The opening item in the Guest-Host with Dean Edition of The Scramble noted the various Wisconsin Tea Party Movement groups are getting together this weekend, and the subject of endorsements is on the agenda. Because there’s so many groups, this really needs to be split into two questions – whether they should endorse if they agree on a single candidate and whether they should endorse if different groups want to endorse different candidates.
As Jay Weber said on this morning’s show, it simply isn’t effective to just carp from the sidelines. While endorsements are not the end-all/be-all, the cold, hard fact is that politicians quickly discount those who are merely gripers who do nothing more substantial in the political process than vent and vote.
An active and united, or even a nearly-united, Tea Party Movements (yes, I am intentionally butchering the grammar and using the plural) front is a rather powerful thing. Just ask Scott Brown, Doug Hoffman, or Rand Paul how much a united front helped them. Of course, the Hoffman experience shows the limits of that.
A badly-fractured set of Tea Party Movements, on the other hand, especially when there is a candidate quite unacceptable to any of the Movements, is extremely counterproductive. I’ll let Warner Todd Huston explain the lessons of Illinois (unlike my contemporaneous excerpt, I’ll take the Illinois governor primary):
There was the same problem with the six candidates that were running for the GOP nomination for Governor. Tea Party groups spilt their votes between Dan Proft and Adam Andrzejewski. Andrzejewski got a last minute surge from Tea Partiers, but it was too late to help. But if you combined the polling numbers that Proft and Andrzejewski were seeing into one that number was a winning number. Unfortunately, the vote was spilt between the two candidates, not settled on just one of them.
I am not saying that the worst-case scenario of the Tea Partiers splitting their votes and allowing a full-blooded RINO slip through is going to happen en masse in Wisconsin, but that is something that the various Tea Party groups have to keep in mind.
The good news is that they are taking the other lesson that Huston drew out to heart – they’re going to at least talk to each other about this. That’s something the Illinios Tea Party Movements singularly didn’t do.