Is the Tea Party Really Independent?

David Weigel, back from his journalistic grave, recently posted an interesting analysis of the Tea Party movment’s political affiliations. He writes:

This is the fear that Democrats fervently hope is legitimate: The Tea Party will tear the GOP apart. But Tea Party activists aren’t acting the part. On the contrary, any attempt to break away and split conservative votes for the midterms is met with several megatons of force, from the courts to the Fox News studio.

For all the hype, it appears that many Tea Party activists are working within the Republican Party rather than outside of the two party system. Weigel cites the poor reception of Jeff Clark, an Independent Green running against 1st term Democrat Tom Perriello and Republican state representative Robert Hurt , by Tea Party activists in Virginia’s Fifth District. In addition, he points out the quick outcry against Scott Ashjian, a Tea Party candidate running for US Senate in Nevada by Republicans in Nevada (To be fair, the Nevada IAP also launched a crusade  against the candidate).

But is this fair? To be sure, since Doug Hoffman’s well-funded Conservative Party campaign for Congress last year split Republican votes the party has been more wary of third party candidacies. We have seen Sarah Palin publicly urging Tea Partiers to work within the Republican Party. In addition, Mississippi Governor and former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour has been actively calling for unity behind the party’s candidates during his numerous stops at GOP events, whether at the SRLC or the Texas Republican Party convention. Everywhere you turn, it appears you see a Republican wooing the Tea Party.

But it is premature to claim that conservative Tea Partiers have lined up behind Republicans this cycle. For all of the cases of supposed failure that Weigel brings up, we can see a common element: lack of money. Ashjian, Clark, and most other Tea Party candidates outside of the Republican Party have had a definite lack of fundraising prowess. Thus, when they experience a flood of negative criticism from their more organized Republican counterparts, they cannot take to the airwaves to contest it.

I have already documented some evidence to support this conclusion in the candidacy of Tim Cahill for MA Governor. Despite blistering attacks from the RGA, he has managed to take to the airwaves to defend himself with a massive warchest. And libertarian Jake Towne, who has pursued one of the strongest independent campaigns for the US House of Representatives this cycle against moderate Republican Charlie Dent, managed to snag a strong 8% in some dusty poll numbers.

Once we get to around September, we will begin to see which minor party and independent campaigns remain strong and which ones lose momentum. For now, it is difficult to accurately say where the Tea Party’s support will go. Towne’s warchest is not very large, and we could easily see a drop in his support when it comes time to mark a choice in November. Similarly, we have yet to see if credible Tea Party candidates in Florida, most notably Peg Dunmire and Randy Wilkinson, will be able to secure the finanical resources and good polling numbers necessary to win or provide a competitive race. Nevertheless, it would be dangerous for Republicans to write off the threat of a third party or independent rebellion on the Tea Party flank.

23 thoughts on “Is the Tea Party Really Independent?

  1. Jason

    The Tea Party is WE THE PEOPLE. This article is typical lamestreammedia pablum. Your adoration for the muslim usurper BO is dripping from every word.

  2. Microshaft

    NF, you are responding to someone who thinks President Obama is a Muslim. That should say it all right there.

  3. Danny S

    @Jason, I went to the first Tax Day tea party myself. I also definitely did not support Barack Obama for President in 2008, or now.

  4. paulie

    lulZ. When was the first tax day tea party? I remember American Revolutionary war costumes and teabags at Libertarian Party tax day protests in the 90s. Some here might remember same in the 80s and perhaps 70s, before my time.

    I remember an anti-tax protest event specifically called a Tea Party staged in Alabama about 2002 or 2003. I’ve read about some before that.

  5. Danny S

    @5, I meant the 2009 tea party ones. Its like using the word libertarian- it was used long before the American LP used it, and had a somewhat different meaning, but it was used.

  6. Big D

    Ashjian will beat Reid in November because Angle is more of a nut than Fasano!Reid will destroy Angle first than Ashjian will step in.

  7. Brian

    The Tea Party is simply a way for Washington insiders that love pork to seem like they are political outsiders concerned with out of control spending.

  8. Jsmith

    If I wanted to be a Republican, I wouldn’t have left the party during GHW Bush’s term. I have my standards and my expectations, where members of the two major parties agree with them, I will support them. When they don’t I raise heck with them. Accusations of us being puppets are inaccurate, at least in my group, which is totally disconnected from all parties, and will remain so, or they won’t see me again.

  9. JT

    JSmith: “If I wanted to be a Republican, I wouldn’t have left the party during GHW Bush’s term.”

    I didn’t think Jaden Smith was old enough to register Republican yet.

  10. Charlie Earl

    Since January, I’ve spoken to more than 40 Tea Party, 912’ers, Liberty groups, Patriot groups and assorted others. Most wish to “reform” the GOP, but with fiery rhetoric from a Libertarian they may begin to second guess themselves. My gut tells me that about 20% those audiences have come our way. The major problems are not enough audiences, too little time and a dearth of dinero.

  11. Ayn R. Key

    Sad. Most people forget that the Tea Party protests started in 2007, to protest excessive Republican spending under Bush. Now those same Republicans are trying to absorb the Tea Party Protesters with false promises of “enemy of my enemy” and “lesser of two evils”.

  12. sevy marc

    as long as we all stay a non progressive party we all win, and Obama and his convicts will lose, we all need to stay together to beat this power hunger and save are lives.

  13. Green Party Conservative

    The writer of this post did a superb job.

    Shows savy. Haven’t read Weigel’s piece yet.

    Jeff Clark is the Independent Greens of Virginia (understand that Clare was recently elected, or will shortly be confirmed as fifth congressional district chairman of the Independent Greens – per the state board of elections documents listing their central committee)…

    Latest media reports show Clark having raised somewhere over ten grand….Clark is a successful businessman… He has been able to campaign full time. And has received perhaps more media attention than any other Virginia third party candidate…

    ….perhaps…. because Commodore Kenny Golden gets ample coverage. Golden is – another Independent Green endorsee – those conservative Independent Greens collected signatures to put on the ballot…Kenny Golden is popular among those Green Tea Partiers…

    It’s an interesting election season..and the media has it’s story line…

  14. Hugh

    Don’t forget Alex Snitker and Michael Beitler, two Tea Party endorsed candidates running for Senate as Libertarians. Polling shows that both have substantial amounts of support for third-party candidates.

  15. Hey, 'Democans and Republicrats suck', [Lake]

    20 responses so far ?
    * 1 Jason (GOP mole?) // Jul 11, 2010:

    “The Tea Party is WE THE PEOPLE. This article is typical lamestreammedia pablum ….”

    Huh, do you have any idea what site you are contacting ??????????? Duh!

    I know of NO ONE whom regularly posts here that has nothing but contempt for our Two Fisted Fighting Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama, My Yokohoma Momma!

    “Your adoration for the muslim usurper BO is dripping from every word ………” Huh? INDEPENDENT Political Report has short commings, and I could personally name a dozen at the drop of a hat.

    But [first] Killer Obama is a main stream mid western USA Christian, then [secondary] you have not stumbled into any thing but a cynical, cautionary, anti Democratic Party lynching party. [And I will spring for the rope ……..]

    There is SOME softness, myss guided, often sneakie, ‘warm gooey’ for the GOP in general and Palin, McCain, and Romney specially. But the Dems and Obama? Not on this planet and not on this site?

    * what have you been smoking? *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *