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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tea Party “Terminator” Andy Martin: Nevada and Kentucky primary results pose a challenge to the Republican Party

Political columnist Andy Martin finds reasons for confidence, and reasons for doubt, about the prospects for Republican victory in 2010 U. S. Senate elections in Nevada and Kentucky. Martin questions whether absolutist Tea Party views can sustain statewide victories. Martin is a Tea Party sympathizer who has attacked the corrupt Illinois Republican Party establishment. But in his latest column he takes a wider look at the effect of Tea Party activism on Republicans nationally.

Tea Party “Terminator” Andy Martin says the Tea Party movement may be undermining the Republican Party

Martin says Tea Party-backed candidates Rand Paul and Sharron Angle could face defeat in November
Andy Martin
Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not
Politically Correct”


Andy Martin says that conservative “Tea Party” ideologues may be undermining chances for a Republican victory in November.

Martin says Tea Party-backed U. S. Senate candidates in Nevada and Kentucky could lower Republican chances of winning control of the Senate

(CHICAGO)(June 9, 2010) Fox News pundit Dick Morris was an early prognosticator that the Republican Party would gain control of the U. S. Senate in November. I fully agreed with Morris when he initially made his prediction. Now I’m not so sure. I still think Republicans can and will win control of the Senate. But there are clouds on the horizon.

Many Republican leaders initially welcomed the energy of “Tea Party” activists in Republican primaries. I am a strong believer in Tea Party energy, enthusiasm and activism. But some Republicans may be having second thoughts after Tuesday’s primaries.

I watched Rand Paul win his Kentucky primary in May. He seemed like an amiable, electable candidate to the U. S. Senate. Then Paul shot himself in the foot by suggesting the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s denied people the freedom to be racial bigots. Paul clearly expressed support for Jim Crow-style racial discrimination as a constitutional option.

After a storm of criticism, Paul backtracked and said he would have voted for the 1960’s statutes that put America on the path to ending racial discrimination. But Paul’s support for racial equality was grudging and belated. And disappointing.

Paul had grievously damaged himself by seemingly seeking to reopen the bitter battles of the 1960’s.

I was stunned. I am a strong supporter of civil rights laws and ending racial discrimination. More Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1960’s civil rights laws. Rand Paul was needlessly squandering a grand legacy.

I was stunned again when Paul started criticizing anti-smoking statutes and ordinances. I am not a smoker, and I do not want to be subjected to anyone else’s second-hand smoke. I find smokers who deposit their buts on sidewalks and everywhere else contemptible human beings. They think the world is their ashtray.

I am a conservative who favors clean air.

What next “big” issue is Rand Paul going to tackle?

Paul increasingly looks like a theoretical absolutist who is marginalizing himself before the Democrats even start firing their ammunition. He may still win, but he will probably do so just barely. And the chances that Democrats could win that “Republican leaning” seat are stronger today than they were before the Kentucky primary. The Tea Party is clearly taking Kentucky Republicans backwards.

Tuesday night (June 8th) Sharron Angle won the Nevada Republican primary to run against Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. I am uncertain Angle’s views can sustain a statewide campaign. Nevertheless, personally I find Angle an appealing candidate. I have sincere concerns about her, but not strong ones.

The cloud: Reid’s supporters financially supported Angle’s campaign to win the nomination. When you have Democrats backing a Republican to run against a Democrat, the red warning light is lit. I am concerned about the actions of Reid’s supporters. Strongly.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no love for the Republican Party’s national leadership. And Republicans needed a Tea Party shot to wake up sclerotic state Republican parties. But we may be seeing a political example of the old saying that “Too much of a good thing is no good.”

The “Politics of Purity” may prove toxic to Republican hopes of recapturing the Senate.

Neither the Democratic “base” nor the Republican “base” is capable of winning a statewide election in most states. Senator Blanche Lincoln proved that point when she was accosted by the left-wing base of the Democratic Party in Arkansas and narrowly managed to escape defeat on June 8th.

Winning candidates need to broaden their appeal. Can Tea Party loyalists do so? We will have to wait and see.

There is one “x” factor that may elect even unelectable Republicans in November. If the hapless presidential pretender in the White House continues to do a pathetic job of being a national leader, a role for which he has no prior experience and for which he has never manifested any qualifications or aptitude, even marginal candidates such as Paul and Angle will win.

But if Republicans are counting simply on voter anger to win a majority, what does that say about the candidates and issues they are offering to voters?

I am comfortable being a conservative. And America is a center-right nation. Wild swings to the left such as 1964 and 2008 only happen under extreme circumstances. 2010 will not be an extreme year. It will be a rebuilding year. For America and for loyal Americans who love their Constitution.

But is Paul’s pro-smoking agenda really a vote grabber in 2010? Do we really want to debate in 2010 the need to vanquish segregation in the 1960’s? Can Angle broaden her appeal?

Clearly, the “Tea Party” has become a mixed blessing for the Republican Party. I am a Tea Party sympathizer and, on balance, will give the movement more time and more opportunity to prove itself. But based on the “early returns,” the Tea Party may be sending as many Republicans down to defeat in November as it is sending to Washington.

Stay tuned. We will have many more opportunities to revisit this question. Guess what? America is still a work in progress. 2010 will be a “real” change election. We need a Republican congress to restrain Barack Obama. How we get there is still an open question. Will we get there is also an increasing challenge.

Cigarette, anyone?

Andy Martin is a legendary Chicago muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of broadcasting background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He is currently promoting his best-selling book, Obama: The Man Behind The Mask and his Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of Martin comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York.
UPDATES: Andy's columns are also posted at;[NOTE: We try to correct any typographical errors in this story on our blogs; find our latest edition there.]
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