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. Trey

    Hmm Sarah Palin's arch nemisis doesn't get endorsed by the Tea Party... This is a shocker

    June 16, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Alan

    GOP has created a monster it cannot contain, actually, 2 monsters – Sarah Palin and Tea Party. Ironically, I don't know why Tea Party likes Palin so much....

    June 16, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Like I said before, the Republicans are eating their own young! I thought Sen. Murkowski was one of Caribou Barbie's favorites! After all, she brings almost as much money back to Alaska as her father did! Even paid for the Bridge to Nowhere that Barbie claimed she didn't want (after practically screaming that they absolutely needed it).
    My real question is if a Tea Party favorite loses to a Republican establishment candidate in the primaries will they fight against the establishment candidate?

    June 16, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. mary

    Outrageous. Sarah, get over it! This is such obvios retaliation from Palin. Perhaps she should just run for President of the Tea Party.

    June 16, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Steve, New York City

    Oh great – there'll be another extremist in Washington . . how long before the Tea Party tries to deny citizenship to any American-born (non-white) person who disagrees with them?

    June 16, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. lmb

    Hmmm.....anybody think Palin has finally found a way to drive the bus over Lisa?

    June 16, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Atleast Lisa Murkowski hasn't quit her job and it appears the Tea Party prefers quitters like Palin. Palin hasn't served the Tea Party well, she used these people for her own personal wealth to support she and a husband who quit his job. What man wants to take care of another man who has a family and quits his job.

    June 16, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. key

    Want make you believe that a person the tea party support will be any better. Angle use to be a Democrat in the 80's.

    June 16, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. debbie

    Too funny – the cannibals. The GOP embraced them as a weapon against the black guy in the white house, and are paid back in kind. I love it.

    June 16, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. Capsaicin

    Not a big tea party fan, but more power to any group going after Murkowski who is bowing in obesiance to the Big Oil folks and trying to gut the EPA at they very time the BP Gulf disaster is proving to all Americans the great need for increased scientific analysis and government regulation of environmental issues.

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

    Whether you're on the left of the right, Murkowski is a national disgrace.

    Murkowski has continuously, and openly been in the pocket of big oil, big pharmaceutical and the coal lobby.

    She went as far as voting AGAINST a measure that would make BP pay any more than $70m. for the spill !

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

    There is nothing wrong with primary competition; it forces candidates to own their actions, and to listen to constituents. It's good that the Tea Party is shaking up the status quo incumbents– they need a clear reality check from voters.
    Regardless of the primary outcome, once the general election comes into play, it's back to a 2 party choice, and supporting the primary voters' decision.

    June 16, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. Joe, San Diego

    The Tea Party sounds so GAY!
    Instead of complaining about the President voice your suggestions of how to do it better, just getting the cretins pumped like at a pep rally doesn't do any good- apparently the Tea Party followers just listen to that rhetoric and consider that constructive, so sad, so sad...

    June 16, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Bob in SC

    True to their colors, the teabaggers will turn on ANYONE who doesn't agree with EVERYTHING they say. They will continue in this fashion until we have a Totalitarian government of look alikes only! Remind you of anything from the past? Say from Germany in 1938?

    June 16, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Robrob

    No, No, pace yourself. At this rate the Teabaggers will self destruct too soon and take down the GOP well before 2012!

    June 16, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. BillE

    Wow! can't wait to see what the country will be like after the teabaggers get in there. Sarah Palin, the Pauls and some of these other wingnuts. You think is was bad under Bush and Obama, just wait!

    June 16, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. wbn

    Why does this seem strange to CNN? The Tea Party is simply a collection of mostly middle class Americans of all colors and political parties, dedicated to reviving traditional values and valuing the country's genuine history and its constitution. Liberal or radical politicians of all parties are their targets. God bless the Tea Party!

    June 16, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Bob

    The republican move to the hard right will doom their chances of a Congressional takeover this Fall....and beyond.....

    June 16, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. John

    Oh, PLEASE put in another right wing nut case instead of a standard Republican. This will assure that the Dems hold on to both the House and the Senate in 2010, and something might actually get done.

    June 16, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Gil

    I hope this move further divides the Party of No or repuglican party. It deserves to be torn to pieces.

    June 16, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Blaum

    maybe now this will shed some light to the dim-witted libs who thinks Tea Party = Republican..... honestly it has nothing to do with republican vs. democrat... it has more to do with righting the ship regardless of party....

    please educate yourselves....

    June 16, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Gregor

    This has less to do with Murkowski being too moderate (she isn't) and more with the fact that Sarah Palin has some personal issues with the Murkowski family.

    June 16, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Chipster

    I just read a comment from on "Tea Partier" on their website and it's the perfect example of why the Tea Party cannot be taken seriously. It was just another angry rant about things that the President said – except for the fact that the President never, ever said any of them. One example, according to the writer, Obama claimed that he didn't wear flag pins because "he didn't want to be perceived as taking sides." The President has been photographed wearing flag pins – it is ignorant nonsense. Another, according to this Tea Partier: Obama said that the reason his wife disrespects the flag is the mistreatment of Muslims. Again, this is completely false! This is the sort of uninformed, misinformed, ignorant garbage that is repeated over and over. If you don't like the policies, offer some valid and well-researched arguments, not this type of nonsense. Research your facts and stop regurgitating every hateful, twisted story Limbaugh and Beck tell you. They're laughing at you all the way to the bank! You'll never be taken seriously when you repeat such obviously false information.

    June 16, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Wade in Alabama

    "We must purge the party of those not pure ..."

    Night of the Long Knives, Germany, 1934

    June 16, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. Me

    I was a resident of the state when Frank gave his daughter Lisa his old job. It stunk then as much as it stinks now. She needs to go.

    June 16, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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