The Tea Party Movement has a lot to learn

Steve Baldwin Steve Baldwin 8 Comments


Well, so much for the Tea Party Movement.  At least here in California the Tea Party proved to be almost meaningless.  Carly “I’m a conservative now” Fiorina suckered many Tea Party leaders into supporting her campaign, thereby successfully breaking off what should have been unanimous Tea Party support for Chuck DeVore, one of the most articulate conservatives to run for high office in decades here in the Golden State.  Make no mistake about it; Carly comes from the establishment GOP and her tendencies will be, of course, to moderate once elected.  I don’t really care how well she was coached to pretend she was a conservative; she had absolutely no record of supporting conservative causes or candidates.  None.  The Tea Party needs to recognize that the only way to judge candidates is on their past records; forget the pretty ads and the poll-driven sound bites.

And the Tea Party played little role in the governor race as well, or if they did, it was detrimental.  Both Poizner and Whitman are RINOs and always have been, even though Poinzer may be a slight notch to Whitman’s right.   The major difference between the two appears to be that one gave a little larger contribution to a liberal Democrat office holder than the other one did.       

But there were other solid candidates in the Governor’s race such as Larry Naritelli, a successful businessman out of Los Angeles.  If the Tea Party movement controls the majority of GOP primary voters, as the media keeps telling us, they would have been able to catapult Naritelli into being a contender.  Instead, many voted for the 3-4 other minor candidates with a chunk of them undoubtedly backing Poizner using the “lesser of two evils” philosophy.   

I don’t know if I will even vote Republican in the Governor’s race this year; every time we elect a RINO as Governor, they so much damage to the Republican brand that it undermines GOP candidates all the way down ticket.  Besides, with the D’s in charge of the legislature, Republican governors have their hands tied but end up getting blamed for Democrat budget deficits.   

And for Lt. Governor and Insurance Commissioner, GOP primary voters elected two tax hiking idiots, Abel Maldonado and Mike Villines, both who never met a tax increase they didn’t like.  Wow, I’m just so excited about November!

With 55% support, the open primary initiative appears to have sucked in many Tea Party voters.   The advocates of this initiative successfully portrayed it as something that gives more power to independents and they knew that would sound attractive to Tea Party people.  But the reality is that this initiative makes it easier for liberals to interfere with GOP primaries, thereby ensuring that only moderate Republicans win primaries.  This initiative will do great harm to the conservative movement in this state and will make it even more difficult to recruit conservative candidates.    

Locally, things weren’t much better.  Mason Weaver came in third in his congressional race even though he was the only candidate with a long record of involvement in the conservative movement.  And despite the efforts of,  all four conservative judicial candidates were clobbered.

I see lots of problems with the Tea Party Movement:

1)      They’re not really united.  There were Tea Party leaders and activists divided between different candidates in many key races.

2)      They’re not doing their research.  There were many examples of Tea Party members supporting moderates; right here in San Diego some major Tea Party leaders endorsed an Assembly candidate who supported gun control and “Hate Crimes” legislation.

3)      They’re not using the best technology to impact races.  I saw little evidence of the use of slate flyers, 527 committees, phone banks, PACs, precinct walking, etc.

4)      The main vehicle used by Tea Party groups appears to be websites and social networking.  But I believe both are over-rated.  Expecting voters to find your website or Facebook page is delusional.   Witness the website.  It’s a great website but all four of its judge candidates lost big.  Had BCN raised some money and sent fliers out to a super high propensity voter list promoting its candidates and driving traffic to its website, I think there could have been a different outcome.

Nineteen years ago I and a small band of activists organized a movement to elect consevatives to office.  Using conservative churches as our base, we mobilized hundreds of thousands of conservatives to get behind a slate of over 100 conservative candidates.  Ninety-one conservatives won in 1990 and sixty more won the following cycle.  It was the largest migration of conservatives into elected office in San Diego County history.  It also attracted national attention and was the beginning of what the media referred to as the “Christian Right.”

Many of those who were elected have gone on to higher offices or remain active in their communities one way or another.  Websites were not around at the time so we used old fashion campaign techniques: phone banking, PACs, slate fliers, precinct walking, etc.  It was hard work but it paid off. 

If the Tea Party moment wants to start winning elections, they need to take lessons from the past. They need to unite all the Tea Party groups in San Diego County and figure out a battle plan and then carry it out.  Otherwise, they will be a flash in the pan.


Comments 8

  1. Very disappointed in last night in all but one race, the 36th Senate. Fiorina will do what her handlers tell her to do. If Graham and the moderates push cap and tax she will follow. She is their product groomed the last several years to replace Boxer. As I hear it, the Utah Tea Party people have Hatch in their sites for pushing their people. Maybe we should start taking on the big guns. It will be interesting to see how Mc Cain fares against JD Hayworth. Mc Cain has seen the writing on the wall and has suddenly become a close the borders convert. Forgive me for being less than optimistic for the next 12 years. I have had enough of Keystone Cops politics. As Steve said, we have to get the groups together and on the same track.

  2. I like to address the “Chuck Devore” comment.

    Yes, in my opinion, Chuck was a better choice, but the question was, could he beat Boxer. I don’t think so. We get pulled into having to decide if we should vote for the person that closest matches our personal ideology, or do we vote for the person that has the best chance to win in November.

    Just look at the recall against Gray Davis. Yes, Arnold was the favorite, but Tom McClintock was by far, the best choice for Governor. If he had been elected, I’m sure California would NOT be in the mess we’re in now.

    So getting back to Chuck, yes, he would be by far the better choice for improving our nation; however, there is a bigger picture-what will the rest of California do? I think we have seen that the majority of voters in California tend not to be informed-they choose based upon what they read and hear-they don’t do much, if any independent research (Proof-if the voters did, do you think California would be in the mess that we are in now??).

  3. DeVore would be such a stark distinction against Boxer that it would be in my opinion (and I don’t subscribe to the vagina vote) a no brainer. Boxer represents everything reprehensible in our representatives be it arrogance or air of entitlement. Chuck is a gifted communicator that would have little trouble winning the race if given a chance. Be it her environmental extremism that has destroyed the economy of the Central Valley or her condescending attitude, she would be toast.

  4. Agree re: Devore. The much better choice.

    Did Villlines win? Last I heard Fitzgerald was up by 9000 or so votes. Villines, Maldonado, et al. need to be put out to pasture.

  5. We provided the link to statewide results this morning. Again:


    Brian Fitzgerald 719,014 50.4%
    Mike Villines 708,089 49.6%

    Done deal.

  6. I agree completely, esp. with points 2 and 3. I would also add another point, the tea partiers somewhat lazy reliance on the Republican Party. With the outcomes sited in this article the Republican party seems to have succeeded as a pressure valve to absorb the energy of those that are rightfully fighting against the onerous regulations and taxes that those who have gained control of the government have imposed. What I saw campaigning is all the points Steve mentions and the Republican party derailing tea partiers with things like the “Tea Party Express.” The Tea Party Express is owned by the Republican Party who endorsed establishment/moderate candidates. Note to tea partiers if the Republican party was standing up for you all this time would a tea party movement be needed?! So how and what or whose function has the Republican party in many districts been fulfilling all this time in order to survive, and may I add while Rome burns. Abel Maldanado ring a bell?!

  7. Looks like steve still has the bite of a YAFer. You hit the nail on the head, but the marriage of the institutional best practices of the old and the energy of the new is being implemented and we could see a hybrid freedom fighter will be able to beat the Organizing for America monster.

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments. Yes, don’t get me wrong; I love the Tea Party movement but I want them to become more effective and strategic. In regards to their relationship to the GOP, they should strive to have the numbers and power to control the GOP primaries without becoming a part of the GOP. A good analogy is the Conservative Party of New York. They’re a powerful entity as they control the outcome of many GOP primaries yet they remain outside the GOP structure.

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