The Tea Party Express rolled through Delaware on Tuesday, after running over moderate Republicans in Kentucky, Utah and Alaska. Christine O’Donnell, a conservative commentator and anti-masturbation activist, defeated 70-year-old Congressman Mike Castle for the Republican Senate nomination.
Is that train headed for Illinois? If it is, politicians here are running away from the station.
The closer we get to the general election, the more distance Republicans are putting between themselves and the Tea Party. Bill Brady, who attended a number of Tea Party events over the summer, skipped 9/12 events in Bloomington and Morton Grove last weekend. And he’s backed out of Saturday’s Right Nation rally at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, saying it conflicts with two Downstate fundraisers. Tea Partiers are taking that as a sign that Brady is leery of them.
“Don’t be so sure that Brady has a lot of TEA party support,” Bloomington-Normal Tea Partier Diane Benjamin wrote in an e-mail to Ward Room. “He doesn’t answer questions!”
As with Congressman Mike Castle's stunning loss last night and the losses of Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Bob Bennett before him, the anti-incumbent, conservative wave will claim Congressman Mark Kirk as its next victim in November, with Mike Labno as the only pro-life, pro-gun candidate running for Senate in Illinois.
Congressman Mark Kirk, a 10-year incumbent Washington insider, has tried and failed repeatedly to curry favor with the conservative base in Illinois, and now conservatives have a clear choice with a legitimate challenge from the right with Libertarian candidate Mike Labno officially on the Illinois ballot.
Brady appears safe from Tea Party wrath. As one Tea Partier puts it, “he’s lucky he’s running against Pat Quinn.”
But during the Republican primary, Kirk was a target of Tea Party Nation, which condemned his “consistently liberal” record and supported businessman Patrick Hughes. Kirk beat Hughes by 33 points, and has not been spotted at any Tea Party rallies this year.
The Tea Party is not affiliated with the Republican Party. It’s an independent movement using the Republican Party structure to achieve its goals. After O’Donnell won in Delaware, the National Republican Senatorial Committee declared it wouldn’t support her. Can the Republicans expect Tea Party support in return?