Lib­er­tar­i­ans see shot at De­Lay seat; Barr backs can­di­date in Texas

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Robert Stacy McCain

Lib­er­tar­ian Party of­fi­cials say the prob­lems fac­ing Repub­li­cans in for­mer House Ma­jor­ity Leader Tom De­Lay’s Texas dis­trict have cre­ated “the per­fect storm” that could­give their party its first vic­tory in a con­gres­sional race.

Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Bob Smither got a boost on Aug. 16 when he was en­dorsed by for­mer Rep. Bob Barr, a con­ser­va­tive Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can.

“In light of the less-than-con­ser­va­tive agenda that the Repub­li­cans in Congress have pur­sued, I’m de­lighted to sup­port a Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date, Bob Smither, who I think will most def­i­nitely stick to his small-gov­ern­ment phi­los­o­phy,” Mr. Barr said in a tele­phone in­ter­viewfrom his At­lanta la­wof­fice. “I don’t see him go­ing to Wash­ing­ton and vot­ing for big­ger gov­ern­ment the way so many Repub­li­cans have done.”

A for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor who gained na­tional promi­nence in 1998 as one of the House Repub­li­cans cho­sen to present the im­peach­ment case against Pres­i­dent Clin­ton, Mr. Barr said the “unique sit­u­a­tion” in the race caused him to back the Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date.

Though Texas’ 22nd Dis­trict is strongly con­ser­va­tive — Mr. De­Lay got 55 per­cent of the vote in 2004 and 63 per­cent in 2002 — the Repub­li­can Party re­moved its line from the bal­lot af­ter courts ruled that it could not sub­sti­tute an­other can­di­date for Mr. De­Lay, who re­signed from Congress un­der a cloud of scan­dal in June.

That leaves Mr. Smither, the Lib­er­tar­ian, as the only name on the bal­lot against the Demo­cratic can­di­date, for­mer Rep. Nick Lamp­son. Repub­li­cans say they will unite to sup­port a write-in can­di­date. But Mr. Barr said that be­cause “it’s very un­likely that a write-in can­di­date can win,” back­ing Mr. Smither is the best hope of en­sur­ing that the dis­trict “con­tin­ues to be rep­re­sented by a con­ser­va­tive.”

A fifth-gen­er­a­tion Texan, Mr. Smither is a busi­ness­man who is well-known in the dis­trict south of Hous­ton be­cause of his work on be­half of miss­ing chil­dren. His 12-year-old daugh­ter, Laura, was ab­ducted and killed in 1997, lead­ing Mr. Smither and his wife to found a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Laura Re­cov­ery Cen­ter for miss­ing chil­dren.

In an open let­ter sent on Aug. 15 to Repub­li­cans in the dis­trict, Mr. Smither said that if elected he would vote for a Repub­li­can as House speaker.

“It ap­pears at this point that Repub­li­cans may lose the ma­jor­ity in the House,” Mr. Smither wrote. “If this oc­curs, a vote for lib­eral Demo­crat Nick Lamp­son will be a vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.”

Mr. Lamp­son has more than $2 mil­lion in cam­paign cash and has be­gun run­ning TV ads. Repub­li­cans have yet to de­cide on a can­di­date in a midterm elec­tion that many Democrats say of­fers their best chance to re­cap­ture the House since los­ing it in 1994.

Sev­eral Repub­li­cans have of­fered them­selves as write-in can­di­dates for the seat.

Mr. Smither ex­pressed doubt that any write-in can­di­date could be elected, not­ing tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties pre­sented by elec­tronic vot­ing. “They’ll have to spell the name on an e-slate vot­ing ma­chine. They’ll ac­tu­ally be listed as an in­de­pen­dent, not a Repub­li­can,” he said.

Mr. Smither said Mr. Barr’s en­dorse­ment “shows that at least one very prom­i­nent Repub­li­can be­lieves that there’s a lot of com­mon ground be­tween how I feel and how con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­cans feel on a lot of is­sues.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.