The curious move is no doubt based on the Tea Party Express’ stated desire to be seen as non-partisan rather than merely a Republican front. The group has endorsed one lone Democrat. The trouble with their selection is that he seems to be a rather odd choice. Its a choice that does not seem sensible if there is a desire to over-turn the Democrats majority in the House..
Why Walt Minnick was chosen seems to be a mystery to both Tea Party members and Democrats alike. The mystery continues to deepen and increasingly frustrates those on the ground in Idaho.
Huffington Post reports that there are those that are questioning the selection.
“National Review's Jim Geraghty, who supports the election of Vaughn Ward to Idaho's 1st District, has a "quibble" with the endorsement, saying, "Walt Minnick's first vote as a congressman was to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House, empowering her a great deal." Yes! That whole time Nancy Pelosi became Speaker did lead to a certain measurable amount of empowerment. This is a great observation!”
The Congressman’s spokesman reportedly seemed a bit surprised by grudgingly accepting the endorsement.
“And while Minnick is fine with the endorsement - "Um, sure," Foster replied when asked if the campaign was accepting the Tea Party's backing. "Walt is not in the habit of turning down support."
CNN speculates that it is because of his stands on fiscal conservative issues.
“On the House side, the group is also backing one Democrat: Walt Minnick of Idaho, who is part of the "Blue Dog" coalition of centrist Democrats. He has long railed against pork-barrel spending and voted against the recent health care bill.”
But Minnick hardly has a Republican in Name Only as a potential opponent. Vaughn Ward’s website makes it very clear that this veteran is not from the centrist wing of the Republican party. He states clearly his beliefs. They read like the laundry list that would unite tea party people behind him. “Stop Tax Increases, Eliminate Wasteful Spending, Repeal and Replace the Health Care Bill, Defend our 2nd Amendment Rights, Secure Our Borders, No Amnesty.” Any accusation of being vague in this beliefs would be quickly quelled by one reading of various subject pages.
He even has the backing of Sarah Palin, a Tea Party Express favourite, who has been pulling in the ralliers and funds on various stops across the country.
““I’m happy to support Vaughn Ward because I know that he believes in the same common sense conservative ideals that we cherish.”
Sarah Palin – Former Vice Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alaska”
Will Palin now have to distance herself from Ward now that TPE has backed his opponent? Or will this confusing situation be allowed to persist confusing the voters of the district?
Tea Party Boise responded with this statement.
“The recent announcement by Tea Party Express that they planned to endorse Walt Minnick for Congress was a surprise to Tea Party Boise, who was never consulted on this issue. Our position is simple - We believe that the people of Idaho will determine who they will support and endorse as the fall election draws closer. Tea Party Boise does not endorse Mr. Minnick or any candidate from any party at this time. Tea Party Express would be well advised to talk to those in Idaho who cast the votes.
Tea Party Patriots coordinator for Idaho said the following:
“… I am very disappointed and have requested an explanation. Minnick is no Conservative and I've been in touch with TP folks on his side of the state when they have had repeated demonstrations at his offices. He's only voted with "us" because we hold his feet to the fire! So, I am not in agreement.”
The Pocatello Tea Party on the other hand liked neither and believes that Minnick’s voting record is not as bad as it could be.
“That is curious. Minnick's voting record has probably been closer to Tea Party ideals of fiscal restraint and limited government than Ward's would likely be. Ward is a John McCain Republican plant who is favored by the GOP establishment, but who is not favored by liberty minded Idaho conservatives. The grassroots and conservative legislators favor their colleague Raul Labrador - who has a proven track record - in the upcoming primary.”
Vaughn Ward’s spokesman had the following to say in response to the announcement.
““This endorsement does not change the fact that Walt Minnick’s first vote in Congress was for Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda of higher taxes, more spending, and a more intrusive federal government that has done nothing to get Idaho families back to work. When Walt had the chance to step up to the plate for Idaho families, he voted against permanently ending the financial bailouts and voted for a permanent extension of the death tax. Walt Minnick and Nancy Pelosi’s tax and spend policies continue to cripple our economy. “
“We are proud of the Idaho endorsements we have received as our momentum continues to build. Our campaign began as a grassroots effort and is driven by the people. This is their seat and Kirsten and I are humbled by the thousands of people who have given so much to the campaign.” “
This story is not going away, with Alex Pappas, exploring it further in today’s Daily Caller. Pamela Gellar of Atlas Shrugged is more succinct calling the decision idiotic. Hot Air have a piece on the subject today, bemused as the rest of us with the choice.
Tea parties all over the US are wondering why the Tea Party Express has taken upon itself to endorse anyone is such a top-down way. If Idaho is anything to go by there is little or no consultation with the actual tea party groups in state. Tea Party Express is yet again proving there is nothing “grassroots” about their efforts and its just more top-down bullying from DC based operatives rather than people on the ground.
TPE seems to completely miss the point about the grassroots nature of the tea party movement. They do not seem to realize that their meddling will not find popularity among the hard-pressed tea parties in the nature.
Maybe Tea Party Express will explain their choice in that Idaho district to help with any confusion that tea party observers might be suffering. There are a lot of frankly befuddled Republicans, tea partiers and Idahoans that deserve an explanation why this race was singled out for such a spot of bizarre meddling.
NB: This is an expanded version of a piece publishedat the Daily Caller.