I’d like to thank Jim Johnson for this great opportunity to contribute to The State of Sunshine.
As mentioned in the introduction, my name is Eric Wall and I am a libertarian-leaning conservative from Panama City. I am a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida Executive Committee and consider myself fundamentally a fiscal conservative. I am pro-Constitution, pro-gun, pro-low taxes, pro-liberty, pro-limited government, pro-individual responsibility, pro-defense and pro-states’ rights.
The Northwest Florida Panhandle has traditionally been a conservative stronghold and strongly pro-military due to the presence of Eglin and Tyndall AFB as well as Pensacola NAS. President Bush won here by a wide margin in 2004. Gov. Mitt Romney narrowly won the Republican primary here in Bay County this past January 29.
The most popular talk radio station in town is Talk Radio 101.1 One of the most popular hosts is Burnie Thompson. He is conservative, but has libertarian tendencies as well. I met Mr. Thompson at the Ron Paul Cook Out we put together during the primary season. He stopped short on a full endorsement, citing foreign policy, but his presence was certainly appreciated and I thank him again for attending. His page is http://burniethompson.com/
Mr. Thompson has written about Gov. Crist in an opinion piece in the Washington Times.
Entitled “The Crist Tryst”, he states among other things that the Governor’s nomination would be unwise, and would “would spell victory for big-government Republicanism, and a definitive departure from the virtues of small government and personal responsibility.“
He describes Crist as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) “In less than 18 months, Mr. Crist has socialized Florida’s insurance market, hamstrung businesses with climate regulations, invigorated trial lawyers, and launched costly public-works projects to stimulate the economy.”
He feels that nominating Crist as VP would be a mistake. I would tend to agree. He does not have enough experience on the national stage. A conservative like Romney on the ticket would do much to satisfy and energize the Republican base here in the Panhandle. He was the first to campaign here. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen. Since the positioning this election cycle is all about grabbing the center, it does not seem likely that Romney would get the nod.
Will disaffected conservatives and former Ron Paul supporters turn to Libertarian Bob Barr in protest beyond 3-5%? Not likely, since his campaign has no significant organizational presence here, just a meetup group. Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin is from Pensacola, but probably won’t attract much support here either. So essentially the Panhandle is McCain’s to lose. There have been rumors of an August visit to the area by the Senator, but it has not been officially confirmed.
In further posts I will cover local races in the region leading up to the Republican primary on August 26, 2008, including the 2nd Congressional District race. The victorious Republican nominee will have an uphill battle against Democratic incumbent Rep. Allen Boyd, either Eddie Hendry of Tallahassee or Mark Mulligan of Panama City. The district encompasses 16 counties and takes a considerable amount of travel and money to be competitive.
I am grateful to Jim for this opportunity, and I look forward to your comments, as I feel that vigorous debate is essential to a free society.