Tea Party Undeterred, Targets Moderate GOP for Ouster
Friday, October 18, 2013 11:47 AM
By: Sandy Fitzgerald
Angry about their defeat this week in the budget standoff over Obamacare, tea party groups and supporters have launched into a heavy fundraising campaign and are stepping up efforts to field conservative challengers in next year's primaries against moderate Republicans who voted to end the government shutdown.
In Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced his plans Thursday to go after long-serving Sen. Thad Cochran in the 2014 GOP primary. He immediately drew the endorsements of three big tea party and conservative groups, according to The Washington Times.
Cochran was pointed to as an example of a moderate Republican who should be defeated to make room for much more conservative GOP members who would be less willing to compromise with Democrats.
Daniel Horowitz, deputy political director of the Madison Project, which raises money for conservative candidates, issued a statement in support of McDaniel and other tea party challengers to moderate Republican senators who not only voted to end the shutdown but vowed not to let it happen again.
“Our country can’t afford any more bad votes that stem from old friends and back-room deals,” Horowitz said, according to the Times. "And as witnessed from the recent budget battle against Obamacare, we cannot win against Democrats if we don’t grow our conservative bench in the Senate.”
Horowitz's comments were echoed by two of the nation's biggest tea party groups who accused lawmakers in both parties of "selling out" out the nation by not holding the line on spending and refusing to defund Obamacare. In email fundraising letters to members, the Tea Party Express and the Tea Party Patriots were particularly hard on Republicans who voted with Democrats to end the shutdown.
According to The Hill, the groups singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for negotiating a last-minute deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that sent government employees back to work and averted what would have been the nation's first default on its debt.
The Tea Party Patriots' email accused McConnell of refusing "to hold the line and fight Obamacare."
"This betrayal must not go unanswered!" the email read, the Times reported.
"Next month the Republicans are set to open new negotiations with the White House over spending. ObamaCare MUST be on the table. Mitch McConnell and his 'Republicans' must not cave again!"
McConnell is also facing a tea party challenger in next year's Republican primary. Businessman Matt Bevin has already announced his bid to deny the minority leader a sixth term in the Senate.
He has called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a leader in the tea party movement, the new face of conservatism in America.
Bevin also joined in the tea party criticism of McConnell, accusing him of making decisions and deals with the Democrats "based on what is political expediency" and "not on principles and not on what is in the best interest of the American people.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who campaigns across the country on behalf of tea party candidates, urged her supporters Thursday to move on from the shutdown battle this week and to refocus their attention on electing tea party and other conservative candidates in next year's House and Senate midterm elections. The states she mentioned feature incumbent moderate Republicans, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who are all facing tea party primary challengers.
"We’re going to shake things up in 2014,” Palin wrote in a Facebook posting, stressing the apparent importance to tea party members in challenging Republican Senate leader McConnell. “Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races.
"Let’s start with Kentucky — which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi — from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We’ve only just begun to fight.”