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 www.BetterCourtsNow.com, 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 BetterCourtsNow.com 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.