Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Liberty Ticker, 5/05/10

Welcome to the latest Liberty Ticker! Today I give a post-mortem on the primaries in Ohio, North Carolina, and Indiana yesterday. In addition, we'll cover other major developments in the most prominent liberty campaigns.

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Left Out (Ron Hood, R-OH-18)

After the Republican primary for this seat, a recount is underway to determine if state Senator Bob Gibbs or Fred Dailey has won the Republican nomination for congressional district 14. They split the lead with 21% each. Former state representative Ron Hood came in 4th in the 8 – way race with 15% of the vote. Hood was endorsed by Ron Paul.

The winner of the primary will face Zack Space in the general election. Space rode into Congress in the aftermath of the Abramoff scandal. However, his district leans Republican despite large margins of victory in both of his bids for the seats.

Another lost opportunity (Dan Eichenbaum, R-NC-11)

Another close Republican primary was found in the North Carolina 11th. Republicans have been optimistic about a chance to defeat incumbent Democrat Heath Shuler (who was surprisingly weak in his own primary)in this congressional district.

However, tea partier and 9/12er Dan Eichenbaum ran a surprisingly resilient bid, winning numerous debates and gaining widespread support despite his previous Libertarian affiliation.

Eichenbaum was defeated by Jeff Miller, a small businessman. The vote was 40.2% for Miller and 34% for Eichenbaum. The significance of this run is that Miller was from a prominent Republican stronghold in the district, while Eichenbaum's base had a much smaller population. Eichenbaum definitely has the potential with his new name recognition to run in another election at some point.

Another close one (Kristi Risk, R-IN-08)

It was a bloody fight in the Bloody Eighth.

For awhile, it seemed victory was at hand in the seat Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth is vacating to run for US Senate. In the establishment ring was NRCC favorite and surgeon Larry Buschon. In the 'constitutionalist' (as she described herself) ring was Kristi Risk, a homemaker and activist.

Risk's 32-29 defeat at the hands of Buschon is deceptively stinging. Risk was massively outspent in the race, and has now created good name recognition for a later run (particularly if Buschon loses in the general- the seat is rated a tossup). With Risk's loss, rumors have abounded that the tea party may endorse the Democrat in the race.

Now the good news (BJ Lawson, R-NC-04)

Now put a smile on your face. BJ Lawson has won his primary in the 4th district against businessman Frank Roche with a 46-40 margin. Lawson was endorsed by Ron Paul in his 2008 bid. He also secured the endorsements of economist Mish Shedlock and Rep. Walter Jones this time around.

The district is a Democrat stronghold. When Lawson was the nominee in 2008, he lost by 27 points to long-standing incumbent David Price. However, no candidate has come as close as Lawson to victory since 1994. In addition, Lawson managed to secure massive funding in his 08 bid- $600,000. One must consider Lawson had zero name recognition in his first bid- he can build on this now in a Republican year (unlike 2008, a Democrat year).

Beam me up, Scotty! (Jim Traficant, I-OH-17)

America's favorite Israel lobby hating, Star Trek loving, toupee wearing, ranting former congressman and ex-con is making a return to the political scene this November. Former Rep. Jim Traficant is running for his old congressional seat in the 17th district of Ohio against his old staffer, Democrat Tim Ryan.

Traficant represented the Youngstown district for 20 years before being convicted of bribery and racketeering. He was sent to federal prison, where he refused leniency. However, he did run for Congress from his prison cell in 2002 and received 15% of the vote.

Traficant's bid has many pros and cons. On the con side, he has been out of office for seven years, time for Ryan to consolidate his base in the heavily Democratic district. He also has not even started fundraising yet, and will have no access to a major party fundraising machine. Finally, a Republican is running, which could take away some of his anti-incumbent support.

However, Traficant still has the record of his time in office. In addition, Traficant appears to have significant tea party support. Finally, the district has hit hard times as manufacturing has lost its luster in the US. Traficant could represent the past days of glory for the steel-laden district.


Crushing Blow (John Hostettler, R-IN)

John Hostettler has lost in his bid for the Republican nomination for the US Senate in Indiana. The results came in: former Senator Dan Coats, 41%. state Senator Marlin Stutzman, 31%. former Representative John Hostettler, 21%.

Hostettler's lackluster showing probably comes from the recent Jim Demint endorsement earlier in April. With that endorsement, almost $100,000 poured into Stutzman's campaign, paying for 2 ads. Hostettler had no money for ads, a crippling problem despite his massive volunteer effort.

If Hostettler ever runs again, he should probably shoot for low-hanging fruit. The Bloody Eight district would be a good place to start, heading back to the House of Representatives where he can afford to be a bit cheaper.

Still, Stutzman and Hostettler probably split the conservative vote to let the establishment Coats in (Coats voted for the Brady Bill and lobbied for Bank of America during the bailouts). Conservative Democrat Brad Ellsworth must be happy to be facing such a bloodied candidate.

Draw the battle lines (Rand Paul, R-KY)

The lines have finally been drawn after much dancing. After James Dobson came out and endorsed Rand Paul, Senator Mitch McConnell finally officially endorsed Trey Grayson. Then, after staying out of the race for some time, Jim Demint trudged in and endorsed Rand.

Demint has promised to bring in $50,000 for Paul's campaign. One cannot help but wonder if McConnell's endorsement is a desperate act to save the sinking Grayson campaign. The latest independent poll shows Rand leading Grayson by 12 points.

This poll actually shows a bit of weakening for Rand. My theory is that Grayson's negative ad campaign is starting to bring down Rand's stellar favorables, something that was expected to happen evenetually. Surprisingly, Grayson is performing slightly better now against the two Democratic frontrunners.