Say this for Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator and just-announced presidential candidate does not lack for an interesting cast of supporters.
One day after announcing his presidential bid, Paul will be introduced by a New Hampshire lawmaker so eccentric that the state GOP tried to gerrymander him out of politics.
Andy Sanborn, a state senator who was the co-chairman of Ron Paul’s 2012 New Hampshire campaign, is an infamous character in New Hampshire politics known for his bombastic rhetoric and brushes with the law.
When asked about Senator Sanborn, Raymond Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, had to keep himself from laughing.
“Let’s just say he is one of our more colorful elected officials,” Buckley said. “He seems to like the theater of politics more than passing legislation.”
Buckley said that most of his beset Sanborn stories were not suitable for public consumption, but count among his favorites the time that soon after getting elected to the State Senate, Sanborn posted a sign on his office door in the Capitol that said “Mancave,” advertising an “indoor shooting range, big screen TV, pool tables, heated swimming pool, draft beer” inside.
Buckley also pointed to the fact that even though Sanborn is one of the most anti-drug lawmakers in New Hampshire, he owns a building that housed a head shop and that was raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Then there are Sanborn’s public comments.
On a radio show, he laughingly compared Obamacare to Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crash-landed in San Francisco, killing three.
“Now that this thing is barreling down on us like a jet landing into San Francisco,” he told the host with a chuckle. “It should make people really concerned.”
Then there was the time he referred to New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan in a Tweet as “Haggie.”
“I am not sure colorful is the right word,” Sanborn said when asked about this assessment. “I, like Rand, believe we got into the public policy arena to get something done, and to have conviction and fight for something. And some might suggest that is a rarity in politics today, but Ronald Reagan did it, Rand Paul does it, and I do it.”
When asked about some of his off-color comments, Sanborn paused for several seconds.
“And your point is?” he eventually said. “I have made my mistakes. There is no question I am as human as anyone else. I think people today are tired of the wailing and gnashing to teeth of political activists trying to disparage someone on the other side of the aisle.”
Not all of the trouble that Sanborn has found himself in stem from things he has said—nor do they all come from Democrats in New Hampshire.
In 2010, his fellow Republicans tried to redistrict Sanborn out of his seat by putting him into a much more Democratic district. So Sanborn moved across the state, to a friendlier district, and won.
In 2004, Sanborn, a Porsche and Ferrari collector, abruptly shut down a chain of bike and ski stores he owned—workers showed up only to find the doors locked—citing poor health.
The shop’s suppliers took him to court to recover money he owed them. The lawyer for the equipment suppliers told The Concord Monitor at the time that Sanborn’s goal was to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, and then once the case landed in bankruptcy court, ensure that the suppliers only received a fraction of what he owed them.
Regardless, Sanborn’s health soon recovered, and he didn’t retire as promised, but ran for the state legislature and opened up a popular sports bar in the capital city of Concord called The Draft.
When it opened, Sanborn described it to the local alternative weekly as a place from “a slightly older era… ten or fifteen years ago, [when] women actually got dressed up to go out at night, and put makeup on. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
In the most recent campaign, Sanborn received criticism for putting out a negative mailer that featured a dark-skinned man in a hoodie glaring out next to a picture of his Democratic opponent in order to paint him as soft on crime. Democrats discovered that the image came from a Getty image search for “Menacing Hoodie.”
That same year Democrats also hit Sanborn, whose wife is also in the state legislature, for failing to pay his property taxes 25 times over the previous 20 years, despite repeated promises to do so.
Regardless, it is no secret why Paul picked Sanborn to help lead his charge in New Hampshire.
As many local Republicans bide their time before deciding who to endorse, Sanborn has already become one of Paul’s most prominent backers in the state GOP. Plus, Sanborn has staked a claim as one of the most anti-tax lawmakers in a vociferously anti-tax state, leading the charge to repeal a state tax on small businesses that incorporate.
“I can’t tell you in Washington, D.C., who is a Republican and who is a Democrat,” Sanborn said. Paul, he added, was different.
“There is a consistency to him which I think is incredible. He truly believes and understands not just the Constitution, but respecting it in a way that brings back the traditional values that are important to us.”
Sanborn also said that he hadn’t yet planned out what he was going to say at the big rally on Wednesday for Paul.
“As you can probably tell, I am more of a shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy.”