This morning the Tea Party Express announced their endorsement of Jon Bruning for the 2012 U.S. Senate race. The TPE had been billing the endorsement as a “surprise”, which it sort of was…in a manufactured sort of way.
How so? Well, if they had just said, “we are endorsing someone”, then everyone would have most likely assumed it was Bruning. But by saying it was a surprise, they led us down the the path of, “well if it’s a surprise, it can’t be Bruning”. So by announcing Bruning, it was a surprise, because we figured that couldn’t be a surprise, because it wouldn’t be.
First base. (If you’re playing “Who’s on first”.)
Some have suggested that it’s a surprise because it is so early, or because Bruning is the presumed front runner, and the TPE usually goes with underdogs. Well maybe. But the fact is that the TPE scored a big media hit on this — CNN, Politico, The Hill, and locally the OWH and LJS. (Um, and us, but we always bite.)
Frankly we heard this last evening, but were afraid to jump the gun figuring that when they said “surprise”, it really had to be a “surprise”. Joke’s on us.
So, about the Tea Party Express. In case you didn’t know, or it isn’t clear by the stories on this endorsement, the TPE is not the umbrella group of the “Tea Party” movement in any real sort of way. They aren’t like the national GOP to all the state GOPs. Or they aren’t Major League Baseball to Cardinals and Royals — or even to the minor league teams.
The TPE is an invention of California political consultant Sal Russo, who decided to capitalize on the Tea Party movement. And raise money and make media buys on behalf of them (oh, and take a percentage on all those media buys).
And they got the bus, and have traveled around holding the Tea Party rallies, and all that.
Which is great, and there is nothing really wrong with that. Except…
The Tea Party movement is about grass roots. The President and all the haters who derogatorily call them “Tea Baggers” and all that don’t like to admit it, but it really is a classic grass roots movement. It is people who have gotten upset at the ruling parties, don’t want to be part of them, but want to be involved.
So the various groups have local “chapters”, as it were, but they don’t answer or look up to any national groups. As it should be. They are autonomous, because that is the reason they started. They want to be their own deal.
So the Tea Party Express is more like a mobile TV channel for the Tea Partiers to watch. They provide a service with the party bus, and spend some national money. And good for them. We don’t begrudge them their business plan.
But the local Tea Partiers don’t necessarily follow their lead. And they relatively resent, in this case anyway, the suggestion that the Nebraska Tea Party groups — of which sixteen local Nebraska groups have spoken on this — are endorsing the endorsement, as it were.
That does not mean that they are not supporting or would not support Jon Bruning. But it also does not mean that they are not supporting or would not support Don Stenberg or Pat Flynn or other candidates (more on that below).
Fact of the matter is, quite a few of the various local Nebraska Tea Party groups have met extensively with Bruning and Stenberg and Flynn. And what we hear from them is that they, as groups, like what all of them are saying. And they like all of them over Ben Nelson, by the way.
But they are not going to get into endorsements. As a matter of fact, from what we hear, they aren’t really going to bother much with the statewide races. Why? Because, their influence in big money races is limited. They are grassroots, and do grassroots stuff. Pass out fliers, go door to door, make phone calls.
They have the ability to be very effective at the local level on municipal races and issues and in legislative races. And bully for that! A grassroots movement that is realistic and knows where they can be effective? Outstanding.
Again, that’s not to say individuals aren’t going to support or work for their Senate candidates. Or that door to door, etc. has no place in a statewide race. But as a group, if they are going to pick their battles — they would rather be successful in the small skirmishes that can effect the overall war. Instead of trying to plan Normandy. (That concludes your war analogies.)
So all of this is not meant to take away from Jon Bruning’s endorsement. Just that it comes from a non-Nebraska entity, over which there could be confusion.
And not to be too harsh, but we sort of chuckled at Don Stenberg’s “me-too” Tweets this morning. His camp whipped together a “Tea Party for Stenberg” banner-head and a page on their website. Um… except that it isn’t coming from any Tea Partiers. Just a list of Tea Party-like issues Don likes, over his signature. Kind of like putting up a “Whigs for Stenberg” page…without any Whigs. Whatever works for ya.
Anyway, you all can feel free to complain or cheer over the endorsement. But those of you insisting that it is either the death knell or victory lap for Bruning should take a deep breath.
And we mentioned above about “other candidates”.
On Monday, Don Walton of the LJS mentioned once again that there is “increasing chatter” on state Senator Deb Fischer suggested bid for the U.S. Senate.
We will jump in to say that from our many independent sources we are hearing a LOT of chatter about a possible campaign by Senator Fischer. And about the kind of immediate support, both politically and monetarily, that she could/would garner.
Her candidacy would make the GOP primary very, Very, VERY interesting.
Keep an eye here for future details.
And a final note about the OWH article referencing the old news about suggested higher gas prices resulting from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
In the article, they quote various people that if TransCanada did something bad, that would be bad.
Uh, yeah. If they started murdering baby kittens, that would be bad. Except that the article doesn’t state any way or reason or how that they would be hurting baby kittens or gas prices or anything else.
And then they go on to quote our favorite self-proclaimed nutrition expert, Jane Kleeb, who says that gas prices rising by a nickel would be bad. Oh really? Is that right? Oh, well, thank you for that expert opinion.
And now that we mention it, how about them rising by a quarter in a couple of weeks, without any pipeline existing? Where are the protest at the capitol about that? Did a little bird mention anything about that little quandry, eh? Yup, more oil coming from Canada sure would be awful.
Feel like we are gobbling down crazy pills by the handful…
Oh, and ICYMI, a story on the endorsement on Mike Johanns’s brief Presidential campaign.