That's the topline info from this New York Times report:
The Tea Party is very much alive in the drive for Republican control of the Senate, portending a potential shake-up in the mind-set of the chamber. The easy Republican primary victory in Texas on Tuesday of Ted Cruz, the 41-year-old Sarah Palin-blessed upstart, virtually assured the latest Tea Party candidate a seat in the chamber next year. And he will not be alone when it comes to those backed by the movement, which propelled Republicans to control of the House in 2010.
We're told that more than half of the Republicans in contested Senate races are of the Tea Party variety and that this could lead to some awesome showdowns with liberal Republicans:
Even if Democrats maintain control, newcomers like Mr. Cruz are likely to coalesce quickly with veteran conservatives like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and freshmen like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, enlarging the ranks of members who stand well to the right of their party’s central platform.
As a result, the group could also present the sort of added aggravations for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, that befell the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, as he sought to draft difficult deals with Democrats and the White House at a time of a complex fiscal mess.
Should Republicans gain control of the Senate — as they have a fair shot of doing — Mr. McConnell could find himself having to balance the demands of Republicans like Mr. Cruz against those of remaining centrists like Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
I'll take it. And do Republicans really have a fair shot of gaining control of the Senate?
Either way, Mitch McConnell is trying to reach out to Tea Party types. Good. And the story goes on to explain that Democrats, who aren't as keen about the Tea Party, are trying to use Tea Party affiliations against Republican candidates:
Republicans say, good luck with that. “This will probably come as a newsflash to the liberal Democratic establishment in Washington,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, “but in states like Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska and Arizona, what voters think is extreme is Obamacare, massive tax hikes on small businesses and $8 trillion in new debt over the last five years. So attacks like this simply show how out-of-touch Democrats in Washington are these days and it’s a very serious problem for their fellow liberal candidates across the country.”
I know the media will probably write another couple dozen "Tea Party is dead" stories in the ensuing months, but if this movement can accomplish change in the Senate, what a victory that would be.
And while moderate enthusiasm for the top candidate isn't generally great, I wonder if it might help people focus on the important Senate and House races in their states.
(Bonus link: Watch Tom Coburn school MSNBC on enumerated powers.)