I know today is primary election run-off day for both Republicans and Democrats; and I know there will be a general election in November, so how can I declare the tea party winners today? I have to thank Christy Hoppe for her Dallas Morning News Article "In Texas, tea party has already won" for the idea. You should read the article, but if you don't have time, here's the substance.
While the tea party candidates are the favorites in most of the Republican Party run-off races, even if the don't all win, the tea party wins. That's becaus even the non-tea party candidates are all claiming to be tea party conservative. On the issues the candidates have little differences, but some don't get to wear the tea party badge. Hoppe's specifics:
- "The debate has all been conducted in tea party territory," according to Rice University political science professor Mark P. Jones.
- Jones goes on to say "Being a pragmatic problem-solver who gets results and moves Texas forward is not an effective campaign message in Today's Texas Republican primary."
- The message that works is "to shut down the border, to stop or even impeach President Barak Obama and to fight for gun owners to be able to carry their weapons openly and anywhere."
- Out of the state's 13 million plus registered voters, only about 1.2 million are expected to vote in the Republican primary run-off, so it only takes about 650,000 or so to win.
- Winning the Republican primary is tantamount to general election victory in Texas state-wide races.
Texas will evidently buck the national trend where last week in other states tea party candidates were defeated by more mainstream Republicans. David Montgomery writing in the New York Times says "Tea Party Still Wields Considerable Sway in Texas Races."
Bill Miller, an Austin lobbyist and consultant is quoted in the Times article: “The candidate who has done the best job wrapping themselves in the Tea Party flag has the best chance to win. You don’t counter them. You co-opt them. You can’t run against them and win in a Republican primary.”
With today's results we will see if the official tea party candidates win, but even it they don't, the tea party credo will be the winner's marching orders.
In Hoppe's article Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business expresses worry about the tea party trend to focus only on budget reductions rather than problem solving: "It bodes ill…it will be an incredible challenge to make the infrastructure investment that we need to keep Texas competative. Hammond is talking about "bulding roads, finding water and improving education."