n the national conservative blogosphere, Marine Lt. Colonel Vaughn Ward, a former employee of the CIA and a combat veteran is considered the candidate who will take on Congressman Walt Minnick (D-ID) in the fall. It is time for a thorough reconsideration of that scenario.
Thursday was yet another bad day for the Vaughn Ward for Congress Campaign in Idaho's 1st District. It began with Ward's campaign announcing he'd been endorsed by the American Conservative Union PAC. Problem is that they announced this "news" six months ago. Ward spokesman Ryan O'Barto initially declared that the reason for the rerun was to keep the news fresh. However, an hour after this, O'Barto apologized telling Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman, "I'm not trying to get anything over on you. It's the same release as before and that's not what it's supposed to be. I'm about to send out a correction. That's my fault. I just got a new Mac and I'm still trying to figure it out."
Then it came out that Ward's campaign website has been plagiarizing the websites of several other candidates for Congress for its position papers and that it used those plagiarized papers to answer questions from a local conservative blogger. It also came out today that Ward failed to vote in the 2008 presidential election because he didn't plan for the fact that he would be in Nevada running John McCain's campaign and would need an absentee ballot.
This is also a few days after he flip flopped on his position on the repeal of the 17th Amendment and then brazenly claimed he wasn't changing his position despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.
It's time to face facts about the Ward campaign.
In writing this, I need to be honest about where I come from. I have endorsed Mr. Ward's opponent for Congress, Idaho Representative Raul Labrador. However, I have pulled my punches against the Ward campaign because I believed he had a good chance to be the Republican nominee, and I certainly didn't want to damage his chances for the Fall if he was our nominee.
I gave the Ward campaign the benefit of the doubt on a report from the Virginia Democratic Party that Ward volunteered for current DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and I though the media reports on Ward's wife having worked for Fannie Maewere irrelevant as his wife worked as an IT manager and had nothing to do with Fannie Mae's mortgage origination business. I considered reports of Ward being late on his property taxes in several different years and him being admonished by the Marine Corps for wearing his uniform in a campaign ad on the Drudge Report without a proper disclosure to be trifles.
Unfortunately, I fear that there is nothing I or anyone else could say or do to damage Vaughn Ward's campaign for Congress any more than the damage that campaign has inflicted on itself.
I've talked to him and I think he's a decent man who loves his country and holds conservative viewpoints. I like the man, but he has run one of the worst campaigns I've seen in nearly two decades of observing politics. D.F. Olivera, a Center-Right columnist and blogger for the Spokesman-Review has declared that in 40 years in the news business, "I hadn't seen a front-running candidate make this many missteps."
The blogger who was given the plagiarized responses by the Ward campaign has made a very measured blog post asking if it's time for someone in the Ward campaign to fall on their swords. It is 11 days before the Republican Primary; it's too late for that. The time is past for measured posts, we must take a stark look at reality and act. And the reality is that Vaughn Ward is a good man, but he has run a lousy campaign that has very little chance of winning this seat back for the Republicans.
The incumbent is Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick (D-Id.) who has built up the least liberal record among House Democrats. He has shown himself a shrewd politician, garnering the support of the group Tea Party Express after attending several local tea party gatherings. However, it is still vital to defeat him. The fact of the matter is that he's still a vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, he still votes with his party nearly 70% of the time, and he represents the interests of Planned Parenthood in Congress.
If history is any guide, we can expect a subtle shift to the left over time from Congressman Minnick if he is re-elected. Minnick knows that his toughest re-election will be his first re-election. With the anti-Democrat mood and Minnick's Freshman status, Republicans will never have a better chance to defeat Minnick, but if we throw out a campaign that is trying to best Rudy Giuliani's 2008 campaign for the title of, "Worst Campaign ever," we will lose this seat.
I call on those state leaders and national organizations who have endorsed Vaughn Ward to reconsider their support. For those who have endorsed Ward, I know I'm asking for them to swallow their pride and make a difficult choice, but the alternative is to almost assure Walt Minnick of a second term. Any political leader who'll put their pride ahead of the interests of the conservative movement has no business claiming a position of authority.
I call for all Republicans in the 1st District to support Rep. Raul Labrador as the candidate who has a reasonable shot at defeating Congressman Minnick. In asking you to support Raul Labrador, I'm not calling on you to back someone who has no chance. Rep. Labrador has a 4 year 89% conservative voting record in the Idaho House of Representatives. He is endorsed by a veritable who's who of Idaho Conservatives in the State legislature including House Speaker Lawrence Denney, as well as State Treasurer Ron Crane. While out of state groups have endorsed Vaughn Ward, in-state conservative groups such as Idaho Chooses Life and Idahoans for Choice in Education have supported Raul Labrador.
More than just a voting record, in my endorsement piece, I wrote about how he showed great courage under fire as he put his own political career on the line to help insurgent conservatives defeat the incumbent party chairman. Raul Labrador has the courage and keen mind that we need in Congress.
If there's one knock on Labrador's campaign, it's been that fundraising has been slow as Labrador didn't begin his campaign until December while Ward's been running for a year. If Raul Labrador becomes the Republican nominee, he'll see his fundraising improve. But what exactly is the Ward campaign going to do to get its credibility back?