The Best of Mark Uterus

markuterus

29 Days of Hyper-feminism

Last week I sat down with Jon Caldara for an interview segment on his Friday night television show, The Devil’s Advocate. I was invited on to mostly talk about writing fiction from a Coloradan’s perspective. However, with no objections from me, most of our conversation ended up being about a somewhat infamous Twitter parody account I created back in 2014, less than a month before that year’s midterm election.

I wasn’t particularly surprised by the change in plans. Jon, after all, is a prominent political-media figure in Colorado, and as I found out over those few weeks during the election, several such people were following my social media escapades. This included national commentators and high-ranking politicians who were oddly interested in what super-feminist icon, Mark Uterus, was going to type next.

Mark… who? you might be asking. Let me set the scene…

One of Colorado’s U.S. Senate seats was up for grabs in 2014, with Republican congressman Cory Gardner challenging Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. Though Colorado has long been considered a swing-state, it had been trending blue, on a statewide level, for some time. We had given our electoral votes to Barack Obama twice, and elected Democrat Michael Bennet as our other U.S. Senator in 2010. Gardner was an underdog, and the polls reflected as much.

Udall’s campaign strategy was interesting, but it wasn’t particularly surprising. We Coloradans had seen it play out four years earlier when Bennet defeated his Republican opponent, Ken Buck. Back then, Democratic insiders referred to it as the “Colorado model.” It later translated into the national strategy for the Democrats, commonly known as “The War on Women.” The idea was to win over the increasingly important woman vote by portraying male Republican candidates as misogynistic extremists intent on banning women’s contraceptives:

It had worked on Buck, and the Udall camp was sure they could make it work on Gardner. So sure, in fact, that Udall demonstrated an unwillingness to campaign on pretty much anything else. Whenever he was in front of a microphone, all Udall talked about were Colorado women being under assault by politicians like Gardner, and how their advancement in society would be set back decades if Gardner was elected. It came across as an increasingly creepy case of tunnel-vision, and it got to the point where Udall’s campaign ads (overflowing with gynecological language and imagery) resembled more of a Saturday Night Live parody than a serious politician’s attempt to make a case for his re-election.

It got so ridiculous that on October 7th, a moderator at a live, televised debate qualified a question to Udall with this remark: “Mr. Udall, your campaign has been so focused on women’s issues that you’ve been dubbed ‘Mark Uterus’…”

I happened to be logged in to Twitter at the time, where I watched the #copolitics hashtag explode over the nickname. The jokes were everywhere, and when I saw someone call for a “Mark Uterus” parody account, I suddenly found myself creating one.

@MarkUterus was born.

It began with a single tweet:

 

Parody was by no means my forte, but before long I was on a bit of a roll.

 

I went to bed that night without a plan to do much more with the account, but when I logged in the next morning, I was surprised to find that I had a couple hundred followers. It turned out that Twitchy ran a piece on the account, and granted it a fair amount of attention. A day or two later, Bloomberg and CNN picked up on it too, and many more followers arrived. A representative from CNN even contacted me for an interview, explaining that both the Gardner and Udall campaigns were keeping an eye on the account.

The unexpected interest pressured me to keep the jokes rolling (in 140 characters or less), so that’s what I did. I added references to another shameless tactic that Udall had just started employing: the notion that Cory Gardner was insensitive to the victims of the devastating Colorado floods from a year earlier.

 

I also tossed in some of the big national and international stories at the time, including the Keystone Pipeline and the Ebola virus.

 

But I never lost sight of the poll-tested narrative that Udall had fully committed to: Cory Gardner being a masochistic scoundrel who, at every opportunity, worked on ways to devalue women. Mark, on the other hand, would be their savior and consummate appreciator.

 

I about died when I heard George Will reference the name “Mark Uterus” on Fox News, and when it turned up in a Washington Post piece. I challenged myself to come up with new material, which thankfully Senator Udall’s social media accounts helped provide. His campaign would often post photos from Udall’s history with Colorado, and also his stops on the campaign trail. They were always fun to lampoon with some altered context:

 

On October 10th, I noticed that I picked up several new followers who worked at The Denver Post. I didn’t understand the timing of it until later that day, when the left-leaning statewide paper unexpectedly endorsed Cory Gardner for the U.S. Senate (citing Udall’s one-issue campaign as a factor in their decision). Though I’m certain their choice had little to do with my account, I do think these folks wanted to see how Mark Uterus would react to the perceived betrayal.

I feel like I gave them a good show.

 

Other notable Colorado papers ended up endorsing Gardner as well, but Senator Uterus vowed to carry on:

 

And who needed newspapers when some heavy political hitters were available to even the score? Former Senator Gary Hart, for example offered Udall his endorsement.

 

So did Senator Elizabeth Warren.

 

Also, Al Gore.

 

And then Bubba himself, former president Bill Clinton.

 

With enough endorsements and enough unwitting condescension, things were still looking up for the senator.

 

And it of course didn’t hurt that Cory Gardner was a woman hating monster.

 

Even as the polls began to slowly shift in Gardner’s favor, Mark Uterus remained optimistic by championing his campaign workers.

 

On the night of the election, Senator Uterus was still feeling pretty confident.

 

But the early returns were not looking good.

 

Then, the unthinkable happened. The race was called for Gardner.

 

Later that night, I came clean about who I was and why I had started the account in the first place. Lots of people expressed their appreciation not only for the entertainment, but also for keeping the spotlight on the absurdity of Udall’s campaign. As Jon Caldara said during our discussion, Mark Uterus seemed to be a game-changer in the election — not specifically or exclusively my social media silliness, but the theme itself. It stuck to Udall’s campaign in a big way, and the senator wasn’t able to shake it. It cost him an election that he was heavily favored to win, and it effectively killed the War on Women political strategy here in Colorado.

To my surprise, the experience also got me invited onto a number of radio programs and other public forums. I even formed some good friendships out of it. To this day, there are politically connected individuals (some whose names you’d likely recognize) who refer to me as “Senator Uterus.”

Even Senator Gardner himself expressed his amusement in the account when I introduced myself to him at the GOP State Assembly in 2016. Imagine my surprise when he told me he had been reading my feed that very morning, as I (as Mark Uterus) had been heckling the assembly:

 

The Mark Uterus account has been in semi-retirement since election night of 2014. I log back in every once in a while just to heckle friends or to comment on a particularly silly political narrative that’s making the rounds. What’s surprising is how often I’m still asked about it. It’s been over four years, and the persona is still remembered and, for whatever reason, still strikes a chord with people.

I guess I’m cool with that. I of course never imagined this would become part of my legacy, but I wouldn’t trade away the fun I had with it at the time, nor the friendships I made.

— Uterus out. xoxoxo

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