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Nov 7th, 2010

Complaints that Tea Party Hurt GOP’s Senate Hopes

Republicans hoped to capture seats in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada

Christine O'Donnell
Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell surrounded by family and supporters while delivering remarks after conceding the election to opponent Democrat Chris Coons in Dover, Del. (Photo credit: Rob Carr / AP)

By Philip Elliott

November 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — Tea Party-backed candidates helped and hindered Republicans, injecting enthusiasm into campaigns but losing Senate seats held by Democrats in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada that the GOP once had big hopes of capturing.

Republican leaders and strategists are muttering that the same Tea Party activists who elevated Speaker-to-be John Boehner and the party to power in the House simultaneously hobbled the GOP’s outside shot of running the Senate. Tea Partiers largely spurned establishment candidates in the GOP primaries and helped nominate Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado.

All three lost on Tuesday. …

Republicans won Senate races in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. That put them within three seats of a 50-50 split. In the case, Vice President Joe Biden would have broken the tie and allowed Democrats to retain their majority.

If they could have managed a split, however, Republicans would have pushed hard to switch some lawmakers, with the likely target Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. He’s an independent who votes with the Democrats but strongly supported Republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid. Others considered Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota a possibility.

All those what-ifs fell apart, though, in three states.

In Delaware, Tea Party activists rallied behind O’Donnell over nine-term moderate Republican Rep. Mike Castle. Party leaders tried to crush O’Donnell; the state party chairman said she could not be elected dogcatcher, much less a senator.

Voters went with O’Donnell and Republican officials in Washington largely abandoned the race. There were revelations about financial troubles and the emergence of TV footage in which she spoke out against masturbation and talked about dabbling in witchcraft as a teenager. …

In Nevada, voters nominated Angle to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who had to overcome low approval ratings and the state’s high unemployment. They rejected state lawmaker Sue Lowden, who was considered a more polished candidate and was a state party chairwoman — too much of an establishment credential for voters looking for something new.

Angle was dogged by missteps. She told a group of Hispanic students they looked Asian, drew ridicule for avoiding reporters and suggested a “militant terrorist situation” has allowed Islamic religious law to take hold in some American cities.

“My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas, are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States,” she said. “It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.” …

Unlike in Delaware, national Republicans and their allies stood with Angle and waged a bruising campaign that came up short against Reid.

In Colorado, Republicans nominated Tea Party favorite Ken Buck over Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. Republicans hoped Norton would have an easy race against Sen. Michael Bennet, appointed to the seat that Ken Salazar vacated when he stepped down to become President Barack Obama’s interior secretary. …

Bennet, a former school superintendent, had never been elected statewide and Democrats readied for a tough campaign against Norton, a former Reagan and George H.W. Bush administration official.

Buck, a district attorney, proved an easier opponent. Although he had Tea Party backing, he also had expressed views that Democrats seized on to peel away enough voters, mostly women who disagreed with his comments on rape and abortion. …


What’s Next for the Tea Party?


Sen. DeMint: Tea Party is awakening of citizen activism (NBC Meet the Press, Nov. 8, 2010) — Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) says the Tea Party is a vital part of the Republican party and represents the awakening of the American people and citizen activism. (01:35)


Related posts on this site

Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke at a Tea Party at Lake George in St. Cloud after a town hall meeting, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. (Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times)
House Tea Party Caucus chair Rep. Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party at Lake George in St. Cloud, Minn., Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. (Photo credit: Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times)

‘Tea Party’ Sentiment Goes Global (Oct. 10, 2010)

Extremism Rises in America (June 16, 2010)

Tea Party Turns on Bachmann (July 29, 2010)

Republican Radicalization Threat (April 17, 2010)

New York Times Tea Party Poll (April 16, 2010)

Tea Party Fomenting Rebellion? (April 5, 2010)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — November 7, 2009

Missing Person Joshua Guimond

Josh_lastfoto-1.jpg Joshua Guimond picture by Rifleman-Al
Last known photo of Josh Guimond

One year ago today, I featured the latest news and information about the disappearance and search for missing Maple Lake, Minn., student Joshua Guimond.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — November 7, 2008

Rebuilding the Republican Party


Is the GOP broken? (MSNBC, Nov. 5, 2008) — Former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee, R-R.I., says Republicans are being held hostage by social conservatives, telling MSNBCs Rachel Maddow his party was “bankrupt.” (4:05)

Two years ago today, on Nov. 7, 2008, I reported that Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator from Rhode Island who endorsed Barack Obama for president, predicted a bloody struggle for the soul of the GOP. The election results demonstrated that the party had hit rock bottom, Chafee said, but he feared that socially conservative party activists — “the Rush Limbaughs, the Bill O’Reillys, the Sean Hannitys” — were incapable of changing course.

3 Responses to “Quo Vadis, Tea Party?”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Tea Party Credibility Test Says:

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  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Tea Party Cannibalizing GOP Says:

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    […] Quo Vadis, Tea Party? (Nov. 7, 2010) […]

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