The liberal effort to spin Tuesday's GOP primary results as a defeat for the tea party at the hands of the Republican establishment is misleading, The Wall Street Journal
Republicans have already been transformed by the tea party. The tea party insurgents who lost "were inferior candidates who differed little from their GOP opponents on policy but seemed less capable of winning in November," according to the Journal.
The narrative that the Republican establishment crushed the tea party distorts what really happened, the Journal said. Many 2010 tea party candidates are now part of the GOP mainstream. These include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. On domestic policy, Sen. Rand Paul can be added to the list.
"These senators won with the help of the tea party wave in 2010, but they also won because they were men and women of accomplishment," the Journal opined. "The tea party rode these candidates as much as they rode the tea party."
Republicans need the tea party "to prevent it from lapsing back into the do-little caucus of the George W. Bush-Tom DeLay years," the Journal argued.
Tea party candidates who went down to defeat including Matt Bevin, Greg Brannon and Steve Stockman, lost not because Republican voters abruptly turned "establishment" but because they were inferior to their opponents, according to the editorial.
Hijacked by Washington-based power brokers — such as former Sen. Jim DeMint — with "personal axes to grind" the tea party went after solid conservatives such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. For instance, Bevin's attacked McConnell for supporting the 2008 bank rescue though he himself backed it while in the private sector, the Journal said.
"This wasn't about policy business; it was strictly personal revenge to oust Mr. McConnell as leader and establish the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, RedState and certain talking radio heads as the main GOP power brokers," according to the editorial.
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