Tea Partiers and Republicans in Missouri can breathe a sigh of relief. A competent, articulate conservative has entered the race to face Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in 2012.
On Monday, St. Louis attorney Ed Martin threw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination.
Martin may be exactly what Missourians are looking for. In the 2010 election, seeing no viable alternative, the GOP nominated the not-so-consistent conservative Roy Blunt. He won, but Tea Partiers and conservatives across the state remain nervous about his Washingtonian big-spending tendencies.
No need to worry about Martin. “What we need is a conservative, a fearless conservative, in the United States Senate,” he told me on my We the People radio show. Not afraid to admit that he “was a part of the St. Louis Tea Party from the beginning,” he called for term limits, reducing spending to 2006 levels, and a balanced budget amendment.
So, obviously he’s quite fiscally conservative, but can he win?
In November, Martin, a former chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt, lost a tight congressional race to Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in one of the most liberal districts in Missouri. Considering Missouri’s conservative electoral trends, Martin’s message will be even more effective at the state level.
And here’s why: he understands the debt crisis and can articulate constitutional alternatives to the status quo. The Tea Party, especially in St. Louis, wants to guarantee a conservative victory. Martin’s potential opponents cannot do that.
As of now, his only opponent for the GOP nomination is former Missouri treasurer Sarah Steelman. During her failed attempt to win the GOP nomination for governor in 2008, she proved that she is indeed conservative, but Steelman struggles to communicate her ideas with any depth. She would struggle against a seasoned veteran like McCaskill.
More candidates, like Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), may announce later this week. The problem with Graves is that he is a mirror image of Sen. Roy Blunt. While many Republicans in Washington fell for the traps, Graves voted for Medicare Part D (a new entitlement program) and No Child Left Behind, both of which significantly expanded the size of government.
Steelman is conservative but would struggle to win the general election. Graves would probably win but is only conservative when it’s convenient.
When asked about these other candidates, Martin replied that Missouri needs someone who “can articulate what they stand for” and does not believe that politics is a “career track.” Graves has been in Washington for 10 years, and Steelman has been widely criticized as incoherent.
The good news is that Martin is not the lesser of three evils. In fact, being a young father puts him in great position to argue for reducing the national debt. As a younger guy, it’s in both his and his children’s best interests to cut spending now.
Martin also understands constitutional messaging. In his 2010 campaign, he attracted moderates and conservatives alike by comparing the founder’s vision of limited government to the bureaucratic largess we have today.
People relate to history and the founding, and Martin understands that Missourians want smaller, constitutional government. Nothing expressed that more than the overwhelming repudiation of Obamacare with Prop C.
If Republicans want someone who’s conservative, not Washingtonian, and a practiced communicator, Martin is their pick.
Once he wins the GOP nomination, his constitutional message will be handy when he faces Sen. Claire McCaskill, or as Martin calls her, “ObamaClaire.” If he points out her votes for the bailouts, stimulus bills, and Obamacare, while offering clear conservative alternatives, Martin’s message will spread easily in an increasingly red state.
Check out my full interview with Ed Martin here.
Ron Meyer is a senior at Principia College. He hosts the “We the People” Internet radio show and is a contributor to The Christian Science Monitor. He has appeared on Fox News, and his writing has been featured in Yahoo! News, RealClearPolitics.com, Human Events, the Santa Barbara News-Press, and AOL News.