Ron Paul is coming off of a straw poll victory at CPAC this past month, not to mention a strong showing by Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty, two groups founded by his acolytes. But despite--or perhaps because of--this, it appears Paul may not coast to victory in his congressional primary race, according to Politico:
It’s an unusual turn of events for a veteran congressman who has reached stardom in conservative populist circles and who just last week emerged as the victor of the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Yet despite his solid anti-establishment credentials and non-conformist views, Paul finds himself under siege from three Republicans who are embracing many of the themes that have defined Paul’s career. At the heart of the resistance is the notion that the 10-term Paul has gone Washington, abandoning his constituents as he pursues his white whale—the presidency.
“To be honest, I was surprised when these guys started coming out of the woodwork,” said Fort Bend County GOP Chairman Rick Miller. “They’re trying to tap into the idea that it’s time for a new face. It’s a sign of the times. It’s what’s happening in our country.”
Paul remains the favorite in the race but the opposition clearly has him looking over his shoulder.
In a January email alert titled “They’ve Turned Their Attack Dogs Loose On Me!”, Paul warns that both parties are “doing everything they can to make sure I am defeated.”
“These candidates include three Republicans in my own primary on March 2,” he wrote, “and they will stop at nothing to tear down and destroy all we have worked for.”
Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist, said strong anti-incumbent winds are buffeting even members like Paul who have never been embraced by the political establishment.
It would seem that Paul has reason to worry about this anti-anti-establishment backlash, right?
For all the grumbling back home, however, there is little question that Paul, armed with a $2.5 million war chest, still leads the field. And there appears to be widespread belief that he will finish on top, with the only question being whether he will win enough votes to cross the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.