2010 Archives

All eyes on influential Tea Party ahead of U.S. midterm elections


The following excerpt is from a story that appeared in numerous publications on October 30, 2010, including The Ottawa Citizen. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

November 1, 2010

By Sheldon Alberts
Washington Correspondent
Postmedia News

PADUCAH, Kentucky — By the time the three Tea Party Express tour buses roll slowly into the parking lot on Broadway Street, Dave Alexander is already at his booth, arranging T-shirts and buttons in neat rows across several long fold-out tables.

The printed logos express sentiments that run the gamut from God-fearing American patriotism to righteous antigovernment anger. . .

The prospect of a large Tea Party caucus in Washington has caused alarm among Democrats, who imagine a pitchfork-wielding mob rendering Obama powerless for the final two years of his term. Climate-change legislation? Forget it. More economic stimulus? Dream on.

“When they get to Washington, they are going to roil the waters,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University.

But political observers predict Tea Party success might also cause significant challenges for Republican leaders, who may be unwilling to attempt the big reforms — including deep budgetary cuts and deregulation — the Capitol Hill newcomers will demand.

“There is a commonality of interest between the Tea Party and the Republican Party that will last until Nov. 2,” said Jillson.

“Both want to displace as many Democrats as possible. But there are some Republicans concerned about the Tea Party making them look extreme to independent voters and moderates.”

After Tuesday’s election, Jillson believes, it may be very difficult for Tea Party candidates “to align behind a traditional Republican program.” . . .

“Republican leaders will “struggle to control what might end up being two dozen, 30 people who think of themselves as Tea Party candidates, and will not come in the door thinking they need to be quiet and learn the ropes,” Jillson said. “They are going to be in full cry.”

Read the full story.

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