m., Rodimer began to bother a group of women at the restaurant, according to a statement from one of the women, who described Rodimer as “a large man with a boisterous attitude.” Rodimer was “harassing” the women, according to the police report.
Rodimer—then 32, and just three years out from the stalled WWE career that one sports blog described as one of WWE’s biggest “superstar busts”—stood a hefty 6 foot 7 inches and weighed 270 pounds. When a male friend of the women asked Rodimer to stop bothering them, Rodimer allegedly threw the man into a chair and onto the ground.
“When I asked him to leave the girls at our table alone and to please just move on, he grabbed me by the neck and threw me into a chair and onto the floor,” Rodimer’s victim told police in a statement.
That description is backed up by a witness statement from one of the women, who told police a “possibly intoxicated” Rodimer grabbed her friend “by the neck harshly and threw him into the ground.” Rodimer’s victim had “fresh red marks all around the back of his neck area,” according to the police report.
After the attack, Rodimer allegedly made even more of a scene, according to the witnesses. One of the alleged victims claimed that Rodimer challenged him to a fight, with Rodimer boasting that he liked to “fuck” people up. Two of Rodimer’s friends and a Waffle House employee eventually convinced Rodimer to leave the restaurant.
Before he left the Waffle House, Rodimer purportedly threw down a business card with his name and face on it—a clue police would later use to tie him to the attack—and then boasted about how much he liked “hurting people,” according to the police report.
“As Dan was leaving the restaurant he was using profanity and stated how much he enjoys hurting people,” the police report reads.
A warrant for Rodimer’s arrest was issued six months later, in May 2011, and Rodimer was arrested in August 2011. In exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement that required him to go through an anger-management course, the charge was eventually dropped.
In a statement, Rodimer’s campaign described the Waffle House incident as “unfortunate,” but didn’t dispute the versions offered by witnesses and in the police statement or deny that Rodimer said he likes to “fuck” people up.
“Almost a decade ago Dan was involved in an unfortunate incident that he regrets happened,” Make no mistake about it—he got into this race to stand up for working families, small businesses, and his greater community in Nevada.”
Eight years after the incident, Rodimer has rebranded himself as a rough-and-tumble Nevada Republican. After narrowly losing the Republican primary for a state senate seat in 2018, he has launched a bid for Lee’s House seat in Nevada’s 3rd District—a battleground race that Cook Political Report ranks as “Lean Democratic.” He’ll face a former state treasurer and at least two other candidates in the primary.
Pitching his campaign to voters, Rodimer has used wrestling-style trash talk that gets new relevance in light of his Waffle House arrest. In his Fox & Friends appearance, Rodimer vowed to team up wrestling-style with Trump and take on the capital city.
“Between the two of us, I think we can get up there and knock some sense into Washington, D.C.” Rodimer said.