Rob Horowitz: Rand Paul: One of the Early Republican Frontrunners
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
First, let’s get the all-important caveats out of the way. The CPAC straw poll—which Rand Paul’s father Ron won twice without ever getting within shouting distance of the nomination—is far from a reliable indicator of who will end up as the nominee. Further, early national polls measure mainly name recognition and are of limited value in presidential nominating contests that are, after all, conducted state-by-state. And most importantly, it is nearly two years until the first actual caucus and primary votes will be cast; much can and will happen to shape the ultimate outcome during that time.
Ahead of the competition
Still, more than any other potential Republican presidential contender, Rand Paul has astutely filled the media vacuum in the initial coverage of the developing 2016 presidential contest, brought about by the precipitous decline in Governor Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) presidential prospects due to a multi-faceted abuse of power scandal with a hard to discern end point. (Disclosure: Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has come forward and charged the Christie administration with tying aid for Hurricane Sandy to the approval of a large scale redevelopment project, is an election client of mine.)
While a more established Republican such as Jeb Bush—who would be competing for the same kinds of voters and many of the same contributors—may ultimately benefit the most if Governor Christie can not recover politically, in the short-term it is undeniable that Paul has gained the most political oxygen.
Rand Paul offers a less doctrinaire and hard-edged version of the libertarian ideology championed by his father. He hopes to build an expansive new coalition that combines economic conservatives with younger voters who tend to be more skeptical of foreign involvements, moderate on social issues, and concerned about invasions of privacy in the name of national security.
Recently Paul joined with President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder in advocating restoring voting rights for non-violent ex-felons. Sounding not at all like a typical traditional conservative, Senator Paul said, “When you look at who is being deprived of voting they are disproportionately people of color." He is also a leader in the Senate in opposing warrantless wiretapping and other measures some view as essential to protecting the nation from another terrorist attack, arguing they are infringements on personal freedoms. “The Fourth Amendment is just as important as the Second Amendment,” said Paul this past weekend on FOX News Sunday.
Paul has recently come under fire from prominent neoconservatives, including Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, for being too soft on relations with Russia, a potentially damaging charge in the wake of recent events in the Ukraine. This is part of a general neoconservative critique that Paul is too much of an isolationist who would reduce America’s standing in the world if elected. When asked about this on FOX News Sunday, Rand Paul—in a major departure from his father, who was and is a consistent Reagan critic, as well as from libertarian foreign policy orthodoxy—explicitly said that his views on the use of military force are in line with the former president. To drive this point home, Rand Paul approvingly quoted Reagan, “Don't mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.”
Senator Paul’s intriguing effort to forge a more mainstream big tent libertarianism—attracting new voters to the Republican primaries and caucuses while still capturing a large enough slice of the traditional Republican primary electorate—will be fascinating to watch. Even if Paul fails to gain the nomination, it is of potential consequence in terms of the development of new thinking in the party. And in what is shaping up to be a wide-open race for the nomination, I would not count Rand Paul out.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013
The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.
GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.
24. Cheshire County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88
Total contributions: $759,209
Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
21. Hampshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41
Total contributions: $1,664,077
Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.
20. Barnstable County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90
Total contributions: $2,348,541
Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.
19. Berkshire County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49
Total contributions: $1,624,400
Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724.
18. Essex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22
Total contributions: $9,991,201
Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.
15. Addison County, VT
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49
Total contributions: $569,299
Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.
11. Bristol County, RI
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91
Total contributions: $1,027,472
Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.
10. Grafton County, NH
Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95
Total contributions: $1,868,739
With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area
7. Middlesex County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81
Total contributions: $50,432,154
Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England. The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.
6. Nantucket County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41
Total contributions: $344,021
Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.
4. Dukes County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32
Total contributions: $618,960
Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.
3. Suffolk County, MA
Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73
Total contributions: $30,323,537
Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.
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