Tea Party Express leader Sal Russo tells Newsmax that Sen. Lisa Murkowski had "lost her bearings" in Washington and says the grass-roots conservative movement is now having a sweeping influence on the primary races around the country.
"The victories we are seeing today [show] that candidates from both parties are trying to sound like 'tea-party candidates,' which means the issues we feel our vital for a safe and prosperous Americans are now being placed center stage," Russo tells Newsmax.
The Tea Party Express endorsement of political newcomer Joe Miller was key to mobilizing Miller's activist base.
Miller, however, singled out the endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with appearing to put him over the top.
Miller leads Murkowski by fewer than 2,000 votes, with the hand count of more than 7,000 absentee ballots scheduled to begin Aug. 31.
Russo was happy to share the credit for Miller's remarkable surge.
"It is a powerful combination when Gov. Palin and the Tea Party Express team up, because we are able to focus conservatives on the real differences between the candidates," Russo tells Newsmax.
"It was our working together that made the effort in Alaska so effective," he says. "The whole tea party movement has come about because of disenchantment with both political parties."
Russo said the grass-roots conservative movement also had a big impact in Arizona, where incumbent Sen. John McCain won handily over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
"Senator McCain saw the handwriting on the wall and changed," Russo adds, "which is why he was re-nominated at the same time that Senator Murkowski may have been defeated."
Activists won't be satisfied until the politics of Washington actually change, Russo says.
"Victory will not be achieved until the candidates elected actually behave like they promise," Russo says, "which is why tea party activists have to stay hard at work through November 2010 and then to retake the presidency in November 2012."
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