To the People

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dr. No More?

Is Ron Paul in danger of losing his Texas House seat? Paul has beaten back every such challenge in the past, usually pretty handily. This time though he appears to be in a tougher fight.

After a rather disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, Paul's campaign announced that, while not dropping out of the White House race, it was scaling back and focusing more on staying in Congress. His district's Republican primary is set for March 4. Reason's Dave Weigel reported:

Paul is legitimately concerned about holding on to his seat. Chris Peden, an ambitious businessman and councilman from Friendswood (pop. 32,460), has overcome a slow start and is buying anti-Paul advertisements which pound home the message that to question the foreign policy that led up to 9/11 is to "blame America first."

Peden has raised enough money and buttonholed enough GOP poo-bahs in the district to put a scare into Paul, who is only the latest torchbearer of a 2008 trend—purging the odd man out.

That purging trend continued with the defeat of GOP congressman and Iraq War critic Wayne Gilchrest in his Maryland primary last week. Paul mentioned it in a rather anxious fundraising appeal to his supporters: "So far, we have raised only about a third of what a well-funded [House race] effort would need."

Now Peden is claiming to be ahead of Paul, saying he has internal polls showing him winning, 43-32. Paul's internals are allegedly similiar. In an interview Peden says he's also going to hit Paul on the newsletters and on his opposition to NASA funding. The latter is significant because a 2004 redistricting put Paul's district near NASA's Houston operations. Presumably a lot of NASA workers now live in there and may not like Paul's record on the agency.

That's what Peden claims anyway. Having never set foot in the district myself or seen a poll done by a reputable third party, it's hard to tell what Paul's constituents are really thinking.

Paul presumably still has several million bucks left over from his presidential bid but he can't legally use them for his House race while he is still running for the presidency. "The congressional campaign has to stand on its own," Paul says. He reportedly doesn't want to drop his White House bid because he's holding out for a good speaking slot at the Republican convention. However since the Texas presidential primary is also on March 4, Paul may be able to run presidential ads that serve both purposes.

In the fundraising appeal, Paul adds:
If I am defeated in the upcoming congressional primary, our ideas will be held to have been defeated as well. It will be proclaimed from the rooftops in DC that such "ridiculous and outmoded notions" as the free market, sound money, personal liberty, limited government, and a pro-American foreign policy are through.

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