Photo: Preston Bates
With Ron Paul effectively out of the presidential race — and nearing the end of his career in politics — his army of young acolytes are taking on the mantle of the Revolution, turning their attention to down-ballot races in a quiet quest to take over the Republican party.At the vanguard of this Revolution 2.0 is John Ramsey, a 21-year-old Texas millionaire who used $1.3 million of his inheritance to form a SuperPAC that backs so-called “Liberty candidates” who adhere to Paul’s small government, free-market, anti-interventionist, and pro-civil liberty message.
A former Ron Paul campaign volunteer, Ramsey told Business Insider that he was disillusioned by Paul’s disappointing — and somewhat fishy — losses in this year’s Iowa and Maine caucuses, and wanted to form a group that would go beyond grassroots organising and actually win elections. He teamed up with fellow Paul volunteer Preston Bates, a 23-year-old former Democratic operative, and christened the new SuperPAC Liberty For All.
“We want to be the organisation that wins elections — that makes a difference,” Ramsey told BI. “It’s one thing to get everyone inspired and rallied up, it’s another thing to actually win and have a professional organisation that can have a profound impact on elections at every level.”
The Super PAC scored its first major victory in Kentucky’s Republican primary last week, with Thomas Massie’s landslide win in the state’s Fourth Congressional District. Liberty For All/Ramsey threw down nearly $900,000 to back Massie in the race, flooding the state media markets and mailboxes with attacks against his opponent.
But Ramsey and Bates aren’t resting on their laurels. Liberty For All announced Monday that it will back 10 candidates in statewide races this year, and is soliciting input on who should make up the slate.
“The grassroots nature of the organisation is such that it’s impossible for us to wheel-and-deal and be Boss Tweeds,” said Bates, the executive director of Liberty For All. “We want people who are in the communities with these candidates to be like, ‘Hey, this candidate is good on freedom, they’re the real deal, they’re not pandering, they’re not a diet Freedom candidate.'”
It’s a strange approach for a SuperPAC, which tend to be run by secretive donors who already know which candidates they like.
But Liberty For All is part of a political cottage industry of Paul-friendly think tanks, PACs, and consultancies that occupy a parallel political universe alongside the Republican Establishment. These nextGen Ronulans are figuring out ways to harness the movement’s grassroots enthusiasm and new media flexibility toward traditional campaigning.
“We plan to use all of the traditional tactics – TV, radio, direct mail,” Bates said. “We can compete with them in new technology, but where we can’t compete is with the buddy-buddy network.”
(To be fair, Liberty For All hasn’t completely lost touch with its roots — Bates said they plan to “annoy” rivals with drone parody blimps.)
So far, Liberty For All has been almost entirely self-funded by Ramsey, who inherited the money from his grandfather. But Bates said he is already ramping up hiring, and plans to have a fundraising team of between 5 and 10 people. The goal, he said, is to raise $10 million by the end of the summer.
“There are members of the community that have the ability to write large checks and we want to give them an organisation that is well-organised and well-oiled — we think they are interested in investing in a freer country,” Bates said. “”We’ve already created a niche for those investors who want to make freedom codified in the political system.”
Ramsey, who is just a few credits shy of his bachelor’s degree, won’t say how much he is willing to put into his SuperPAC (“how much does freedom cost?”) and adds that he sees his contribution as an “angel investment” in a “humanitarian effort.”
These musings aside, Ramsey and Bates are not afraid to get their hands dirty if it means getting Liberty candidates into office.
“We plan to become like a freedom insurgency,” Bates said. “We’re going to use any and all available tactics and nothing is off the table.”
“To be honest, we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Ramsey added. “Any enemy of freedom, whether within the Republican Party or Democratic Party — they should be shaking in their boots at this point. No one is safe.”
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