Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tea party shaping Republican Party, fall faceoffs

The tea party movement shows some growing pains, but it still wields remarkable powers to shape the Republican Party and set up a fall election with unconventional candidates and stark choices for voters. In two high-profile primary elections Tuesday, establishment GOP candidates were stunned by come-from-behind winners backed by tea party activists and other conservatives who don't necessarily associate with that loose-knit group. National Republican leaders are sifting through the results. Voter fervor on the right delights them, but some fear their insurgent nominees might stray too far from the mainstream to win in November. In South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary, state Rep. Nikki Haley trailed a congressman, the lieutenant governor and attorney general for months. But a tea party surge and Sarah Palin's endorsement propelled her to an easy first-place finish. She faces Rep. Gresham Barrett in a June 22 runoff. The tea party is not invincible, of course. Relatively mainstream Republican candidates won the Senate and gubernatorial nominations in California. And conservatives' quarrels in a highly competitive House district in Virginia spelled doom for five candidates who claimed tea party ties...more

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