The Tea Party is not exactly a credible or official third political party just yet. That means that while people are voting, they will not find the party on any ballots. Nevertheless, the mid-term elections could be termed a “call to arms” led by the Tea Party in many respects. The Tea Party movement came from the shadows but grew quite strong as the months passed, which ultimately resulted in 140 candidates running in the 2010 mid-term elections.
Winning Tea Party Numbers
Out of 140 Tea Party candidates who ran for the elections, very few won their respective seats. Only 10 Tea Partiers ran for a Senate seat and, of those 10, only five won. As for the House, 130 Tea Partiers ran for a seat, and only 40 candidates won. However, at the time of the MSNBC report, eight House seats and one Senate seat remained undecided.
Tea Party Origins
The Tea party is the result of Sarah Palin and her vice presidential candidacy. Her appeal as an ultra-conservative, charismatic figure inspired the Tea Party’s formation. The name refers to the Boston Tea Party, the celebrated incident that started the American Revolution. The actual movement to form the Tea Party began on Feb. 19 of 2009 with a heated rant by Rick Santelli, a reporter for CNBC on the show Squawk Box.
Delaware Tea Party Candidate Christine O’Donnell
While many of the candidates won their respective elections across the country, none of the Tea Party candidates ran in Pennsylvania. In the Delaware Senate race, however, Christine O’Donnell was one of the most visible and vocal of the Tea Party candidates. Locally, Philadelphia was bombarded by advertising for O’Donnell’s bid for the Delaware Senate.
The logic was that many from the Philadelphia area work in Delaware and many Delaware residents work in Philadelphia. However, the effect was to attract a great deal of attention and debate. Her “Witch” ads are among the strangest political ads in history. Not many could tell who was running for what congressional seat, but everybody knew O’Donnell’s name and what she was running for. While she was defeated in her race, the Tea Party was not.
Tea Party Future
The Tea party factor will be under a great deal of scrutiny for a long time to come. With the success the unofficial party has enjoyed, the next issue is what influence the Tea Party will have on the Republican party as a whole, if any at all. While the nation can expect to hear more from the Tea Party in the coming months, the Republican Party will have to address the Tea Party’s established political influence and their radical, constitutionalism agenda. The funding that the Party was able to generate, combined with the political capital, will weigh heavily in 2012 presidential elections.
The Republican Party distanced itself from the Tea Party during campaigning to avoid the stigma of radicalism. With so many “Tea Partiers” elected to Washington D.C., Republicans can no longer afford to ignore them, and this will no doubt divide the government even further. The big fear is the upcoming massive gridlock between the Democrats and the Republicans; the Tea party will further complicate the mix with the very real possibility of gridlock within the Republican Party itself as the Tea Party continues to capitalize on their new found power.
“Victory for Liberty,” Tea Party Patriots
Ryan Creed, “Christine O’Donnell: I Dabbled in Witchcraft,” ABC News
NBC’s Alexandra Moe, “Just 32 percent of Tea Party Candidates Win,” MSNBC