We know one thing for certain: The winner of this year’s presidential election will not be libertarian in any way, shape, or form. But with a little luck, there will be some libertarian-flavored opposition on Capitol Hill to greet our next commander in chief when he takes the oath of office in January.
Many small-l libertarians are running in competitive down-ballot races across the country, and several may actually win. Some (Richard Tisei of Massachusetts) are more libertarian than others (Ted Cruz of Texas). Still others (Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan) are already being touted as “the next Ron Paul.” Rhode Island’s Barry Hinckley and Minnesota’s Kurt Bills have tough races ahead of them in their pursuit of a less intrusive federal government, while Kentucky’s Thomas Massie just needs to hold off token opposition. Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona is looking to make the big jump from Congress to the U.S. Senate, and Mia Love of Utah is looking to make history in her newly drawn district. If some of these players make it to Washington in January, they will join a growing circle of libertarianish, Tea Party-approved Republicans that includes Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Tennessee’s John Duncan Jr., and others.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) may be leaving Congress in January, but the following candidates might make sure there is still somebody in Washington reliably voting “no.”
BEST BETS TO WIN
U.S. Senate, Texas
Ted Cruz’s primary victory in Texas over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in July was arguably the biggest primary upset of the year. With his call to eliminate multiple cabinet-level departments and support for a full audit of the Federal Reserve, Cruz, the Ivy League–educated son of a Cuban immigrant, knows how to warm the cold hearts of fiscal conservatives. Cruz has talked vaguely about his support for a “fairer” or “flatter” tax system while getting behind a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. With endorsements from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Young Americans for Liberty, Club for Growth, plus libertarian kingmakers Ron and Rand Paul, Cruz’s economic credentials are solid.
His positions on social issues are less impressive. Cruz, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), is a tough talker when it comes to immigration. In a June 2012 statement to the Houston Chronicle, Cruz said that he “categorically oppose[s] amnesty.” He has called for building a wall across the southern border with Mexico and opposes the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal residency for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as minors. He opposes marriage equality for gays and lesbians and is reliably pro-life. At one point in his legal career Cruz was actively involved in defending the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on public property. His record in the courtroom is packed with cases on the social conservative side of the ledger.
But the campaign has focused so much on economic issues that both social issues and foreign policy have barely registered as topics of discussion. Cruz’s foreign policy positions are not fully formed, but he has stated that we should use the “threat of overwhelming force if we see any evidence that (North Korea or Iran) might pass nuclear weapons on to terrorists or threaten us with nuclear blackmail.” Cruz was against the Libya intervention but his reasons for it are more procedural than anything else.
The Cook Political Report, a highly respected handicapper of political races across the country, predicted as of mid-August that Cruz’s general election race should be in the “solidly Republican” camp. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide since 1994, and his opponent, former state Rep. Paul Sadler, is mostly a sacrificial lamb. The Libertarian Party is running restaurant owner John Jay Myers, but it does not appear that he will be a major factor in the race.
U.S. House of Representatives, Kentucky’s Fourth District
Rand Paul’s first endorsement victory of the year came in his home state of Kentucky this May, with the congressional primary win of Thomas Massie, the executive judge (think county manager) of Lewis County. Massie has already built up an impressively libertarian record in his short time in office: rejecting federal funds for projects his county couldn’t afford, selling off county-owned property, focusing on local services that constituents actually care about.
As a potential congressman, Massie supports the elimination of the Federal Reserve and wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulation package. He favors both lower taxes and balanced budgets, helping him earn the backing of the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican Liberty Caucus.
Massie, unlike many fiscal conservatives, would also like to repeal the PATRIOT Act and National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, along with abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Education. He is hostile to the drug war, and he supports medical marijuana as well as the legalization of industrial hemp.