Republican 2016 hopefuls eager to serve as surrogates on campaign trail

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, endorses Senate hopeful Scott Brown during a campaign event at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., on Sept. 12. (Associated Press)

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz aid candidates, raise profiles

– The Washington Times – Sunday, October 12, 2014

It had been years since Rep. Walter B. Jones invited a major national Republican figure to visit his North Carolina district to campaign with him, but he broke that drought last month by welcoming Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

It was part of an effort for Mr. Jones, who has established a reputation as somewhat of a maverick in the party, to recover from political wounds and raise money after turning back a fierce challenge from an establishment-backed Republican primary rival.

David Johnson, a Georgia-based Republican Party strategist, said Senate candidate David Perdue would get the biggest boost from the likes of Govs. Rick Perry of Texas, Mike Pence of Indiana or Scott Walker of Wisconsin, or from Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor.

Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire, said Mr. Romney — who says he is not planning another run for president — remains the most powerful surrogate for Republican challengers looking to knock off incumbents, in part because he instantly reminds voters of the choice they made in 2012.

“Without question, Mitt Romney helps the most,” Mr. Duprey said. “Lots of voters in New Hampshire wish now that they had voted for Mitt for president, and having him campaign here reminds the voters how our incumbent senator, Jeanne Shaheen, votes with President Obama over 99 percent of the time and our two congresswomen, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, vote with President Obama over 90 percent of the time.”

Ms. Shaheen, a Democrat, is running against former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Ms. Shea-Porter faces off against Frank Guinta, whom she defeated in 2012 in the 1st Congressional District, and Ms. Kuster is up against state Rep. Marilinda Garcia in the Granite State’s other U.S. House race.

Mr. Duprey said visits from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also would be helpful. Mr. Rubio campaigned Tuesday with Mr. Brown and plans to return to New Hampshire on behalf of Ms. Garcia.

Paul’s popularity

The only candidate on both Mr. Johnson’s list from Georgia and Mr. Duprey’s list from New Hampshire is Mr. Paul, a libertarian who is a popular request from candidates across the GOP ideological spectrum.

Mr. Paul’s trip to North Carolina included a campaign stop with U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who is challenging Democrat Kay R. Hagan. Mr. Paul campaigned for Mr. Tillis’ tea party-backed opponent in the Republican primary, and his appearance could help Mr. Tillis with wary conservatives.

A week before campaigning with Mr. Paul, Mr. Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, stumped with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has become heavily involved in recent weeks. He even opened his fundraising network in Florida to candidates in tight races.

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