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. Uncle Sam

    Don't trust anyone from Alaska named Levi.

    June 16, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Patriot1028

    This must truly confuse those of you who believe the Tea party is simply an extension of the republican party... Could it be they are actually a grass roots movement of patriots from both parties???

    June 16, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. Dave, Central Illinois

    CNN and other libs don't seem to be able to understand that most Tea Party members are fet up with both parties. The Republicans sold their sole when they busted the budget pre-2006 and the Dems have secured their place as the worst deficit offenders of all time.

    June 16, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    Sen. Murkowski is a pawn of big oil and we need senators who will just say no to their campaign donations and do what is right for the American people. The interests of big business, particularly the multinationals, are contrary to the best interests of the average American. I say no more corporate welfare and dirty deals that allow businesses to get away with desecrating our back yards. It's time to stick it to them. Hopefully Joe Miller will do that.

    June 16, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. mrbur

    this tea bag thing is so starting to bite the repubs in the ass that the dems won't have to worry about it, the repub establishment is smart enough to know they've got to go and will decide it's in their best interest to "eat their young" look soon for hard hitting controversy about sahah palin and her ilk that nobody knows where it came from, and under that rock you'll find haley, hatch, mccain, and all the old school secretly cleaning house after they are done with this prostitute called "tea bag".

    June 16, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Who wants to take a bus trip in the middle of nowhere Alaska!! noone cares about Alaska that is why everyone hates Sarah Palin.

    June 16, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. moderate voter

    As a moderate voter, the tea party is making my job easier and easier each day. I know not to vote for any tea party endorsed candidate and as they "purify and cleanse" the Republican Party, pretty soon I'll be able to vote straight ticket Democrat without any qualms. Thank you, tea party, for simplifying politics.

    June 16, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. Freedom

    If Mr. Miller wishes to run against Senator Murkowski, he has all the rights to. The only thing that I BEG the Tea Party NOT to do is to put up a candidate in the general election. UNLESS OF COURSE THEY WOULD PERFER TO HAVE HARRY REID, BARACK OBAMA, AND NANCY PELOSI RUNNING OUR COUNTRY!!! The GOP, the Tea Party, and all of the other parties must unite this year to defeat the ROP (Reid, Obama, Pelosi) Party aka Democrats!!!

    June 16, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. vernis robertson

    This group is the Klu Klux Klan of 2010. This is a right wing extremist group that really needs to have close watch on them .

    June 16, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Maybe Dr. House will do a good job in the Senate. He knows how to get what he wants.

    June 16, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. ja

    upon Barack Obama being elected president, the racist part of America reinvented itself , not know as the kkk, but somewhat mainstream, but a snake is a snake, and a pig with lipstick is sitll a pig (tea party) yeah right, reckon they were sleep when we wasted a budget surplus, waged an unending, unjust war eight years ago

    June 16, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Paul

    As a sometimes Tea Party participant, the Tea Party is about as organized as a herd of cats. There are college professors, judges, intellectuals, as well as, loonies and extremists at every meeting. It is real and historically reminds me of such diverse characters as Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, Ethan Allen, John Hancock, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. I'm not equating them with the modern Tea Party... just the diversity of personalities, characters, and personal history.

    June 16, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "a Tea Party Express bus tour across Alaska."

    Shall we add them to the list of people that "true conservatives" don't like then...maybe right under "dope smoking Oprah watchers"? I mean really, do they have jobs or are they all independently wealthy bus drivers?

    June 16, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    I hope joe miller can think for him self you know russ limbum will keep on his back

    June 16, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. John independent from NY

    Most of the Republicans and all of the democrats are fiscally irresponsible. So let's start there. They all need to go.

    June 16, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Margaret

    Russell added that the group will "try and do the same thing we did with Angle."

    You mean push an unqualified, fringe candidate on us that wants to take us back to the 1800's?

    June 16, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Lisa Murkowski should get bumped. She is nothing more than an extension of Big Oil and the epitome of a sell-out. I hope she loses her seat, regardless of who it is.

    June 16, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Mark Republican in PA

    Well I guess the Tea Party will Lose anotherone. I think this will make it 1 for 15 endorsements they have lost the election for. They sound more and more like the right wing radicals with no real focus who lost big in the 90's under Newt Gingrich. My republican part is really falling appart- I,m voting for the Democrate in PA this time arround for senate. I can't trust my own party anymore.

    June 16, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Susie

    As a Democrat, I would be very happy to see Murkowski out of the Senate. She has done nothing but obstruct.

    June 16, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Mel

    I had been a life long Republican. I am a Republican no longer. The Republicans have given over the party to the ULTRA-Right and the KNOW nothing and DO Nothing factions. I live very comfortably so I have no vested interest in any social programs but there are individuals and families hurting out there and as a citizen of the United States I feel we should provide help. Not European cradle to grave help but significantly more than we do. All I hear is 'don't cut my programs' and 'Don't increase my taxes'. They talk about the government becoming too socialistic yet they are happy to take medicare. I will never vote for a Republican as long as they have their collective heads in the sand.

    June 16, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. gg

    i think the world have had it fill of conservative ideals,and messes who funds the pee- party the chinese republic of wall-mart

    June 16, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. José

    If you are a Moderate Republican, then I BEG YOU, please send out a mailer to your voting base, then switch to independent. Charlie Crist did it in Florida, and as a Democrat, I would vote for him in a second since he has shed the GOP mantle and is now free to vote/veto based on sound policy rather than appeasing the Tea Party Hatriots. The only people who support the Tea Party are domestic terrorists. Wise up before they make you their next target! Only YOU Moderate Republicans can save the good parts of the GOP, but you cannot do it as a GOP. PLEASE – no one wants the Tea Party except racists and religious nutjobs trying to 'cleanse' our melting pot and social programs that make our Nation Great!

    June 16, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Brian

    "...the group that boasts of defeating Republican lawmakers it deems too moderate..."

    MEANING the tea party is so far off to the right that from its standpoint it views the already right-wing Republican party as "moderate".

    June 16, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. David

    The fact that Mr. Russell says that Mr. Miller is in "lock-step" with the Tea Party on many issues sounds like what Nazi party officials said and hoiw Nazi party members marched back in the 1930s and 1940s. Russell and Miller probably both salute the same way, too.

    June 16, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  25. tradewinds

    I have to assume that the teabagger's ego is getting a little inflated. Now they are voting for anyone that they can control. Now, they think that the republicans are too left leaning or moderate. They are going off the charts. When will it end?

    June 16, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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