Armed with an inherited fortune and a devotion to Ron Paul, John Ramsey, a 21-year-old college student from Nacogdoches, Tex., plunged into a little-watched Republican House primary in Northern Kentucky this spring to promote his version of freedom.
More than $560,000 later, Mr. Ramsey’s chosen standard-bearer, Thomas H. Massie, a Republican, cruised to victory Tuesday in the race to select a successor to Representative Geoff Davis, a Republican who is retiring.
The saturation advertising campaign waged by Mr. Ramsey’s “super PAC,” Liberty for All, may be the most visible manifestation of a phenomenon catching the attention of Republicans from Maine to Nevada.
With their favorite having lost the nomination for president, Mr. Paul’s dedicated band of youthful supporters are setting their sights down-ballot and swarming lightly guarded Republican redoubts like state party conventions in an attempt to infiltrate the top echelons of the party.
In Minnesota, Paulites stormed the Republican gathering in St. Cloud last weekend, bumping aside two conventional Republican candidates to choose one of their own, Kurt P. Bills, a high school economics teacher, to challenge Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, this fall.
Backers of Mr. Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas, crashed Republican conventions in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada in recent weeks, snatching up the lion’s share of delegate slots for the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August, a potential headache for the national party and its presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney.
And Paulite candidates for Congress are sprouting up from Florida to Virginia to Colorado, challenging sitting Republicans and preaching the gospel of radically smaller government, an end to the Federal Reserve, restraints on Bush-era antiterrorism laws and a pullback from foreign military adventures.