Rick Scott win in Florida and possible upset in Alaska Senate race teach the K Street GOP a lesson!
The conventional wisdom was that Tea Party favorites in Florida and Alaska would lose to establishment backed Republicans in Tuesday's primary battles. Rick Scott in Florida was predicted in some polls to be behind long time GOP congressman and current Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The Party establishment rallied to McCollum's side. Scott edged out McCollum by three points: 46% to 43%.
In Alaska, both Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee joined the Tea Partiers and endorsed the outsider bid of Joe Miller to unseat Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski in that state's primary. It was a long shot bid that many analysts thought didn't have a chance of success after earlier polls showed Murkowski with a whopping lead.
The storyline was that should these Tea Party and Palin favorites lose, it might spell the decline of the influence of both on national politics after earlier surprise wins in Kentucky, Colorado and Utah where the Tea Parties ousted long time GOP incumbent Bob Bennett. Obviously, the strength of the Tea Parties and the Palin effect are just as strong as ever.
This is another setback for the GOP establishment which Tim Carney, writing at The Washington Examiner calls "K Street" Republicans. In Washington, K Street is the part of town where big law firms and lobbyists hang their shingle. The clubby atmosphere in which former elected officials of both parties work together better than they ever did in Congress towards the goal of making mounds of cash for themselves has an unwritten rule: don't rock the boat or you might get tossed off the gravy train.
The Tea Parties, and Palin are rocking that boat and defeating many of the K Street candidates who were expected to come into office and not make waves.
Carney's report describes how big money corrupts political ideals and principles and that same big money K Street axis is working to defeat Tea Party candidates who won't play ball. As an illustration of how shocking this lack of principle has become Carney reports that former GOP standard bearer Bob Dole recently gave a $1,000 contribution to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, the GOP turncoat running against Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate.
But as I reported in yesterday's visit with SC Senator Jim DeMint, candidates like Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, who have a very good chance of defeating liberal Senator Russ Feingold, told GOP Senators he follows the DeMint model. His goal is to come to Washington to fight for conservative principles, not join the club of Washington insiders.
Other Big Story: Huge GOP Turnouts Continue
Earlier this month, I linked to an analysis of primary voting trends in several states by Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics. The turnout for GOP races this year has been at historic highs. That trend is continuing in many of the latest races. In the 2006 Florida GOP primary race for Governor, approx. 974,000 votes were cast. This time around 1.28 million GOP votes were cast in the gubernatorial primary. That demonstrates the enthusiasm that Tea Party candidates bring to the races they enter.
We are warned by the K Street GOP establishment about the risks of putting forward untried and untested candidates. Those risk are real. But what is also undeniable is that the outpouring of new voters for candidates who are willing to fight for principles and not just join the comfortable club of Washington insiders is more than enough to make up for any lack of campaign experience or Washington connections!