It didn’t take long for the Tea Party to make itself felt in the Republican Party leadership after delivering a historic victory in the midterms. Just hours after taking at least 61 seats in the House, and immediately after Mike Pence withdrew from the position of Conference Chair, Big Government reports that one of the leading lights of the Tea Party movement has thrown her hat into the ring for the #4 position in House Republican leadership:
If the GOP is to capitalize on its success, it needs to incorporate the energy and commitment to principle displayed by the grass roots activists. It needs to realize that the game has really changed and the politics of the past two decades are over. Big Government has now learned that Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the first GOP office-holders to recognize the importance of the tea party uprising, will enter the race for GOP Conference Chair.
The number 4 position in House Leadership, the Conference Chair is well-positioned to inject grass-roots energy into the majority caucus. It is energy the DC GOP establishment desperately needs. Without it, last night’s historic win will be only a blip on the political landscape.
Rep. Bachmann is, in many ways, one of the leaders of the ‘tea party’ in Congress. Incoming GOP members would be well-served to have one of their own in leadership. God speed, Rep. Bachmann.
This would not be Bachmann’s first attempt to get the Tea Party a seat at the table for direction of Congress. She created the Tea Party Caucus in order to show strength on policy as well as demonstrate the GOP’s ability to address the concerns of grassroots activists.
There will undoubtedly be other candidates for this position, but John Boehner and his caucus will have to find a way to give Tea Party leaders in their midst some representation in leadership. Bachmann is the most visible Tea Party leadership in the House, second nationally only to Sarah Palin in terms of visibility. If the GOP doesn’t find a leadership role for Bachmann somewhere, they’re going to have to put someone of equal stature to the grassroots activists in her place, and I’m not sure that anyone else will fit the bill.
One more point should be made about the longer-term impact of this decision for Bachmann’s future in the House. She won her district handily against a flood of money for her challenger Tarryl Clark, beating her by 13 points and putting an exclamation point on her grip on the district. If the caucus denies her a leadership position, Bachmann may be tempted to run for the Senate against Amy Klobuchar in 2012, which would be a tough sell statewide here; Democrats swept the statewide elections this year with the possible exception of the gubernatorial race even in this GOP wave cycle. A switch by Bachmann to the Senate race could easily put that House seat in jeopardy in 2012. If they keep her in leadership, that provides her an incentive to stay in the House and protect the seat, which is something House Republicans may want to consider in their calculations.