Tea Party Express endorses Democrat in Idaho

posted at 8:48 am on April 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Vaughn Ward wonders when the Tea Party Express passed him by.  The Republican challenger to Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Walt Minnick in Idaho figured to at least have a shot at an endorsement to switch the seat from a vote for Nancy Pelosi and Democratic control of the House.  Instead, the Tea Party Express endorsed Minnick, and left a lot of head-scratching behind in Idaho afterward:

When the Tea Party Express last week endorsed Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick — the only Democrat to receive the backing of the conservative grassroots group — one of his Republican challengers said he was simply baffled to learn the news, considering Minnick’s past votes that line up with Democrats on bailouts, the estate tax and Guantanamo Bay.

“He voted for Nancy Pelosi. I mean all these things — I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. This is the guy you guys want to get behind nationally?’” said Republican Vaughn Ward, an active Marine Corps reserve officer whose candidacy for Minnick’s seat was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

His initial shock, Ward told The Daily Caller during an interview Tuesday, turned to frustration upon learning from Tea Party groups in Idaho — who he said have not endorsed candidates in the race yet — that the Tea Party Express didn’t consult them before the endorsement of the Democrat. …

Sal Russo, a strategist with Tea Party Express, said the group did reach out to a number of groups and activists, many of whom support Minnick. Democrats who “are willing to stand up to Pelosi and Reid” should get support from Tea Party organizations “to encourage others” to act similarly, he said.

“When you find someone willing to stand up, you got to stand up with him,” Russo said.

The strategist said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the group add another Democrat or two to the list. “It can’t be a one-party issue. Fiscal responsibility has to be embedded in both parties,” he said.

Tea Party groups from around the country have positioned themselves outside of the Republican Party, demanding accountability from GOP leadership before supporting Republicans. They have also made the point Russo notes here, that both parties need to have fiscal discipline in order for the US to end the spending spree that is sending us careening towards bankruptcy. In that sense, Minnick might be the one Democrat to support. While his party pushed a Porkulus bill that cost $830 billion and didn’t stimulate anything, Minnick proposed a $170 billion version that eliminated all of the pork and had self-termination clauses that returned unspent money after recovery began. He voted against Porkulus, cap-and-trade, and ObamaCare.

On the other hand, Minnick voted for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and would certainly do so again in 2011 — and that makes a big difference. The Republicans aren’t guaranteed to win a majority, after all, and they need every seat they can get to take control of the House. Without a Republican majority, Pelosi will once again control the agenda and will continue to pursue her hard-Left, nanny-state, big spending legislation. A vote for Minnick makes that more likely rather than less, which puts the Tea Party efforts at least a little more at risk.

Should Tea Party organizations consider endorsing Democrats in this cycle? Take the poll:



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