February 19, 2008 2:00 AM
By Roger L. Simon
Despite millions of dollars and devoted online support, Ron Paulís idiosyncratic campaign for the Republican presidential candidacy never caught fire. Now, polls show Dr. Paul falling behind relatively unknown challenger Chris Peden in his 14th Texas District endangering his congressional seat in the Texas primary. Roger L. Simon interviewed challenger Peden exclusively for Pajamas Media.
Some may call it poetic justice, others may call it unfair, but Ron Paul is in the fight of his political life, but itís not for the presidency. Itís to stay in Congress from his own district.
While pursuing his thus far quixotic quest for the presidency, Congressman Paul has fallen behind by over ten points in the polls (43-32) in the fight for the Republican nomination in the Texas 14th to challenger Chris Peden, according to internal polls from both campaigns, which Pajamas Media was told were quite similar. Peden is a 43-year old CPA and city councilman from Friendswood, Texas. The primary takes place on March 4.
With reports for January 2008 not yet out, Congressman Paul has spent (according to OpenSecrets.org) $20,262,084 on his presidential campaign - well over a million dollars per delegate (he has 14 to John McCainís 903). Paul still has nearly eight million in his presidential war chest, possibly more when the new report comes out on Feb. 20, but cannot use any of it in his contest against Peden unless the OBGYN-politician drops out of the presidential race.
In an exclusive interview with Pajamas Media, Chris Peden said Paul is unlikely to forego his long shot pursuit of the presidency because to do so would mean he would not be able to make a coveted speech before the Republican Convention this September in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
But Paul would be well advised to reconsider. His over ten-year incumbency in the 14th District Ė which spans ten counties of South Texas with 675 miles of coastline Ė is in jeopardy for several reasons, not the least of which, Peden told PJM, is the reconfiguration of the 14th itself. Since 2004, it not only includes Galveston but suburban Houston as well, coming within six miles of NASA headquarters with many of the space agencyís employees now within the district. Paul is known for opposing funding for NASA, calling it unconstitutional.
Paulís supporters themselves seem to be worried. They have switched fund-raising efforts on their website The Daily Paul in recent days from the presidency to his congressional race.
Meanwhile, frontrunner Peden plans to expose many other of Dr. Paulís positions to his constituents, which the challenger says have received little coverage by mainstream media. This, of course, could include the as yet unsolved mystery of the racially controversial newsletters authored under Paulís name during the nineties. Paul claims to have forgotten who wrote them.
But number one among the issues, Peden said in his interview, is this: ďIím not running for Commander-In-Chief, and so once the decision was made to put troops in Iraq, and that decision, by the way, was made by Congress, then I would never vote to not send them body armor and the equipment they needed to be successful. That is the one area that Ron Paul and I are vastly different.Ē
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