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January 21, 2010

Sell Me On Patrick Hughes!

Coming up on February 2nd: The primary to determine the Republican candidate who will contest for Barack Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois.

Apparently Mark Kirk is the front-runner for the bid. But a site called Tea Party Nation has deemed him a RINO, and is pushing his challenger, deemed a strong conservative, named Pat Hughes.

I was going to do some research on this but I remembered Thomas Sowell's thesis that even so-called "experts" (and I ain't one) have only 1% of the available knowledge, and the other 99% is held by everyone else.

So this isn't really laziness: It wouldn't be too hard for me do do a quickie bit of research and post my own quickly-formed and very incomplete opinion. (Though, having done the post, I would, as people tend to do, pose as more of an "expert" than is warranted, and, again, no such posturing is warranted at all.)

I've seen commenters mention this race -- so, let's have the true experts weigh in, those who have been following this for a while.

As a general matter I'm conservative by temperament on these things and I'd say "If Kirk is already ahead, that must mean he's done something right, let's just push him."

The trouble is, Kirk was one of only eight Republicans to vote for... Cap and Trade.

Now, being on the tactical/flexibility/big-tent side of this debate, most of the time anyway, I should force myself to forgive that and tell myself that Illinois is a liberal state, and maybe he voted that way because he knew it would be necessary to have that on his record if he was to win the Senate race, and maybe it was purely cynical and opportunistic and he didn't mean a word of his "Yea," and etc.

But inside every sell-out RINO lurks a Purity Republican, and I am, in fact, a Purity Republican on this issue. For me, if you're voting for Cap and Tax, you're pretty much dead to me.

And even worse: even if this was a case of pure political positioning, he would seem to have badly erred in that positioning, because the current political temper, even in very liberal states, is pro-growth, pro-growth, pro-growth. Pro-growth at almost any cost. People want a recovery, and they are highly skeptical of any measure that seems likely to increase taxes and slow growth and forestall and diminish any recovery that may be on the horizon.

So, for the genuine experts: What are Kirk's strengths? Is he attractive and appealing? Is he a solid Republican on other matters?

And this Paul Hughes -- what are his intangibles? Is he too conservative to win statewide in Illinois? For example, is he down-the-line pro-life? (A position that would cost someone dearly in an abortion-happy state.) Or is he pro-life mostly in the way Scott Brown is (against the most egregious sorts of abortions, against federal funding for it, against forcing people to provide abortions against the command of their conscience, etc.)?

Who's our guy here? I genuinely don't know. I'm leaning pretty strongly towards Hughes based on Kirk's offending of my inner Purity Republican (and also my tactical Republican -- that vote is not going to help him), but I could go either way.

Ooof! See? No expert. It's Pat Hughes, not Paul Hughes, as I first wrote.

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posted by Ace at 12:56 PM

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