Long before Michele Bachmann officially entered the Republican race for president, State Senator Kent Sorenson was helping her maneuver the political landscape in Iowa. Sorenson also traveled to New Hampshire on June 13th as Bachmann made her national debut at a CNN debate. He was in Waterloo, the town of her birth, two weeks later as she officially entered the race.
His support of Bachmann was a natural fit. Both are strong social conservatives with plenty of Tea Party credibility. Together, they celebrated Bachmann’s victory at the Ames Straw Poll in August, but they will not be celebrating together on caucus night. Sorenson showed up at a Ron Paul rally in Des Moines and publically endorsed Paul’s candidacy. Sorenson had attended a Bachmann event in his home county earlier in the day.
The decision to leave the Bachmann campaign is one that Sorenson had contemplated over the weekend. Sorenson contacted a number personal friends and colleagues to talk about the ramifications of leaving the Bachmann campaign. He was set to make his announcement on Tuesday but had second thoughts. It seems that he had another last minute change of heart and made the announcement in a very public setting in front of the media. There is no going back now.
Even though Sorenson’s decision to leave the Bachmann campaign is a surprise, he has been distant or disconnected from the campaign for some time. Ever since her victory in Ames, Sorenson has faded into the background. One is more likely to see State Senator Brad Zaun, a Bachmann Iowa Co-Chair, on the road with the candidate than Sorenson.
Sorenson also has strong ties to Ron Paul’s campaign. Sorenson was first elected to the Iowa House in 2008. He wasn’t expected to win. His ability to knock off an incumbent Democrat in a Democrat district in a year that Obama won the state of Iowa caught everybody off guard. Sorenson’s win was a testament to his strong work ethic and belief in himself. The only significant help that Sorenson received was from those who were involved with the Right to Work issue.
Many of those individuals who were helpful to Sorenson four years ago are now, in one way or another, part of Ron Paul’s presidential effort. Paul himself made his first trip back to Iowa after the 2008 caucuses in November of 2009 to help Sorenson’s bid for the State Senate. While Sorenson enjoys the support of social conservatives, a number of Campaign for Liberty and Ron Paul supporters also make up a large percentage of the support he enjoys. One of Paul’s Iowa leaders, A.J. Spiker, has donated to Sorenson’s campaigns and also walked in every one of Sorenson’s parades.
Sorenson’s decision to defect from Bachmann’s campaign might be a mortal blow to her candidacy. It’s confirmation of the conventional wisdom about the state of Bachmann’s campaign. Even though Bachmann is barnstorming every county in the state, there is a real sense that her campaign has stalled. Sorenson’s move to support Ron Paul now illustrates the lack of momentum in her campaign. With only a week left before the caucuses, Bachmann’s campaign is fracturing instead of growing
For the Paul campaign, Sorenson provides another visible sign of a campaign that is gaining strength in the final days before the caucuses. Even though Paul probably has the best organization in the state, the key to victory might be appealing to enough traditional Republican caucus goers to get him over the finish line in first place. Sorenson’s support may help with that. His late move to Paul might also symbolize his desire to do anything to deny Romney a victory in the Iowa caucuses. Defeating Romney is a goal that many social conservatives share, but it’s yet to be seen if enough social conservatives would back a candidate like Ron Paul to accomplish that goal.
This is clearly a boost for Ron Paul, but it is devastating for the Bachmann campaign. At a time where she is putting in grueling days on the campaign trail in an effort to create some last minute momentum, Sorenson’s decision to jump ship basically sinks her campaign.
Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com
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