I’ll save you some time: it’s Ed Martin.
I’ve met the former Missouri GOP head and former US Ambassador to Luxembourg a couple of times. Ann Wagner is smart, funny, and engaging. I think she’d make an outstanding Republican candidate for the US House. If elected, she’d serve Missouri well.
Missouri and the tea party won’t be the big winners if Ann Wagner gets the nomination, though. That distinction would go to the Missouri Republican establishment—the same establishment that the tea party hopes to reform or replace.
The Tea Party vs. The Establishment
I’ll tell you straight: I did not give over my life to the Tea party two and a half years ago just to satisfy the GOP establishment. Far from it. I joined to save the damn country from both parties.
The very first Tea party on February 27, 2009, was a big gamble for politicians. Showing up meant endorsing an unknown. No one knew who I was or what this Tea party protest was about.
To attend the Tea party was to thumb your nose at the GOP.
Only four Missouri politicians braved the weather and risks that cold day to stand with the people on the steps of the Arch. Those four were John and Gina Loudon, Jim Lembke, and, of course, Ed Martin.
No, Ann Wagner wasn’t there that day. Nor was she, as far as I know, on April 15, 2009, or April 15, 2010. I did not see her at the dozens of rallies and protests throughout the area in 2009 and 2010.
That’s why I say Ed Martin is the only original Tea Partier in the race.
Ed Martin Was There
By taking the stage that on February 27, Ed, Dana, Lembke, the Loudons, Jackie Smith, and everyone else took a chance. I could have been a racist or anarchist. I could have been a problem.
But they came anyway.
Both the Loudons and Ed Martin told me later that they understood the personal career risk of showing up at the Tea Party Protest.
They also understood something else: “This country is going to hell in a hand basket, and if we don’t stop the slide right now, we won’t have a country to run for office in.”
So Ed came down and spoke. He also gave me advice in the days just before the event. Ed had been among the first to offer his help, but among the last to get my request for help. It took me until Wednesday to figure who Ed was.
In my book, that makes Ed Martin the only original Tea Partier in the race.
Republican Dirty Tricks?
I wanted you to know my thoughts on this race early, so there’s no confusion. I’ve been told that the Missouri GOP establishment plans to run a very dirty campaign against Ed and against his supporters.
We’ve been warned. Threatened, might be a better term.
Well, the Left’s been after you and me for over two years. Some in the Missouri GOP have hated us almost as long. When we come under attack from both sides, just remember to duck; they’ll take out each other.
I know that some Tea Partiers will support Ann because they want to rack up an easy win. They figure that supporting the Republican Establishment’s candidate locks in victory. That’s fine. I want a big win, too.
But I want to win the war, not just a skirmish. And I want to win one for America and for the Gipper, not for the Establishment.
If I wasnted to please the GOP, I could have found a part time job in 2009 and sent all the money to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. If I wanted an easy Republican win, I could have supported Dede Scozzafava in NY23 and claimed that victory. But I didn’t. I’ve worked too hard on this Tea party gig.
Ed’s a Winner
Ed Martin ran a brilliant campaign against Russ Carnahan last year, coming within 1 percentage point in a Democrat +7 district. No one in my lifetime had come so close. Running in the new Republican +5 2nd District, Ed Martin would blow Carnahan out of the water, all other things being equal.
Martin came closer to winning than anyone predicted, taking rural areas and outer suburbs, Ste. Genevieve County, and Jefferson County before losing the city.
Besides, Ed Martin is the only original Tea Partier in the race.
Only One Tea Party Candidate
Were there no Tea Partiers in the race, I’d probably back Ann. But there is one, and only one, Tea Partier in the Republican race for Missouri’s new 2nds District. He earned that title, not by paying some organization for its endorsement, but by helping to organize the first events—before Tea partying was cool.
We asked Tea Partiers “Why Do You Tea Party” in 2009. When I read their answers, I realize that there is only one of us running for the 2nd District, and that’s Ed Martin.
This editorial–posted to my personal blog–is my opinion. It does not represent the official position of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition. I am sorry I did not make this clearer in the original.