Tea Party seeming more and more an actual, separate party

Some time ago — and it’s frustrating me that I can’t put my hands on it at the moment — Brad Hutto gave a speech somewhere in the Upstate in which he announced that Democrats were in the driver’s seat in the SC Senate.

That startled some who heard it, but there’s a certain truth to it, if you consider how divided the Republican caucus is. There are only 18 Democrats in a body of 46, but it’s not unusual for the Republicans to split between, say, 16 regular Country Club, Chamber of Commerce Republicans, and the rest voting solidly Tea Party. (The numbers break differently, according to the issue.) That gives Democrats a solid plurality, when they stick together. (Which they don’t always do; you might even see Gerald Malloy teaming with a Tea Partier to hold up something other Democrats want.)

Democratic muscle can exert itself in some seemingly surprising ways — such as when John Courson became president pro tem based on Democratic support.

Anyway, we keep seeing signs that increasingly, Tea Partiers wear their “R” designation lightly, placing greater emphasis on their snake-flag loyalties.

A small example of that was in this release today from Lee Bright, in the wake of his getting crushed by Lindsey Graham:

Bright Campaign Falls Short – But Accomplished Much

Lee Bright and five other challengers could not hold well-funded Lindsey Graham under the needed 50 per cent threshold in South Carolina’s Republican Senate PrimaryTuesday night – but the insurgent campaign of the Upstate Senator did defy gravity – and Bright was the dominant challenger from wire to wire. While all the financial figures are not in yet, Bright for Senate will clearly have the best vote to dollars spent ratio.
Bright ended up with 15.4% of the vote, almost double his nearest competitor – Richard Cash.  He held Graham well under 50% in Spartanburg and Greenville Counties, and doubled up Nancy Mace in Charleston County.
“Our team and our volunteers worked extremely hard, and even though we fell short, we have a lot to be proud of,” said Bright, who added, “With Eric Cantor’s defeat in Virginia, some good things happened for the country on Tuesday, even if not in our race. We’re going to continue to fight for what we believe, and we understand that the fight for liberty never ends.”
Bright added that he was “humbled by the work of our volunteers – from making phone calls to making signs – these people kept me going. I am proud to have been in this fight with them.” Bright also said that he hopes “Lindsey Graham’s recent aversion to ObamaCare will continue, now that the Primary is over. We’re going to hold him to that.”


See that? “With Eric Cantor’s defeat in Virginia, some good things happened for the country on Tuesday…”

It’s not at all surprising that he’d say that, but sometimes it’s instructive to stop and think, “He’s celebrating the defeat of his own (supposed) party’s majority leader.” And realize that Tea Party Republicans are getting less Republican each day…

What’s ironic is that Republicans who sympathize with the Tea Party are sometimes the first to call real, traditional Republicans “RINOs.” When of course, it’s the other way around.

SC Republican voters on Tuesday showed that they’ve picked up on that, in their utter rejection of Lindsey Graham’s challengers…

16 thoughts on “Tea Party seeming more and more an actual, separate party

  1. Doug Ross

    “SC Republican voters on Tuesday showed that they’ve picked up on that, in their utter rejection of Lindsey Graham’s challengers…”

    A does not equal B.

    Graham didn’t win because of a rejection of Tea Party principals. There are any number of reasons why Graham won: the incumbent usually wins, the field was split between too many underfunded, unknown challengers, Graham put on his anti-Obama face for the primary and used his hige campaign warchest to spin that message. At a minimum, the Tea Party sentiment forced Graham to act more like a partisan Republican conservative than he really is. So obviously he feared that.
    Maybe the mistake Graham’s challengers made was not hammering him more on immigration like Brat did in Virginia.

    The Tea Party has more power than you want to give it credit for… and it exists for a very simple reason: there is a decent sized segment of the population that is fed up with the way the government runs. They aren’t going away. They aren’t the Green Party… They will be influencing elections across the country this year and in the coming years.

    Oh, yeah.. Tim Scott 90% of the vote, Lindsey Graham 56%. Graham needed Democrats to get his margin of victory. Scott didn’t.

    1. Doug Ross

      I love the way you try to spin things, though. “utter rejection” would not be how I would term a 12 point win within his own party over “anyone but Graham” for an incumbent Senator.

      He won. He should win given the advantages he had. The fact that 11 out 25 Republican voters thought there was someone better isn’t exactly a mandate.

    2. Doug Ross

      I’m going to remember 56% in November when Nikki Haley defeats Sheheen. If she hits that mark, I’ll expect you to say that the state’s voters utterly rejected Vincent Sheheen and what he stands for.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Doug, a statewide Republican who does NOT get 56 percent of the vote against a Democrat in SC is one who has serious problems. The math is entirely different from a primary.

        As for the reasons you give for Lindsey’s victory — which was remarkable for anyone facing six opponents — Cantor had some of those same advantages. Incumbency, way more money…

        To explain the difference in result between Cantor and Lindsey, you have to look at the candidates themselves. SC primary voters DID prefer Graham to the entire cumulative field of Tea Party alternatives. Cantor’s constituents did not.

        1. Doug Ross

          Right, Graham won, Cantor lost. But to call it an utter rejection of the Tea Party is faulty analysis without any basis.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Doug’s tough to stay ahead of today — statistically, at least.

    Of the last 20 comments on the blog, seven were from Doug and seven by me. Kathryn Fenner comes in next at only two. Which is an utter rejection of the views of Kathryn. 🙂

    Doug has put on a burst of speed in the home stretch. Six of the last 10 were by him. Which keeps him out of a runoff.

    Get your bets down, ladies and gentlemen…

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Well, I had a piano lesson with Phillip, and I like to practice a bit extra beforehand. I am scheduled for FaceTime shortly with Prof. Fenner, who is out of the country. Obviously Doug is multi-shirking!

      1. Doug Ross

        I may not be as smart as Kathryn, Phillip, or Bryan – but I make up for it on volume.

  3. bud

    Doug you completely miss the Cantor defeat. He lost because he took his voters for granted and basically was just not particularly likeable. Polling generally shows strong support for some type of immigration reform. If Brat wants to run on that exclusively in the fall he just might lose in an overwhelming GOP district. If he loses that will be another repudiation of the Tea Party extremism. Tough to see how Cantor lost because he wasn’t Tea Party enough. After all he did support shutting the government down and doing nothing to govern the nation. No, Cantor was seen as uncaring and arrogant. So the voters chose a caring, humble Tea Party lunatic over an uncaring Tea Party lunatic. Either way the district will get essentially the same approach to governance. Unless the Democrat pulls a surprise. I don’t think that can be ruled out.

    1. Doug Ross

      Same offer to you, bud. $50 to your favorite charity if he loses. It’s a mortal lock.

      And it’s hilarious how Democrats jump on the bandwagon and start throwing around words like “lunatic” without having a clue about the guy. Is it not even possible to wait a couple days before parroting MSNBC, Salon, and DailyKos so it at least appears that you can think for yourself?

      1. Doug Ross

        And I’m for immigration reform. Start with securing the border, then remove all access to any government funded programs, then double down on enforcement of laws that companies looking for cheap labor break, then deport every single illegal who commits a crime.

        That would be major reform.

        Oh, you meant “AMNESTY”. I know that’s not the code word you can use if you want people to think you’re really for reform.

  4. Mark Stewart

    Isn’t the Tea Party, essentially, a national version of the regional Dixiecrats? Seems like we have returned to the instability of the two and a half legs of the political stool.

    I agree with Bud here. Cantor wasn’t a mainstream Republican. This was about the personalities of two Tea Partiers. I think a Democrat could have had a chance; but not the other professor from Randolph-Macon College.

    1. JesseS

      I often wonder how the Tea Party would fare if we included an option on the ballot for “I cannot in good consciousness vote for any of the given candidates”?

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