Wyoming's 2014 Republican primary is 13 months away, and former soldier of fortune Thomas Bleming is hopeful about his chances of defeating three-term Sen. Mike Enzi.
Enzi has a solid fundraising lead and almost two decades in Washington to throw into his campaign, but Bleming, who may end up financing his own campaign, isn't intimidated.
"How could I not be serious? All my life I've been serious," Bleming told U.S. News. The Vietnam War veteran, who says he's worked as a gun-for-hire around the world, is incensed with Enzi's votes in favor of the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and the so-called "Monsanto Protection Act," a 2013 provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act to protect biotech companies that Bleming says might actually "make private gardening a federal felony."
"For them I think it's just a power trip to make these laws," he said. "F*ck them, f*ck them, they don't have any reality."
Talk about a guy who plays for keeps, Bleming, 67, admits he has killed several people over the years as a mercenary in the world's conflict zones.
"I assassinated a guy one time. I can't say where, but he had it coming to him," Bleming said. "He was fairly easy. He was a bad guy."
Now he has Enzi in his crosshairs. "You've got to understand, our leaders are psychopaths," he explained. "There's no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats."
Bleming announced his candidacy in May, just nine months after losing a primary challenge against Wyoming's other senator, Republican John Barrasso, by a vote of 5,077 to 73,498. He launched his current campaign on the one-year anniversary of kicking off his first political bid.
"As the campaign draws closer I hope to debate Sen. Enzi," Bleming said. "Barrasso made a plausible excuse."
Bleming has lived in small-town Lusk, Wyo., since 1995 and if he loses to Enzi he's considering leaving the U.S. to retire in West Papua, the Indonesian territory that's seen a low-level insurgency for years.
"This would be a place I could retire. The rebels have graciously offered me positions training their troops," he said, estimating that 100 men could wrest control of the territory from the Indonesian military.
Bleming said his resume highlights include aiding anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the 1960s; delivering arms for an ultimately aborted 1977 coup plot in Togo; a six-month stint guarding white farms in Rhodesia; a month-long gig fixing Somali armored vehicles; visits to the Balkans in the 1990s to acquire disused military equipment; efforts to supply Surinamese rebels in 1989 and an attempt to assassinate Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega - for which he says he was jailed 22 months. In 2007 and 2008 he lived with Karen rebels fighting Myanmar's government.
Although he worked in the service of American interests abroad in several instances, Bleming is now broadly critical of U.S. foreign policy and says he wouldn't have voluntarily gone to Vietnam if he could change the past. His political positions seem to veer more toward libertarianism – he is fond of the Second Amendment and scornful of government dictates – though he does support government-run health care. Obama, he says, "is a double-talking tyrant."
A spokesman for Enzi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.