Sleepy, might be the best word to describe the Republican primary in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. With only one month until people go to the polls, neither Ben Lange, nor Rod Blum are currently advertising on TV or radio. The two are scheduled to debate in a few weeks, but other than that, shoe leather is the dominating factor in this race.
A sleepy primary is an advantage for Lange who was the 2010 Republican nominee in the 1st District. Not only did he easily win the primary that year, but he also almost pulled off what would have been one of the biggest upsets in the country. Lange lost to Congressman Bruce Braley by less than two percent, or 4,209 votes.
Even though Lange appears to be the clear favorite, Blum seems to gaining the support of those who are aligned with the Campaign for Liberty and Ron Paul. Will Johnson, Lange’s 2010 primary opponent and outspoken Ron Paul supporter, endorsed Blum a couple of weeks ago. That endorsement of Blum was followed by the endorsement of the Iowa Liberty PAC, which is affiliated with Ron Paul.
The two endorsements are significant for a couple of reasons. First, Ron Paul has some of the most passionate supporters in the state. While they were unable to help Paul win the caucuses, they have found success in low turnout elections like county and district conventions. If turnout is low on June 5th, and these people are motivated to turnout for Blum, they could become a factor.
Secondly, the newly reconfigured 1st Congressional District is an area where Ron Paul performed well. Paul won six of the twenty counties, including Blackhawk County, which is one of the larger counties in the District. Paul also finished second to Mitt Romney in Linn County, the District’s largest county.
In addition to receiving the two endorsements, Blum has catered his message to those who desire a more libertarian approach to government. Blum’s website has an entire page dedicated to civil liberties. He has also been an outspoken opponent on regulating the internet, which makes sense because of his background as a software developer.
Even though Blum seems to be preferred candidate for liberty oriented voters, he doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of a liberty candidate. While this is Blum’s first foray into elected politics, he has been an aspiring politician for decades. In 1996, he was quoted in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald saying, “I think I’ll be an excellent politician,” and that “I plan to run for Congress,” and “I believe you grab for the brass ring when opportunity arises.” There is nothing wrong with being politically ambitious, but it does show that Blum is not necessarily a political outsider.
In addition to being politically ambitions, Blum also has a well-defined record on a number of issues due to a regular column he wrote for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. A few of his articles have also been featured on TheIowaRepublican.com. Some of those columns might cause some concern for people like Mr. Johnson and Liberty Iowa PAC.
After the 9-11 attacks, Blum wrote the following in support of the Patriot Act, “I’m not smart enough to know what all my constitutional rights are, but I have yet to read any government proposals that would infringe on any of my rights.” Not only was the Patriot Act on the books when Blum penned those words, but so was the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which created the TSA, an entity that Paul opposes.
Unlike many in the liberty movement, Blum also didn’t seem troubled by Congress’ authorization to use military force in lieu of a formal declaration of war following the 9-11 attacks. In October of 2003, a hawkish Blum wrote, “we have stirred up a hornet’s nest of terrorists by going into Iraq. But that’s the point. To kill the hornets, we have to go where the hornets are. We MUST transform the Middle East.” Ron Paul would surely disagree. According Paul’s Ten Principles of a Free Society, “aggressive wars, even when called preventative, and even when they pertain only to trade relations, are forbidden.”
Most Republicans, myself included, wouldn’t have any problem with anything that Blum wrote following 9-11, however, his recent endorsers may. Based on these contradictions, it seems that some of Blum’s recent endorsers have either failed to do their homework, or they are willing to violate their own principles to support Blum’s candidacy.
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