In May, I wrote a column about Republican Congressional candidate Thomas Massie in Kentucky. I noted that as a strict constitutionalist, Massie's success in the GOP marked a significant departure from the big-government Republicanism we'd become accustomed to under President George W. Bush. After winning the Republican primary, Massie seems poised to easily defeat his Democratic opponent in November, making him the congressman for Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District.
In June, I wrote a column about another strict constitutionalist, Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas. Since that column, Cruz has found himself in a runoff with an establishment-backed Republican primary opponent, David Dewhurst. As of this writing, one internal poll has Cruz at 49 percent and Dewhurst at 40 percent. Regardless of who wins, most polls indicate the Republican candidate will easily defeat their Democratic opponent, becoming the next U.S. senator from Texas.
Cruz and Massie are not alone. Today, liberty-minded candidates are no longer anomalies in the Republican Party.
In Missouri, there is Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Brunner. Brunner believes our government is too big, wants to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, and believes we can only go to war after a declaration of Congress. In other words, he's the exact opposite of Bush and Barack Obama. Like Massie and Cruz, Brunner is a constitutionalist. He is currently in a three-way primary race with two other Republicans. The latest poll has Brunner leading his GOP opponents by 20 points, and virtually every poll has the Republican nominee beating vulnerable Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
In Michigan, there is Republican Congressional candidate Kerry Bentivolio. Incumbent Republican Congressman Thad McCotter apparently didn't get his paperwork in order and is now ineligible to run for re-election in Michigan's 11th District. Almost by chance, Bentivolio is now well-positioned to win the Republican primary and the general election, according to most polling data. But what kind of Republican is Bentivolio? He is a Vietnam veteran who says we need to stop borrowing money from China to build schools in Afghanistan. Before running for Congress, Bentivolio was lobbying to become a delegate at the 2012 Republican National Convention for Ron Paul.
There is Kurt Bills, who is running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota. And Travis Grantham running for Congress in Arizona. And Mark Neumann running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. And Weston Wamp running for Congress in Tennessee. And Art Robinson running for Congress in Oregon. And many more. I discover new liberty-championing candidates I'd never heard of all the time. Like Massie, Cruz, Brunner, and Bentivolio, some of these men are likely to win their races. And all of them, to varying degrees, are far more Constitution- and liberty-minded than anything the Republican Party has seen in generations. In 2014, I expect there will be more like them.
I fear what Barack Obama would do to this country if he's re-elected. Given the recent record of Republican presidents, I also fear what Mitt Romney might do if he wins — or, perhaps worse, what he might not undo from the previous administration. Let's just say I'm not excited about my presidential choices for November.
But I am excited about the change currently taking place in the Republican Party. The last Republican model, Bush/Cheney, was a party that didn't care if we had big government at home so long as we kept promoting big government abroad through perpetual war. That was literally the party's only concern.
Today, it is no longer neoconservatism but constitutional conservatism that animates the Republican base. This is a sea change.
Jack Hunter is the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul.