Tom Hayden, kingpin of the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s, shaved, bought some new suits, and got elected to the California legislature. Onetime Black Panther Bobby Rush is now a Democratic congressman from Illinois. The late Paul Wellstone parlayed his Saul Alinsky-ish organizational skills in numerous left-of-center causes into a U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota.
So someone with a record of involvement in far-left causes who has left a controversial paper trail can win office.
But in Kentucky?
That’s the big question in the Louisville-based 3rd District, where onetime alternative newspaper publisher and columnist John Yarmuth is the Democratic nominee against five-term Republican Rep. Anne Northup. From 1990 until he sold it in ’03, Yarmuth owned, ran and wrote numerous editorials for the Louisville Eccentric Observer.
“And after reading and photocopying 800 back editions of the Eccentric Observer, we know where our opponent stands,” says Northup campaign manager Patrick Neely. “His editorials have favored lowering the drinking age, doubling the payroll tax, putting a new tax on SUVs and pickup trucks, repealing the 2nd Amendment, removing ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance, and legalizing marijuana. How much time do you have?”
Yarmuth fired back at a news conference but, as the Washington Post noted, “spent most of the conference bashing Northup and ignoring the specifics of her accusations.”
The Democrat also charged that Northup backs President Bush 91% of the time and urged reporters to ask her “What are you proud of?” Northup (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 85%) is unabashedly proud of her record—strongly pro-life, pro-tax cut, pro-war on terror, pro-2nd Amendment, and in favor of school vouchers.
Northup might appear a cinch for re-election. But conservatives should remember that she is running in a district in which Democrats have a 2-to-1 voter registration edge, which Bill Clinton twice carried and which John Kerry won in ’04. And she’s up against a Democrat who has so far put $350,000 of his own wealth into his campaign. Thus, conservatives ignore Anne Northup’s call for help now at their and her peril.