Lang Sias, who lost the 2008 Republican primary in CD-7, recently announced his intentions to take on Evie Hudak in SD-19. It was the potential for a Sias candidacy which forced State Representative Robert Ramirez out of the Senate race and back into a defensive campaign for HD-29.
Sias is a formidable candidate, particularly at the state level. His service as a naval aviator will likely resonate in the Republican leaning SD-19, and Sias should be able to raise money from national donors with ease: he was a top advisor on Veterans issues during John McCain’s 2008 campaign for president. McCain stumped for Sias during the latter’s congressional campaign, and although eventual nominee Ryan Frazier trounced the pilot in last cycle’s Republican primary, the fact that Ramirez stepped aside for Sias’ Senate bid is evidence that many Republicans think that Sias is the candidate to beat Hudak.
Sias should run into little difficulty fundraising for his State Senate campaign. His defunct Congressional campaign, however, is a different matter entirely.
According to the most recent reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Sias’s committee still owes a whopping $75,685 in campaign debts and has owed that amount since September 2010.
There’s no legal roadblock preventing Sias from running for the State Senate before first retiring his Congressional campaign debt. But why hasn’t he repaid any of that $75,000 sum for nearly a year and a half?
Sias is going to have a tough time convincing donors to give both to his State Senate campaign and to put his former campaign committee back in the black. It’s clear that the candidate isn’t making any effort to reconcile what his committee owes. The bigger question is, should he?
Hudak has been lambasted by conservative critics for her support of “tax hikes” and “liberal bureaucracy.” Sias, then, will likely attack Hudak on those same points, tearing her down for fiscally irresponsible legislating. But Hudak – and the scores of independent groups who will likely send mail promoting her re-election – will be able to point out that her opponent hasn’t kept his own fiscal house in order: how’s he supposed to craft responsible budgets when his campaign is in the red?
Perhaps Sias thinks that being a State Senator will help him pay off the 75 grand he owes. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to earn that title until he gets elected, and he won’t get elected in this economy if he can’t make the point that he’s willing to trim the budget where his opponent wouldn’t. With so much money owed for so much time, Sias might have lost his ability to play that card.