Tom Emmer’s primary win in Minnesota on Tuesday night didn’t draw much national media attention.
But it was a cause for celebration for libertarians who see the new Republican nominee to fill Rep. Michele Bachmann's old seat as a potential ally for Rep. Justin Amash, the outspoken Michigan libertarian who is often a thorn in the GOP leadership's side.
Here's why that matters: Amash is often seen as the stylistic heir to Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning congressman famous for lonely crusades to end the Federal Reserve, reduce America's military footprint and curb the drug war.
Amash is still very much in the minority of House Republicans, so even a handful of ideologically simpatico colleagues would be a big change for the libertarian caucus.
Emmer is one example. He's been endorsed by libertarian-leaning organizations and said he would have voted for Amash's measure (a proposal that Bachmann voted against).
David FitzSimmons, a consultant to his campaign, described him as “very much a states’ rights guy” and added that he would be comfortable deviating from the leadership’s agenda if he feels the need.
“He’s his own person, so his views may align with some people sometimes and with others different times,” FitzSimmons said.
Here's a quick look at five others — all in races they can win, either in red districts or facing vulnerable Democratic incumbents:
• Andrew Walter, an Arizona Republican whose primary is on Aug. 26, is looking to challenge vulnerable incumbent Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. John Ramsey, a banking heir and entrepreneur who backs many libertarian-leaning candidates (including Amash and Rep. Thomas Massie, R. Ky.), is effusive about Walter.
“If we get him elected, he will be the next Justin Amash, no doubt,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey's group, Liberty for All Action Fund, has endorsed Walter and is contributing to his race. Ramsey said Walter’s opposition to the drug war helped him stand out. And Ani DeGroot, the director of elections for Young Americans for Liberty’s Liberty Action Fund PAC, said her group (which endorsed him as well) was impressed by his emphasis on protecting civil liberties.
“Probably every issue, he’d be with Amash,” Ramsey said.
Mills made headlines when photos leaked of him using a beer bong. That didn't cause much of a stir among his libertarian-leaning supporters, nor was the fact that he’s a former member of the Libertarian Party.
“As I travel across the Eighth Congressional District, I hear over and over again from people who are concerned that Washington's gotten too far away from a few fundamental principles: personal responsibility, individual liberty and a limited government that respects those rights,” Mills said in a statement.
• Alex Mooney, running for an open House seat in West Virginia, also has backing from DeGroot’s group. And the Republican Liberty Caucus, whose website prominently features Images of Barry Goldwater, Justin Amash and Ron Paul, has endorsed him as well. He’s one of just a few House candidates to win the imprimatur of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group famous for battling with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and backing candidates who challenge Republican incumbents.
• Californian Carl DeMaio, like Mills, is one of the NRCC’s top prospects and has also said he would support the Amash anti-spying amendment.
• Clint Didier, a farmer and former Washington Redskins player who sports two Super Bowl rings, also has won the backing of DeGroot’s group. Ron Paul and Massie, one of Amash’s closest allies on the Hill, also have endorsed Didier. He was the top vote-getter in Washington state's blanket primary and will face another Republican, Dan Newhouse, in the general election.