Just how powerful is the Tea Party, really? Can they actually influence the political process, or are they just a bunch of sign waving demonstrators spouting a lot of hot air?
Tea party activists have taken over a few rural Republican county committees (e.g. Mathews) and they gathered enough delegates to replace incumbent moderate Senator Bob Bennett at the May 8 Utah Republican nominating convention. But these are rather easy and inexpensive political maneuvers. Real political strength is measured in campaign contributions and votes.
In just a few weeks the Tea Party of Virginia’s First Congressional District will get a chance to demonstrate its strength in the primary election to choose the Republican nominee for Congress. The incumbent, Rob Wittman, is being challenged by Catherine Crabill, who nearly beat Delegate Albert Pollard running last year for reelection to the VA House of Delegates.
So far, Virginia’s 1st CD tea partiers have failed to measure up. Contributions to Crabill’s campaign have been extremely weak. If her vote total in the June 8 Republican primary is less than 40 percent we no longer need to take the Tea Party seriously in the First District.