Lt. Gov. John Sanchez received a nod for US Senate today from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), son of famed libertarian presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
It's the latest in tea party-inspired endorsements for candidates looking to fill open Senate seat in 2012. Former Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle recently endorsed daycare owner Greg Sowards for the GOP nomination.
But the Paul endorsement gives a potential boost to Sanchez, who's primary opponent Heather Wilson remains the GOP establishment favorite. In a statement, Paul called Sanchez the "only rock-solid, Constitutional conservative in the race." Sanchez says he's honored to have Paul's endorsement. Sanchez is running to the right of both Wilson and Sowards.
If Sanchez is attempting to solidify outsider conservative credentials, Paul's endorsement won't hurt him. Both the elder and younger Pauls have made their share of intriguing right-wing policy positions over the years.
While the elder Paul's known for his anti-federal, libertarian political views, his son has leaned more toward the tea party base since being elected to Senate last year, even penning a book called "The Tea Party Goes to Washington." Like his father, Rand opposes birthright citizenship—a Constitutional right—for children of undocumented immigrants. But while the elder Paul has called for stronger US-Mexico borders, Rand is more specific in favoring a border with an electric fence and helicopter stations.
Rand also supports the Afghanistan war and says he would have voted against the Iraq war, although he questioned withdrawing troops from Iraq during his 2010 Senate campaign. This is in stark contrast to his isolationist father, who has called for ending both wars. Both oppose the PATRIOT Act.
Both have stated opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act on libertarian grounds. During his 2008 presidential campaign, old racist newsletters written under Ron Paul's name were brought to light and caused a minor controversy. Ron maintained he never actually wrote them.
The younger Paul's most recently been in the news for blocking a pipeline safety bill for philosophical reasons. The bill, favored by the oil and gas companies that would be affected by it, is a response to a deadly gas pipeline explosion in California's Bay Area last year. Paul, who's unapologetic in his opposition to federal regulations, is the only senator blocking the bill, according to the Associated Press.
Sanchez has been involved in state politics for the past decade. He's vying for the Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). In 2002, he won the GOP's gubernatorial endorsement before losing the race to Bill Richardson. Since being elected lieutenant governor, he's played a role in numerous tea party rallies around the state.
"His unwavering commitment to liberty should be a model for all conservative candidates and leaders," Sanchez said in a statement.
The press release:
Senator Rand Paul Endorses John Sanchez for U.S. Senate
Senator Paul cites Sanchez long record supporting the conservative movement
ALBUQUERQUE—John Sanchez, Republican Lt. Governor of New Mexico and candidate for the United States Senate, today announced the endorsement of United States Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).
"I've watched the race unfold in New Mexico and it has become clear to me that there is only one rock-solid, Constitutional conservative in the race committed to standing up every day to fight higher taxes, increased spending and unrestrained government growth and that candidate is Lt. Governor John Sanchez," said Senator Paul. "If the voters of New Mexico want more of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi they have plenty of choices, but if they want a true conservative to look out for the taxpayer, I hope they'll join me in supporting John Sanchez."
"Washington politicians keep trying the same government spending schemes over and over. From failed stimulus programs to big bank bailouts and from runaway debt to ObamaCare, the Washington elite wants more and more control of our lives," continued Paul, a national leader in the conservative movement. "We need John Sanchez in the United States Senate to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, rein in government spending, reduce taxes and put a stop to a federal government that encroaches every day on the very liberties that make our country great."
"New Mexico needs John Sanchez and his commitment to the pro-life, pro-family, limited government principles that we need so badly in Washington. Conservatives cannot win back the majority in the U.S. Senate without winning New Mexico. And John Sanchez is the only true conservative in the race and I'm glad to stand by him."
Sanchez said: "I am honored to have Senator Paul's endorsement and active involvement in our campaign. His unwavering commitment to liberty should be a model for all conservative candidates and leaders. I look forward to standing side by side with Senator Paul and other conservative Senators to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, cut wasteful spending and get the government out of the way of entrepreneurs, investors and small business owners so they can grow their businesses, create new jobs and get our economy back on track."
"In the race for the United States Senate, the choice is clear. We can choose to elect the same old tax and spend liberals that got us into this mess in the first place by bailing out banks, increasing the debt ceiling and seeking amnesty for illegal immigrants or we can choose honest, conservative leadership", continued Sanchez. "I'll do everything I can to repeal ObamaCare and reverse years of poor decisions by career politicians."