Conservatives and the Tea Party Splitting the Vote Again?

Posted by Karen Hurd   // May 4, 2011   // Comments Off

If there is one thing we can say about the conservative/constitutional wing of the political spectrum is that it is nothing if not predictable.  Every election we seem to do the same things. We will split hairs on the degree of adherence to tertiary policy questions.  (“NO! They are not tertiary concerns.  THEY ARE FUNDAMENTAL!”,  I hear you cry).  We will attack any fellow conservative who doesn’t agree with  a particular strategy – challenging their integrity or GASP!, whether or not the individual is a “true patriot”.  We will demand absolute perfection, (almost  godlike perfection) in any candidate that we choose to get behind.  It’s these characteristics of our movement that is propelling us into the majority in every election.


Let’s compare this to the Liberals or even the establishment GOP.  They go for numbers first,  policy second and they get both.  They anoint a candidate, they stifle their differences, they circle the wagons, they attack the opposition- not themselves, they push ahead, and they win.   Again and again and again.

We scream about being “left out” of the process.  We decry the rigged nomination process.  We are appalled at the duplicity of it all.  We wonder, when will the American public wake up?  We nitpick about why we lost.  We clamor for a third party who will finally challenge the Establishment.  Again, and again, and again.

This isn’t a deep mystery of the Universe.  It’s a political tradition.  In fact, one can see this tradition being played out in the 2012 Republican primaries for President, and in the Republican  U.S. Senate primary here in Virginia.  Do you see the Left wing challenging Obama despite his poor approval ratings?  Do you see them making noise over “principles”?  Do you see significant challengers to the anointing of Tim Kaine?  No.  You see them organizing, donating, and getting ready for the Election of the Century.  They intend to win it at all costs.  We apparently intend to split our vote again and make sure that we lose.

To my fellow constitutional conservatives- let’s do a little math, OK?

Take a look at the U.S. Senate Republican primary here in Virginia.  George Allen will get his 40-45% percent of the vote no matter what.  Doesn’t matter whether or not you think he should get 10%.  He’s got his base, and they will vote for him no matter what.  That leaves the not-George-Allen-vote, about 60%, now being split four ways.  Those candidates in order of their entrance into the race- Jamie Radtke, David McCormick, Bishop E.W. Jackson, Tim Donner.  (Any other vote splitters out there?  C’mon in – the water’s fine!) That means that the anti- Allen vote is going to be divided between at least 4 people, leaving Allen with the majority.

NEWS FLASH!  All of these 4 candidates: Radtke, McCormick, Jackson, and Donner are fine people.  They are all good, solid conservatives.  They all support the tea party.  They have all helped the tea party.  So jockeying over position of “who’s stronger on the percentage of cuts of ethanol subsidies” or “foreign aid should be cut by 50% or 75%” is not the issue.  WINNING IS THE ISSUE.

So, my fellow constitutionalists, we have a choice.  We can rally around, go for the numbers and propel the most likely to win candidate into office, or we can be in the rather nasty position of having to choose between Kaine and Allen in November 2012.  So what will it be?  Winning or perfection?

About this contributor

Karen Hurd posted 9 articles on this blog.

Karen Miner Hurd is the Founder and former Chair of the Hampton Roads Tea Party. She went on to start the Virginia Tea Party Alliance and serves as its Executive Director. The Virginia Tea Party Alliance is dedicated to identifying, recruiting and training grassroots leaders for elective office in Virginia. Karen is the mother of 5 conservative children, some of whom are now adults fighting for liberty in their own way. She and her husband Dale live in Virginia Beach.

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  1. By Freddy Boisseau, May 5, 2011

    Recently on two different posting on Red State Virginia, the same basic question has been asked. How are the Tea Parties going to narrow the field down to a single candidate?

    Karyn McDermott asked this question about the Presidential Race in her post “‘Will someone please find us a candidate?!’ asks major Tea Party group” and Karen Hurd ask this question in “Conservatives and the Tea Party – Splitting the Vote Again?”. The solution to narrowing down the field of candidates is not going to come from the outside, the leaders and the members of the Tea Party are going to have to do this by themselves. Unfortunately with all the good things I have seen the Tea Parties and their members in Virginia do, this is the one thing that seems to be just out of reach.

    Now in the spirit of disclosure, I volunteer for iCaucus, a national group, whose sole mission is to provide a process that is designed to do this very thing. We also work to help the Tea Party community keep in contact with and track the records of those that they have supported. So I would love it if the Tea Party community here in Virginia would adopt our process and work with us to narrow down these fields, but how the Tea Party communities in this State achieve this goal is up to them and their members.

    In that spirit, I would like to outline somethings that, I believe, any process to narrow the field down should have.
    -The process needs to open and transparent. Any process where those making the choices about who to support and not support, that is done behind closed doors will not work. Without an open process you will always have one group or another that will claim, that their candidate did not get a fair shake. You will have this even in an open process, but it is easier to refute when every step and results of that step are open to all.
    -The process needs to involve as many people as process in helping select the candidate. If the perception is that an elite group of higher ups are selecting the candidates, again you will not get full buy in. Actually if this step and the one above are not done, then you will most likely be perceived as not any better then the current political elite. This means some sort of vote needs to be taken, and that voting process needs to have a secure ballot mechanism in place. This vote also needs to be open to as many members of the Tea Party community as possible.
    -The process should help the members of the Tea Party get to know the candidate and their positions better. I would recommend both a questionnaire that the candidate answers and an interview that the candidate participates in. The questionnaire should force the candidate to commit to certain core principles. The interview should be used to learn more about the candidate’s history and personal beliefs. It should also allow the candidate to illustrate how they would use their principles to resolve those issues brought up in the interview.
    -The process should have a period built in where the members of the Tea Party community can discuss the merits of each candidate before casting their vote. They need a time to raise any questions they might have about a candidate. To raise both positive and negative information about the candidate and their history and life. They need a time to become better informed and so they can make the best decision possible.
    -Finally after all is said and done the system needs to show that one candidate or another has the overwhelming support of the Tea Party groups and their members. It is that candidate that we and the other candidates need to rally behind and support.

    I see no reason why a process like the one above should not have the support of all the Tea Party groups, their members and most importantly the candidates. If we continue to fight among ourselves about minute policy and issue points, instead of focusing on the core of our fight, which is “Limited Government, via Observance of Constitutional Limits and Fiscally Conservative Principles”, then will will never bring this country back to the greatness it once was.

    Keep in mind that our Framers of the Constitution had to resolve several major disputes between different factions, in order to create this great country. They had to deal with the issue of representation of big states and little states. The issue of slavery, navigation, and the role of government. When you read what the debates they had during and after the drafting of the Constitution, you will not find one major issue that they did not touch on, in at least one small part. Also you will find that no one group got all that they wanted, instead each had to compromise a little on the specifics, but what they did not compromise and keep before them was the principles that they believed in when founding this country. Those principles were the same that we hold dear today, self rule, limited government, and personal responsibility.

    I also know that a process like the one above, can and will produce candidates that are a step above the norm. iCaucus in 2010, had 13 of their candidates elected as members of Congress in both the House and the Senate. In a lot of cases these are the freshmen, and few non-freshmen, Tea Party candidates that are making the news about standing up against the establishment. The most notable of these are Senator Jim DeMint, Senator Mike Lee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Joe Walsh, and Rep. Duncan Hunter. This is not to say that there are not other good Tea Party candidates in Washington fighting the hard fight, but at the last few events I attended in Washington or in the news on T.V. these iCaucus candidates seem to be in the thick of it.

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  3. By V Charles, May 16, 2011

    I do not think having to choose between George Allen and Tim Kaine is a “rather nasty position” to be in. That is a no-brainer for me.

  4. By MNR, May 16, 2011

    It surely isn’t a spectacular one. George Allen is a retread… he is a tire tread that has flung off and now sits on the side of the road where illegals urinate and bums sleep. Now we are to entrust him once again with a job he has already failed to do?

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