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Ron Paul faces primary challenge, but little threat

Correction appended
By Ben Pershing
Call it a "dog bites Libertarian" story.

Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), the man whose insurgent 2008 presidential campaign helped unleash a wave of anti-Washington sentiment, now faces a GOP primary challenge of his own -- from candidates who claim he's gone Washington.

Tim Graney, Gerald Wall and John Gay are all running to unseat Paul from his House seat in Tuesday's Republican primary. Paul has represented Texas' 14th district along the Gulf Coast since 1996, and has been reelected with at least 60 percent of the vote the last four cycles. (He also served three earlier terms in the House before losing a campaign for Senate in 1984).

All three candidates have at least some connections to the Tea Party movement, a fact that has drawn coverage of the race in Politico, Fox News and other outlets. The challenge seems ironic, since many Tea Party activists supported Paul's 2008 presidential bid, and his son, Rand Paul, is mounting a popular insurgent campaign of his own in the Kentucky Senate GOP primary.

But for Ron Paul's challengers, their primary case against him is based less on ideology than on charges of absenteeism.

"Long-term incumbent Ron Paul has spent the last couple of years everywhere except for our District running around the country promoting his book and running for President," Graney says on his campaign site. "That leaves him little time to effectively represent the people in the 14th District of Texas. It is time for Ron Paul to step down and step aside so he can pursue his own interests while a new statesman emerges to represent the district."

Wall, for his part, wants to send home not just Paul but everyone in Congress. He advocates in a campaign video for "a localized constitutional Republic," with House and Senate members "relocating" to state capitals and city halls "to securely telecommute for no less than 75 percent of their terms while we surround them."

Paul has countered with radio and television ads praising his record of service to veterans and other constituents.

Whatever their campaign message, it has been difficult for Paul's challengers to raise enough money to spread the word. As of Feb. 10, Wall had raised a total of $3,700 and reported a negative cash balance. Graney had raised $23,000 (and had also loaned his campaign $59,000).Gay had not filed a fundraising report.

Paul had nearly $2 million in the bank as of Feb. 10.

There have been no public polls released of Tuesday's primary contest. Paul easily beat back a primary challenge in 2008, winning 70 percent of the vote.

The original version of this item misstated the amount of money Tim Graney has raised for his campaign.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 1, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Capitol Briefing  
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Voting Ron Paul - who just returned $100,000 of unused congressional expense money to the United States Treasury while all of his colleagues spend all of theirs - out of office because of an anti-incumbent mood in the country would make about as much sense as firing Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger for a crash that was the fault of some other pilot.

Posted by: thirty3na3rd | March 2, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Where is Joe Nyitray when you need him? Having both Joe and Ron Paul appear at a debate back at Gettysburg College would be really fun, different and of course, a problem for the matter versus anti-matter folk. Oh Mr. Mooney!!

Posted by: dollarsforgoofs | March 1, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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