Spectator's Stoehr: Tea Party Needs Better Candidates

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 04:46 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Tea party hopeful Chris McDaniel lost his shot at the U.S. Senate this week because, unlike his opponent, he wasn't enough of a politician to soften his rhetoric and court actual voters, Washington Spectator managing editor John Stoehr told Newsmax TV on Friday.

"These are people that believe in principle," Stoehr told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner in a survey of tea party prospects after McDaniel's loss to veteran Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi. "They're not very political animals."

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So while Cochran appealed to everyone, including African-American Democrats, to help him hang onto his seat, McDaniel responded with a call for poll watchers to police Tuesday's Republican runoff.

"That was a dumb thing to do," Stoehr said.

"He doesn't seem to understand that what[ever] he says, he has to get voters," Stoehr said of McDaniel. "He has to get people to vote for him. Cochran knew how to do that, and so Cochran wasn't in a position where he had to embrace the principles of the tea party."

Just the opposite, said Stoehr, citing one electoral watchdog group that found "a lot of the money spent on Cochran's campaign was basically showering television sets across Mississippi with sunshine and daisies, showing how great Cochran was and what he's done for the state."

"He didn't go negative; he went positive," Stoehr said of Cochran.

McDaniel, meanwhile, might have helped the six-term incumbent "when he started talking about observers at the polls," he said.

"In a place like Mississippi that's taken to be code for, 'We're watching out for black people.' So when you send a message out like that … people who have no other reason to vote may just come out to vote against you," Stoehr said.

The losses will continue, Stoehr predicted, "unless the tea party starts finding better candidates."

He pointed to David Brat, political rookie in Virginia who picked off House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week in an upset for the ages. Brat wasn't just anti-tax and anti-regulation, said Stoehr, he was anti-business in a way that also resonates with liberals who denounce crony capitalism.

Both contests highlighted "the central tension … within the Republican Party" between its establishment and the tea party critics of business as usual in Washington, Stoehr said.

Turning to 2016, Stoehr said the GOP has a serious presidential prospect in Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

"He appeals across the ideological spectrum," said Stoehr. "He's got impeccable conservative bonafides thanks to his record and also his father.

"But he also appeals a lot to Democrats who are not really into the idea of the federal government spying on them, not really into the idea of nation building abroad, either — they're tired of war," he said. "The anti-war crowd really listens to Rand Paul. And it doesn't hurt that Rand Paul seems to be agnostic about things like gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana."

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