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!
Chest-thumping conservative to get elected, once elected, go back to their old back-stabbing ways. One word - John McCain (that’s not the word I had in mind).
Carr ran a ho hum state rep election campaign, not a state wide US Senate campaign. Almost totally ignored W TN, what few stops he made were RSVP last minute ones. 1 open one with just hours notice on a work day. I drive Hwy 51 from Atoka in Tipton Co to Bartlett TN often not 1 sign up. Not even during early voting. No yard signs. No counter ads to lamar. He needed personal time with family, well that goes by the wayside during an election campaign that just takes a few weeks unless you have a dying relative.
He did not hit on lamar’s Military votes, and W TN is a large Military retirement area.
People can’t just take off work, cancel appointments, etc to see a man who should have done a Sat after noon stop in a location designed to draw from a 3 county area. Much of which is rural.
He votes 62% dem does that answer your question? He is also a oath breaker, he promised in a book he wrote 2 terms and out. He never was a conservative. He just was the lesser of 2 evils when he ran the first 2 times. The Dem was 100% socialist.
Fixed it for them.
Field, you could have run a better campaign than Carr ran. I thought it stunk. He ignored the small donors, Seniors, Military, Ret Military. And W TN. Stuck to his own stomping grounds in Mid to East TN and big donors.
I wonder why some people go to the trouble of writing in-depth analysis only to throw it all away with BS like this.
I heard Carr didn’t have much money but that sounds like a poorly run campaign to me.
We must expect and demand better, in future elections.
Spot on. The real problem tea party candidates face is their own constituency. You have to be blemish-free on conservative issues. Yet successful politics requires some compromise. Even Saint Ronald compromised to move the ball forward. So that means you get inexperienced candidates.
I think 867V309’s real name is Jenny!
That's the GOPe mantra:
"Run to the right in the primary, run to the center in the general."
Let’s not forget the true conservatives who held their ground, also. The Slimes actually had me worried about Amash with their snarky little misleading article before the primary, but he won by a mile.
There’s a reason Senators are generally RINO compared to House members:
House seats may contain few or no cities, unfortunately, every Senator is elected at large. Predictably, states with lots of cityRAT election thieves and dead voters can easily overwhelm the rural, normal-people vote.
IOW, the cities pick the Senators. That’s why state legislatures should be electing the US Senators.
Incumbents are hard to unseat and that’s just a fact of life. The Tea Party has given these RINO’s some really bad moments though. Maybe it will affect their votes this next go around.
Democrat crossovers and RINO voters are always useful in general elections. No point in winning nomination and losing in general like Akin, Mourdock, Angle, O’Donnell etc.
1. Open primaries-Democrats should not be choosing the Republican candidates period.
2.Simple mathematics-you cannot have 2, 3, or 4, candidates on the ballot running against 1 person. The Tea party candidate with the highest percentage of recognition and ability, pre-primary needs to run. Everyone else should drop out and ask their supporters to back that candidate.
Of course rino(closet democrat) dirty tactics played a major part in some election losses too (Mississippi).
The good news is that these low life dirt bags have been flushed out into the open. We are now aware of how far they are willing to go to keep their power and ability to help the democrats.
(As a side note- I hope McDaniel is seriously considering a write in campaign. I think he might be able to win. Imagine the message that would send. )
Overall I agree that this past primary had good results for the Tea Party considering the fact that they are brand new to the election game. They can gain more positives if they are willing to learn what they can from it and fine tune their future election efforts.
That Carr got as high a % as he did was remarkable, given that he was essentially a protest candidate. Had he as many $$ resources as Lamar!, he would’ve won.
Very. very cool! ;)
It would have been higher if he’d run a better campaign. Closed donor RSVP, no signs, little literature, that mostly going to a base list. No letting others know of his own conservative record in the TN State Legislature. No Sat campaign stops in W TN.
MAN doesn’t understand people WORK Mon-Fri for the most part, you hold Sat afternoon events if you want more than just already committed donors to show up. And give plenty of notice.
Flinn was a total unknown out side shelby co and did not really campaign.
You could have run a better campaign. When you don’t have the $$ you get resourceful.
Believe me it was a poorly run campaign, he didn’t want to travel more than mid and E TN, nearly totally ignored W TN. No signs, 1 or 2 tv ads, no counter lamar ads, he “wanted family time” was the big excuse he didn’t get to this end of the state but 4 times all but 1 were RSVP donor. The last was a weekday, short notice, limited space Huey’s, people who work, have appointments, are not available. No Saturday day events where seniors could go. Many seniors do not do night driving from rural areas. It is dangerous.
Then he did not appeal to the Military at all. And that would have made a huge difference as this 3 county area is full of Retired Military with a Military base.
Yup. I’d have dispatched surrogates and set up events in every county/county seat in the state and do driving tours and walks (take a play from Lamar!’s 1978 campaign for Governor, but without the dumb plaid shirt schtick). These volunteers could’ve worked for next to nothing. Contrast that with Lamar! having to pay for that support. Who besides crony capitalists were fervent for Lamar! ?