Tuesday's special election to fill the seat of Craigslist scandal-tarred former Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., has been blown wide open by the candidacy of an eccentric self-funded, self-proclaimed "Tea Party" candidate, Jack Davis. In 2004 and 2006 Davis' promise to self-fund his bid convinced district Democrats to give him their ballot line to keep then-NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds busy back home. In '06, David nearly won.
Although a final weekend poll pointed a surge for Kathy Hochul, the Democrat, in this race, it also indicated Davis was dropping into the lower double digits from the low 20s in the closing days.
Davis petitioned his way onto his own "Tea Party" ballot line to gain attention for the special election, but Tea Party groups have disavowed him. Matthew Kibbe of FreedomWorks -- the D.C.-based Tea Party networkers -- issued a press release from the group's PAC denouncing Davis.
Of course, while Kibbe and FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey aim to nudge Tea Partiers to a more consistently small government message, as Slate's David Weigel points out Jack Davis' angry unfiltered anti-elite, anti-Washington message is not entirely unreflective of the notoriously loose-knit Tea Party movement overall. In this and past runs, Davis has been vociferously anti-trade, inveighing against the NAFTA agreement that Armey worked so hard to pass as House Minority Leader in the early 1990. FreedomWorks has chided Davis for "peddling protectionism." But at Tea Party rallies, it can be difficult to find any support for free trade among the grassroots.
While liberal pundits love to point out the loonier hangers-on to any Tea Party-backed candidate, there hasn't been evidence of "birthers" or "truthers" rallying around Davis' campaign. However, his rabidly anti-trade platform has caught the attention of the infamously conspiracy-obsessed John Birch Society. Davis' official campaign site seems to have no compunction about boasting of and linking to a story from the New American magazine, the Birchers' official organ, praising his protectionism.
An oversight like this is clear evidence that Jack Davis is not ready for Washington, and not worth a wasted vote, even to lodge a protest at Washington.