Nov. 7, 2012 – 2:03 a.m.

113th Congress: Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich. (11th District)

The libertarian-leaning Kerry Bentivolio secured his first elected position by running as an outsider, even battling the local GOP establishment during the primary. Although his campaign materials included the broad outlines of a tea party platform, he generally avoided the media and provided few details of his agenda.

Bentivolio came under fire in August from the Detroit Free Press’ opinion editor, who dubbed him a “political hermit” with a “pattern of dodging not just media, but the people he seeks to represent.”

Bentivolio tops his online list of priorities with a pledge to protect Americans’ right to bear arms. However, that list doesn’t delve into defense and veterans issues, despite his military service in the Vietnam and Iraq wars. He also makes no mention of the nation’s education system, although he worked as a teacher.

Bentivolio’s declared agenda concentrates more on business and economic issues, a reflection of his experiences as a small-business owner and farmer. Bentivolio raises reindeer in Milford and works as a Santa-for-hire.

He supports overhauling the tax code to create a flat, broad structure and lower business taxes, and he generally opposes government incentives that buoy some businesses and industries over others.

He worries that entitlement programs are leading the country toward financial crisis, and he supports reducing, eliminating or replacing them. He says he would back a balanced-budget amendment as a means to force lawmakers to act.