House tea-party freshmen face new challenge: Reelection

For Mr. Schilling and roughly two dozen other Tea Party-backed Republican freshmen who now find themselves in districts where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, a re-election campaign is a remarkably tricky task.

They are the subject of constant attack ads, assailing them for votes on a budget that would change the Medicare system, accusing them of trying to curtail protections for women and criticizing their support for earmark bans that could impede local projects. But they are also scrutinized by conservative activists who were crucial to their election and want to make sure they do not stray too far from Tea Party orthodoxy in pursuit of a second term…

It is one thing to run as an outsider taking aim at Washington dysfunction; when you are the incumbent, with Congressional license plates and a voting record for all to see, it is a whole new ballgame.

“Here’s the problem,” Mr. Schilling said. Colleagues in highly Republican districts “put up bills that make them look tough back home,” he said, “and that makes for tough votes.”