Tea party split among crowded field in for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat

  • Follow Elections

ATLANTA — Republican Rep. Paul Broun might be known as the conservative firebrand in a crowded race for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, but he has yet to cement support among the state’s active tea party crowd.

caption
caption

In an increasingly volatile Republican primary, tea partiers remain just as divided as the rest of the GOP electorate. And a big reason is the evolution of the tea party itself, with activists now weighing which conservative candidate stands the best chance of being elected in the fall.

“Electability is now an important factor for us,” said Sal Russo, the chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, one of the largest tea party groups in the country. “We’re not just here to wave the flag.”

The race in Georgia is one of the most closely watched this year as Republicans make a push to seize control of the Senate.

Republicans need to gain six seats to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats and can’t afford to lose the Georgia seat.

And party insiders have expressed concerns that a weak Republican candidate could open the door for Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, a moderate who represented Georgia for years.

While Broun has earned the backing of the conservative Madison Project and some local tea party groups, his past statements, including one in which he described evolution and the Big Bang Theory as “lies straight from the pit of hell,” have drawn scrutiny.

Broun and another Repub­lican in the race, Rep. Phil Gingrey, have stoked fears of a repeat of Todd Akin, a 2012 Senate candidate in Missouri who won the primary with conservative support but lost the general election after his comments on abortion and rape.

Tea party activists are unlikely to voice any criticism of Broun on the issues.

His message of small government and individual liberty resonate among tea partiers and libertarians. But Broun, who has lagged in fundraising, could have a tough time rallying establishment support and emerging from a likely runoff.

The state primary is May 20 with seven Republicans and four Democrats on the ballot for the Senate seat.

Broun’s supporters are passionate about his campaign and dismiss any suggestion of weakness. Instead, they point to flaws of the other candidates in the race. One of the front-runners, Rep. Jack Kingston, has earned the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which plays well with the establishment but less so among tea party activists wary of big business.

“They all run very conservative,” said Kay Godwin, co-founder of Georgia Conservatives in Action and co-chairman of the South Georgia Tea Party. “But when you know the backgrounds and you know all the details of what is behind the scenes, then you can pick out who is the most conservative and who is not. And I know that Paul will do what he says he will do.”

Godwin said Handel would be her second choice, but stopped short of discussing the rest of the field. Handel has also trailed in fundraising, instead relying on endorsements from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to boost her campaign.

For Julianne Thompson, co-chairman of the Atlanta Tea Party and one of the most high-profile activists in the state, her decision was less about Broun and more about Handel.

“There are a lot of good people in this race,” Thompson said. “I do not look at this race as being opposed to the other candidates as much as me being supportive and excited about the candidacy of Karen Handel. Karen Handel is the right person at the right time and is the right candidate to beat Michelle Nunn.”

Russo said there aren’t “huge differences” among the candidates on important issues. Russo’s group, the Tea Party Express, has yet to endorse and is waiting to speak with Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue, also considered a front-runner, before making a decision.

“In 2010, it was important to take a stand, to say ‘No, we are not going to vote for someone just because they are a Republican,’ ” Russo said. “Now our goal is winning elections. It’s important to take the gavel away from (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid. That is our No. 1 priority.”

Comments (5) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
itsanotherday1
48395
Points
itsanotherday1 04/27/14 - 06:46 am
1
1
I'm liking Perdue and Handel.

I'm liking Perdue and Handel.

Gage Creed
19430
Points
Gage Creed 04/27/14 - 09:38 am
0
0
I looks like these boards

I looks like these boards have been invaded by babbling bots that tag random people.. see the 0145 post

EDIT: Looks like the mods have removed the bot

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 04/27/14 - 10:29 am
0
0
This article speaks as if the
Unpublished

This article speaks as if the tea party is an actual political party - IT'S NOT. Funded by lobbyists in the name of "conservatism" that doesn't actually exist in our political arena, nor can it.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 04/27/14 - 02:37 pm
0
0
I'm a
Unpublished

staunch Tea Party supporter. I don't trust Handel and Perdue, don't know much about Broun and am deeply entrenched in Kingston's corner. Whatever the outcome, we need to eradicate obama, holder, pelosi, reid, lee, cumming, mikulski, mccaskill, blumenthal, warren, murray, jackson, boxer, biden, hoyer, sharpton, olberman, matthews, maddow, maher, grayson and et al.

burninater
9943
Points
burninater 04/27/14 - 04:39 pm
0
1
The Washington Post has an

The Washington Post has an interesting piece about tea party groups and the use of their campaign funds.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/tea-party-pacs-reap-money-for-mid...

This seemed particularly appropriate, as they are the largest in Georgia:

"The donation page on the Web site of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund pleads with potential donors to “make the most generous contribution possible” to help fund “the ads, the get-out-the-vote campaigns, the research and the volunteer training sessions we need to take the fight to the big-spending incumbents!”

... But of the $7.4 million that the Georgia-based group’s super PAC has spent since the beginning of 2013, just $184,505 has gone to boost candidates, The Post found. Three-quarters of the spending by the Citizens Fund — $5.5 million — has been devoted to fundraising and direct mail.

... Martin, the super PAC’s chairwoman, oversees all its expenditures, according to Broughton, meaning she sets her own $15,000 monthly fee for strategic consulting — payments that have totaled $120,000 since July.

She also draws a salary as president of the Tea Party Patriots’ nonprofit arm — getting more than $272,000 in the 2012 fiscal year, according to the group’s most recent tax filing.

Her twin salaries put her on track to make more than $450,000 this year, a dramatic change in lifestyle for the tea party activist, who had filed for bankruptcy in 2008 ..."

Hmmm.

burninater
9943
Points
burninater 04/27/14 - 05:07 pm
0
0
Why the thumbs down for my

Why the thumbs down for my last post?

Wasn't the tea party movement founded to combat the very types of fiscal abuses demonstrated by the Tea Party Patriots' use of donations? Wouldn't a tea party supporter want to know about these abuses?

itsanotherday1
48395
Points
itsanotherday1 04/27/14 - 05:23 pm
0
0
Thumbs down because there are

Thumbs down because there are one or two trolling idiots who get their jollies by thumbing down every post, even those posting facts of record. Just check point totals relative to posts to figure out who.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs