A Disturbing Pattern: Eight Times that Democrats Used Court Shenanigans Against Republicans They Couldn't Beat at the Ballot Box

ryanJack Ryan, 2004

An obscure Democratic Illinois state senator hoped to vault up to the United States Senate. But a popular local businessman who had been married to a gorgeous Hollywood wife stood in his way. That businessman's name was Jack Ryan, and he had divorced Star Trek star Jeri Ryan in 1999. Their divorce records had been sealed by a court.

Ryan enjoyed a huge lead in the polls. He was all but a lock to win the Senate race.

But in June 2004, the sealed divorce records suddenly hit the media. To this day, how those records got leaked is a mystery. But it happened in heavily Democrat Illinois.

The records painted a picture of a man who forced his wife to go to sex clubs and asked her to engage in sexual activities as others looked on.

That was enough to force Ryan out of the race. Republicans scrambled to replace him with Ambassador Alan Keyes. Keyes gaffed his way through an awful race, and the obscure Democratic state senator ended up winning by default.

That obscure state senator: Senator, and now President, Barack Obama.

Result: Democrat gain, presidential career launched. Ryan's forced exit paved the way for Obama's political career to go national. Obama's election also was a net gain for the Democrats in the Senate, as Ryan and Obama were running for a seat that had been vacated by Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald.

Update: I got a few things wrong in this case. Ryan's records were released by a California court due to media lawsuits to release them. The same media later refused to vet the beneficiary of that decision, Barack Obama.