On September 17, the day Mitt Romney was outed for dismissing half the country as a hopeless waste of time at a high-dollar Florida fundraiser, Wayne Powell quietly slipped into Los Angeles for a fundraiser of his own. As it happened, Romney was in town too, trying to convince Latino voters he loved them despite his penchant for referring to undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens," his self-deportation proposal, and his cloying quip—from the same "47 percent" video—that his White House dreams would be made easier if he were Latino.
You could be forgiven for not having heard of Wayne Powell. Until Virginia's 7th District Democratic Committee chose him by caucus to throw at Eric Cantor, the well-coiffed, sparkly toothed House majority leader who holds the district's congressional seat, few had. To make Powell's quest even more quixotic, the 7th District votes Republican so reflexively that the national Dems, including the party's "Drive for 25" campaign to take back the House, have pretty much left Powell to fend for himself. Which is how Powell, a lawyer and decorated Army veteran, found himself with fellow political outsider Rob Zerban for a low-key fundraiser at the Pacific Palisades home of actress Barbara Bosson (Hill Street Blues, Murder One) the day after Romney's 47 percent bomb went viral. Zerban is vying for Wisconsin's 1st District House seat, whose incumbent is Paul Ryan—a man with higher aspirations, of course, but who is running for reelection as an insurance policy of sorts.