Curtis Wylde wanted to help get Bernie Sanders elected president in 2016, and had a special skill set to bring to the table. Specifically, his ability to get thrown through tables.
Wylde works as a professional wrestler as his day job. He’s known on the Midwest’s weekend pro wrestling circuit as “Volatile” Curtis Wylde. And now, he’s bringing the same energy to political representation that he does to a packed auditorium.
Wylde, a member of the Democratic National Committee who is now running for state representative in Missouri House District 107, first sort-of entered politics in 2015 when he built a small website claiming he was running for president. It was a joke at that time, but meant to highlight a list of real issues that he considered important to the future of America.
It came as a shock to Wylde when a real politician, Bernie Sanders, actually ran for president on the exact same set of policies. It was the kind of once-in-a-lifetime alignment that shocks someone into total devotion.
Some people are calling Wylde the “Comic Sans Pro Wrestler Candidate,” because, well… just look at his ad:
This isn’t a slight against Wylde; rather, it’s a perfect demonstration of exactly who and what Wylde is. He’s proof that you don’t need any particular background or specialty in order to bring something worthwhile to politics. You don’t need a graphic designer to get your message out there; you just need to show up.
One of the national Bernie delegates grabbed me and said, 'You gotta get your ass up on the stage.' So I got on the stage and then asked 'Wait, why am I on the stage?' And they said, 'You're in the running to be a delegate.'Curtis Wylde
And showing up is what Wylde is doing in districts and committees across the state. Wylde has become a spokesman for the #DemEnter movement, a group of DNC members who hope to remake the Democratic Party in Sanders’ image from the inside. He canvases and spends hours on the phone attempting to inform disenfranchised Democrats that there is a future in the party.
Currently, Wylde is investing his time in bettering the party and running his 2018 campaign — while his direct political rival is busy pushing a passive-aggressive law aimed at Wylde through the Missouri legislature. Republican Rep. Nick Schroer proposed a bill to prevent Missouri politicians from running under anything except their legal name after Wylde ran against him in 2016 under his stage name. (Curtis’s legal last name is Wells, but he and his wife have been known by friends and family as The Wyldes since 1999.)
Could it be that “Wylde For The People” is a better political catchphrase than what Nick Schroer ran under?
Wylde talked to 50 States of Blue about his candidacy, and the unusual road he took to get there.
Where did you come from, and how did you get here?
I started in 1999 when I trained to become a wrestler. I do it in front of 400 people in small venues, not 400 million like what you see on television. I learned how to speak to a crowd without a fear of public speaking. I embraced owning myself no matter the size of the crowd and rile people up.
My first soirée with the Democratic Party was filing to be a representative [in the state House], despite having no previous political experience and no real idea of a path forward. I knew I wanted to make a difference, and Bernie Sanders was speaking about a political revolution, and I agreed that we needed that.
'I knew I wanted to make a difference, and Bernie Sanders was speaking about a political revolution, and I agreed that we needed that.'
I got involved in my local Democratic committee, and the week before our statewide Democratic convention there was some back and forth between the Bernie folks and the Hillary folks because we split it by a fraction of a percent. We thought we could skip a floor fight and the Hillary delegation didn’t like the options we put forward. June 18, 2016 was our convention.
They asked who wanted to run for the DNC, and I said I’ll do it, despite not really knowing what was happening. I filled out some vetting paperwork. And then no one got in touch with me until the morning of the state convention. I’m usually about 20 minutes late, so it was about the same that morning.
One of the national Bernie delegates grabbed me and said, “You gotta get your ass up on the stage.” So I got on the stage and then asked “Wait, why am I on the stage?” And they said, “You’re in the running to be a delegate.”
So you’ve got to give an introduction speech so the people in the room know who they’re putting up?
We’d out-organized the Hillary delegates by more than 100 delegates that day. Everyone else that day spoke from the middle of the room, sort of in the round. So when the microphone got to me I rushed the stage and threw a fist up. And the Bernie folks erupted. I gave a speech mixing politics and pro wrestling.
'I slept on the floor for my first two days, because that's what grassroots looks like.'
My treasurer from my [2016 campaign for state legislature] walked over and told me he didn’t think I would win. And they announced from the stage I was one of the four delegates. I became a Bernie state delegate, but I didn’t go national because I didn’t think I could raise the money to attend the national convention. I didn’t think I’d get to Philadelphia. But then I was elected into the DNC, and so I raised $1,200 to make it out there.
I slept on the floor for my first two days, because that’s what grassroots looks like. I took the opportunity there to speak on a few stages, and while things didn’t go Bernie’s way, I know that what I was bringing to the stage was my personality.
What was your message for Bernie folks who were dismayed at this point?
Don’t leave the Democratic Party. That’s what corporate interests want you to do.
'Don't leave the Democratic Party. That's what corporate interests want you to do.'
I became the posterboy of fighting the DemExit movement. I was appointed to six positions, including overseeing legislative districts in Missouri and various local committees. That’s how I learned that if you show up, the Democratic Party can be inclusive.
I pictured politics as just rich white guys sitting around a penthouse smoking the finest cigars. Now, I’m seeing that if you’re willing to put in the work it flows out from you.
There will always be people who love the bad guy. I don’t think the presidency should allow you to be the heel. You should have a certain amount of class and honesty and a heel persona president can’t do that. He’s the most hated president I’ve seen and the second Republican president in my lifetime to waltz into the White House.
And our president literally participated in professional wrestling as a heel —
Actually, he was the face character and Vince McMahon was the heel character. I don’t remember who Vince’s hired gun was for that.
'Wrestling is great preparation for the world of politics.'
The interesting thing, as Jesse Ventura can attest, is that wrestling is great preparation for the world of politics. You have so much backstage politics and infighting going on, and you figure that out in wrestling. Everyone knows the con.
Wrestling taps into a lot of populism. Why enter the world of politics as a Democrat instead of a Republican?
It would’ve been easier. I could’ve fed people a line, like Trump, especially in my area, if my only goal was getting elected.
I appreciate that you were a Bernie guy who didn’t go Bernie Or Bust, and immediately started working/voting for Clinton while reminding people that leaving the Democratic Party takes power away from all of us.
Right now America only has two teams. And if you’re not on one of those teams you’re not going to get to play on the field. I need a seat at the table, because otherwise you’re throwing rocks at the building and no one can hear you.
You got ignited into politics a year before the incident that lit a fire under most people I know. What caused that?
For six to eight years I was getting into politics. I was really into Jacque Fresco, who was a Futurist who died at 101 years of age last year. He advocated for a resource-based economy instead of money so that we can provide for all mankind in a sustainable manner.
He’s the kind of guy who knew Einstein, and he took lunch with me and my wife. It left me shook up and I wanted to know how these kind of changes could actually be instituted. I’m not going to see them in my life, but I believed that I could be a part of setting the stage for them happening. That’s what I consider my role to be, to help bring about the future even if I won’t see it.
'That's what I consider my role to be, to help bring about the future even if I won't see it.'
Look, I’m a glorified wedding DJ, and I throw parties and get paid for it while being a wrestler on the side. Politics looked like it would be really boring, but now that I’ve gotten involved I’ve found the elements that can be exciting. That said, watching a livestream of a city council meeting is…. not. But that’s the work. That’s where you get the work done.
How has your wife’s experience been?
She’s a St. Charles County committee woman. We’re on this ride together. In 2016, she doubled as my campaign manager. We’re in it together. She’s hosted all-women panels, and we’re doing an online show that she’s hosting.
What’s your big plan for Missouri? What do you want to see happen? And I mean on the compact timeline of the next few years, not in the Futurist long-run that you’re really into.
I want Missouri to be a destination, because we [will] have the best healthcare system, educational opportunities, job prospects, family services, etc. I want Missouri to be an example of what a better future can look like. We aren’t flyover states, we’re a really cool spot to be.
I think I-70 could be a solar roadway, which would save us from ever having to import coal again.
We’re also passing up on millions of dollars by not legalizing weed, especially in an agricultural state. Nevada made $30 million in six months and that’s not an agricultural state. I would be a boon for a farmers, and a weapon to fight the opioid epidemic.
Name a politician you’d like to see in the ring. Any politician at—