Suppose they gave a tea party and nobody came?
That’s pretty much what happened on Tuesday, as the first wave of Tea Party primary candidates all went down to abject humiliation at the hands of the voters. Skippy the bush kangaroo surveys the catastrophe (note: evidently, kangaroos don’t use shift keys. And in the interest of interspecies non-discrimination,I chose not to correct it.):
with one race in ohio yet to be settled, tea party-backed challengers and other outsiders were shut out in competitive house and senate primaries across three states on tuesday, the busiest night so far in an election season of optimism for republicans.
while some of tuesday night’s republican primary winners struggled to prevail — former indiana sen. dan coats’ comeback bid advanced with 40 percent of the vote in a five-way race — the results renewed a debate about the clout of the insurgents in the remaining primaries and on elections this fall.
Skippy then outlines five races in Indiana and Ohio — both strong Tea Party states — in which mainstream Republican candidates were challenged by tea party opponents. It wasn’t pretty.
In the Indiana Senate primary:
Dan Coats (establishment) 39.4%
Marlin Stutzman (Tea Party, corporatist wing) 29.2%
John Hostettler (Tea Party, libertarian wing) 22.6%
As Skippy notes, this perfectly silly outcome happened only because, as he put it, “the purity testers shot themselves in the foot.” Jim DeMint backed Stutzman; the Ron Paul wing backed Hostettler, and they split their own vote.
I’ve often pointed out that the far right won’t hesitate to eat their own in the name of ideological purity. This was a pretty classic case of the kind of schism that renders True Believers irrelevant to the bigger picture.. Let’s hope they keep it up.
In Indiana’s Congressional District 8 primary:
Larry Bucshon (mainstream GOP) 32.7%
Kristi Risk (tea party) 28.8%
Skippy snarks: “i have to admit, i was hoping risk would pull this one off. she’s quite a colorful character. she’s like dianne weist’s character in the bird cage – if she’d been given drugs by one of the drag queens.”
Meanwhile, next door in House District 9:
Todd Young (mainstream GOP) 34.4%
Travis Hankins (Tea Party) 32.3%
Mike Sodrel (described by Skippy as a “professional candidate”) 30.4%
Says Skippy: “hankins shared indiana’s values of “limited government, strong national defense and complete lack of irony.” ok, i made the last one up. but it’s better he loses now than gets to washington and realizes the government is our national defense.”
Over in Ohio, GOP mainstream favorite Jim Renacci beat the Tea Pary’s Matt Miller 49.1% to 40.1% in House District 16. What’s funny about this that Miller ran strong as an establishment Republican in the 2006 general election for this same seat, pulling 42%. (Democrat Ralph Regula won anyway.) So he actually did worse as a Tea Party candidate than he did running in the mainstream. That’s a lesson a lot of GOP candidates now flirting with the Tea Party might want to pay some close attention to.
Finally, in Ohio’s House District 18, establishment GOP candidate Bob Gibbs squeaked by Tea Party favorite Fred Dailey 21% to 20.7%. That was too close for comfort; but it was enough to bring the total score for the day to 5-0 against the lunatic fringe.
The Tea Party keeps insisting that they speak for the voiceless majority of Americans. But after this, it’s arguable that they don’t even speak for a viable fraction of the GOP.
I’ve noted recently that, after a year of being distracted by the drama-queen theatrics of the Tea Party, the media is tired of the story and most politicians have realized that these are the same grumpy right-wingers who’ve always been with us (though not usually presented in such a wacky and colorful professional PR package). The wave of the future has washed ashore in the country’s conservative heartland — and it can’t even win a primary election there.
The rest of us need to keep an eye on these folks — if we’ve learned anything about them, it’s that they’ll say and do almost anything for attention — but if this is all the better they can do on their native territory, they’re going to get their butts kicked in more moderate parts of the country. They’re not new, they’re not interesting, and now they’re not even able to win primaries. Which means the party’s probably all over except the finger-pointing. And the rest of us are free to move on to the real work of fixing this country.