Back in Broun


A few months ago I profiled Rep. Paul Broun, a social conservative Republican with libertarian leanings who blindsided his party by winning an open House seat. He's been facing primary challenges since the moment he was sworn in, and big-deal conservative blog RedState is… actually, rallying to his defense.

Some of us around here like to call Paul Broun "Ron Paul without the crazy." A doctor by training, Broun ran a campaign that tied together conservative Christians and hardcore libertarians. We don't always agree with him; for example, he's opposed to the war on drugs and supports state medicinal marijuana programs. We cannot, however, help but like and admire Paul Broun — a champion for home schoolers, free markets, and life.

Broun has two primary opponents—Barry Fleming and Nancy Schaefer. They are both good people, but Fleming is a party man through and through. He craves leadership and will not be a conservative fighter against a drifting GOP establishment. Nancy Schaefer is a social conservative, but, in her years in the Georgia General Assembly, has done little to lead and has been an ineffective campaigner. And frankly, we give credence to the rumors that Schaefer is in the race to hurt Broun—putting her party ties ahead of conservative conviction.

Fleming has been running for a while, but Schaefer just jumped in this month. Sometimes a split primary is good for the incumbent, like it was for Dennis Kucinich in Ohio, and sometimes it sinks them, like it did Wayne Gilchrest. In any case the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a fresh profile of Broun that should amuse his detractors and fans in equal measure. Among the revelations: Bob Barr is a big Broun donor and supporter. And Broun has a good sense of humor about the campaign against him:

"Early on, [Whitehead] was saying I was a liberal and a Democrat," Broun said. "Now, some of his people are saying I'm a wacko, that I'm a loner, that I have no support up here, that I'm just totally crazy."

Back home, a whisper campaign is going on, Broun said, that claims he spent three years in a mental institution.

"The only mental institution I've been involved in is the House of Representatives, " he said.

I called for a wackier Congress back in February.