Grass-roots leaders described themselves as "ecstatic" with early GOP victories in the Senate, especially Marco Rubio's announced victory in Florida.
"It's going to be a great night," Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips tells Newsmax.
Phillips predicts Rubio will become "a complete shining star in the U.S. Senate."
"I'm probably more excited about him than any other candidate winning tonight in the country," said the leader of the grass-roots conservative organization that has played a major role in transforming the tea parties from a protest movement into a full-fledged political powerhouse.
With 20 percent of the vote in as of 8 p.m., Fox News called Florida's Senate race for Rubio. Rubio was leading with 50 percent of the vote, compared to 29 percent for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and 20 percent for Democrat Kendrick Meek.
Grass-roots conservatives found Rubio's victory especially rewarding, considering it came over Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist, whose vacillation on several key issues made him the poster child this cycle for what tea party leaders see as unprincipled professional politicians.
Phillips said of Rubio: "I think that guy is not just articulate, he is so principled. Think about this: in his last debate in Florida, he stood up on Social Security and that significant reforms and changes have to be made, he suggested they had to increase the retirement age and cut benefits. So that guy's got courage. When he says we need people in office who aren't afraid to lose the next election, he's not kidding."
Regarding both Rubio's victory and the success of conservative Kelly Ayotte, who was declared the winner in the New Hampshire Senate race, Phillips told Newsmax: "It shows you can be a conservative and you can win."
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