Election 2014: Tea Party Looks to Build on Early Victories in Key GOP Primaries

Tea Party-backed Ben Sasse speaks as Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sharon Lee, Sen. Mike Lee, and former Nebraska governor Kay Orr look on.

In 2010 the Tea Party delivered the House of Representatives to the Republican party, stopping the Democrat big government agenda dead in its tracks. Since then, establishment Republicans have fought the Tea Party on tactics and in elections, outspending Tea Party candidates with their vast resources, downplaying Tea Party influence, and even allying themselves with leftist organizations or otherwise misleading voters with dishonest advertisements. Establishment Republicans have expressed contempt for principled conservatives, liberty-lovers, and the Tea Party alike. 

This past Tuesday, the Tea Party proved once again that it is neither dead nor dying, scoring big victories in Nebraska’s Senate primary and West Virginia’s House primary. Ben Sasse overcame the establishment candidate’s dishonest tactics to win in a landslide in Nebraska, and Alex Mooney won easily as well. 

Tea Party candidates are looking to capitalize on these early wins to build momentum in their own races against establishment incumbents and candidates.

Matt Bevin and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Matt Bevin vs Sen. Mitch McConnell: Kentucky Senate Primary (May 20)

Sen. Mitch McConnell epitomized the establishment attitude toward the Tea Party when he claimed that incumbents will “crush” Tea Party candidates “everywhere.” 

He is fond of pointing out that he will replace Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader if Republicans claim a majority in the Senate this November, but that is little incentive to elect Republicans this November.

As we noted in a previous article

McConnell was also instrumental in crafting a 2013 resolution that raised taxes on millions of American families. McConnell’s unprincipled record of going along with big government includes 9 votes to raise the debt ceiling for a total of $6.7 trillion, a vote for the 2007 energy bill that raised taxes and instituted new regulations on automakers, as well as his votes to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and big banks in 2008.

McConnell refused to stand strong with the House Republicans, Ted Cruz, and the rest, instead saying that now was not the time to fight Obamacare. McConnell and the Senate Republican leadership was complicit with the implementation of Obamacare, which has cost more than 6 million Americans their insurance and raised rates on millions more, not to mention the economic turmoil and implementation nightmare it has precipitated.

McConnell is a career politician who has been in Washington since 1985, making this his 30th year in the United States Senate.

On the other hand, McConnell’s challenger Matt Bevin is a citizen candidate, a successful entrepreneur, father of nine, and principled conservative. He has developed several humanitarian projects in India and Africa, not to mention adopting four children from Ethiopia. His pro-liberty philosophy and history of job creation is in sharp contrast to McConnell’s own record.

A recent poll indicates that Bevin is closing the gap, despite being outspent by several million dollars. A study of the candidates’ presence on social media indicates that voter enthusiasm for Bevin is far superior to McConnell’s, but whether that will translate into a victory on election day is yet to be seen. 

A strong showing by Bevin would be an embarrassment to McConnell, but a defeat of the Senate’s top Republican would be a wake-up call to the entire ruling class.

Bryan Smith vs Rep. Mike Simpson: Idaho 2nd Congressional District Primary (May 20)

Bryan Miller and Rep. Mike Simpson.

Rep. Mike Simpson is eyeing a ninth two-year term in Congress. He has repeatedly voted in favor of items on the Obama agenda, including the disastrous Cash for Clunker program, $700 billion stimulus package, bailouts, and he even refused to support the movement to defund Obamacare. 

Challenger Bryan Smith was born and raised in Idaho, is a father of five with his wife of 30 years, and he owns several small businesses in the area. He became a grassroots activist in 2008 and has garnered the endorsements of several Tea Party and conservative groups, including FreedomWorks, Senate Conservatives Fund, Club for Growth, and Young Americans for Liberty Action Fund.

Joni Ernst vs Mark Jacobs: Iowa Senate Primary (June 3)

Joni Ernst has the rare distinction of garnering the support of both the Tea Party and establishment elements, although Tea Party groups were the first to back her candidacy when she was polling far behind Jacobs.

Now, Ernst is regarded as the frontrunner, although the race is still a close one. Ernst’s colorful commercials have garnered her national attention.

The Chamber of Commerce’s sudden decision to back Ernst may be the result of recent controversial comments from Mark Jacobs, who said, “I don’t think U.S. Senators make that much money.” Jacobs is a self-made millionaire.

Ernst grew up on a farm and became a lieutenant colonel in the army. She has pledged to support a complete repeal of Obamacare and a balanced budget amendment. Ernst has garnered endorsements from a wide range of sources, including the NRA, Senate Conservatives Fund, Mitt Romney, the Chamber of Commerce, and Sarah Palin.

Chris McDaniel vs Sen. Thad Cochran: Mississippi Senate Primary (June 3)

Chris McDaniel and Sen. Thad Cochran.

Thad Cochran has been in Congress since 1973. Yes, you read that correctly. He left the House of Representatives in 1978 and has been elected to the Senate ever since, making him the third-longest serving Senator behind only Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy.

An April poll showed that Chris McDaniel was gaining on Cochran but still trailing by a margin of 52 to 35 percent. Another poll showed McDaniel within single digits and Cochran under 50 percent, which is a significant development. When voters are told that McDaniel is supported by Tea Party groups, McDaniel garners a slim lead. Some of McDaniel’s momentum appears to have been stunted by a flurry of negative ads released by Cochran. 

McDaniel has accumulated the endorsements of Tea Party and conservative groups and figures, including FreedomWorks, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin, Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Tea Party Express.


The Field vs Sen. Lindsey Graham: South Carolina Senate Primary (June 10)

Nancy Mace and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Nancy Mace and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The bottom line here is that if Sen. Graham does not receive at least 50 percent of the vote, he will face a run-off election against the second-highest vote-getter in the June 24 primary. That scenario is looking increasingly credible. 

Currently the race to be Graham’s challenger is split among six candidates with no clear frontrunner, although Nancy Mace’s candidacy has made the biggest splash. Mace is a mother, a small business owner, and the first female graduate of The Citadel. Lee Bright is also regarded as a strong contender as the only candidate to have ever held political office. They are both running as conservatives. All six challengers have pledged to support Graham’s opponent in the event of a run-off election.

Sen. Graham has supported President Obama’s liberal Supreme Court nominees, has worked with Democrats on so-called “climate change” legislation, as well as supported amnesty initiatives. Graham has also voiced his support for the NSA’s mass data collection of American cellphones.  He was recently censured by Republicans in Charleston County and Lexington County for his actions. 

Graham repeatedly stood with McConnell and establishment Republicans in opposition to Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and House conservatives in regards to the movement to defund Obamacare, which would have stopped the law before it was entangled in the health care system. Graham has repeatedly criticized those who want to defund Obamacare.

Graham is well-funded with nearly $8 million in the bank, but his approval numbers recently dipped to below 50 percent

David Brat vs Rep. Eric Cantor: Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Primary (June 10)

David Brat

Rep. Eric Cantor is the House Majority Leader and considered to be next-in-line to be Speaker of the House for the Republican Party. However, behind the scenes, Cantor has been aggressively fighting the Tea Party and conservative groups. The Washington Post even concluded that Cantor is waging “open warfare” with the Tea Party.

Cantor has repeatedly voted for big government, including his votes to raise the debt ceiling, the TARP big bank bailout, and Medicare Part D.

His hostility to the Tea Party has generated a backlash. Cantor’s right-hand man was recently ousted as as 7th District Republican Committee chairman and replaced with a Tea Party-backed candidate. Several conservative groups have now rallied around David Brat as his primary challenger.

David Brat is an economics professor and a respected voice in Virginia on economic issues. Running as a constitutional conservative, Brat is in favor of defunding Obamacare and replacing it with a free market alternative, a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, Congressional term limits, defending the Second Amendment, an audit of the Federal Reserve, energy independence, and less government interference in the education system.

Brat has pledged to term limit himself to 12 years.

Cantor’s name recognition is trumped only by his massive funding, which exceeds $2 million, but Brat is receiving national attention for his campaign, the first serious challenge to Cantor in several years.

T.W. Shannon vs Rep. James Lankford: Oklahoma Senate Primary (June 24)

Rep. James Lankford and T.W. Shannon.

After trailing in the polls by 35 points just two months ago, Tea Party-backed T.W. Shannon now enjoys a 10-point lead in the Oklahoma Republican primary to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn.

Rep. James Lankford, once the clear frontrunner, has been criticized by Tea Party voices for his liberal voting record, including protections for the NSA, increasing the debt ceiling, and his support for amnesty.

Shannon‘s record as the first African-American Speaker of the House in Oklahoma is rock solid, leading many to call him “the most conservative Speaker in state history.”

Dr. Milton Wolf vs Sen. Pat Roberts: Kansas Senate Primary (August 5)

Sen. Pat Roberts and Dr. Milton Wolf.

Sen. Pat Roberts is seeking a fourth consecutive six-year term in the Senate. Before he was a Senator, Pat Roberts served in the House of Representatives for 16 years, meaning he has been a Washington politician for 34 years.

Conversely Dr. Milton Wolf has never run for political office and has pledged to return to private practice following a short time in the Senate. A cousin of President Obama, Dr. Wolf has been an outspoken critic of Obamacare from its inception. He has proposed a free market health care solution called “PatientCare.”

Wolf has repeatedly questioned Roberts’ state of residency, arguing that Roberts actually lives in Virginia and not Kansas. Although Roberts merely rents out residences in Kansas but does not live there, a Kansas election board recently declared Roberts eligible to run for reelection.

A February poll found that Wolf trailed Roberts 49-23, with Wolf surging and Roberts’ numbers dropping significantly from previous polls. If Wolf can build name recognition, he could pose a significant problem for Roberts in the coming months.


Col. Rob Maness vs. Rep. Bill Cassidy vs. Sen. Mary Landrieu: Louisiana Senate Primary (November 4)

Colonel Rob Maness.

This race is interesting, because Louisiana has an open primary system. All candidates will be on the ballot on November 4. If no one receives a majority, there will be a run-off between the top two vote-getters. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu, who agrees with President Obama 97 percent of the time, is seen as vulnerable.

Colonel Rob Maness has garnered the support of Tea Party organizations and conservative figures, which regard Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy as just another establishment politician. Cassidy supported additional Obama stimulus spending, opposed efforts to defund Obamacare and, bizarrely enough, even donated to Landrieu’s 2002 campaign as well as Bobby Jindal’s Democrat opponent.

Col. Maness, on the other hand, is running as a free market constitutional conservative. He served in the military for 32 years and is a father of five.

In this ad, Maness likens liberal politicians to alligators.

Views expressed are not put forth or endorsed by Red Millennial.


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