Austin Hill

They were seemingly the best of times, but they ended up looking like the worst of times.

That is, things have turned out pretty badly for one particular congressional candidate and the party that endorsed him.

Much has been said and written about the current and ever-growing backlash against Washington. Is it an “anti-incumbent thing?” Or is it an “anti-Democrat, anti-Obama thing?” Is the momentum moving against the Democrats and in favor of the Republicans, or is it more about ideals and principals and less about political parties?

Rush Limbaugh

The short answer to these questions is “yes.” It’s all of these things, and more. And to better understand what I mean, consider what just happened in the state of Idaho.

Vaughn Ward was the perfect Republican congressional candidate. A native of Idaho who was raised in humble beginnings by his mother, Ward grew up to serve in the Iraq War, to work as a CIA Operations Officer, and continues to serve today as a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Involving himself in Republican politics, he worked his way up to an assignment in the last presidential election. And despite the failure of the McCain-Palin ticket, Ward emerged from the rubble with some prime assets: big-time endorsements, and big-time cash, for his own congressional run back home in Idaho.

The value of these “assets” can’t be underestimated. Endorsements from both John McCain, AND Sarah Palin. The official “seal of approval” from the Republican National Congressional Committee. And perhaps most importantly, all the fund-raising mechanisms a congressional candidate could hope for.

By July of 2009 Vaughn Ward was the “heir apparent” with a clear lead in fundraising and name recognition, as he sought the opportunity to run against incumbent Democrat Congressman Walt Minnick. And along with the endorsements of nationally prominent figures like Palin, powerful Republicans in Idaho had coalesced around Ward, including current Governor Butch Otter, Idaho Superintendent of Education Tom Luna, and former Governor (and former U.S. Secretary of the Interior) Dirk Kempthorne. Indeed, these were “the best of times” for the Ward campaign.

But then – to quote an old “classic” Phil Collins song – “something happened on the way to heaven,” and as the calendar moved into the year 2010 the cracks in the veneer began to show.

Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.