Houston Chronicle: Paul facing unrest at home
Say it ain't so -- Ron Paul, just another entrenched incumbent.
But while Paul basks in the applause of conservatives at a Washington hotel, he can't afford to ignore the three self-described conservatives who are assailing his conservative credentials back at home.
“He's as bad as the rest of them,” says Gerald Wall, one of three Republicans challenging the incumbent in the March 2 GOP primary.
Paul, 74, charges Wall, is a “career politician” who ignores the wishes of voters back home, a conservative poseur who doesn't walk the walk when it comes to pork-barrel spending.
Wall, along with fellow challengers Tim Graney and John Gay, believe it's time for a change in the 14th District, which they say Paul has ignored as he travels across the country.They also argue that the incumbent's high national profile translates into few concrete accomplishments on Capitol Hill.
“Ron Paul is literally the most ineffective member of Congress,” said Graney, who owns a consulting business in Katy. “He talks about ending the IRS, ending the Fed, (restoring) the gold standard. But we're not going back to the gold standard anytime soon. Why don't we talk about reducing taxation, reducing legislation, cutting spending in Washington?” Graney argues that Paul is “nonexistent in the district. He's MIA in our community, always off gallivanting, selling books and giving speeches.”
Gay also says Paul is not sufficiently involved in the district. “He's not ... not addressing the concerns of the people of the district,” Gay said.
No matter how deeply held their convictions, Paul's Republican challengers seem every bit as quixotic as Paul was in his 2008 bid for the presidency. Paul enjoys the name recognition that comes from a grass-roots-powered presidential run, a best-selling book and decades of incumbency. He also has extraordinary national fundraising clout for a representative from a mostly rural district.
Paul's opponents are no match for him when it comes to bringing in campaign dollars. At the Feb. 10 filing deadline, Paul's campaign reported more than $2.5 million in the bank. None of his opponents had more than $2,200, according to their latest disclosure statements.
“It's really hard to raise money in this economy,” said Wall, a maintenance supervisor and founder of Freeport's Jesus Is Lord Festival.
Not so for the incumbent. Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said that when his campaign sent out a single e-mail solicitation, $200,000 poured in almost immediately.