Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shaping Tea Party passion into a campaign force

In the final days before Alaska’s Republican Senate primary, longtime Republicans were bombarded with direct mail and automated phone calls urging them to oust yet another member of their party’s jilted establishment, Senator Lisa Murkowski. Yesterday, Murkowski’s Senate career was hanging by a thread, thanks to a last-minute push by her upstart opponent, Joe Miller, a former Fairbanks judge and a Tea Party movement favorite whose candidacy had been all but written off a few weeks ago. Miller benefited from Tea Party activists, Mike Huckabee, and several other prominent conservatives who cast Murkowski as a Democratic sympathizer. In particular, Sarah Palin’s support proved to be influential. Unlike Senator John McCain, a Republican who aggressively beat back attacks from his opponent, J.D. Hayworth, in Arizona, Murkowski chose to ignore her conservative opponent — until it was too late. Inside the Beltway, a loss by Murkowski, a member of the Republican leadership, would be a staggering blow to the party’s Washington establishment, which has already seen candidates backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee tumble in Utah, Kentucky, Colorado, and Florida...more

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