Ron Paul Retiring in 2012: Who Will Replace the Texas Libertarian?

Through the entire 2012 Texas primary and Republican presidential primary hubbub, lost is the news that libertarian Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) will be retiring in November.

So who will replace Paul?  

In his home district (the 14th district of Texas which is a coastal district that touches the outskirts of Houston on the west) Ron Paul has an established network of supporters who are already familiar with his policies and who are excited about his philosophy. In most of his congressional elections, more than 100,000 people voted for Paul, indicating the attraction of Texans to his campaign strategy and libertarian platforms.

But voters in the district won’t have such a unique politician filling their seat again.

On the Republican side, Texas State Rep. Randy Weber is the favorite among nine other candidates. The winner is likely to face former congressman Nick Lampson, a Democrat, in the general election.

Weber, who has been endorsed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, touts a 2009 poll sponsored by the Texas Conservative Coalition that rated him the most conservative member of the Texas House.

Paul, who represented his district for 24 years, though not consecutively, endorsed Weber’s two campaigns for the Texas State House, but so far has not endorsed a successor.

In a staunchly conservative state (the last time Texas elected a Democrat to higher office was 1994), all of the candidates vying for Paul’s spot are pure conservatives. None are much like Paul, whose libertarian leanings have made him a fierce critic of big government, the Federal Reserve, and foreign military intervention, just to name a few.

Ron Paul won 76% of the vote when he was re-elected in 2010, and you would think that many of the Republican candidates gunning for his seat would likely have to mold their policy platforms to match the libertarian’s.

Such is not the case. A few of the candidates are actually trying to win votes by moving away from Paul’s policies. Instead of ending government stimulus packages, they vow to bring home the real pork, obtaining more federal funding to improve the region's ports and waterways.

"With the growth of shale gas and the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal, we want to make sure Texas and the nation benefit from these economic opportunities," Felicia Harris, a lawyer and councilwoman from Pearland, Texas, running for Paul’s seat told the Wall Street Journal.

This little libertarian corner of Texas, then, may be no more.

Ron Paul’s voting pattern in Congress has earned him the nickname “Dr. No.”

Don’t expect the Ron Paul successor to be as anti-big government or libertarian as Paul. Expect a true Texas Republican.

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Chris Miles

Chris has worked for media outlets including the Associated Press and Stars and Stripes. He worked with the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, and with the Kentucky state legislature. He holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Louisville, and a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. He is originally from Lexington, Ky. Kentucky basketball occupies a majority of his free time.

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