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Allen West for Senate

By Bruce Walker
web posted January 3, 2011

Allen WestFlorida seems to be a treasure trove of political hope for Republican conservatism.  Marco Rubio, nearly every pundit agrees, is going to be on the Republican ticket at some point.  Sooner, I hope, than later.Washington "experience" is rarely the sort that makes an elected official closer to the people or more principled in his policies; it is rather than the amount of "experience" that a husband hopes his wife has had before marriage or the dreary and familiar process of bright talents going to Hollywood and ending up mired in the moral muck of chic Leftism. Allen West, as most conservatives who follow the news know, is a retired and decorated war veteran who is about as direct about his conservative principles as we could expect of any politician.  Like Congressman-elect Tim Scott of South Carolina, West is also black.

We have reached a point in the political history of conservatism in which Hispanics like Rubio and blacks like West are often more genuinely conservative than many established Republican leaders.  An excellent example of that is the current recruiting for a candidate to run against Senator Nelson in 2012.  Nelson ought to be vulnerable.  Republicans swept every statewide office in Florida, picked up House seats, and made gains in the state legislature.  Florida has been a pretty consistent big state for Republicans in presidential elections.  So it is not too early to begin to put Senator Nelson of Florida into a "highly vulnerable" list of Democrat senators in the 2012 class. 

But consider the names that are being discussed as the Republican nominee. Jeb Bush is at the top of the list. Seat-warmer Senator LeMieux, who was not even a serious candidate for the seat Rubio just won, is another potential candidate.  Bill McCollum, who now seems to run for every elective office he can in Florida, is another Republican on the short list. Congressman Connie Mack IV, son of the popular two-term Floridian senator, is the only other person even on the radar screen.  There are no grave "problems" that conservatives should have with any of these men, but there is nothing inspiring about any of these men either.

Jeb is more conservative than his brother or dad, but he is still part of a long political dynasty, which makes him appear more a patrician politician.  His son, George P. Bush is almost certainly going to make himself a force within the Republican Party at some time. Is our ideal candidate the grandson of a senator, the son of a president, and the brother of a president?  Jeb would have to be wooed to run and he already passed up one chance to run against Nelson.  When the cog in a political dynasty wants out, conservatives should respect that wish.

Connie Mack IV is also part of a political dynasty that stretches across three big states – Florida, Texas, and California.  He is the son of former Senator Connie Mack.  His wife is Congresswoman Mary Bono of California.  He is the great-grandson of former Texas Senator Morris Sheppard, as well as having another Texas Senator and a Texas House member in his lineage.  Mack has been fairly conservative.  His 92.8% ACU conservative rating makes him the sixth most conservative Republican House member in Florida – okay, but not great, especially considering that he comes from a House district which will always elect Republicans.

Outgoing Senator LeMieux had an uninspiring 86% voting record from the American Conservative Union during his brief tenure in the Senate, lower than Lindsey Graham from nearby South Carolina. His political career was deeply intertwined with the execrable Charlie Crist.  He was Crist's Chief of Staff when the former was Florida Attorney General.  LeMieux masterminded Crist's campaign for Governor.  Uhhh…is there anything else that we need to know about this outgoing, appointed Senator?

Perhaps Bill McCollum is the best example of why we need Allen West running for the Senate in 2012.  McCollum was a member of the House of Representatives for twenty years, and he was conservative.  He ran for the United States Senate in 2000 and 2004 and he ran for Governor in 2010.  He lost the Republican nomination to incoming Governor Rick Scott, who ran as an outsider against the Florida political establishment, a candidate unapologetically connected with the Tea Party.

Allen West is not inextricably connected with politics.  He rose to command as an officer serving his county in a combat role.  West represents one of the great hopes which conservatives can see in an American society oozing with self-indulgence.  Those brave men and women who volunteer, in spite of the ghoulish slanders of the Left, to keep us safe.  Like so many Tea Party Americans, West has been moved out of love for his country to seek office.  Can we expect radical change from any of these other men?  No.  Can we really expect them to transcend the ordinary business of politics?  No.

Allen West is black.  That should not matter to us one way or the other.  It is unlikely that he would win many votes in Florida because of his race, and we should want him to win votes with his principles and ideals rather than the color of his skin.  Moreover, he would not run as a black man, but rather as a conservative American.  President Obama and his pals blathered on two years ago about a "post-racial America."  Men like Allen West are the actual manifestation of that concept. ESR

Bruce Walker is the author of a new book Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.

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