I liked Hector Maldonado the best—he's the owner of the always salient domain HectorForFreedom.com. I also thought Kristi Nichols and Chuck Purgason rounded out the top three. My informal post forum straw poll had Nichols as the favorite. The problem I have with both Maldonado and Nichols is that they lack any legislative experience. While Purgason has more legislative experience than I would prefer, all of that experience is in the Missouri House and Senate. I assume that long serving politicians develop a sense of entitlement for elected office, but I know that Purgason is committed to the idea of citizen legislators and term limits, so I can overlook his fourteen years of legislative service. (Complete video interview.)
Since March, Purgason has recruited a volunteer base and added some staff; had his website redesigned; gained national attention when he announced he would no longer wear a wig; gained the endorsements of the Jefferson County Tea Party, fellow GOP US Senate Candidate Jim Schmidt when Schmidt dropped out, and now Joe the Plumber. However, Purgason's path to a primary victory on August 3rd is a long one.
Let's take a look back with this bit from Bill Hennessy:
It would be nice if a national pollster would check on Blunt vs. Purgason. The last poll of that primary race was in March and Blunt led 48 to 18 percent. Again, though, Purgason seems to have caught a bit of a tailwind in recent weeks, at least in the St. Louis area.With support of only 48% of the GOP base in March, Blunt is beatable, but Purgason has to secure the lion's share of that other 34% while also eroding Blunt's lead.
I believe that Purgason's strategy should be to focus on securing the endorsements of his other primary opponents. While an endorsement from a national figure like Sarah Palin would immediately put Purgason in the lead, I doubt that such endorsements are forthcoming. Nonetheless, David Cantanese of Politico reports that Purgason's people are talking with Palin:
Despite Palin's financial support for Blunt, Purgason's not giving up on netting an endorsement from the former vice presidential nominee.
"I've talked with some of her people recently," he said. "She's a very thorough person and [sic] she's looking at some of the things I voted on. I think she'll have a decision in the near future."
"She gave him money. She has not endorsed," Purgason emphasized. "We'd love to have Gov. Palin on board."Roy Blunt is in the Republican leadership of the US House of Representatives. Until last year, he was the Republican whip. I would be surprised to see endorsements from nationally recognized GOP figures on the because of the potential risk to the endorser's political capital.
Therefore, Purgason has to convince Maldonado, Nichols, and the other GOP candidates to dropout and endorse him. Schmidt has blazed this trail and is setting an example by volunteering on Purgason's campaign. Maldonado and Nichols are great candidates who will have successful political careers in the future. Bob Praprotnik, Deborah Solomon, Davis Conway, Mike Vontz, and Tony Laszacs may distinguish themselves in future races, but I believe that the greatest contribution that each of them can make to the conservative cause today is to rally to the flag of Chuck Purgason.
As the field narrows, Purgason's conservative credentials will distinguish him from Roy Blunt's votes for TARP, Cash for Clunkers, the Medicare expansion, federal involvement in local education (No Child Left Behind), and ethanol mandates. When I've challenged Blunt supporters on these issues, they always respond that Blunt's got the money to challenge Carnahan in the Fall and Purgason doesn't. If you're voting in the GOP primary on August 3rd, you need to decide whether you want to vote for Purgason's principals or Blunt's war chest.