What's Next for Ron Paul (and His Money)?
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) officially suspended his presidential campaign Thursday night, having never won a GOP primary or caucus but nonetheless stirring up an impressive cadre of passionate supporters eager to follow his Libertarian-style lead. In the process, Paul proved himself to be a surprisingly strong fundraiser, bringing in $35 million through April 30.
As of that date, Paul still had $4.7 million left in the bank. We'll know next week how much was left on May 31. So while Paul's army waits for word of where the "revolution" will lead them next, Republicans around town might be more interested to know just what he intends to do with all that cash.
"It is time now to take the energy this campaign has awakened and channel it into long-term efforts to take back our country," Paul wrote in a "Thank You" message posted on his campaign site. "We have some exciting plans and projects to move the revolution forward that will come together in the next several months. Watch for them."
According to the Associated Press, Paul said he didn't plan to endorse Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president, and that, "The campaign is going to shift gears. It's going to accelerate. It's going to get much bigger."
Paul still plans to hold an alternative convention at the University of Minnesota's arena while the official Republican National Convention is gathered in St. Paul, and his supporters still intend to hold a "Revolution March" in Washington on July 12. More importantly, Paul plans to support Libertarian-leaning candidates -- apparently within the Republican Party -- for various offices. (At this very moment, his backers are trying to oust the chairwoman of the Texas GOP at the state party convention.) Does that mean he will back primary challenges to sitting GOP lawmakers, a la Club for Growth? That's not clear yet.
What is clear is that Paul has demonstrated the ability to mobilize large number of volunteers and supporters quickly, and that he can back up his preferred candidates with financial support. The vast majority of his contributors are small-dollar donors, the kind campaigns salivate over because they can be asked to contribute again and again.
Through March 31, Paul's congressional re-election committee had given $26,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and has contributed to GOP Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) -- a vocal opponent of the Iraq war -- Paul Broun (Ga.), and Doug Lamborn (Colo.), as well as a House candidate in New Hampshire and a Senate candidate in Connecticut. His total contributions of $38,500 are significantly higher than what he's given out in the previous couple of election cycles.
The NRCC, of course, wouldn't mind getting its hands on more of that money. And GOP leaders would be happy to suggest plenty of vulnerable incumbents and key challengers they'd like to see Paul support. But nothing in Paul's history suggests that he will start simply doling out cash to whichever Republicans happen to need it most. More likely he will pick and choose his spots, looking for ideological bedfellows. His fellow House GOPers might want to try to stay on his good side, lest they end up on the wrong end of the revolution in their next primary campaigns.
June 13, 2008; 12:43 PM ET
Categories: 2008 Campaign
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