Fighting her own party: An interview with Missouri First Congressional District candidate Robyn Hamlin [Update]

posted at 4:41 pm on July 19, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

In 2010, Robyn Hamlin ran for Congress as a Tea Party candidate in a district long held by Democrats. With little money and even less name recognition, she garnered less than 30% of the vote in the general election. The owner and operator of two small businesses who raises chickens on the side, she is frustrated with what she sees as a corrupt system in Washington that Congress is unwilling to change. Now she’s running again, this time against not only Democrats but the local and state GOP, which for reasons of a basic lack of courage made an under-the-table deal with the incumbent Democrat to guarantee the seat remains his.

As part of her re-election campaign, Hamlin hired Liberty Torch Political Consulting, LLC, a libertarian political consulting firm co-founded by my friend Josiah Schmidt. Earlier this week Josiah asked me if I’d interview Hamlin in order to help her get the word out about the GOP’s deal as well as garner support among conservatives nationwide in order to help her raise the money necessary to win the seat. Below is that interview, conducted by phone last evening.

Hamlin’s website can be seen here, and a press release from the campaign outlining the basics of the GOP’s underhanded deal with the district’s Democrats can be seen here.

Dustin Siggins: In 2010 you garnered 26% of the vote in the general election. Why will this year be different?

Robyn Hamlin: My name recognition is higher and I constantly educate voters. People don’t know what their political parties are supposed to do locally, how things happen, how to elect people, or what congressional district people are in. In 2010 people did not know what district they were in, and had signs for candidates they couldn’t even vote for.

Regarding the vote count, we did very well considering we had no money. We raised $21,000 and got that high of a percentage. We made door hangers and all else that we could in-house and walked everywhere to get to everyone.

 

DS: How important is redistricting to your campaign this year?

RH: It helps a little because losing a district in Missouri makes people pay attention. Additionally, the two incumbents (Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan) are fighting each other for the Democratic nomination. One district left, which was Carnahan’s, and now we have two incumbents tearing each other apart. This makes them weaker and the eventual Republican general election, hopefully me, stronger.

 

DS: One of the reasons Josiah wanted me to interview you was because of an alleged deal between the local GOP and local Democrats. What is that about?

RH: This area was once considered a protected district, meaning it had to go to a black Representative due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the area’s demographics. That went out the window after the 2000 Census. Every ten years we count all citizens and get their race, gender, etc. and this has not been a protected district since 2000.

I sent Josiah e-mails I exchanged with the local GOP, including one in March really blasting them. I sent it to 700 people with my complaint about how the GOP wasn’t competing for the district. One of the responses told me that the area is a majority-minority district, and thus the local GOP didn’t want to cause waves. So rather than do their due diligence, they just kowtowed.

My answer to the woman responding to my e-mail was to inform her that the area is no longer protected. I pointed out that this should have been obvious for many reasons, including the simple fact that Russ Carnahan is white and Lacy Clay is black.

As a side note, I’m half-white and have-Cherokee, but I don’t fall under “protected” status. You’d think I’d get special treatment – I mean, I’m a single mother who runs two businesses and is half-Cherokee. I fall under every minority category possible, but I don’t think I deserve assistance. Unless someone can’t do something, such as being in a wheelchair and needs help going up a ramp, he or she should stand on their own two feet.

Back on track – I did research on the racial diversity of the area and the Civil Rights Act, and found that the St. Louis-area racial demographics no longer fall under the Act’s purview. Yet the GOP continued to ignore me and just try to hand the district to the Democrats because they just want to ignore the 1st District.

The state GOP even does this. If you are in the 1st District and call to ask about volunteer opportunities, they will take your information and send you to another district. They are so used to having the 1st District be protected that they haven’t kept up with the way the district has changed. They did this in 2010. It’s also about leaving the Clays alone (Clay’s father held the seat before he did) and Carnahan ( Carnahan’s sister is Secretary of State, and Carnahan’s father was elected governor). Also, Carnahan’s brother has a green wind farm that due to ballot language in his district got federal and state money to subsidize his wind farm.

 

DS: Speaking of wind farms and federal monies, let’s shift to policy. Your website indicates you are pretty fiscally conservative. What are the three most important things you want Congress to do about the fiscal mess we’re in?

RH: We need a balanced budget in Congress, with the exception of a Declaration of War from Congress. Other than that, we need a Balanced Budget Amendment. We also need sound money backed by something. Lastly, there are 159 countries in the world. We give money to 152 and borrow from 25. That is insanity. A fifth-grader could figure out what’s wrong with that. We should quit giving money to people we’re borrowing from.

 

DS: We spend less than one percent of our budget on direct foreign aid, which means we’re spending less than $37 billion annually on foreign aid. Is that really such a big deal compared to our huge deficits?

RH: It’s not the number. It’s the mentality. It bleeds over into everything else.

 

DS: Ideally, how long would you take to balance the budget?

RH: It should be balanced every year. That’s Congress’ job. That’s the job of every business owner and homeowner in the country. Every one of us on Main Street has to have a budget. Some people get paid weekly, and they budget within that check. Whether that check is $300 or $2,000, they have to live within their means. If they get laid off or work fewer hours, they have to re-evaluate. They don’t have a money tree in the backyard or a printing press in the basement.

This does not mean adding in the cost of living or allowing government agencies to allow budget processes for unnecessary spending at the end of the fiscal year. I used to work for the government. At the end of the fiscal year you’d see expensive chairs, desks, movies, audiovisual equipment, etc. popping up out of nowhere just to spend the money to say they need more in the next year.

This applies to hospitals as well. I don’t know what it’s like where you’re from, but a lot of hospital wings happen to pop up in my area when money is available. They really like that federal health care money.

 

DS: What are some internal changes in Congress you’d like to see?

RH: I think term limits should be simple: 30 years total in any elected office. That includes as a selectman, mayor, state representative, Member of Congress, and/or President. This idea of political science majors leaving college to just work their way up the political ladder without ever having a real job is ridiculous.

We never voted for Congress to have automatic pay increases. They voted that for themselves. We have veterans begging on the side of the road, and policymakers vote themselves a raise. There’s a problem here. We need significant change.

 

DS: What kind of Member will you be when it comes to working with your colleagues, should you be elected? You have Members like Allen West who are firebrands, but you also have many Members who just kind of go along to get along.

RH: I’m a squeaky wheel. I yell every time I see an injustice. I will talk about an injustice forever until it’s fixed. Ignoring it isn’t the solution, since ignoring means people aren’t going to know it’s a problem. If they send me to Washington, constituents will hear from me routinely. I will probably use a lot of money on franking privileges. They will hear from me on simple, folded, stapled paper telling them about how bad things are on the Hill. They’ll hear the gossip from me as it’s happening.
Update: A couple of comments pointed out errors in the interview. Hamlin is not running for re-election, and it was indeed the Voting Rights Act she referenced, not the Civil Rights Act. My apologies for these silly errors.


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…Republican women have bigger pea- nuts than the men!

KOOLAID2 on July 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Good luck Hamlin! You have to fight the unions, the communist Kansas City Star, and the communist St. Louis Post Disgrace.

tom daschle concerned on July 19, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Robyin Hamlin

…what’s not to like about this woman and everything she says?

KOOLAID2 on July 19, 2012 at 4:47 PM

That district has a Cook Partisan rating of +27 Democrat. The GOP should be engaged in it regardless, but clearly it’s solid blue. That might help explain why they shift resources to more competitive areas.

changer1701 on July 19, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Standing up against the establishment in both parties

So it’s cool with Dusty when Robyn Hamlin does it, but when you-know-who does it…

steebo77 on July 19, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Once again, everyone can see why the Repub established constitutes “the party of STUPID” (in contrast to the d-cRAT socialists and their “party of EVIL”)

TeaPartyNation on July 19, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Good grief…every post of this kid is a novel…I think you need to go back to journalism school and learn to write concisely.
It must be 1,500 words…here is a tip, keep it around 750 or less.

That way it will force you to learn and know the subject, and make it readable…

right2bright on July 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Good for her for making the effort, but the fact of the matter is that it makes good sense for Republicans to consent to making urban districts heavily democratic – they have to go somewhere and it means less democrats in the surrounding districts. Luckily for us democrats tend to be concentrated in urban areas, so to make competitive districts you would have to slice up a city and give little pieces to the surrounding suburban/rural districts, which goes against the principal of keeping jurisdictions together in congressional districts whenever possible.

BuzzCrutcher on July 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Good grief…every post of this kid is a novel…I think you need to go back to journalism school and learn to write concisely.
It must be 1,500 words…here is a tip, keep it around 750 or less.

That way it will force you to learn and know the subject, and make it readable…

right2bright on July 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM

They liked him at Huffington Post.

portlandon on July 19, 2012 at 4:56 PM

…I enjoyed reading this one Dusty!

KOOLAID2 on July 19, 2012 at 4:56 PM

…what’s not to like about this woman and everything she says?

KOOLAID2 on July 19, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Accusations of a “secret deal” and she never elaborates on it at all? She never even answered the question. What deal?

Consider this:

1. It’s a majority-minority district, which makes it likely to skew heavily Democratic regardless of whether it’s a “protected” district or not.

2. She only got 26% of the vote in 2010, a banner year for Republicans and tea party conservatives. Her claims for why this year could be different are plausible, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe it’ll be enough to actually win.

It sounds to me like the GOP just isn’t pursuing because they don’t believe it’s worth sinking resources into an unwinnable race.

The accusation that they made a “secret deal” with the Democrats is pure slander. If that’s all she’s got, then she’s nothing but another Christine O’Donnell. Show me some proof.

Caiwyn on July 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Note who supports this and who does not. If the liberal trolls here who pretend they are super-uber-right-wingers don’t cheer, you know darn well they’re full of crap and are as stated, liberal trolls.

Nah, I won’t list them, you can figure it out if you read comments regularly.

Wolfmoon on July 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Good grief…every post of this kid is a novel…I think you need to go back to journalism school and learn to write concisely.
It must be 1,500 words…here is a tip, keep it around 750 or less.

That way it will force you to learn and know the subject, and make it readable…

right2bright on July 19, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Yeah, those journalism schools really turn out top notch journalists. Don’t be so hard on the kid. This was the transcript of an INTERVIEW. The actual article not including the interview was just a little over 200 words. Is that concise enough?

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Note who supports this and who does not. If the liberal trolls here who pretend they are super-uber-right-wingers don’t cheer, you know darn well they’re full of crap and are as stated, liberal trolls.

Nah, I won’t list them, you can figure it out if you read comments regularly.

Wolfmoon on July 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Support what exactly?

changer1701 on July 19, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Show me some proof.

Caiwyn on July 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

This was linked in the article.

As recently as March of this year, one party insider told Robyn in an email that the central committee does not support any challenges to Congressman Clay, because it does not want “to mess with a racial issue and have it blown up in the media.”

Now it may not be a “deal” between the two sides, but I am sure Congressman Clay has made it understood that he certainly would pull the race card if the GOP were to support a candidate running against him.

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:07 PM

She sounds like a great woman. But there’s no conspiracy by the GOP against her. This is a D+27 district. It’s one of the most unbalanced in favor of the Dems in the country. No Republican is going to have a chance here, so any money spent on the race will be wasted.

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Note who supports this and who does not.

Wolfmoon on July 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

I cheer her, but I also cheer the Missouri GOP for not wasting much time or effort on a D+27 district.

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM

She sounds like a great woman. But there’s no conspiracy by the GOP against her. This is a D+27 district. It’s one of the most unbalanced in favor of the Dems in the country. No Republican is going to have a chance here, so any money spent on the race will be wasted.

Yeah, actually listing her as a candidate on their website is a HUGE waste of time. Better to not even let voters know that she is a candidate:

She has been denied speaking slots at Republican events, received no party support or resources, and mention of her candidacy has been left off of party websites.

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM

I cheer her, but I also cheer the Missouri GOP for not wasting much time or effort on a D+27 district.

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM

BIG difference between “not wasting much time or effort” and not spending ANY time or effort. They should at least let her speak at GOP events and list her on the website.

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

They should at least let her speak at GOP events and list her on the website.

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM

A) Why let her speak at GOP events in other peoples’ districts? Is she famous enough to swing elections in other districts?
B) I checked the MO GOP website. There is no “list” of any candidates at all. There are headline news stories about specific races, but there is no candidate list for her to either be put on or left off.

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:16 PM

She’s listed on the St. Louis county GOP website. Either she does not know this, or she does know this and is saying otherwise in order to raise money via conspiracy outrage.

http://www.stlcorepublicans.org/site/cpage.asp?sec_id=180010726&cpage_id=180036154

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:21 PM

brave woman. Clay should win this walking away…dynastic you know

r keller on July 19, 2012 at 5:23 PM

I’m half-white and have-Cherokee

Channeling Liz Warren.

hillsoftx on July 19, 2012 at 5:27 PM

As a side note, I’m half-white and have-Cherokee, but I don’t fall under “protected” status. You’d think I’d get special treatment – I mean, I’m a single mother who runs two businesses and is half-Cherokee. I fall under every minority category possible, but I don’t think I deserve assistance. Unless someone can’t do something, such as being in a wheelchair and needs help going up a ramp, he or she should stand on their own two feet.

Man, Cherokee people must listen to Barry White all day long or something.

Axe on July 19, 2012 at 5:28 PM

As part of her re-election campaign,

So she’s been elected at least once before? I can’t find details about that.
I suppose my attention span is getting shorter and basic things are harder for me to figure out.

GaltBlvnAtty on July 19, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Robyn Hamlin is tilting at windmills in this district. If Ross Carnahan is one of the Democrats in the primary, he will win, because the Carnahan name is magic in Missouri: his dad, the former Governor Mel Carnahan, won a Senate seat when he was DEAD.

Steve Z on July 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

What on earth is she talking about – a “protected district under the Civil Rights Act”?

Resources are limited and have to be sent to those districts we have the best chances of carrying. Every time there is a good conservative candidate in one of those districts, conservatives begin whining about the Party not supporting them. But when the Party – and the individual donor – spends money on races we aren’t going to win unless it’s a huge landslide, that’s less for more competitive districts, which can mean we lose more close races.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, kids.

Adjoran on July 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

A) If they are sending volunteers from District 1 to other districts, the least they could do would be to let the GOP candidate from their own district speak at the events they are volunteering at.

B)She stated that there has been no mention of her on the State website, it was my own editorializing that mentioned “listing” her on their site. The fact remains that they have zero mention of her on their website. Maybe they could link back to HA for this story? Not likely given the substance, but I am sure she has done other interviews that have been published that they could link to.

I understand not wanting to spend scant resources when there are much more important races like unseating the airplane hopping Senator, but a show of zero support to avoid the likelihood of a race-baiting attack is cowardice.

If the state GOP continues along this path, I wouldn’t be surprised if the district goes even further into the Blue.

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:34 PM

I haven’t seen much argument against her policy stances…

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Robyn Hamlin is tilting at windmills in this district. If Ross Carnahan is one of the Democrats in the primary, he will win, because the Carnahan name is magic in Missouri: his dad, the former Governor Mel Carnahan, won a Senate seat when he was DEAD.

Steve Z on July 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

I doubt he will win in this district:

Russ Carnahan is white

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:38 PM

Wait, so her beef against the Republican party is that they aren’t interested in spending money on a long shot campaign?

Count to 10 on July 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

This idea of political science majors leaving college to just work their way up the political ladder without ever having a real job is ridiculous.

There are WAAAAAYYYYY too many of these in Congress. Get a poli sci degree, the a JD and run for office. Never hold a job except may asst states atty for a couple years.

Her idea of gross term limits is good, but it needs to be sectioned off — not 30 yrs in one office !!

KenInIL on July 19, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Wait, so her beef against the Republican party is that they aren’t interested in spending money on a long shot campaign?

Count to 10 on July 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Essentially, yes. She thinks the part should pour resources and volunteers into her race so she can lose by 45% instead of by 50% like 2010.

AngusMc on July 19, 2012 at 5:54 PM

The least the R party can do for Ms. Hamlin is to build her a boilerplate website. Come on somebody has to have these down to “fill in the blanks” and presto!!

KenInIL on July 19, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I haven’t seen much argument against her policy stances…

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM

You can agree with someone while still acknowledging the reality that an unwinnable district is an unwinnable district

BuzzCrutcher on July 19, 2012 at 5:59 PM

I fall under every minority category possible…

Nope…the only one that matters to anyone is “black”…it is the permanent trump of whiny minority status.

And 30 years is far too long.

Jaibones on July 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Based on a couple of Google searches, it appears that Robyn Hamlin is running against fellow Reublican, Martin D. Baker, in the August 7, 2012 Primary Election.

You can learn more about Martin D. Baker at his campaign website:
http://martinbakerforcongress.com/

There is also information on Martin D. Baker’s Facebook page that was posted yesterday that says Robyn Hamlin agreed to a debate and then cancelled her participation in the debate.

When I saw that Ms. Hamlin was being supported by Liberty Torch Political Consulting, I immediately thought of Ron Paul, since the word “Liberty” is a common thread with most Ron Paul supporters.

Again a quick Google search turns up this info on the Daily Paul website:

I know many of us are strapped for cash, but if you are looking for a liberty candidate to help, one that has been in the trenches for Ron Paul from the beginning, then please help Robyn Hamlin in her efforts.

http://mail.dailypaul.com/137216/robyn-hamlin-liberty-candidate-for-congress-in-mo-1

The Republican Party is most likely just waiting until after the Primary election determines which Republican candidate will be running against the Democrat before providing their support.

I imagine the local Republican Party may also have some history with Ron Paul supporters in this district.

If you live in or near Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, please let us know your opinion of what is happening in this district since it appears that Dustin Siggins only gave us a portion of the story in his post.

Before any of us get angry at the Republican Party about this case, we need some more facts.

wren on July 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

She sounds feisty. I like that. If she can generate a little bit of a buzz why not throw some crumbs her way? Just because the district is full of idiotic D voters doesn’t mean they can’t be edumacated like Joe Biden would want.

Metanis on July 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Caiwyn on July 19, 2012 at 4:57 PM

After reading her press release, my thoughts exactly.

I’m wondering if she will end up declaring herself a U.S. Senator like someone else did.

Kermit on July 19, 2012 at 6:15 PM

wren on July 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Thanks for the info.

This entire article smelled like dead fish from the get go.

Kermit on July 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Thanks for the info.

This entire article smelled like dead fish from the get go.

Kermit on July 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM

I’m happy to help, Kermit!

We all need to be vetting the Congressional candidates on the Republican side in addition to their liberal opponents for the 2012 elections.

A quick Google search makes it very easy to make an initial cut on which candidates deserve our support.

wren on July 19, 2012 at 6:30 PM

She supports all of the tea party postions; low taxes, transparent government, honesty, balanced budget, and return to our Contitiutional roots.

She is a racist.

BMF on July 19, 2012 at 6:40 PM

It’s nice to see that Hot Air is not only talking about Ms. Hamlin, but interviewed her. The GOP didn’t just hang her out to dry this time, but last time as well. I suspect they did the same to Mark Byrne – who is now one of my city councilmen – when he ran against Clay in 2006.

The state and local GOP just doesn’t see the 1st Cong. Dist as worth putting any effort.

Logus on July 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM

What on earth is she talking about – a “protected district under the Civil Rights Act”?

Adjoran on July 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

She meant Voting Rights Act. It’s actually an open question if the VRA applies to Missouri as a “southern” state but no one really wants to push it. The VRA is required to draw majority-minority districts where possible, and the 1ast congressional in MO is one such district. It’s basically an excuse to gerrymander. The MO map was terrible; the Republicans on the other side of the state were screaming about it because Sam Graves and Emanuel Cleaver made a deal to carve up the Kansas City suburbs to benefit themselves against the wishes of pretty much every resident of the area, Dem and Republican alike.

alwaysfiredup on July 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM

I’m impressed Robyn is getting this kind of press. Way to go, girl!

alwaysfiredup on July 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

She’s attacking the GOPe!
burn her!

james23 on July 19, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Wren, I’m one of the HA’ers who live in this district, and the Republicans write it off every election.

They put nothing into advertising or getting word out in this district. They’ll throw all their energy, gatherings, money into D2, but ignore D1.

That being said, I’m still favoring Baker… (although I disagree with his idea of legislative veto ability over the Supreme Court.)

DaSaintFan on July 20, 2012 at 12:41 AM

The Missouri GOP has gone completely RINO. The St. Louis County GOP is bought off as well and completely impotent. I live here, and almost the entire Missouri GOP is hostile to tea partiers. There are a few exceptions but not many.

I remember seeing this woman at early 2009 tea parties. She was passing out flyers for the constitution party at the time. I guess she figured out that third party is hopeless in this country.

I’m glad Hot Air gave her some press. Too many Conservative media operations are good at complaining about liberals, but do little to help insurgent candidates. I’d like to see that change.
Kudos Hot Air for giving Ms. Hamlin some press.

JB-STLMO on July 20, 2012 at 3:15 AM

Now she’s running again, this time against not only Democrats but the local and state GOP, which for reasons of a basic lack of courage made an under-the-table deal with the incumbent Democrat to guarantee the seat remains his.

Best of luck to Robyn Hamlin. I hope the TEA Party has gotten better organized over there so as to get her on the ballot.

Who would have thunk the GOP would assist any liberal? /s

DannoJyd on July 20, 2012 at 5:56 AM

Robyn Hamlin is tilting at windmills in this district. If Ross Carnahan is one of the Democrats in the primary, he will win, because the Carnahan name is magic in Missouri: his dad, the former Governor Mel Carnahan, won a Senate seat when he was DEAD.

Steve Z on July 19, 2012 at 5:32 PM

I doubt he will win in this district:

Russ Carnahan is white

weaselyone on July 19, 2012 at 5:38 PM

As someone who lives in what was the original D1 and what is now part of the new D1, it’s hard to say. Carnahan had the white/hispanic part of Saint Louis (south Saint Louis City and County) and a heavily unionized white demographic in Jefferson County.

It will be hard for both Carnahan and Hamlin, but you never know. West of 170 is majority white and north of 270 is majority white. Heck where I live just south of 270 is majority white, but it’s the actual city of St. Louis that may be hard to overcome.

MobileVideoEngineer on July 20, 2012 at 8:47 AM