In it, but not of it. TPM DC
VanderLeest was not the GOP's preferred candidate. Instead, Republicans became stuck with VanderLeest after their originally recruited candidate, state Rep. John Nygren, failed to submit the required 400 valid petition signatures. Nygren submitted slightly over 400 signatures for himself -- despite the fact that Republicans had been able to gather 18,000 signatures to trigger a recall -- with not enough of a buffer for when a few them were disqualified. Nygren initially filed a lawsuit to get onto the ballot, but lost in court and announced he would not continue to appeal the decision.
Throughout the campaign, VanderLeest was plagued by questions about his fitness for office, after revelations about his personal finances and reports of domestic violence (which included a plea of no-contest to two charges of disorderly conduct).
As the election headed into its home stretch, VanderLeest made such statements as, "None of it's true. I don't smoke rocks, and that's the truth," and threatened to sue Hansen and various Democratic groups for slander. (He also claimed to have learned that there was an investigation against these groups for racketeering. The source: A complaint filed by a supporter close to his campaign.)