Republican Primary Challenges From Tea Party Have GOP Running Scared

The truth comes out. It's not about what's best for the country. It's about Republican primary challenges from the Tea Party, and holding onto seats. Photo of Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) from Wikipedia.

Photo of Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) from Wikipedia.

The House rejected a deal from the Senate on Tuesday that would end the shutdown and extend the debt ceiling, out of fears of Republican primary challenges. Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KA) said:

“We’ve got a name for it in the House: it’s called the Senate surrender caucus. Anybody who would vote for that in the House as Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger.” [SOURCE]

And there, the truth comes out. It’s not about what’s best for the country. It’s about Republican primary challenges. It’s about whether or not House Republicans will be able to keep their seats next year.

The Tea Party has been threatening Republican primary challenges for some time now.

The Tea Party is tired of establishment Republicans who aren’t conservative enough. Examples of what they’ve threatened Republican primary challenges over include:

  • The debt limit: 2011 was the first political-fiscal crisis in the U.S. Tea Party activists threatened Republican primary challenges to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) back then, because they wanted more concessions from the president and Senate Democrats. They went so far as to call these staunch Republicans “RINOs,” which means “Republican in name only.”
  • Immigration reform: The Tea Party was upset with the immigration reform bill from earlier this year. To them, it had too much amnesty and not enough border security. Anybody who voted “yes” on that would face a primary challenge in 2014.
  • The filibuster: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke against Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) filibuster about Obama’s drone program. Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks,  said Sen. Graham was “begging for a primary” over that.
  • Bipartisanship: Tea Party groups threatened Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) with a Republican primary challenge earlier this year. Sen. Alexander is known for working across the aisle. Tea Party groups said, “Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous.”
  • Conservatism: Some Republican primary challenges have more to do with conservatism than anything else. Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin, who is challenging Sen. McConnell in 2014, said, “After 30 years in Washington, it is clear that Mitch McConnell has lost touch with our state, its people and our values.”

Tea Party extremism is old and tired, but still very intimidating.

The Tea Party threatening even more Republican primary challenges now only highlights the GOP’s civil war. The Tea Party became very powerful very quickly, and establishment Republicans are now running scared. So they will kowtow to the Tea Party’s extremism instead of doing what’s right for the country, all in the name of keeping their seats.

However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, which could be big business. In Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee, business groups are looking to back less extreme Republicans as challengers for Tea Party incumbents. They have sorely alienated their own base with their antics, and the larger Republican base as well. Business leaders are starting to understand this. Could big business be the answer to the Tea Party’s extremism, even though they’ve been a bane on the American political process for a long time? As they say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”