Tea party de­ter­mined, not chas­tened

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Far from chas­tened by the debt de­bate, tea par­ty­ers and con­ser­va­tive groups sig­naled Thurs­day they’ve con­cluded they didn’t lose, but rather were sab­o­taged from within by weak Repub­li­cans — and they took the first steps to oust one of them.

Mis­sis­sippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel an­nounced he would chal­lenge U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the Repub­li­can pri­mary next year, a day af­ter the GOP’s se­nior se­na­tor voted to end the 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down and grant Pres­i­dent Obama more bor­row­ing au­thor­ity.

Mr. McDaniel im­me­di­ately saw a flood of sup­port from the out­side groups that had ral­lied against this week’s debt and spend­ing agree­ment.

“Our coun­try can’t af­ford any more bad votes that stem from old friends and back-room deals,” said Daniel Horowitz, deputy po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Madi­son Project. “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.”

For the past two weeks, the deep di­vi­sions within the GOP have been on very pub­lic dis­play.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and their al­lies pushed to with­hold all gov­ern­ment spend­ing un­less Mr. Obama agreed to can­cel Oba­macare, while party lead­ers called that a los­ing strat­egy and tried to come up with al­ter­na­tives.

On Thurs­day, the GOP ac­cepted de­feat, pass­ing a bill that gives Mr. Obama a “clean” bill to re­open gov­ern­ment through Jan­uary, and to raise debt through at least Fe­bru­ary.

A ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans sup­ported the deal in the Se­nate, but the sit­u­a­tion was re­versed in the House, where Cruz al­lies re­fused to sign off on a se­ries of plans put for­ward by GOP lead­ers to end the stale­mate.

Ahead of the vote, each side blamed the other for squan­der­ing lever­age.

Mr. Obama, Demo­cratic lead­ers and even many top Repub­li­cans said they hoped the tea party side had learned some po­lit­i­cal and tac­ti­cal lessons, par­tic­u­larly in fight­ing a fight that now ap­pears to have been fu­tile from the start.

But tea party law­mak­ers say they could have won if all Repub­li­cans had stuck to­gether, and the les­son they draw is that they need to oust those who sur­ren­dered.

“I want my col­leagues to imag­ine sim­ply that Se­nate Repub­li­cans stood to­gether and said: We sup­port the House Repub­li­cans in stand­ing with the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Mr. Cruz said Wed­nes­day on the Se­nate floor prior to the bill’s pas­sage. “If that had hap­pened, I be­lieve this re­sult would have been very dif­fer­ent.”

Mr. Cruz’s bat­tle cry seemed to res­onate Thurs­day across the coun­try with a new gen­er­a­tion of tea-party-style can­di­dates who have an­nounced bids to run against vet­eran GOP law­mak­ers in 2014.

In South Carolina, Nancy Mace, the first fe­male grad­u­ate of The Ci­tadel, lam­pooned GOP Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham for be­ing the sole Repub­li­can in the state’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion to sup­port the debt deal.

Another Gra­ham op­po­nent, state Sen. Lee Bright, also blasted the deal: “We didn’t get any­thing ... We sur­ren­dered again.”

In Ten­nessee, state Rep. Joe Carr ac­cused Sen. La­mar Alexan­der of vi­o­lat­ing con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples by vot­ing to raise the debt ceil­ing with­out any ac­com­pa­ny­ing spend­ing cuts.

And in Louisville, Ky., Matt Bevin, a wealthy busi­ness­man, run­ning Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, praised Mr. Cruz as the new face of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment and blasted Mr. McCon­nell, who wrote the fi­nal debt deal with his Demo­cratic coun­ter­part, Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid.

“This shut­down was com­pletely avoid­able if we had real lead­er­ship in Wash­ing­ton,” Mr. Bevin said in a Web video. “In­stead, we have ca­reer politi­cians like Mitch McCon­nell and Harry Reid that make de­ci­sions based on what is po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency for them, not on prin­ci­ples and not on what is in the best in­ter­est of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tom Bar­bour, 58, of New Haven, Ky., car­ries a sign in sup­port of Matt Bevin dur­ing the 133rd an­nual Fancy Farm pic­nic in Fancy Farm, Ky. in Au­gust. Mr. Bevin, a wealthy busi­ness­man, praised Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Rebpub­li­can, as the new face of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment and blasted Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, who wrote the fi­nal debt deal with his Demo­cratic coun­ter­part Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid.

McDaniel

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