Two races seemed to set up nicely for the TEA Party narrative
You can’t keep ordering off the same menu and expect to get better food.
The TEA Party lost all six races where a Senate incumbent was challenged by a primary opponent backed by the faction on the far right of the political spectrum.
That has previously been one of the biggest success stories for the group. They pick out a moderate Republican and knock them out during primaries where only the most dedicated voters head to the polls. Primaries are ripe for extremist candidates from both sides of the aisle to win. Unfortunately for the group, many of those primary wins have turned into to losses in the General Election to Democrats.
It remains to be seen if the more moderate candidates winning primaries in 2014 means fewer Democrats will win in November.
Two races seemed to set up nicely for the TEA Party narrative. Pat Roberts in Kansas and Mitch McConnell in Kentucky were easy targets for the group – especially in those states.
But failure to find quality candidates cost the group its chance to win.
It is hard to get a better break than having an aging, moderate Republican Senator who hasn’t lived in the state he represents for decades telling a radio show that he likes to return to the state “anytime he gets an opponent.” Roberts may not have meant to say that, but that might have been the most accurate statement made by any candidate in the primary season.
At 78, Roberts probably doesn’t remember what living in Kansas is like.
The door was wide open but Milton Wolf tripped himself up before he could walk through. Ethically questionable Facebook posts mocking patients who had horrible injuries and a series of low-brow stunts trying to force Roberts into a debate took some wind out of Wolf’s sails.
The TEA Party picks supremely flawed candidates who are more than willing to be hold on tight to the wires while puppet masters compile campaign platforms and control every step.
In his concession speech, Wolf told supporters “I believe we're just getting warmed up. I believe we're going to save this country because it's up to us. Our republic needs us to stand up and fight and it is the greatest honor of my life to stand shoulder to shoulder with you.” Translation: You will never hear my name again – unless he works on one of your family members and their x-rays are entertaining enough to be featured on his Facebook page.
In Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell was seen as vulnerable as well but the TEA Party there chose a man they vetted so well, they didn’t discover until the campaign was heating up that he had backed a bailout and spoke at a pro-cockfighting rally.
First, what are the chances of there even being a pro-cockfighting rally? Even if there is a rally, how deep must the TEA Party be digging to find candidates that they found one of the few people in the world to speak at one?
Matt Bevin didn’t think the problem was that he seemed both hypocritical on fiscally conservative issues or that he enjoys watching chickens kill each other recreationally. He sees the voters as the problem.
“We have increasingly less courage in our country and that’s something we suffer from,” Bevin said. “It’s disappointing to me not even as much as a candidate, but as an American, how apathetic and timid we have become as a nation.”
You have to be self-aware in politics. There is no room for myopia or denial. You have to know where the holes are in your boat so you can patch them.
Watching this year’s Senate candidates from the TEA Party, there were a lot of holes and no patches. All of the ships sank.
Most good political candidates languish from lack of funding. The TEA Party has all of the money in the world and can’t find a candidate without two Achilles heels.
Without leadership and better candidate vetting, the TEA Party will go the way of Ross Perot’s Reform Party. If he did nothing else, Perot proved that winning in politics was about more than just money.
If you don’t learn from history, you will repeat it. The TEA Party quality candidate issue is widespread. They have a couple of years to patch the hole before the ship sinks once and for all.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org