November 8th, 2010
10:51 AM ET
8 years ago

Tea Party warning for Republicans up in 2012

Washington (CNN) - It's been less than a week since the 2010 midterm elections, but a Tea Party organization that targeted incumbent Republican senators in this year's GOP primaries already has a warning for 2012.

Tea Party Express, a national Tea Party group best know for its cross country bus tours and for pouring millions of dollars into the 2010 election, went after Republican Sens. Bob Bennett of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, helping defeat both incumbents in this year's primaries. While Murkowski may survive, thanks to a general election bid as a write-in candidate, the group says the warning is on the wall for Republican lawmakers who have in the past been willing to compromise with Democrats and who may not be fiscally conservative enough for Tea Party activists.

"Hopefully the 2010 election results will cause more senators to see the light about excessive growth of government and deficit spending. So we will give them a chance to improve before we make them feel the heat in their re-election campaigns," said Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell Friday. "After the results this week, my guess is many senators will suddenly be more willing to adhere to conservative ideals."

Among those Republican senators up for re-election who could come under attack by the Tea Party movement: Orrin Hatch of Utah, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Bob Corker of Tennessee, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who received assistance from Tea Party activists in his election victory at the beginning of the year.

Wednesday Red State's Erick Erickson, a CNN contributor, added Brown to his list of "Potential Tea Party Targets for 2012." Tea Party supporters have issues with some of Brown's votes since he was sworn in.

But an influential conservative senator who bucked his party leadership when it came to primary battles for open Senate seats this year says he won't be targeting fellow Republicans in the chamber in 2012.

"I have no intentions, at this point, of supporting primary challengers to any of my colleagues," Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told CNN's John King on Wednesday. "I think you may see primary challenges if our colleagues don't do what we've promised as Republicans. And that's to support constitutional limited government. I didn't recruit any primary challengers this time, and - but the people, I believe, will help us make those decisions."

Only ten Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2012, and only two seem at this early stage to face serious challenges from the Democrats. Brown, who pulled of an upset earlier this in year in the battle to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, will be in the Democrats' bulls-eye in the next election. And while Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana survived a personal sex scandal in this year's election, there's no guarantee Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, also tainted by a sex scandal, will be as successful when he's up for re-election in 2012

Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs in the next election, 23 belong to Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them.

It's doubtful that the political climate will be as friendly in 2012 to Democrats as it was in 2006, when the party won back control of both the House and the Senate. Among those Democratic senators who could face challenging re-elections: Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jim Webb of Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Sen.-elect Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2010 • 2012 • Tea Party Express • Tea Party movement
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. scprof

    These statements deserve a reciprocal warning to the Tea Party leadership: Before you put forward a candidate, do a thorough job of vetting.

    November 8, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    the group says the warning is on the wall for Republican lawmakers who have in the past been willing to compromise with Democrats
    AMERICA you've shot yourself in the proverbial foot by putting these Party First nutjobs into office.
    If you were seeking bi-partisanship, and the coalescing of two Parties to bring about health (fiscal and otherwise) to our ailing country, you blew it. No cooperation will be tolerated, that's the Tea Party's new edit. Not that we expected any, but they are not even going to bother with pretense.
    How's that hate, fear, misinformation,higher taxes, killing granny thing working for you now?
    You think they have any JOBS on that bus?

    November 8, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. PalmReader

    By the time the GOPer/TeaPers are done raping America with their slash and cut agendas, I doubt they will have any support but from the most hardened of fools. The funny thing about listening to America is actually HEARING what Americans are saying: *We want jobs*. Yet, in reading over the weekend of all the Statewide programs being considered as too costly, it seems as if the GOPers will be sending MORE folks to the unemployment line, not less.

    November 8, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Orlando Patriot

    Exactly right!! Just because you are a Republican DON'T THINK YOUR JOB IS SAFE!! Republicans were elected in last week but are ON PROBATION!! Once you start voting AGAINST the American People and only FOR your best interest you will be kicked out quicker than you can say "but I'm a Republican"!!! The People have decided to take our country back and are NOT going to put up with liberal philosophy that has been KILLING this country and economy.

    The old saying about a frog thrown in hot water will jump immediately out but if put in cool water and heated slowly to boiling will NOT jump and a boil. Well, THAT is what liberals have accomplished over the last 80 years (since FDR starting policies that lead to killing of this country and economy). They initiate "little bits here and there" to where most did not notice. However, Obama's changes were too quick and the People DID notice and realized what the liberals were doing!! Any Republican (or Democrat for that matter) that does not vote for REPEAL of this Health Care bill will be voted out faster than they can say "maybe we did not explain it well enough".

    A vote FOR REPEAL and you save your job. A vote AGAINST REPEAL and start packing your bags.

    November 8, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. stufit

    Absollutely loved the Bloomberg comments and the liberal reaction to them. Their arrogance and elitism as well as their degradation, demonization and demeaning of Americans will mean the total collapse and demise of the progressive and liberal branches of all parties. We just love being told how stupid and unsophisticated we are. We don't have passports because we can't afford to travel while we are working so hard to pay the entitlement class of this country, but I am damn sure not going listen to, or pay these idiots to tell me how to vote or think like I am a union member. Again glad the arrogance and eleitism has not finished, we have much work to do to get rid of these people.

    November 8, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. LovesIrony

    Would someone please govern instead of running for reelection.

    November 8, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    There has been so many questions about what the "tea party" really wants and it is clear they don't want smaller government, they want power and takeover of government. Never gonna happen.

    November 8, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If the "tea party people" are really out to change the country, they should be creating manufacturing jobs here in the US as well as trying to change the "culture" of Washington. We need to borrow less, but we also need to ask where their priorities are. If they don't care about the social welfare functions that are supported by the federal (state and local for that matter), then they need to come out and state it. I just hope that they are contributing to the other groups that support people.

    November 8, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. Tam

    OK, America, you have been warned. The idiots want to run this country. Yes, I know, we've had idiots in the past, but now they have their own party! And they're proud of being dumb! What does the rest of the world think of us? HELP!

    November 8, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. Michael

    Every time the Tea Party makes a public statement, we hear echoes of the German elections in 1933. Do these guys lift their material straight out of Mein Kampf without even editing?

    November 8, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Because taking this country even further out on the right lunatic fringe will work out so well for the middle class. I can't wait to see all the "real Americans" lose their jobs, homes and savings. Classic. Have a nice day!

    November 8, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. slipthalo

    The American people have started a war in the 2010 vote. Being angry, they voted without listening or studying and we will be the ones suffering. Our economy is in the hands of those who love the rich, those who will shut down the government in order to proove a point and a bunch of nut$.

    November 8, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Joe M

    to all parties shut your mouths and do something because if you dont your going it will be real revolt in 2011

    November 8, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. FM

    We are yet to witness the Tea Party dragging the country into double wrong tracks!

    November 8, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    CNN thank you for catapulting this circus side-show of freakazoids, and illiterate non-entities, into thinking they now hold a political stronghold on our country. Your constant coverage of their every move, and utterance has placed them front and center in the political arena.
    Murdoch, The Koch Brothers, and undisclosed foreign countries must be so proud of you.

    November 8, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Robert

    I love the threats. Republicans have made a pact with Satan. Oh, what a circus. I can't wait!

    November 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. Rick McDaniel

    Those who are failing the citizens, in Congress, will be held accountable, from either major party, by the voters.

    November 8, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Wes B.

    Yikes. What is the matter with these Tea Partiers?

    Not willing to compromise? Do they know how horrible they sound when they say this?

    Since when has "My way or the highway" been good for society?

    November 8, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. NotFooled

    Good luck controlling the frankenstein monster of your making gop. You're going to need it.

    I thought the lowest common denominator was running the repubican party the last 2 years – but it's getting even better. Total beligerant and ignorant morons with the mental maturity of spoiled 7 year olds are running the republican party now. Still think co-opting the tea party was a winning strategy? I'm willing to be that this will be the shortest "mandate" in American history. We barely survived that moron bush in the white house, now they've overrun the house.

    God help this country.

    November 8, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. Tired

    Hey Randolph... The far left has not been doing anything good for us so far either. Wake up, pls. The political spectrum is not a straight line. It's a circle that if followed far left or right, ends at the same place! One end is all that is trully moderate, open-minded, and good for ALL, while the other is a narrow-minded dictatorship, which benefits a few. I am from Czechoslovakia and have seen it all. Be careful what you wish for....

    November 8, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  21. T'SAH from Virginia

    "Hopefully the 2010 election results will cause more senators to see the light about excessive growth of government and deficit spending..."

    What the Tea Party is FORGETTING – the message was to Democrats and RepubliCAN'Ts – Many Democrats turned against the Democratic Party because of policies that were not passed as promised!!! RepubliCAN'Ts got the SAME message but a DIFFERENT agenda – A Far Right Agenda!! AMERICA is still SPLIT and the “FREAKINGTEA PARTY "does not" speak for the MAJORITY of Americans!!! They may SCREAM the loudest and have busses that run all over the country but they represent the FAR RIGHT only.

    THE TEA PARTY BETTER BE AWARE IN 2012!!!!!!!!!! With their current agenda to OBSTRUCT and NOT COMPROMISE is only going to hurt the GOP – which is trying to – in a NOT so inconspicuous way – DISTANCE themselves from them!!!

    DEMOCRATS – there are 23 Democrat Senators in the Senate now and we need to WATCH THEM!!! We can do the same and VOTE them OUT and get someone IN that fully represents us!!

    November 8, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Tired, I agree with you to a certain extent, it's just that what passes for the "left" nowdays used to be called the center not too long ago. We've tried rightwing policies for the most part, since Reagan, and it really hasn't worked out too well for anyone except the richest 2%. Americans are so brainwashed, they will vote against their best interest time after time and then blame the people who are trying to help them when things only get worse. Which is why I'm done worrying about it and can only laugh when some ignorant rube loses his house or job or savings. Have a nice day!

    November 8, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Ben in Texas

    The American electorate, at least many of them who bothered to vote, have been scared by the word "socialism" to vote for the reality of fascism instead. Watch the antics of the teabaggers in the next couple of years to see the truth of this. They don't really want smaller or weaker government. They just want to run the government and persecute their enemies. This is what the Nazis did, these are their followers.

    November 8, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Willa-PA

    You go teapartiers, it will bite you in the backside! I also bet that most of them are receiving some sort of govt. benefit and/or have children in college on their insurance. Go ahead, go for it. Make our day in 2010.

    November 8, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Jack

    As an Independent conservative. The Tea Party group is not a group that I want to be associated with. They leaderships is a group of angry whites, that what it, "they way and only their way."

    They will do more damage to this country by causing gridlock in Washington D.C. ; and both Palin and O'Donnell have showed their lack of knowledge of both foreign policy and the constitution by some of their statements.

    Bloomberg is right is this respect. This group of new representatives are very childish in the world of politics. They remind me of 21 year old that becomes of legal age to drink, but doesn't know how to handle his or her liquor.

    November 8, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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