A JAW-dropping political miracle may be on the horizon. No, I'm not
talking about the second coming of the Obamessiah. I'm talking about
the long-deserved comeuppance of troop-smearing, pork-feasting,
scandal-tainted Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.
The 18-term congressman's challenger, staunch conservative
Republican newcomer William Russell, raised nearly $670,000 in the
second quarter. Earmark king Murtha scraped together a measly $119,000.
Russell's underdog campaign bested Murtha without the perks of
incumbency, national name recognition, big PAC donations or mainstream
Even more amazing: The challenger, a Desert Storm veteran and Army
reservist who survived the 9/11 Pentagon attack, wasn't even publicly
campaigning during the quarter. Russell, 45, is on active duty with the
Army until after Aug. 1 and is barred from actively campaigning until
If all that didn't make this enough of an inspiring story: In
February, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Russell had failed to collect
enough signatures to make the primary ballot. But he refused to give up
on his goal of defeating Murtha. The GOP neophyte persevered on a
shoestring budget and won more than 4,000 write-in votes in the spring
to earn a spot on the general-election ballot. Russell's campaign
manager, veteran GOP activist Peg Luksik, says most second-quarter
donations were less than $50.
Russell's clear on where he stands. "I am a conservative," he says
in his defining campaign statement. "I believe in the sovereignty and
security of this one nation, under God. I believe the primary role of
government is to provide for the common defense and a legal framework
to protect families and individual liberty."
The excitement around Russell stands in stark contrast to
grass-roots disgust on the right with Beltway Republicans who continue
to push the party to the left in a brain-dead bid to "rebrand" the GOP.
He has united pro-troops families, social conservatives, fiscal
conservatives, Reagan Democrats and independents fed up with Murtha's
culture of corruption dating back to his Abscam days in the 1980s.
(Murtha wasn't indicted in the infamous bribery probe but he was
videotaped entertaining a $50,000 bribe from undercover FBI agents
posing as emissaries for Arab sheiks trying to enter our country
"The incredible story about Bill's campaign is that the $15 and $25
contributions are coming in from all over Pennsylvania and every corner
of the country," Luksik noted on the Russell Brigade Web site. "This is
K Street versus Main Street."
Russell decided to enter politics after hearing Murtha's slanderous
2006 accusations that Marines in Haditha "overreacted because of the
pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
Seven Marines have been cleared or won case dismissals in the Iraq war
incident Murtha recklessly adjudicated in the court of public opinion -
with willing mainstream journalists swinging their nooses.
Perhaps that complicity explains the great media wall of silence
around Russell's upstart campaign. Republican Bill Russell offers
ethical, freedom-enhancing, pro-responsibility, anti-retreat,
unapologetically conservative change they don't want to believe in.