In a year when Republican prospects look exceedingly gloomy, there are a few bright spots for the GOP. One of them is the 22nd District of Florida, where retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West is challenging first-term Democratic Rep. Ron Klein.
In 2006, FL22 was one of the most expensive House races in the country, as Klein took on 13-term incumbent Republican Rep. Clay Shaw. The Politico recently named Klein its "Rookie of the Year." But the rookie now faces a veteran -- literally.
Col. West's biography reads like the screenplay of a Hollywood thriller. A Bronze Star veteran of Desert Storm who led an artillery battalion of the 4th Infantry Division in Operation Iraqi freedom, West was relieved of command in Iraq after firing a pistol past a prisoner's head during an interrogation in August 2003. (West's method got results; the prisoner revealed important information about an impending attack on U.S. forces.)
Col. West was named "Man of the Year" by David Horowitz's FrontPageMagazine.com. He has been featured in Jack Kelly's column, AmericaThinker.com, Human Events, and the Weekly Standard, interviewed on the Michael Savage show, and yet -- oddly enough -- I'd never heard of him until See-Dubya mentioned him at MichelleMalkin.com.
Col. West has taken a tough stance against amnesty for illegal aliens: "As your congressman, I will fight those who are willing for any reason to jeopardize our sovereignty and security. No amnesty of any kind should be considered; it simply rewards illegal behavior and encourages others to break the law."
In his campaign against Klein, Col. West has made hay by accusing Klein of abusing the franking privilege, mailing out campaign material at taxpayer expense, for which Klein was chastened by Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman, who said, "The people of Florida are suffering. . . . Your campaign coffers are not."
Klein's campaign coffers (with over $2 million cash-on-hand as of the April 1 FEC filing) are the biggest challenge faced by Col. West, who had raised about $100,000 through the end of March. Here's a video of Col. West talking to the Broward County Republican Party about the importance of vision:
"Ron Klein has a lot of money. So what?"
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