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Bad Idea for First Coast Tea Party to Throw Away Ander Crenshaw

August 18, 2014 - 6:00pm

There may be another incumbent-tossing in the wind for Northeast Florida.

In the last election, longtime congressman Cliff Stearns was replaced with Ted Yoho, despite the fact that Stearns was a staunch conservative.

Tea party types are ready to dismiss all incumbents Democrat and Republican alike and are working hard to oust the incumbent in the 4th Congressional District, Ander Crenshaw.

While I'm fully in accord with what the tea party stands for, it is a matter of tactics.

Supporters of Ryman Shoaf, Crenshaw's opponent in the Republican primary, contend that he is more conservative and will do a better job.


But they have taken to using the word liberal in attacking Crenshaw, and distorting both his record and campaign funding.

I live in his district. He is not a liberal. What liberal has the support of Right to Life and the NRA, was an early proponent of the Fair Tax and as chairman of an appropriations subcommittee has cut funding for the IRS by $1.5 billion?

He may have voted to raise the debt ceiling and to continue funding the government, but most conservatives understand that the left can use such votes with the help of a compliant leftist media to blame them for shutting down the government and defaulting on our debt. Both are phony charges, but in politics, perception matters more than truth.

In fact, the House has been able to cut federal government discretionary spending by $645 billion while Crenshaw has been there, even with liberals in control of the Senate.

Shoaf has no record, but he promises to vote against everything, to balance the budget, eliminate the debt, etc. All safe promises. But there are 534 other people who also have a vote.

One organization on the right has given Crenshaw a low rating on selected votes. But the American Conservative Union gives him a lifetime rating of 84, 4 points better than Yoho. He also had a stellar record as a legislator and president of the Florida Senate.

Ronald Reagan said anyone who voted with him 80 percent of the time was his friend.

Shoaf, a retired Navy captain, might do a good job in the House if elected. He won't have the clout Crenshaw has but he might attain it in time. But the truth is, he and Crenshaw have about the same views, and Crenshaw has more experience.

However, even though it is a fairly solid Republican district, there is a greater chance of an upset in the general election for an unknown than a well-known incumbent.

This year may be the last chance Republicans have to regain control of Congress and counter the leftist agenda coming from the White House.

What would it avail the conservative cause to gain the Senate but lose the House?

In this critical election, do Republicans really want to be taking chances? And how much distortion is reasonable in pursuit of your goal?

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as a policy analyst for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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