Ron Paul Shuns Florida, Rand Paul Cultivates It
Around the State
From his perch at Liberty PAC, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who was the Libertarian presidential nominee in 1988 and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, has unveiled new endorsements for the 2014 elections, but unlike his son U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., the former congressman is staying out of Florida for the time being.
Ron Paul has already been making endorsements as he looks ahead to November, offering strong backing for incumbents like U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. He has also endorsed candidates running for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House in California, Georgia, North Carolina and West Virginia while backing candidates for state office in Nevada and Texas.
“I am proud to endorse Eric, Steve, and Clint for public office and I feel they will do a great job,” the former congressman emailed supporters on Friday and he insisted he still has work to do. “I have many more worthy candidates that are looking for my assistance. There are candidates in California, South Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan and many others that are looking for support.”
So far, the former presidential candidate has avoided the Sunshine State where he never quite focused on either of his recent presidential bids despite it being the largest swing state on the map. In 2008, Ron Paul took 3 percent, finishing a distant fifth place in the Republican presidential primary. He did better in 2012, taking 7 percent but finishing in fourth place.
While Ron Paul has not endorsed candidates in Florida yet, in recent weeks he has spoken positively of a candidate he backed in 2012: U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla. At the end of last month, the former presidential candidate included Yoho among the “great liberty candidates” who “were elected when so many establishment Republicans lost.”
In the meantime, looking ahead to running for president himself in 2016, Rand Paul is much more active in Florida. Even before his father praised Yoho, Rand Paul endorsed the North Florida congressman last month. At the campaign kickoff, Yoho’s team released a video from Paul with the senator endorsing the Florida congressman. With Paul thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Yoho hyped him up as the “presidential front-runner.”
“I am glad to endorse my friend and colleague Ted Yoho for re-election,” Paul said. “The thing about Congressman Yoho is that he has been unafraid, and I think why he has been unafraid to defend liberty, defend limited government and our Constitution is because he had a real life. He had a real job. As a veterinarian, he isn’t afraid to go back to his profession at any point and time, so he hasn’t been afraid to stand up to Republicans or Democrats who aren’t doing the right thing.
“In Washington, we are still borrowing more than $1 million a minute,” Paul continued. “We keep electing people but it’s not changing. It’s only going to change when people begin to follow the lead of people like Congressman Ted Yoho. So I am proud to stand with Congressman Ted Yoho. I am proud to endorse him and proud to support him. When you are looking for leadership, when Florida is looking for leadership, Ted Yoho is your man and I am proud to stand with him."
“I am extremely proud to kick off our 2014 campaign for Congress with the endorsement of presidential front-runner Sen. Rand Paul,” Yoho said. “His conservative leadership and tenacity in getting the conservative message out is admirable. We are going to continue to fight for the conservative principles that we were sent to Washington to uphold. I am honored and humbled to have his support and look forward to working with Sen. Paul on getting our country back.”
Earlier this month, Rand Paul announced that he was backing businessman Curt Clawson in the Republican primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress. Clawson won the April 22 primary and is a heavy favorite to win the special election on June 24 over Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood.
“Washington is desperate for outside leadership,” Paul said in his endorsement. “Curt Clawson is an outsider who will bring refreshing ideas to the halls of Congress. Today, I proudly stand with Curt Clawson in his quest to restore fiscal stability and common-sense government. Curt will stand with me in defending the Constitution. I urge the voters of Florida’s 19th Congressional District to send Curt to Washington. Our nation needs new leadership and the first step in the right direction would be electing Curt Clawson.”
"Having the leading voice for freedom, liberty and the United States Constitution in the United States Congress come on board our campaign cannot be overstated," Clawson said. "I am truly grateful for the support of Sen. Paul and if elected will join him in the fight to restore fiscal order in Washington. Simply put, this is the biggest day yet of this campaign.”
Nor was this Rand Paul’s only endorsement in a special congressional election in Florida in recent weeks. During the special election for the congressional seat left vacant after the death of longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., Rand Paul went to bat for Republican David Jolly.
At the start of March, American Crossroads, a super-PAC with ties to prominent Republican strategist Karl Rove, unleashed Rand Paul in support of Jolly, even as there were concerns about GOP faithful backing Libertarian Lucas Overby in the contest. While Jolly went on to beat Democrat former state CFO Alex Sink, Overby pulled 5 percent in the special election.
“I'm calling to urge you to vote on Tuesday for David Jolly in the race for Congress,” Paul said in a robocall that went out to tens of thousands of voters across Pinellas County. “David believes in smaller government. He thinks it's the way to protect our liberty, and I agree. That's why I'm supporting him. He will go to Congress to ensure you, not the government, are making decisions for you and your family. Please remember to vote on Tuesday for David Jolly.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) hit back. David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DCCC, pointed to Rand Paul’s criticism of Social Security and said Pinellas County voters can’t trust Jolly on the issue. The DCCC also hammered Jolly for getting the support of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“It’s clear that lobbyist David Jolly is already aligning himself with the same dysfunctional politicians in Washington like Sen. Rand Paul and Congressman Paul Ryan who were responsible for the shutdown of our nation’s government,” said Bergstein. “Just like Sen. Paul and Congressman Ryan, lobbyist Jolly would make Pinellas seniors pay more by jeopardizing Social Security in order to protect unfair tax breaks for corporations and the ultra-wealthy. It’s just more proof we can’t trust lobbyist David Jolly.”
Nonetheless, when the smoke cleared, Jolly won by a narrow margin with Rand Paul’s help. As the senator from Kentucky continues to ponder running for the Republican presidential nomination, Florida Republicans can continue to expect to hear from him.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org,