Two conflicting Tea Party narratives emerged from the 2010 elections. The first is that the tea party helped the GOP take back the House of Representatives, with dozens of tea party freshmen flooding into the Capitol. The second involves the Senate, where the candidacies of tea partiers Sharron Angle, Christian O’Donnell and Ken Buck arguably cost the GOP control of the upper house of Congress.
The far right, straight-from-Fox/Rush rhetoric of the Tea Party seems to translate well to local elections, where gerrymandering has made the extremes tolerable. But on a state-wide level, voters in swing states at least are reluctant to elect someone whose chief qualification is anger.
In 2012 a new flock of raging tea partiers is trying to take the Senate. They don’t believe in compromise and they’re ready to turn the faux decorum of the Senate into the comments section of your least favorite website. Beware.
[Image courtesy of Pargon on Flickr]
1. Ted Cruz
All of the Republican candidates for Senate oppose the Voting Rights Act, but only Ted Cruz won the Sarah Palin seal of approval. Palin told a rally of Cruz supporters, “Ted is not going to D.C. to make nice with the frou-frou, chichi cocktail crowd.” Instead, Cruz is going to take on imaginary conspiracies that involve the World Bank and the UN. Being a Republican Senator from Texas is generally a lifetime appointment. But is Cruz pulls off an upset over establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the implications could be even bigger. A nationally known Republican consultant said, “If Ted Cruz wins the Senate race, Texas will be a purple state in four years.” Apparently he’s so far to the right that even Rick Perry’s state will be forced to do a little soul searching.
2. Pete Hoekstra
Former congressperson Pete Hoekstra will probably go down in history as the man who blew his career with one commercial. His now infamous “Debbie Spenditnow” Super Bowl ad played on the worst Asian-American stereotypes and was roundly mocked by analysts across the United States. But Hoekstra’s missteps are numerous. He called for a national “birther” office in the federal government and was roundly mocked for comparing the GOP’s struggles to Iran’s Green Revolution. That’s the kind of nutty talk that makes sense to people who only listen to AM radio on full blast.
3. Sarah Steelman
Steelman recently received Sarah Palin’s buckshot of approval and to many observers she’s Missouri own version of Palin. She even loves to hunt. Steelman’s platform is a litany of cliches torn from Tea Party email forwards: audit the Fed, get rid of czars, put a moratorium on a any regulations. When a constituent said that he would like to “kill” Steelman’s opponent Claire McCaskill, Steelman refused to condemn him. “I may disagree with the words Mr. Boston chose in his statement, but I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views.” When your success depends on riling up unstable people, I suppose you have to encourage them to express themselves.
4. Richard Mourdock
Murdock united conservatives around the country to defeat sitting Republican Senator and actual statesman Richard Lugar. What was the problem with Lugar? He’s friendly with President Obama and actually worked with the Administration to do crazy things like eliminate nuclear weapons. You can bet Murdock won’t sink to actual cooperation with Democrats. What is Murdock’s definition of bipartisanship? “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
5. Orly Taitz
Attorney, dentist and birther hero Orly Taitz made it to the general election ballot in 2010 as the Republican candidate for Secretary of State. This year she lost in her bid to be the GOP’s nominee to face incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein. Taitz is a marginal figure in an California Republican Party that is becoming increasingly marginalized itself. The state party that produced Nixon and Reagan now only accounts for 30% of registered voters, giving it nearly third party status. What’s the reason for the decline? Demographics and social issues. Is this the future of the national GOP? Only time will tell.