Skip to comments.Tea Party Losing Every Senate Battle And Winning The War
Posted on 08/08/2014 10:52:21 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Sen. Lamar Alexander easily dispatched rival Republican Joe Carr in the Tennessee primary Thursday, completing a clean sweep for this year's Senate incumbents who faced intraparty challengers claiming the Tea Party label.
Yet while they were winless, the hard-core conservatives intent on selecting a Senate more to their liking this year were far from utterly defeated. All of the challenged GOP incumbents reacted to the pressure by working to reconfirm their credentials with conservatives. This held true even for those whose credentials should have been least in doubt.
Having induced this embrace of their policies and principles, the GOP's most conservative wing can surely claim a kind of success. And that claim can be shared by the populists who provided the votes as well as by the more organized entities that furnished the funding.
Meaningful as this rightward shift has been for the party and the Senate, the insurgent elements would have preferred to actually knock off a few of their targets. That would have meant more reinforcements for Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas the four freshmen who shouldered aside the candidates of the GOP establishment on their way to the Senate in 2010 and 2012.
At the start of the 2014 primary season, a group called the Senate Conservatives Fund, associated with the Heritage Foundation, set out to bolster and bankroll long shots against Republicans it considered insufficiently loyal to the cause. Also active on the fundraising front were groups such as Tea Party Express, FreedomWorks and The Madison Project.
At first, the movement seemed to have a decent stable of horses ready to run in states like Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas and Kentucky, Georgia and Arizona. But several of the early recruits proved distinctly disappointing. Others failed to generate competitive levels of donations. And in a few states, such as South Carolina, Tea Party votes were scattered among several challengers.
The anti-incumbent thrust was parried early in Kentucky, where Matt Bevin's once-promising bid against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell fizzled in May. In the end, the closest the intraparty upstarts came was in Mississippi, where six-term veteran Thad Cochran needed two rounds of voting to fend off former state legislator Chris McDaniel (who is still contesting the outcome).
There is also some consolation in Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who won the GOP nod for a vacant seat. Sasse was backed by Cruz and Sarah Palin even though many Tea Party people in Nebraska preferred another candidate.
So why was this cycle so different from 2008 and 2010, when the Tea Party fever ran high and its favorites won primary after primary even unseating such stalwart Republicans as Robert Bennett in Utah and Richard Lugar in Indiana?
Let's tick off five big reasons:
1.Lack of obvious targets. The list of Republican senators seeking re-election was fairly short and included no moderates other than Susan Collins in Maine. Conservatives in that state did not manage to find a suitable primary opponent for her, and she is heavily favored to win in the fall.
2.Lack of killer issues. In 2010 many Republicans were hard-pressed to explain their votes for TARP, the "bank bailout" of 2008-09 that populists saw as unconscionable welfare for Wall Street. In 2012, incumbents were dinged for not "stopping Obamacare." This year's assault on incumbents began with a far less potent charge: that they failed to back House Republicans in the 2013 government shutdown.
3.The novelty of the Tea Party in 2010 and the momentum that it carried through 2012 have weakened. So has the enthusiasm for political neophytes and outsiders. At the same time, many rank-and-file Republicans have come to see that inexperienced candidates from the right were losing in states where more conventional Republicans such as Mike Castle in Delaware would have won.
4.Republican incumbents have gotten the message. This is by far the most important. Most senators dealt early with vulnerabilities such as residency in their home state (a land mine for Lugar in 2012) or intraparty feuds back home. They took their opponents seriously, no matter how exotic they might seem. They made sure they had the establishment endorsements as always but added the backing of high-profile conservatives, talk show hosts and other popular figures in some cases. All in all, this class of GOP incumbents ran like they did when they were first elected, while using all the advantages and leverage of incumbency. No one got caught napping in 2014.
5.The cash advantage. Despite the new sources of money for the insurgents, it was the incumbents who raised record amounts of cash and spent it early. This allowed them to define and even attack their challengers rather than ignore them or hope they would disappear.
But that's total crap. The fact that they were able to ape conservatism means nothing. Hell, they do that half the time when they're NOT up against a TP opponent. Has no effect on the way they vote in the Senate. There's nobody more conservative than a backstabbing turncoat RINO during election year.
Does Alexander stand for anything at all?
What does he want to change in the country? He seems like an empty vessel politician who has no core belief system.
Open primarys and DemocRats were needed to win. These RINOs are in the crosshairs and they know it.
He stands for himself and his power, and using the Senate as a retirement home. That he massively outspent, out-organized, and was out-endorsed over his opponent and still couldn’t get above 50% of the vote in an election where Democrats routinely flood the open primary (with NO runoffs) was quite telling.
M O N E Y.
Someone complained they didn’t see a sign nor an ad up in the name of the conservative candidate. Was it Lamar in Tennessee, I can’t recall which senate race it was.
That Cochran deal in Mississippi should have caused a sweep against all incumbents whose races followed that.
The Tea Party is Dead! The Tea Party is Dead!
Ohhh, it’s not? Never mind.
To some extent. That’s been de rigeur for a long time though. No one more conservative than a RINO at election time. Many of them are way more liberal than their states/districts. Not sure why the voters don’t remember, but they seem to pull it off.
Oh, love your screen name BTW!
Now I did make my original post before reading the article, presuming that where they were going was that the GOPE-rs had been forced to be more conservative to win, which was what I was responding to. Then I read the article and got his statistical point which was obviously different than what I thought, and is indeed encouraging. You have to take seriously one of the few guys to call POTUS 12 correctly. Question is, will that trend manage to turn things around before some amnesty with citizenship puts it out of reach forever?
It would have been easier for me to make my primary ballot selections if it had been easier to determine a candidates support for or by the Tea Party. I thought they did better than I expected.
Thanks for noticing :)
Tea party activists are winning as vichy Republicans are declaring how Conservative they are when challenged. They must lie about that to eek out a win.
The weakest Sen. Was Thad Cochran and they showed us just what they were willing to do...
Conservatives must close these primaries to keep out the Democrats. People should not be able to re register as a republican withing 60 days of a primary either.
I would also put in something that would make it tougher for so called libetarians to run like in VA. where McAllife won over Ken by inserting a stooge third party candidate without a background to match his party label.
This list could go on and on with Boss Hogg Barbour thinking up new ways to save senile Thad.
The biggest problem, I think, is the general inexperience of the TP candidates. Many want to go from never having held political office to being Senator, and while it can happen, it’s unusual and generally requires that they have achieved high visibility in something else first.
The other problem is the warring factions. Cochran was extremely weak and would have lost in the primary - if there had been only one TP candidate. But the whole reason for the run-off was that there were two or three TP candidates, and the vote was diluted. Then having the run-off gave Cochran and the incredibly corrupt Mississippi GOP the chance to come up with a strategy for crushing McDaniel.
Again, part of the reason there are so many candidates is inexperience, with candidates and their backers each insisting that their principles are more pure than the other and refusing to be realistic about their possibilities. And they’ve generally never had to try out those principles in a real situation of political responsibility.
Don’t forget that the “Tea Party” really doesn’t exist, and it’s just individual candidates who proclaim themselves as being conservative - but this does not provide the support or money of a party apparatus, which is what the regular GOP candidates have.
That’s a good article, I think the author is pretty much correct in what he says. And amazingly, it’s snark-free!
Thanks for posting it!
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