One day after Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder announced that he'd be running against Congressman Allen West in the newly drawn District 18's Republican primary, South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson tweeted that he's "considering running" as well.
"Congressman West doesn't live in this district. I've lived in this district four years," Wilkinson told the Palm Beach Post. "There's local people in politics that may have considered running in that district who live there. Why shouldn't they?"
In Wilkinson's case, the reason he shouldn't is because West would drop-kick him straight out of the primary, then plant an American flag in the crater where Wilkinson's hopes and dreams used to be.
When we talked to Wilkinson today, he didn't seem to think West was doing a particularly bad job in Congress: He said his considerations for running were "absolutely not" about wanting West out of the House -- his main concern was still where West lives.
"If Congressman West called me today, I'd tell him he needs to live in the district that he runs in," Wilkinson said. "It's not that I don't support Allen West. I think that people should be represented by someone who lives in the community, who understands the community."
Unfortunately, that doesn't look like it will be nearly enough. The most obvious disadvantage Wilkinson has is in support: Wilkinson's official title could be South Florida Tea Party Jesus and he still wouldn't even come close to West's nationwide popularity among Republicans. West has raised $5.8 million for the 2012 race -- more than all but Speaker of the House John Boehner -- and it came from all 50 states. West is a fixture on cable news shows and has about 37,000 Twitter followers. Despite Wilkinson's claim on his website that he "uses his Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science to dominate new media and the Internet," West averages 112 retweets per message, while Wilkinson averages about none.
There are people in states West has never been to that absolutely, seriously believe he should be president of the United States. We asked Wilkinson how he planned to get over West's massive cash advantage. He said that "we have people that are willing to make donations" but that he needed to meet with consultants and talk with his family before making a decision.
While West was appearing on television shows and raking in money, Wilkinson tried and failed to help organize Donald Trump's train wreck of a presidential debate, then refused to pay for the barricades and police he ordered. His group puts out piles of lies about health care and the president, and he got his own organization mad at him for making statements about Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan that the group didn't agree with. Wilkinson does, however, have a poll from last August in which a third of the South Florida Tea Party said they wanted someone to run against West.
Unscientific poll or not, though, it will be tough for Wilkinson to separate himself from West ideologically -- while there's an obvious delineation between West and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, Wilkinson said his main beefs were with West's votes to raise the debt ceiling and to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. The biggest difference might be Wilkinson's libertarian streak.
"I think that I would pull from a lot of the independents," Wilkinson said. "I'm not a major social conservative. I'm more of a moderate in that way... I think a lot of the issues, such as abortion, gay rights, I think are personal issues or issues that should be left to the states. I don't want to impose my beliefs or anyone's personal beliefs on them."
So, while West tweeted that "we must protect the unborn!" and said "the term gay marriage is an oxymoron," Wilkinson seems to think it's none of Congress' business -- too bad Congress' business will never be Wilkinson's.