The Tea Party Establishment
Posted on June 12, 2014
There are two establishments in the Republican Party.
There’s the traditional establishment, the one that everybody loves to hate (of which, I am proud member).
These are the folks who consider themselves to be Chamber of Commerce Republicans, who are generally in favor of free trade and immigration reform, who fight for lower taxes and fewer regulations.
Then there is the Tea Party Establishment.
These are the Washington-based Tea Party groups that make money off of attacking the Republican establishment.
These are groups like the Club for Growth, Freedom Works, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project and Heritage Action.
Most of these organizations employ former Hill staffers, many of whom worked for fairly moderate members of Congress like Rick Lazio, Mel Martinez, and Dan Miller, who now have a vested interested in attacking Republican Leaders, because, well, that’s where the money is.
The Tea Party Establishment has been largely unsuccessful at dethroning Republican “establishment” figures in this election cycle.
The Club for Growth spent a million dollars trying to beat Mike Simpson, but their candidate ( a former trial lawyer) got trounced. The Senate Conservatives Fund spent millions of dollars trying to beat Mitch McConnell, but their candidate, Matt Bevins, similarly got trounced.
The Republican Establishment hasn’t won them all. Ralph Hall, the 91-year old former Democrat, lost his challenge, and Thad Cochran, the Mississippi Republican, is in a dogfight to keep his seat in a run-off.
But until last Tuesday, the GOP "establishment" had been on a roll.
And then Eric Cantor lost. While that was a gigantic shock to official Washington, and Republicans of all stripes, you can’t really say it was victory for the so-called Tea Party Establishment, because they didn’t play in the race.
In fact, when the eventual victor in the race, Dave Brat, came a-knocking on the doors of the Tea Party Establishment, he was rebuffed.
Brat’s victory was completely home-grown (with an assist from talk-radio demagogues like Laura Ingraham).
Of course, the Tea Party Establishment is claiming the victory as its own, but we all know better.
At the end of the day, the Tea Party Establishment is the political version of a Potemkin Village. It looks menacing , but behind the veneer, there’s nothing there. Just former Hill staffer trying to make a few bucks beating up on their former colleagues for not being pure enough.