Rider of the Storm: As Reality TV Alum Jim Morrison Takes Stab at Public Office, a Contest He Won in a New York City Gay Bar Becomes an Issue in the Campaign

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Jim Morrison wants to be the next state senator from New Jersey's 24th legislative district. On the face of it, the cards seem stacked against him. He's young (32), he's never held political office, and he's running as an openly gay liberal Democrat in a largely rural and historically conservative Republican stronghold. But Morrison, who was a runner-up on the first season of the ABC reality show The Mole, has a secret weapon. It's his penis. And apparently it's pretty.

Morrison, you see, is no stranger to contests nor to overcoming difficult odds to win them. While he was a law student at New York City's Columbia University in the mid 1990s, he prevailed in not one but two "Prettiest Penis" contests held at the East Village bar Cake. For him, the honors are just a fun memory of youthful folly. For his current candidacy, they've become a hot-button issue.

Upon learning about the contest this summer, Sussex County Democratic Party chairman Charles Cart asked Morrison--through Morrison's father, who is also his campaign manager--to take his name off the November ballot. Morrison refused, and he also has suggested that Cart has ulterior motives in requesting his withdrawal: Cart employs Virginia Littell, the wife of the incumbent, Republican Robert Littell, as a consultant and lobbyist.

"If the [penis] contest was meant to embarrass me, the opposite occurred, because it's given me a platform to be totally honest," Morrison says. Because if I'm totally honest, how much can they ask me about it? Then we just move on, and I get to talk about every other issue that I want to talk about."

Said issues include universal health insurance, campaign finance reform, halting overdevelopment--and the big one, taxes: Morrison's for them. "All Republican politicians seem to be doing these days is this whole tax thing, and it's a total seam," he says. "Taxes are more than a thing that you just pay at midnight on April 14.

"I think nationally Democrats have just kind of said 'We basically need to be Republican-light' rather than presenting the real stark choice that's there: Either you want the kind of defunding of the federal government with which the Bush administration is trying to send us back to the pre-New Deal days, or you want something more from your government--that its money should be spent on more than just defense. …