Skip to comments.Ron Paul-inspired candidates make impact
Posted on 09/23/2009 4:34:11 PM PDT by GoldStandard
Its been over a year since Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) energized libertarians with his presidential candidacy, but the movement he inspired continues to ripple across the landscape.
In at least a handful of House, Senate and gubernatorial contests across the country, former Paul supporters have emerged as credible contenders or possible spoilers ensuring that his message, once relegated to the fringes of Republican politics, continues to be heard.
Paul began the 2008 presidential campaign as an afterthought but quickly won the attention of a previously dismissive GOP establishment and news media by generating intense grass-roots and online support. He raised a stunning $35 million, largely through the Internet, and set a single-day fundraising record by hauling in $6 million in December 2007.
While he never finished better than a distant second, his supporters remained loyal to him throughout the campaign and Paul even briefly considered a third-party run in the general election.
Now, those supporters are running for office themselves.
Pauls son Rand is running competitively in the Kentucky Senate race to succeed Republican Jim Bunning, even though the GOP establishment has lined up behind Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Peter Schiff, an economic adviser to Pauls presidential campaign, has raised $1 million in his bid to win the Republican nomination against Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).
In Texas, a Ron Paul acolyte could have a decisive impact in the Republican gubernatorial primary between incumbent Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. In California, a businessman who backed Pauls presidential campaign has emerged as a serious contender against Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), who is a top GOP target.
In total, Pauls political action committee the Liberty PAC will be unveiling a slate of 10 endorsed candidates this fall and is currently in the process of interviewing candidates to determine their electability.
Were looking for viable candidates to run in Democratic-held seats and open seats, said Jesse Benton, former spokesman for Pauls presidential campaign and vice president of the Campaign for Liberty. We need people that are viable and principled so they can come to Washington and stand up for liberty.
So far, the Republican establishment is not embracing the Paul contingent. But it may not matter. By drawing on the successful grass-roots fundraising techniques employed by Paul, several of the candidates are raising enough cash on their own to ensure their viability.
Supporters of Rand Paul and Schiff have held money-bomb events that have raised eye-popping one-day fundraising totals and earned the candidates invaluable free media.
Schiff reported raising $1.02 million since launching his exploratory committee without even mailing out a single fundraising letter. Rand Paul has raised more than $924,000, and his supporters held another money-bomb event Wednesday to protest a Washington fundraiser that National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are headlining for Grayson this week.
Pauls strong fundraising raises the possibility that hell actually have more money to spend at the end of the second quarter than Grayson, a statewide-elected officeholder.
For me to run a statewide race without my dads legacy and his national movement would be very hard, said Rand Paul. That doesnt win me the race, but that opens the door when most people cant get the door open.
Paul said his message is resonating in Kentucky and that activists are realizing that his support for a balanced budget, his enthusiastic support of the tea party protest movement and his opposition to government bailouts arent that different from the issues that motivate the GOP base.
In Connecticut, Schiffs road is considerably tougher. An investment analyst who gained acclaim for predicting the economic downturn earlier than most experts, Schiff has lived in Connecticut for only the past five years and failed to register to vote in any elections.
In a state where the nomination process puts great weight on winning over party activists most candidates qualify for the ballot by winning 15 percent of support from delegates at a party convention Schiff is at a disadvantage.
Still, Schiff has managed to attract considerable statewide and national attention for his Senate campaign.
What we lack in relationships with the establishment, well make up for that with our thinking and intelligence and our ability to tell voters unpleasant truths, said Andrew Schiff, the candidates brother and campaign adviser.
While Peter Schiff has the money to hire an experienced campaign team, hes shied away from that approach. Andrew Schiff said that when his brother first formed an exploratory committee, he put together a team of Washington-based consultants to help hone his campaign message. When they expressed doubt about the political viability of his libertarian message, Schiff let them all go.
We decided we didnt want to be put in a standard box, and Peter wasnt impressed with their ideas and how they wanted to sell him, said Andrew Schiff. The guys in D.C. wanted to spend lots of money, and we saw how the game was played and how they got their money. It left a bad taste in our mouth, and we moved on.
Despite serving as the wellspring of the various candidacies, Ron Paul himself hasnt played a central role in the campaigns.
Andrew Schiff noted that, despite serving as an economic adviser for his presidential campaign, Peter Schiff rarely speaks to Ron Paul. Schiff headlined a fundraiser for Rand Pauls Senate campaign, but Andrew Schiff said, Its not like were talking to Ron Paul or anyone from his organization other than an occasional, How you doing?
The former presidential candidate and congressman, though, has lent his support to Debra Medina, a longtime supporter in his congressional district who is running for the Texas governorship.
Medina, the Wharton County Republican Party chairwoman, served on the board of directors of Campaign for Liberty and has been a regular at many tea party protests throughout the state.
While she placed a distant third in a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, the 3 percent of the vote she is winning could prove to be the difference-maker in the tight GOP primary between Perry and Hutchison.
Paul wrote a glowing letter to his supporters this month on behalf of Medina, stopping just short of an endorsement.I am proud to call Debra Medina a friend, and as a fellow Texan, I encourage you to get to know her, Paul wrote. I am sure we will look to Debra for leadership in my community and across our state for many years to come.
In California, businessman and former Ron Paul donor Jon del Arroz has a much better shot at winning the GOP House nomination in the 11th District. He ended June with more than $276,000 in the bank more than any other Republican contender in the district and is being taken seriously by Republican officials.
I really liked the fact that [Ron Paul] stood for keeping government out of business, out of Americans lives in general which is what the Republican Party has always been about, said del Arroz. Ive noticed the trend to more government control coming down from Washington, and I want to make a difference.
I really like Schiff . He may be too honest to be a good campaigner though (that’s just the way it is till it changes). I really like Paul also but, why is it that a lot of Paul supporters are 9-11 truthers too ?
“I really like Paul also but, why is it that a lot of Paul supporters are 9-11 truthers too ?”
Short answer: people who repeatedly distrust most of what the federal government does, tend sometimes to unreasonably distrust the federal government.
Money quote. wRONg PAUL is a nut job. I hope his son and the other losertarians are better than him.
...Bravo. Problem is, folks like Limbaugh are back shilling for republicans, calling third party folks “moderates” that are going to hand the liberals the pres, and congress if we don’t toe the GOP lie, uppp, line in 2010...
...Third party? Bullsh!t! We only have one party now!!!
There you go again, denigrating the man who inspired the very people mobilizing against Obamacare and organizing the Tea Parties. Would it make you happy if these people ran as actual 3rd party Libertarian candidates and caused the GOP establishment hack candidate to lose to the Dem?
Huge mistake the Stupid Party is doing by dismissing libertarian-leaning Republicans. They have as much of a right to run as Republicans as do socialist-lite RINOs.
Ron Paul and his supporters burst the dam of liberty. That has always been his goal (education)
This only reaffirms that my decision to support Rick Perry was the right choice. If Paul supports Medina, then I want nothing to do with her.
Wacko candidates attract wacko supporters.
Which is exactly why the Tea Party movement will fail. Between you Paulestinians and Sarah haters, the Tea Party will be torn apart. Too bad; there was a real chance for something good to come out of it leading to the revitalization of the GOP.
Many criticize Ron Paul, but I’d like to see a Paul-led caucus in the Republican Conference in Congerss.