September 1st, 2010
12:27 PM ET
4 years ago

Tea Party Express & Palin big winners in Alaska

 The Tea Party Express spent nearly $600,000 to help Joe Miller defeater Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican Senate primary.
The Tea Party Express spent nearly $600,000 to help Joe Miller defeater Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican Senate primary.

(CNN) - Joe Miller's the upset winner of the Republican Senate primary in Alaska, but the Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin are also victorious.

The Tea Party Express, a leading Tea Party organization, endorsed Miller earlier this year and poured nearly $600,000 to help the little known candidate defeat Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a brand name in Alaska. The group says more than two-thirds of the money was spent in the final two weeks of the campaign leading up to the August 24 primary. That included producing and airing TV and radio ads in the state in behalf of Miller in the closing weeks.

Tea Party Express is one of the most recognized national Tea Party organizations thanks to its three high-profile bus caravans and rallies. The group, based in Sacramento, California, has also become a major player in Republican party politics, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads for Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts, who in January upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat.

More recently, the organization helped the little-known Sharron Angle win the Republican primary in Nevada, endorsing her and spending about a half-million dollars on ads. Angle now faces off in the general election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the chamber.

Tea Party Express, along with other Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations, also targeted incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah for his vote on the Troubled Assets Relief Program and helped defeat his bid for a fourth term. Tea Party Express then backed underdog Mike Lee's successful primary campaign in Utah and Lee now appears to be heavily favored to win the general election in November and join the Senate next year.

But not all the news has been positive. Earlier this summer, the National Tea Party Federation, which seeks to represent the Tea Party political movement around the country, expelled the Tea Party Express because of an inflammatory blog post one of its leaders, Mark Williams, wrote responding to criticism of the Tea Party movement from the NAACP. The story made national headlines and Williams later stepped down as spokesman for Tea Party Express.

The group is now focusing on Delaware, which holds its primary on September 14. This week Tea Party Express announced it will spending at least $250,000 to go up with commercials in support of Christine O'Donnell, who is facing off against Rep. Mike Castle in the battle for Delaware's GOP Senate nomination.

Castle is a popular nine-term congressman and former two-term governor who's considered much more moderate than O'Donnell, a conservative commentator and marketing consultant who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006 and 2008.

The winner of the primary will face off in November against New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in the battle to fill the final four years of Vice President Joe Biden's final term. Biden stepped down from the Senate after his election in November 2008 as vice president. Former Biden aide Ted Kaufman was named as an interim replacement. Kaufman is not running for a full term.

Miller's victory is also a big win for Palin.

In early June, the former Alaska governor and the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, endorsed Miller, putting out statements on her Facebook page and Twitter feed. In backing Miller, Palin said at that time that there was no "feud or bad blood" between herself and Murkoswki, but their differences have been well-documented. Palin captured the governorship in 2006 after defeating then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, Lisa's father, in that year's Republican primary. And when Palin quit as governor last summer, Murkowski said she was "deeply disappointed" and accused Palin of abandoning the state.

In the weekend before the primary, a recording of Palin urging Alaskans to vote for Miller was blasted to Republican voters by robocall across the state.

Many statewide candidates that Palin's endorsed have done quite well in this year's Republican primaries. Miller was one of three Palin-backed state-wide candidates running in the August 24 primaries who went onto victory.

She also endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain – the former presidential candidate who rocketed Palin to stardom in 2008 when he selected her as his running mate. Though members of the Tea Party movement lined up against the longtime Arizona senator, Palin stayed loyal to McCain and appeared at a campaign event with him in March. Addressing long-standing concern among conservatives McCain is too centrist, Palin said the Arizona senator is driven by "common sense conservative principles" and touted his steadfast opposition to the Obama administration.

McCain beat former Rep. J.D. Hayworth by more than 30 points.

In the race for Florida attorney general, Palin backed Pam Bondi, a Tampa prosecutor who faced the better-known Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp for the job. Palin's endorsement of Bondi came only one week ago and even surprised Bondi herself, who had no advance notice the former Alaska governor would take to her Facebook page to back the campaign. Bondi came out on top in a three candidate field.

But the hat trick of victories followed a string of losses earlier this month by candidates Palin endorsed in statewide Republican primaries. She backed Tea Party activist and former NFL player Clint Didier, who was easily defeated by Dino Rossi for the Senate nomination in Washington State. And Wyoming State Auditor Rita Meyer, who had Palin's backing, narrowly lost her bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Earlier in the month Palin campaigned in person with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who lost a runoff to former Rep. Nathan Deal for the state's Republican nomination for governor.

Palin also endorsed Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who was defeated by Rep. Jerry Moran in the battle for the Senate nomination in Kansas.

Those defeats followed a string of victories for Palin, who earlier in the primary season successfully backed statewide candidates such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Terry Branstad in Iowa, and Susana Martinez in New Mexico, who all won gubernatorial nominations, and Carly Fiorina in California and Rand Paul in Kentucky, who captured Senate nominations.

CNN's Alex Mooney and Peter Hamby contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Alaska • Joe Miller • Sarah Palin • Tea Party Express
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. ghp

    Yes, Tea Party fans. Let's cut your Social Security and Medicare frist. Let's invest your Social Security in the stock market. I lost 65% of my investment value in the crash maybe you can too. Oh, let's over turn the healthcare bill so that those poor companies can continue letting us pay their retires healthcare perscription plans. Tea Party folks let's keep the Corporate Welfare going. How stupid can you get.

    September 1, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. shoegazer

    The party of Jefferson,Lincoln,Roosevelt and Eisenhower has been hi-jacked.

    September 1, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. Cyrus

    Great! The American Talibans are rising. Once they seize power, they will crucify the Muslims, Mormons, gays, imprison whomever they feel is "taking away" "their" country.

    September 1, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. AB Baltimore MD

    I am betting that Joe Miller will get beat by Democrat Scott McAdams in the November general election. This defeat will send a very papable message to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement.

    September 1, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. btannerski

    God help us and the U.S.A.

    Uneducated, willfully ignorant lying hypocrites holding influence in the State of the half-governor. What is the world coming to?

    September 1, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. JFS

    BIG WINNER...or maybe... EXPECTED outcome in a RED STATE ? See CNN what adifference verbage can make ?? You folks are trying to sensationalize EVERY GOP thing in order to make Nov an election that will allow the GOP back into power. That way you all can make news for the next 3 yrs and ensure your own job securities. OUTRAGEOUS..really..OUTRAGEOUS. You folks ought to be ashamed of what you are doing to our nation.

    September 1, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. vgal

    And Alaskans are big losers. Let's just wait and see how well good 'ol Miller does at continuing to get the MOST pork of ANY state in the US. Jokes on them and Palin is laughing all the way to the bank.

    September 1, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. me

    It ain't over until the fat lady sings.

    September 1, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Jim

    Her honerless the "Half-Governor" really is a hoot to watch.

    Half the Republicans voting in the primary voted for the TEa Party Exress candidate with Palins endorsment – and roughly 1 million $ advertiseing paid for by the Nation Tea Party org.

    Given that the numbers of voters in that primary where less than 1/4 the population of my town in North Carolina I'm only impressed with how much each of those votes cost to buy.

    So when was the last time there was a Democratic Senator from Alaska?

    September 1, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. vgal

    What, exactly, is Miller going to do for Alaskans? Murkowski continued to support Alaska through federal funds. Perhaps Miller will do what he supposedly believes and preaches – make Alaskans independent of feeding off of federal funds. I'm sure the voters will be thrilled with what they get.

    September 1, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. Russ

    How could a win in Alaska be a big victory for anyone. We're talking Alaska here people. Although I found it interesting that she abandoned her Mama Grizzly stance for this one.

    September 1, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  12. Joey

    Modern Day Racist Hate Group =Tea Party, Republicans, Conservatives, R-Independent, who ever/what ever, they are determined to spew hatred and division in this country. They just cannot stand to the fact that an African American Man was elected President and they're mission is to rob, steal, kill and destroy, just like satin!

    This country is on it's way to HELL with gasoline underpants on!GODd/HEAVEN help Us All who really see what's going on with these evil hateful people and it's weak minded followers.

    September 1, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  13. Fair_is-Fair

    I don't see how they are big winners in alaska. The senate seats were BOTH held by republicans....duh!!!! Funny though, all that money alaska gets per capita will go down IF this new guy gets elected and gets his way (which he won't). They talk about wanting big government out of their state and their lives, yet they sure like all the federal money coming to them in pork. What a bunch of hippocrites...trailer park rednecks that follow blind retardican ideology. I guess some in alaska are too ignorant to think for themselves...they have to listen to Palin, the Village Idiot from the North. Sad, Really.

    September 1, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. blue

    Can you even think of what our country would be like if the Tea Party was in control? Run for the hills!

    September 1, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Darth Vadik, CA

    Palin and Tea Party big winners, and the Great state of Alaska is a big loser....

    ...when you sell your soul to the Devil the Devil will get his, and the oil companies will get your land and not give you that $1000 check for just living in Alaska any more since that is akin to SOCIALISM, taking form the wealthy and giving to the rest...kind of like Jesus did, but I digress....

    ...you're screwed Alaska...

    September 1, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  16. Peter E

    Yeah, tides are sooo turning... that's why over 90% of incumbents who ran for re-election won their primaries. (guess what's going to happen in the general election too) And with the blessing of the Tea Party who have been kissing up to much of the republican party throughout. The Tea Party isn't actually interested in change. They will support anyone, even incumbents (and they've done plenty of that) who promises tax cuts. The same tax cuts that have cost, and continue to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars every year in deficit spending, increasing the debt and the burden on future generations. What's that? You want to have your cake and eat it too? You want tax cuts for yourself AND your children? Sure. If you're willing to give up your Social Security check and Medicare aid when your retire, then it's possible. Oh, but you want that too, don't you.

    September 1, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    The Tea Baggers, like Half Gov. Palin haven't a clue. You can influence primaries by stirring up your 11% right wing waco base but you you will loose in the general election when real Americans vote. The big November surprise is that the democrats will pick seats.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    September 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Russ

    And just what did the quitter Palin win? I didn't see her running for anything. The only thing she is running for is whatever money some one is stupid enough to pay her for speaking, or I should say attempting to speak.

    September 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. Limbaugh is a liberal

    WHO CARES ABOUT PALIN! She's a has-been, a quitter, and a nobody!

    September 1, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
1 2 3 4