Home National Politics Tim Kaine on Bob Bennett Defeat, Tea Party, and the “Republican intra-party...

Tim Kaine on Bob Bennett Defeat, Tea Party, and the “Republican intra-party civil war”


DNC Chair (and former Virginia governor) Tim Kaine issued the following statement following the defeat of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) this weekend by Tea Party activists and others from the hard right who thought Bennett was not conservative enough.

Today the Tea Party strengthened its hold on the Republican Party by ousting Utah’s Senator Bob Bennett from the primary. That the Tea Party would consider Bob Bennett – one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate – too liberal, just goes to show how extreme the Tea Party is. This is just the latest battle in the corrosive Republican intra-party civil war that has resulted in the Tea Party devouring two Republicans in just as many weeks. If there was any question before, there should now be no doubt that the Republican leadership has handed the reigns to the Tea Party.

By the way, Progressive Punch rates Bennett as the 81st most progressive U.S. Senator, not much different than Jon Kyl (#78), Orrin Hatch (#79), Sam Brownback (#82), Michael Enzi (#84), Jim Inhofe (#86) and Jim DeMint (#87). The point is, if Bob Bennett isn’t conservative enough for the Tea Party, then basically noone in the GOP is.  In short, the Tea Party appears to be the monster that could cause the GOP to self destruct. As the saying goes, if you play with matches, you’re likely to get burned…

P.S. Spelling note to Tim Kaine; it should be “reins” not “reigns.”

UPDATE: See Chris Cillizza’s article on the “Bob Bennett fallout.”  According to Cillizza, Bennett’s loss “sets off alarm bells across the chamber as Members contemplate their own fates.” Cillizza adds that this is “especially true on the Republican side where the rise of the Tea Party movement has put establishment politicians on notice.” Cillizza quotes Republican strategist Ed Rogers pointing to Bennett’s loss as “proof that the tea party movement is huge presence in the GOP organization.” I agree with Cillizza and Rogers on all these points.

  • VA Blogger

    Kaine says Bennett got ousted “from the primary”, which looks like it means one thing but it really doesn’t. Bennett wasn’t defeated in a primary, he was defeated in a convention comprised of 3500 of the most conservative activists in one of the most conservative states. The nation-wide implications of this are nil, and even Nate Silver agrees:

    “Although a dramatic development in a state which rarely makes political headlines, my guess is that people are going to read a bit too much into the national implications of this. The 3,500 delegates who select Utah’s Republican candidates — chosen at local precinct meetings — are highly informed and extremely conservative activists who are not representative of Utah Republicans as a whole nor the Republican primary electorates in other states.


    Furthermore, this is nothing new for Utah, which in 2008 ousted incumbent Chris Cannon in a convention, and even on the Democratic side, long-term incumbent Jim Matheson only received 55% of the vote at the Democratic convention. Utah activists just seem to have a problem with incumbents, long before the Tea Party was a factor.

    Oh…. wait, I get it now. Tim Kaine is a paid partisan hack who is aiming to spin the results, facts be damned. I guess that explains why you’re parroting it as well.

  • pvogel

    the scary thing is not the far right folks the tea party is helping, its the millions of voters brain dead enough to vote for them.

  • Teddy Goodson

    from Kaine, IMO. Aside from the unfortunate misuse of the word “reign,” the statement has inaccuracies, such as “primary” which implies Utah Republican voters went to the polls, when it was a convention…. What I think would have been more effective was something more aggressively promoting Democratic values while pointing out the demagogic rigidity of the far right, reactionary wing of a formerly sensible political party…. then go on to invite mmoderate voters to join Democrats in national unity to find sensible solutions in a civilized, democratic manner. Start fishing for votes, Tim.

    Democrats should not count on moderate independents and sensible Republicans to recoil in horror from these reactionary Tea Partyers. I am afraid voters, seeing the “R” after their names, will reflexively vote them into office, especially if the economy dis-improves even slightly by November. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, Democrats.