Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Op-Eds

News Opinion Op-Eds

Tea party victories in Ind., Neb., are no boon to the Democrats

If it has accomplished nothing else, the tea party insurgency has made Republicans vastly more newsworthy than Democrats. While the party of the left plods along performing the boring old tasks of governing, the party of the right is engaged in high drama worthy of Shakespeare.

The latest plot twist comes from Nebraska, where three conservatives have been vying to be the GOP's nominee for the U.S. Senate. The "establishment" candidate, state Attorney General Jon Bruning is, by traditional measures, a conservative. But apparently back in college he was a bit of a liberal, and that youthful apostasy made him unacceptable to the hyper-conservative Club for Growth and the tea party.

The official tea party favorite, state Treasurer Don Stenberg, was backed by a combined $2 million from the Club for Growth and from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. Stenberg is just the kind of uncompromising conservative Mr. DeMint is trying to pack into the Senate Republican caucus.

However, when Nebraska Republicans voted on Tuesday, they chose a third candidate, state Sen. Deb Fischer, who was endorsed by the tea party's favorite celebrity, Sarah Palin, and by ex-pizza executive and presidential candidate Herman Cain. Now, Ms. Fischer, a rancher from one of the most sparsely populated corners of the state, will go up against Democrat Bob Kerrey, Nebraska's former governor and U.S. senator.

This kerfuffle among conservatives follows by a week the dramatic upset of Indiana's veteran senator, Richard Lugar. Deemed too willing to work with Democrats, Senator Lugar was dumped in favor of tea party darling Richard Mourdock who speaks of political compromise with the kind of disgust most people would save for pedophiles or ax murderers.

Taking down Mr. Lugar was a mighty blow against traditional Republicanism, and it put all other GOP incumbents on notice that any deviation from militant obstructionism could bring out the knives. Like the climax of Hamlet, there may soon be bodies strewn all over the Republican stage.

Democrats are delighted by all of this. They think the purge of establishment Republicans in Nebraska and Indiana has improved the Democrats' chances of taking two senate seats in very conservative states. But they might want to think again.

Right now, Republicans have the drama, the enthusiasm and the attention of the news media. Sure, the right wing revolt is dispiriting to the men in cufflinks and wingtips at the Republican Capitol Hill Club, but out in the hinterlands a very committed political force is being energized by the battle.

And energy wins elections.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • The false god of politics

    The false god of politics

    If you visit Mount Olympus, you will see scores of crumbling statues to false gods once worshipped by ancient Greeks. The same is true in Rome, where statues of political gods, notably those named Caesar, lay in ruins.

  • Pharmacy deserts and the myth of accessible medications

    Pharmacy deserts and the myth of accessible medications

    More than two-weeks after protests erupted in Baltimore surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, many pharmacies in inner-city Baltimore remained closed or were operating under limited hours, disrupting access to essential medications for many residents; three of them are still closed today. People,...

  • We must redouble our efforts now that the Freddie Gray cameras are gone

    We must redouble our efforts now that the Freddie Gray cameras are gone

    When Baltimore burned during the recent uprising, there were news cameras everywhere to document the mayhem and rage. As pastor of the only church whose property was torched during the chaos — housing we were building to redress systemic inequities and to revitalize blighted communities was destroyed...

  • Men, their sons and their lawns

    Men, their sons and their lawns

    Along with eye color and a knack for rolling your tongue, an obsession with the grass around your house is hereditary, I have learned. It is also, apparently, a sex-linked gene, because no little girl has ever been born wanting to mow the lawn.

  • Gag order request in Freddie Gray case shows prosecutor's misunderstanding

    Gag order request in Freddie Gray case shows prosecutor's misunderstanding

    The searing spotlight of media scrutiny fell upon a Maryland state's attorney, a rising star in Democratic politics. After a high-profile beating death, the young prosecutor convened a news conference to announce murder charges, detail the evidence and insist that the public's desire for justice...

  • Jeb Bush has bigger problems than Iraq war stumble

    Jeb Bush has bigger problems than Iraq war stumble

    By now everyone has had their say about Jeb Bush's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. The consensus is that Mr. Bush misheard Megyn Kelly's "knowing what we know now" question about the Iraq war. I'm not convinced.

Comments
Loading

57°