Meanwhile, Down Ticket …Posted: August 12, 2012
I don’t really read Margaret Carlson much but she had some interesting down ticket tidbits on Bloomberg that made me wonder if the tea bagging madness was going to carry on for a few more elections. They keep nominating and electing candidates that behave like case studies in an abnormal psychology textbook. Unfortunately, their primary raison d’etre appears to be gumming up the national works and saying completely insane things.
Last week, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who alerted reporters that he was visiting a Chick-fil-A the day before the election, overwhelmed Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, the veteran establishment candidate, to win the nomination to replace retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Dewhurst’s sins? He was Governor Rick Perry’s right-hand man and an occasional sponsor of bipartisan legislation. The most effective ad against Dewhurst accused him of being a moderate.
Three months ago conservative Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock beat six-term incumbent Senator Richard Lugar, the compromiser who’d forgotten his roots. Nebraska State Senator (and rancher) Deb Fischer beat Attorney General Jon Bruning in Nebraska in an upset to go up against Bob Kerrey, the former governor and senator, on Election Day.
Each victor campaigned against Washington insiders who had impermissible contact with the enemy. Nominating your most conservative candidate in the primary is more satisfying than letting another weak one get in. And if these candidates do get elected, inactivity is preferable to approving legislation that even contemplates the possibility that any American could get so much as a food stamp he is not entitled to.
Take Connecticut, the Yankee bastion of village squares and town-hall meetings. In the race to replace retiring Senator Joe Lieberman, the purist wing of the Republican Party prefers entrepreneur Linda McMahon, who has never run anything but a soft-porn wrestling empire, over former Representative Chris Shays, who was close to former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Reaching across the aisle from time to time — he voted for campaign- finance reform, for instance — helped lead to Shays’s defeat in 2008.
At the time, the loss left the House without a single Republican from New England. McMahon first ran for Senate in 2010, when her primary victory over former Representative Rob Simmons, a respected moderate with two Bronze Stars, essentially ceded the race to the Democrats. Now, despite losing to Richard Blumenthal two years ago, McMahon is getting a second chance.
She won the party endorsement in May, but Shays managed to scrape together enough votes to challenge her for the nomination. The primary election is next Tuesday. It will take a miracle for Shays to defeat a self-funded candidate blanketing the state with softly lit ads that present McMahon as a job creator. Airbrushed out is the fact that she got wealthy in part by making professional wrestling even more vulgar. To the play- acting in the ring, she added storylines involving necrophilia and intrafamily violence starring her husband, Vince, and daughter, Stephanie.
Remember, these are the people that are bringing us the Muslims-in-the-State House Witch Hunts right now. I’d even argue that Michelle Bachman’s not the biggest nut in the can. Florida’s Allen West seems to live in an alternative reality also. People like this use to wind up in sanitariums, not state houses. (WATCH: MoJo’s video roundup of “Shit Rep. Allen West Says.”)
It’s mid-April and momentarily West, the Republican congressman from Florida’s 22nd District—an imaginatively carved Tetris piece stretching from West Palm Beach to the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale—will take the stage at the Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party in Wellington. He’ll call the tax on tanning salons enshrined in the Affordable Care Act “racist,” the president “an abject failure,” and, directing his assembled battalion’s attention to a small group of placard-bearing liberal protesters, ruminate on his sanity: “They say Allen West is the craziest person that ever set foot on the House floor! Let me tell you who’s the craziest person to truly ever set foot on the House floor. That’s President Barack Hussein Obama.”
For now, though, everyone wants a piece of West and his Honda VTX 1800R retro cruiser. West poses for photos at a short remove, offering a firm grip and flashing an undeniably charming, gap-toothed grin. “A true patriot,” gushes a woman in a red tank top, to no one in particular. “A true patriot!”
His vest is black leather like his boots, and it’s covered in patches—”Rolling Thunder: First Amendment Demonstration Run, Washington, DC, Inc.” across the back, “Christian” on the front. Tucked in the right breast pocket is a copy of the Constitution.
“He’s our local rock star!” says a voice in the crowd. She’s holding a copy of a book about radical Islam for which West wrote the foreword. The cover features a flaming Islamic crescent and star behind the Statue of Liberty. She grows gravely serious. “Just protect him, God. Protect him, Lord.”
So, what would a few more folks as crazy as West do in the Senate? Would they make Rand Paul look reasonable?
Tea Party Candidates are up for US Senator in Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, and Missouri among other states. NPR looked at the gains in a variety of states.
Suddenly, some are describing the Tea Party as resurgent, just months after it seemed all but irrelevant.
But political scientist Alan Abramowitz says both characterizations are inaccurate.
“In general, the Tea Party has a pretty negative image among the general public, but it remains, I think, a very potent force within the Republican Party,” he says.
Abramowitz, who teaches at Emory University, says polls peg Tea Party approval at just 25 percent among the public at large but he says, “When you have a Republican primary electorate, you have a group of voters who are quite conservative and in many cases a majority of those Republican primary voters identify with the Tea Party movement.”
But that only shakes things up when the Tea Party votes as a block. That’s what worked for Cruz and Mourdock. The Republican presidential primaries were a different story. There were simply too many candidates staking a claim to Tea Party votes.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaking in Iowa before the state’s caucuses said her conservative coalition was made up of the Tea Party movement of which “I am one.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a similar declaration. Others sought Tea Party support as well, but in the end the GOP’s presidential nominee will be Mitt Romney, the father of the Massachusetts health care plan that became Obamacare, and the GOP candidate the movement was least happy with.
Amy Kremer, of the Tea Party Express, says the group’s voters will turn out this fall, even if the big motivation is not support for Romney but dislike of President Obama.
“I think that you’ll see the people rise up and … work really hard to make sure that he is a one-term president,” she says.
The Tea Party can also say it made many Republican candidates, including Romney, move to the right to secure their nominations this year. After the Supreme Court’s health care decision, the GOP candidate immediately expressed his disapproval of Obama’s health care plan, saying if elected he would repeal the law.
The movement also boasts a direct connection to the other big story of 2012 — money. From its beginnings, it’s had ties to such wealthy conservative donors as the Koch brothers. It’s big institutional ties include groups such as FreedomWorks led by Dick Armey, the former majority leader of the House of Representatives.
Is this the force behind the Ryan VP candidacy? The Charlotte Observer has a good piece up on their “evolution” at the state level.
ATLANTA Tea party activists in Georgia helped kill a proposed sales tax increase that would have raised billions of dollars for transportation projects. In Pennsylvania, tea partyers pushed to have taxpayers send public school children to private schools. In Ohio, they drove a referendum to block state health insurance mandates.
These and other battles are evidence of the latest phase of the conservative movement, influencing state and local policy, perhaps more effectively than on a national level. Tea party organizers are refocusing, sometimes without the party label, to build broader support for their initiatives. The strategy has produced victories that activists say prove their staying power.
“I call it Tea Party 2.0,” said Amy Kremer, a Delta flight attendant who leads Tea Party Express. The California-based group, co-founded by GOP strategist Sal Russo, claims it’s the largest tea party political action committee.
The movement first showed its strength in Washington in 2009 as an umbrella for voters angry over President George W. Bush’s Wall Street rescue and President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and auto manufacturer bailout, as well as the health care debate.
The tea party has helped elect members of the House, but they’ve contributed to the stalemate on Capitol Hill. No single Republican presidential candidate captured tea partyers’ wholehearted support, despite angst over Mitt Romney and his moderate record while Massachusetts governor. Without a clear rival, Romney, author of the state health care overhaul that served as a model for Obama’s, emerged from a crowded field to challenge the Democratic incumbent in November. Romney gave the hard right at least a symbolic win by announcing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a tea party hero, as his running mate Saturday.
They seem to be a bunch pron to cults of personality. Many of them also run in the religious right circles. Most appear to be white. They also don’t appear to be the sharpest tacks in the toolbox. The question is can they do to the US Senate what they’ve done to the US House? How long with this little group of crazies get their run of the Republican party before the Wall Street Crowd tires of them all?