WASHINGTON, December 5, 2013 – 2014 is shaping up as an epic battle for the Tea Party. This will not be 2010, where the fight was primarily against the Democrats. The Tea Party will have to fight the Democrats in the general election, but the Tea Party must also fight establishment Republicans who have declared war on the Tea Party.
Who are the Tea Party’s top Democratic political targets? There are three on their naughty list, but lets first start with a couple of honorable mentions:
Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins – Maine
Maine used to be known as the home of the “sell out sisters.” Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins crossed over the aisle so often to vote with the Democrats, the deserved honorary DNC memberships.
In 2012, Snowe retired and now Collins is up for reelection. Polling by liberal Public Policy Polling shows an interesting spilt among Maine Republicans. They are almost evenly divided between wanting Collins or wanting someone more conservative.
Under most circumstances that would not be good news for Collins, but at the moment she faces no serious competition in the primary.
The Tea Party is also looking for the political defeat of:
John Cornyn – Texas
Texas is a deep red state and you would expect both of its Senators to be Tea Party favorites. Ted Cruz certainly is. John Cornyn is not. Cornyn is a part of the Republican Establishment and he was one of the leaders who stabbed Cruz in the back when he led the charge against Obamacare.
While Cornyn did not get a kick back like Mitch McConnell did, he did earn the ire of conservatives, real Republicans and Tea Party activists. Unfortunately, at least for the moment he has no really serious competition. He also does not have Ted Cruz’s endorsement for reelection either.
Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander - Tennessee
Tennessee is a solidly red state. In the last decade it went from purple to solidly red. The Democrat Party, which only ten years ago controlled state government is now in a super minority. In 2012, the only Democrat who would run against “Bail Out” Bob Corker was so bad the Democrat Party disowned him.
Lamar Alexander has a voting record that would probably put him in the Democrat Party, if he were not from East Tennessee where being a Democrat is almost as much of a sin as wearing white before Memorial Day.
Alexander is a Tennessee fixture, being a former governor and now two term Senator. He has a massive war chest but also has the ire of Tea Party activists in his state. He has one competitor, Joe Carr. Carr is a Tennessee State Representative and he has a solid and impressive conservative record. He also has a grass roots group supporting him that will be working hard on the ground and getting out the vote.
Alexander has managed to fly below the radar nationally on a lot of issues, even though his voting record is much worse that more recognizable “moderate” Republicans like Lindsay Graham.
Lindsay Graham – South Carolina
South Carolina. The Establishment Republican conservatives love to hate, other than John McCain is Lindsay Graham. Graham is in such a lock step with McCain, Washington insiders jokingly call him, “the Senator from McCain.” A couple of years ago, Graham fired the first shots in the Republican Establishment war against the Tea Party. While other establishment Republicans, like Orrin Hatch, tried to make an accommodation with the Tea Party, Graham made it clear he would not.
A year ago, Graham looked unbeatable. But his favorability ratings have tanked in South Carolina and he has multiple challengers. Ordinarily, multiple challengers would not be a good thing, as the opposition vote would be split, but in South Carolina, it is a good thing. South Carolina is a run-off state so if no candidate gets a majority of the vote cast, the top to candidates go to a run-off.
Graham is now panicked and has gone into full pander mode, including recently sponsoring a fetal pain law.
The Tea Party’s top 2014 target in 2014 is none other than:
McConnell started off his reelection effort, trying to avoid the fates of Utah Senator Bob Bennett and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. He secured Rand Paul’s endorsement. He supported Rand Paul when he did his filibuster over drones. McConnell reached out to Tea Party groups and even secured the endorsements of a couple of national Tea Party groups.
Then he stabbed Ted Cruz in the back.
Ted Cruz stood and fought against Obamacare. That is something McConnell kept talking about but would not do. McConnell demonstrates the worst of Washington. He is the consummate dealmaker on the inside. When the fiscal cliff happened in 2011, McConnell reached out to Joe Biden and the deal the struck resulted in more government spending and higher taxes. When he sold out conservatives on the Harry Reid/Barack Obama shutdown, he got his payday in the form of a $3 billion earmark for a Kentucky damn.
McConnell has started a scorched earth policy against groups who oppose him, like the Senate Conservatives Fund. His actions have cost him the endorsement of at least one of the groups that had previously endorsed him.
For conservatives, knocking off Mitch McConnell will send a message to the Republican Party.
For the Tea Party, 2014 is a year of doing things it has never done before.
Including taking over the Republican Party.