Tea Party makes strides as anti-incumbent fever takes hold in U.S.

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about strides being made by the Tea Party and its potential impact on the Republican Party.

Lee-Anne Goodman
The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON—“We’ve come to take our government back.”

Those triumphant words from Rand Paul, a Tea Party candidate who trounced his Republican rival in a Kentucky primary Tuesday night, might seem aimed primarily at Democrats, given they control both the White House and Congress.

But Rand’s verbal smackdown of establishment politics is making Republicans equally nervous about the mid-term elections looming in November while a bout of anti-incumbent fever continues to sweep the United States.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, backed Rand’s rival, Kentucky lawmaker Trey Grayson, as did other top Republicans — former vice-president Dick Cheney among them. Tea Party guiding light Sarah Palin, meantime, supported Paul, an eye doctor who’s the son of one-time Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.

“It suggests real trouble for both parties, but Tea Party candidates are going to win in traditionally Republican districts, and then they’ll be in the Republican caucus in the Senate,” Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Wednesday. . .

“The Tea Party has a number of different strains in it; they don’t all believe the same thing. There’s a strong element of libertarianism, however, within the Tea Party; they believe that smaller government is better government,” Jillson said. “If Tea Party candidates win in November, or even if incumbents take on Tea Party issues and win, the Republican caucus is going to be much harder to govern for Mitch McConnell.”

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