The Democratic incumbent has GOP roots as solid as his state’s. He’s a former president of his school’s College Republicans chapter who went straight from an army stint to a job with the Nixon administration, before splitting with the GOP in the 1990s over the party’s rightward drift. His politics in Congress have been a brand of libertarianism that plays well in this Western state: he’s in favor of abortion rights and gun rights, against tax increases and government spending. He’s cultivated a reputation for political independence, voting with his party less often than nearly any member of Congress.
Minnick, in fact, has famously emerged as the Tea Party’s favorite Democrat, nabbing support from local groups and an endorsement from the Tea Party Express. It’s a relationship that’s featured some awkward moments, including his rejection of that Tea Party Express nod after controversial remarks by activist Mark Williams, the group’s former spokesman.