The St. Louis tea party leadership has been freaking out, blaming third party candidates for Ed Martin's loss to Congressman Russ Carnahan. Dana Loesch said she was "infuriated at third party foils." Bill Hennessy wrote the following about third party candidates:Recently, a local conservative on Twitter criticized Loesch for attacking third parties. Loesch responded by claiming that he didn't know what he was talking about, and that he should listen to her radio show before he said anything. Here's the conversation (in reverse chronological order):In an election when America needed everyone to subdue personal ambition for the greater good, two egomaniacs ran against Ed Martin. These selfish people put themselves and their egos above the country. They are not American patriots; they’re weasels.However, it seems to me that the election results tell a very clear story. In the Republican primary, corrupt Republican insider Ed Martin was running against a true grassroots conservative named John Wayne Tucker. But the AstroTurf St. Louis tea party was in the bag for Martin from the beginning, blacklisting Tucker from their events and even personally attacking him. Dana Loesch, who's husband's business Shock City Studios was paid $5,000 by Ed Martin, went on a Twitter tirade against Tucker, despite never mentioning him previously while having Martin on as a guest multiple times.
Now for the interesting part: in the Republican primary, Ed Martin only won 63% of the vote, and John Wayne Tucker, despite being ignored by the St. Louis tea party, received 5,379 votes. Rusty Wallace, another Republican challenger, received 7478 votes. In that election, constitution party candidate Nicholas Ivanovich only received 277 votes, and Libertarian candidate Steven Hendrick only got 418. However, in the election yesterday, Hendrick got 5,757 votes and Ivanovich got 3,151.
In other words, it sure looks like the Tucker and Wallace supporters marginalized and insulted by the St. Louis Tea Party are precisely the people who decided that they would rather vote for a third party candidate than the Republican. Only 700 people voted for Ivanovich and Hendrick in the primary: nearly 9,000 voted for them over Ed Martin in the general election.
I think there are a couple of lessons to draw from this. First, the St. Louis tea party shot themselves in the foot by pretending to be a grassroots movement while supporting corrupt GOP operatives like Ed Martin and Roy Blunt. They turned off true conservatives by pretending to be one thing while actively working towards another. In a year where Russ Feingold and Ike Skelton lost, it's possible that a genuine conservative candidate would have outperformed sleaze-bag Martin at the polls. But the St. Louis tea party never let that happen, instead shutting down dissent in the primary.
Second, the tea party's personal attacks on anyone who disagreed with them likely pushed away voters who might otherwise have voted for the Republican candidate. Probably some people who were uncomfortable with Ed Martin's scandalous history might nevertheless have been willing to bite the bullet and vote for him, except for the fact that they were repeatedly insulted by the self-appointed leaders of the tea party. The tea party does not tolerate dissent, especially from other conservatives.
But I actually did listen to the radio show, and it was clear that Loesch was attacking third parties and blaming them for the loss. She called them "ballot decorations" and used a whiny voice to represent them. And, of course, she fails to mention that the St. Louis tea party actively blacklisted Ed Martin's primary challenger. Here are some highlights of her comments on that topic from the show:
Last week, several conservatives responded to Loesch's comments. The author of the blog Wading Across, disagreed with Loesch's claims that third parties lost the election for Martin and made this comment on my post:
Some of the points you make are precisely why I have not become a "member" of any Tea Party. What started out as truly grassroots quickly got co-opted into something else as it organized. I don't know whether they're truly being run by bigger Republican/Conservative organizations and individuals.Bungalow Bill, another conservative, criticized Loesch for blindly supporting a "joke" like Ed Martin:
I first heard Dana Loesch speak at the Branson Tea Party earlier in April. I was inspired by her passion, but today I am conflicted with her blind enthusiasm for a GOP that also turned its back on the Constitution. Totally ignoring what a joke Ed Martin was claiming to be Constitutional conservative, Loesh blames the Constitution and Libertarian parties for Russ Carnahan's win.He quotes Loesch as saying the following:
Good job constitution partry and libertarian party candidates. How does it feel to be solely responsible, along with massive fraud, in possibly handing a victory to a Carnahan? Livid at these foilers. LIVID. Your strategy sucks. You wanted liberty and you got socialism because you have no idea how the hell to win.And then Bill responds:
It's no wonder the Tea Parties on a path to fail. They would rather compromise with a GOP guilty of killing the Constitution than take a real stand. I know I won't be attending another Tea Party in which Dana Loesch speaks at. It's just like Tera Sukman over at the Tea Party Patriot HQ who doesn't even have the clarity to see the sins of the GOP as she labels Roy Blunt as a Constitutional conservative.And even Dana's fellow 97.1 radio host, Jamie Allman, said that Loesch and Hennessy should "cease and desist" from attacking the people who voted for the Libertarian or Constitution Party, calling it one of the most awful things he's seen of late:
God bless you Libertarians and Constitutional Party members for doing something most Americans don't have the guts enough to do. Vote against both parties which have violated our Constitution. I know I did this year and it felt great to break the shackles of the Republican Party. Screw Dana Loesch and her ignorant comments!
Loesch and Hennessy have been using the tea party from the beginning to further their own careers. What remains to be seen is whether their incessant self-promotion has actually done anything to advance the causes the tea party is supposed to stand for.
Update: Sounds like Loesch was a little more conciliatory on Thursday after being scolded by Allman. But the fact remains that she attacked third parties and blamed them on Wednesday's show.