Monday, May 31, 2010

Tea party could add to Republicans' numbers in Congress but shake up their unity

News flash (not): All over the country, tea-party-backed candidates are winning. Ophthalmologist Rand Paul's sweeping victory in Kentucky's Senate primary was the flagship "W" for the nascent movement. But Idaho state Rep. Raul Labrador's win last Tuesday in a House primary and the rapid rise of former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle in that state's Senate race signal that the movement is backing up its big talk with action. (Most neutral observers think Angle will win the primary on June 8.) While that story line has received lots of ink and air time since Paul's victory on May 18, significantly less attention has been paid to the "What now?" element of the Paul and Labrador wins. As in: What happens if the next Senate includes such names as Paul, Angle and Ken Buck -- the Weld County prosecutor who is running in Colorado? What we know: If any or all of the tea party candidates are elected this fall, they will join a broadened group of Republican senators. Currently holding 41 seats, the GOP is well positioned to win seats being vacated by Democrats in North Dakota, Delaware, Illinois and Indiana. Most neutral observers expect the GOP to gain at least four seats in November; eight seats is generally regarded as the ceiling...more

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