Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Teabagger Party

John Cole has an item about a third-party conservative candidate who poses a potential threat to the Republican in the NY-23 congressional race.

If I were a Republican, a third-party teabagger screwing up what would otherwise be an easy win (Scozzafava is well-known in the district and her politics are close to dead center for upstate New York) would scare the hell out of me. But instead they’ve got Fred Thompson, and to some extent the NRCC itself, giving the bagger a hand.

Very strange, and possibly a harbinger of things to come.

The Republicans didn’t think this teabagger thing through before they jumped on the bandwagon over the summer. The GOP has historically had a problem with far-right challenges to establishment candidates. This is potentially worse than anything they have had to deal with on that front.

The teabaggers are the Club for Growth crowd on steroids, but without the smarts. The GOP unleashed them at precisely the wrong time. A loud, scary, extremist base actually producing candidates is the last thing the Republicans can afford if their goal is to fight back from a 177-seat minority in the House and a 40-seat minority in the senate.

Just this week, Rasmussen released a poll showing a teabagger running three points ahead of Sen. Blanche Lincoln, of Arkansas. Lincoln, a Democrat, is running behind four potential challengers. Tom Cox, head of the Arkansas T.E.A. Party, is one of them. Right now, Cox is a threat to the incumbent, but it isn't hard to imagine a scenario in which his presence splits the Republican vote and provide Lincoln with a margin for victory.

That very dynamic could be at work in NY-23.

The teabaggers constitute a vocal, know-nothing contingent with a massive sense of entitlement. They’re not fighting to regain a congressional majority. They think they are fighting to “take their country back” from MarxistFascistHitlerMuslamObama. They couldn’t care less if their presence in an election threatens to siphon votes from the establishment Republican candidate. They are True Believers, and if you ain’t for ‘em, you’re agin ‘em.

Good luck stuffing that crazy genie back into its bottle, GOP.