Southern Avenger no more: Rand Paul aide Jack Hunter leaves staff, returns to punditry

Former Charleston City Paper music editor Ballard Lesemann knew Hunter back when he was still wearing a pro-wrestling-style mask emblazoned with the Confederate flag. He told TheDCNF that Hunter was already assuming a less kitschy and provocative persona back then.

“By the time Jack started working with local AM news/talk station 1250 WTMA, he’d already ditched the mask and the schtick side of the Southern Avenger character, and he began to develop a more serious, thoughtful, in-depth approach and delivery,” Lesemann said.

While the two of them “bonded more over conversations about Iron Maiden, Rush, and the Who than about political candidates and partisan politics,” Lesemann was familiar with Hunter’s political work.

“As a left-leaning independent who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, 2004 and 2008, you can imagine how my own political views could clash with those of Jack Hunter’s,” he said. “But in all of our conversations, interviews, and late-night tavern chats, we never fought or argued.”

Marcus Amaker edited Hunter’s entertainment writings for the Charleston Post and Courier. He described Hunter as “a good guy” and “professional freelancer.”

“I never had any issues with Jack,” Amaker told TheDCNF. “Honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to the controversy. Anything that seeks to divide people isn’t on my radar and doesn’t get my energy.”

Prior to working for Rand Paul, Hunter was the official campaign blogger for Ron Paul during the 2012 GOP primaries. In that capacity, he frequently worked to marginalize extremists within the movement, ridiculing conspiracy theorists and defending the idea of working within the mainstream Republican Party.

Now the controversy over Hunter’s past writings and radio broadcasts is widely seen as a drag on libertarian-leaning Republicans’ mainstream political ambitions and a reminder of the elder Paul’s newsletters.

While the former Texas congressman denied writing or even reading the racist content in the newsletters that appeared under his name, questions persisted about their authorship.

Hunter isn’t denying writing the columns in question, but he does say the coverage doesn’t represent the full body of his writing.

“The stories made me angry, as well as many who’ve followed my work, because the cherry-picked distortions weren’t even remotely the real me,” he said. “It was enraging to watch neoconservatives, liberals and even some actual racists speculate about what I believe, based on what they were eager to portray me as believing. Not surprisingly, their speculations almost always suited their own political purposes.”