One of the subthemes of the 2014 election cycle has been the impact of the Tea Party in getting conservative candidates elected in Republican primaries. Widely looked at as having lost much of their influence during the early contests, the election of David Brat over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia allowed local Tea Parties in the Old Dominion to claim credit for the victory.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Tuesday’s runoff election between six-term incumbent Thad Cochran and State Rep. Chris McDaniel is looked at as being the last major battleground in the 2014 primaries between the Tea Party and the Establishment factions of the GOP.
It’s also a big test for the Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots. Today, the Washington Post profiles the group and its founder, Woodstock’s Jenny Beth Martin:
Rick Santelli, a CNBC commentator covering financial markets, gave his famous rant, asking viewers: “How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?”
That resonated with Martin, as did Santelli’s use of the term “tea party.” “We were quite literally cleaning our neighbor’s house so they wouldn’t have to take care of us,” she says. Inspired, Martin and Amy Kremer, a former flight attendant also from a suburb of Atlanta, organized a conference call to talk about having such a tea party.
What started as about 20 people has grown into a network of thousands. The group has raised about $30 million this year if you combine their various fundraising apparatuses. But the growth of the organization didn’t come without pitfalls or drama.
We’ve had plenty of discussions about the Tea Party: Whether they are effective or not; whether they have helped the Republican Party move to the right or not; and whether they have themselves become part of the political establishment they rail against, or not.
The Post story does a good job of describing the journey of the Tea Party Patriots from its founding to today. The results of tomorrow’s runoff in Mississippi could have a lot to do with the organization’s future.