June 16th, 2010
12:41 PM ET
4 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. Richard

    Considering how much money Alaska sucks from the fed gov't, it would be hilarious if he won and stopped that spending in his state. Alaska would be left in poverty.

    June 16, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Siara Delyn

    Surprize! The Tea Party doesn't belong to the GOP. Now if they find a more down-to-earth spokesperson than Sarah Palin we might actually have a serious third party.

    June 16, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Chuck

    Everyone, just imagine for the moment........that if Barack Obama, the legally elected President of the United States of America had been white, would there be a Tea Party Express in existence today? I IMAGINE NOT.

    The extremism expressed everyday by the Tea Party groups is the result that they cannot accept the fact that this President was and is our duly and legally eclected President of the United States of America and currently living in our White House.

    I believe that racism has much to do with it, although the tea partiers continue to refute that observation.

    June 16, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Dennis Cummings

    Sounds like the Republicans are starting to eat their own.

    June 16, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Peter Tuths

    "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"

    So, basically the Tea Party wants only far right Conservatives in office. That isn't speculation, they actually proclaim that they want to rid the government of Democrats and Moderate Republicans. When there's a mob of people whose goal is to make it impossible for moderate politicians to be elected, and instead put only extreme politicians into office, what we have is a lean towards Fascism (Repubs) or Communism (Dems). Neither is a good thing. There is a reason why moderates and independents are healthier for Nations then extremists, and it is specifically because they are not extreme.

    Most Tea Partiers don't have the slightest idea what they are actually protesting, besides a few buzz words and phrases handed to them by Sarah Palin and the other leaders trying to manipulate the poor, uneducated masses. It honestly makes me more sad then angry, because it feels like the first step towards the collapse of the country. America is becoming Rome in its final years, and the Tea Partiers are the unruly mob ready to bring it crashing down.

    June 16, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Florida Joe

    Forest gump was right..."Stupid is as stupid does"

    June 16, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. timz

    Yeah, that's been the problem with this country since 2000 - the Republicans haven't been quite loony enough.

    June 16, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. Keith

    These Tea Party Idiots are going to self destruct.

    June 16, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Mark, Phoenix

    Yippee! The self destruction of the moderate right by the teabaggers begins. Keep up the good work. And remember, Michael Steele and GOP, when you lay with dogs, you catch fleas. Start scratching.

    June 16, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. FactCheck

    Are these tea party folks still around? From the results of the last primaries, it would seem that they amounted to a bunch of wahoos making a lot of noise resulting in absolutely nothing.

    June 16, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Zagreus

    Tea Party Express = Taliban

    June 16, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Dave

    It is not a "MOVE" on their part. That is what CNN and the MSM and the Democrats do not get.

    It is about electing officials who are for Less Spending, Less Taxes, Less Government, Strong on Defense and border Security.

    They do not get it. They think everything is about a political play or move, and for most republican politicians and just about ALL democrats, it is. But this time is different. The people have had enough of the government acting like they are above the law and doing what they want with OUR money.
    We want less: spending, taxes, & government.

    History shows that when we do this as a nation, we thrive.

    June 16, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Mark in California

    So, sound like the Tea Party is all about conservative values, not just trying to get the good old boys out of power, as it's previously proposed.

    Well Conservatism is one of the values that put us in the whole we are in now and a value I will fight against, so guess who's not getting my vote. Any Tea Party candidate.

    June 16, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    I love it when the neo-morons go on a rampage and eat their own.

    BTW. Is this Sarah's husband?...or is this Joe the Plumber? Come to think of it, does it really matter?

    June 16, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Chuck G

    There might come a time when the Repug establishment rue the day that they created these idiots.

    June 16, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Jackie

    I don't understand...We alot money from the over budgeted federal government which it doesn't have, to give to people who don't have, so the money can be taxed...How do you tax something that isn't there?

    June 16, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Ann Smith

    I am feeling Obama's frustration. If he had intervened in the BP Oil spill situation before he did, he would have been criticized for not allowing (BP) the private sector to sort things out before getting involved. He waited, and is criticized for not acting fast enough. It is my opinion that CNN is on a quest to criticize Obama no matter what he does. Not sure if there discontent is really about is approach to the Gaza/Israeli Situation .
    Question, does CNN have any other news items other than Obama???dosen't seem like it.

    June 16, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. JonDie

    The Tea Party is the party of Walt Disney's Dan'l Boone and Davy Crockett. Pass out the coonskin caps.

    June 16, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Lets send Rush and Sarah the bill.

    Miller is nothing more than a rodeo clown and the tea party is the biggest bunch of chicken littles Ive ever seen,they thing a monster is hiding under their beds.hahaha

    June 16, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. BB

    These people are simply retarded!
    They have no clue about any facts and the way they interpet the Constitution the way they do proves they are a few marbles short, they do not want to move this country forward, they want to detract and pull it back to the 1800's. They are truly nuts!!!!!

    DFL across the Board in 2010!!!
    OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!

    June 16, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. jim huebner

    My GOD!!! Can't these politicians do anything but turn every issue into political controversy??? I'm sick to my SOUL with this constant criticism of our president, no matter WHAT he does! Don't the needs of the country and its citizens mean anything anymore? Can't they stop the political assaults even in the face of CRISIS??? People, we have got to put a STOP to this!

    June 16, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. PauletteB

    Sam Adams and the REAL Tea Party Patriots would have thrown this trash overboard.

    June 16, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. Michael from Ventura

    Angle being their candidate is a WONDERFUL thing! A big assist to Harry Reid! Thanks baggers!

    June 16, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Jim in Georgia

    I love it!
    The Tea Partiers will kill the GOP!

    June 16, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Breal123

    So sick of the Tea Party. Its like that guy who will never leave even though everyone has hinted that they are not wanted.

    June 16, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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