The New Ron Paul Candidates


Business Week reports on some Ron Paul-inspired candidates running for office this year, in and out of the Republican Party. Highlights:

Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Congress in Virginia, rarely passes up an opportunity to scold Washington politicians about runaway defense spending, which she says is an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars that does little to make Americans safer. Halfway across the country, Tisha Casida, a Colorado Independent, says she'll push to end the drug war and legalize marijuana if she's elected to the House. In Florida, Calen Fretts, a Libertarian seeking to unseat a veteran Republican congressman, promises that if he's elected he'll begin working to abolish the U.S. Federal Reserve. "As people increase the size and scope of government," Fretts says, "there's got to be a few of us to resist it."

These candidates have two things in common: All are long shots seeking office for the first time. And all were inspired to run by the same man—Ron Paul….  

If forcing his don't-tread-on-me, minimalist philosophy into the mainstream is the benchmark, Paul can claim victory and return to Texas a happy man. The professional political class may ridicule him as an eccentric kook leading a cantankerous army of potheads who invade chat rooms with ALLCAPS rants about government overreach…..But listening to his rivals in the GOP debates demand that the Fed be audited and the Departments of Energy and Education be shuttered, it's clear that many of Paul's positions, once considered extreme, are now routine Republican talking points—and that his influence over conservative politics greatly outweighs his low poll rankings and back-of-the-pack primary returns….

Paul leaves behind a small army of brawlers itching to take up the battle in his name. This election year, at least 65 of his supporters are campaigning for local, state, or national office in 23 states. They join more than a dozen Paul acolytes who won elections in 2010, including GOP Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who is seeking a second term—not to mention Paul's son Rand, who was elected to the Senate as a Republican in Kentucky.

Other Paul followers and former aides have maneuvered their way into Republican Party leadership positions in Nevada, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, and Maine, where they are attempting to rewrite party platforms and keep establishment Republicans from giving Paul's 70-plus primary delegates to Mitt Romney….

To encourage more Paul followers to enter the arena, Gigi Bowman, a Long Island real estate agent, started LibertyCandidates.com, which runs meet-ups for Paul supporters and candidates and offers advice on running for office. It may take years for some of the greener hopefuls to get their acts together. "Eventually," she says, "they'll win seats."

Paul himself already seems to be looking toward the exit. "I think it's sort of human nature to key around one person who is the spokesman," he says. "But I think it's much bigger than that. I don't think that what we are doing is going to go away, regardless of what happens in the election. An army can't stop an idea whose time has come."

Just here in southern California where I live, a couple of people I met reporting my forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired, are running for Congress (Christopher David) and the Senate (Rick Williams). There are others, and there will be more.