A lot of Republicans, especially incoming House freshmen, won in the Congressional races last night. Many of the incoming Republican Representatives were also members of the Tea Party. That’s the glass half full analysis of the effect that the Tea Party had for the Republicans last night.
The glass half empty view is that there’s still the Democratic Senate that they’re going to have to deal with in the 112th Congress, along with a Democratic administration .
They needed to pick up 10 seats in the Senate to become the majority but they only got six, assuming Patty Murray holds on in Washington State.
The Tea Party blew it for Senate Republicans and relegated Mitch McConnell to Minority Leader for at least one more Congress. Its pretty simple, had the Republican party nominated establishment conservative candidates or center-right Candidates in states like Delaware, West Virginia, Colorado and Nevada, like they did in Indiana, with former Senator Dan Coats, they might easily have picked up 10 seats. Once they were in the 10 seat neighborhood, then 11 or 12 seats becomes a possibility because they could divert resources to other states instead of spending them in states that they should have had locked up.
In Delaware, Tea Partier Christine O’Donnell, who doesn’t look old enough to run for the Senate and proved that she doesn’t have the qualifications to run for state office anywhere, won the Republican primary and started out 20 points behind Democratic County Executive Chris Coons. She never closed the gap.
Had Republicans nominated veteran U.S. Representative Mike Castle, who is a Republican in the Ronald Reagan tradition (low taxes, strong defense, government out of our wallets and bedrooms etc.) but isn’t a religious conservative and isn’t trusted by the Christian Right, he would probably have been elected to the Senate by 10 points against a little known county executive. This was blown opportunity number one for Senate Republicans.
In West Virginia, the Tea Party Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Measse (and I apologize for not knowing his first name) was against things like the Minimum Wage, Medicare and Social Security, despite the fact that these are very important to a lot of West Virginians. A Republican establishment candidate would probably have given popular GOV. Joe Manchin a run for his money.
In Colorado, the Republican Tea Party nominee, Ken Buck spent the last two weeks trying to get his foot out of his mouth on such issues as separation of church and state, Medicare and Social Security. An establishment Republican candidate probably would have beaten the incumbent, appointed Democratic Sen. Mike Bennett who spent the last month working his tail off just to get back into the race and make it competitive. He finally pulled out a victory for himself and Senate Democrats.
Finally, in the Nevada Senate race, Republicans had the good fortune to run against the unpopular Senator Harry Reid. They nominated Tea Partier Sharon Angle, who seemed to be trying to do everything she could to lose the election. Every time she opened her mouth, she demonstrated that she is a complete fool, e.g., declaring separation of church and state unconstitutional (it’s explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution).
She proclaimed loudly that she was against the minimum wage, Social Security, and Medicare. These provide important financial support for many Nevadans. She said that she could not tell the difference between Latinos and Asians. The Republican party threw this election away by nominating a Tea Partier instead of an establishment candidate.
It was a good night for House Republicans. They will no longer be the minority party, at least for the next Congress. Democrats should be feeling that they dodged a bullet because Republicans could’ve had a much better night. They blew it by fielding many very low quality (Tea Party) candidates.