June 16th, 2010
12:41 PM ET
5 years ago

Tea Party Express targets incumbent GOP senator

 The Tea Party Express will endorse Joe Miller for Senate on Wednesday.
The Tea Party Express will endorse Joe Miller for Senate on Wednesday.

Washington (CNN) - The Tea Party Express endorsed on Wednesday a little known Alaska candidate in a bid to oust an incumbent Republican senator who is part of the Senate GOP leadership.

The group is backing Joe Miller in Alaska's Republican senate primary. In a statement, the Tea Party Express "vows to defeat" Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

CNN first reported the story, exclusively, on Wednesday.

"The Tea Party Express will make Miller's campaign its top priority between now and the August 24th Alaska Primary, and will devote the resources necessary to ensure Miller's victory," the group said in a statement.

Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell told CNN that those resources will include the people and money necessary to help Miller, a Fairbanks lawyer with little name identity in Alaska, topple the popular Murkowski. That campaign will also include television and radio ads and possibly, the group says, a Tea Party Express bus tour across Alaska.

The group will try to "level the playing field" on Miller's behalf, Russell said.

As it attempts to prop up Miller, the group that boasts of defeating Republican lawmakers it deems too moderate, or similar candidates favored by the party, hopes to take down yet another.

"Lisa Murkowski has become part of the problem in Washington," Tea Party Express Political Director Bryan Shroyer said in the group's statement. "Her support for record deficit spending, and her flip-flopping on whether to repeal Obamacare are just two of the many issues in which she has broken trust with the citizens she was elected to represent."

Amy Kremer, the group's Director of Grassroots & Coalitions, went even further, claiming that "Lisa Murkowski has certainly become one of the worst offenders in the GOP."

"Joe Miller is exactly the kind of constitutional conservative we need to help us take our country back," Kremer added.

Miller's campaign website states that he opposes financial bailouts, opposes new entitlement programs and supports repeal of the newly-enacted health care legislation.

Murkowski's campaign is responding to the slams.

In a statement to CNN, Communications Director Steve Wackowski said, "Senator Murkowski's credentials as a conservative are clear; she opposed the Democrat's stimulus bills and voted nine times to repeal parts and the entirety of ObamaCare. Just last week, she led the fight to curtail a massive government encroachment into our economy–the EPA power grab on carbon emissions, which garnered a veto threat from President Obama. She has received "A" ratings from the NRA for her defense of 2nd Amendment rights, opposed raising the debt limit, and voted on five separate occasions to freeze non-defense discretionary spending."

It is unclear what impact the endorsement for Miller will have on his campaign. Tea Party activists have seen some of its congressional candidates lose, such as Chuck Devore in California's GOP Senate primary. And the group is often derided as polarizing and divisive.

Yet some candidates supported by the movement have seen electoral success.

In May, Utah Republican Sen. Robert Bennett was denied a shot at a fourth term after failing to win enough support at the state party convention. Bennett's loss was partly fueled by an anti-Washington, anti-incumbency wave furthered by the Tea Party movement.

And on June 8 in Nevada, Tea Party Express-backed candidate Sharron Angle overcame long odds, beating GOP establishment favorite Sue Lowden and 11 other candidates in the Senate primary. Before the Tea Party Express backed Angle, she badly trailed Lowden in the polls. After the group poured $550,000 into the Nevada race to support Angle, along with assistance from other conservative groups, the candidate sat atop polls just before the primary. The organization now vows to pump in an additional $1 million+ into the race to help Angle defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Saying that Miller is "in lock step with the Tea Party" on many issues, Russell added that the group will "try and do the same thing we did with Angle."


Filed under: 2010 • Alaska • Joe Miller • Lisa Murkowski • Tea Party Express • Tea Party movement
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. derbysailor

    "Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell"?...is there anyone in alaska that is not named after a monty python actor or a pair of pants? Geez Louise!

    June 16, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. iListen

    Is the Tea Party for the better of America or just how they fill things should be and who they think/want should be in office?

    I am amazed at this, especially since the Republican party supported them in creating a foundation for the party to be built on. Also, I find most of the Tea Party elected politicians and candidates to be scary with devisive langauge and the since that they want a totally new constitution.

    All in all, I feel that the senior leadership in the GOP is supporting Miller in some way. I do not believe that this is solely a Tea Party agenda. Now, I just need to find out why the GOP wants to get rid of Murkowski.

    June 16, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. John

    I thought it was the Democrats who employed the circular firing squad method.

    June 16, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. arch

    where was the anger from 2000-08?

    you can't be fashionably late when you're hosting the party...

    June 16, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    Interesting to watch them eat their own.

    June 16, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. California Gary

    The Republicans chose to embrace these wing nuts.........now they can't control the monster they turned loose on the rest of us. I really feel bad for them.......

    June 16, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Debbie

    Ahh the tea partiers sponsored ny the DBOR folks led by Palin and Beck, (that's the dumber than a box of rocks) group. Tell us again Palin how the Gulf oil spill and an off shore rig is like the Exxon Valdez and Obama should call you. LOL It would be hilarious if she wasn't dangerous.

    June 16, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. Stu in Iowa

    Whie the Tea Party claims to be somewhat of a cross section of people why on earth then are they always endorsing Republicans? Answer? The Tea Party is the angry right wing base of the Republican party.

    June 16, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    I'm sure the 280 million of us down here really care about what 150 thousand rednecks in Alaska are voting for.

    June 16, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Charlie in Maine

    I think it says something about the "Tea Party Movment" that this whackjob is not "conservative" enough for them. Oh well it certainly is their right to be so far from the mainstream, but wow.

    June 16, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. hunter

    Tea Party Express, nothing but Rich Republicans trying to stay in power.....Tea Party this!!! :-->

    June 16, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. DavdF

    This so called Tea (scum) Party is trying to makeover the elected representatives of the US much in the way Dubya's Grandfather tried to entice a group, including high ranking military officers to take over FDR's govt thur a " military coup" and install a Fachist Government. Saner heads prevailed then and it failed before it got started. Now the "scum" party is trying the same thing. It also will fail. Don't forget the Bush's at that time had ties to the Nazi corporations and were supplying much of the $$$ and material necessary to Germany. If you don't believe it get your heads out of "where the sun doesn't shine" and try to see the truth.

    June 16, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Mike in NJ

    Looks like the Tea Party is trying to take away leadership positions from mainstream GOP centrists to put their more extreme candidates in these pivotal positions... interesting.

    Perhaps Sarah Palin will become the new Emperor Palpatine.

    "Embrace your hatred, (dontcha know), and your journey to the Tea Party will be complete! (Big Wink)

    June 16, 2010 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. pam

    Interesting chose of words by Russell in saying Miller is" in lock step with the Tea Party".
    The reference seems clear that if you do not concure 100% with the "values" of the Tea Party they will do their best to silence you.
    There is no room for moderates or independents in the Tea Party.
    It will be interesting to see the outcome in Novemeber for the party of NO and the Tea Party. Hopefully they have gone so far to the right that they will destroy each other and reward President Obama a second term.

    June 16, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Frankie

    The major problem with the Tea Party is that they are a very splintered group. They should have a convention to establish a definative platform. Maybe they will then have more victories.....or defeats.

    June 16, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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