Todd Akin a tea partier? Not so much

5. Todd Akin (Missouri). In no way was Akin a “Tea Party” candidate. Joel Gehrke has already done a great job of puncturing that myth, and shaming the people who believe it. Everyone forgets that the Tea Party was divided between former Treasurer Sarah Steelman (Sarah Palin, Mike Lee, Tea Party Express) and businessman John Brunner (Freedomworks and the Chamber of Commerce). That’s right—one candidate was backed by both “the Tea Party” and the Chamber of Commerce. In the last polls before the primary, it looked like either Brunner or Steelman could defeat McCaskill. Had “the Tea Party” won, McCaskill would likely have been out of the Senate.

4. Sharron Angle (Nevada). It’s true, “the Tea Party” made Angle its candidate in 2010. Even the Club for Growth, which has been judicious recently, endorsed Angle. The problem, for Republicans, was that there was no “establishment” choice that promised to run any better. Harry Reid made sure of this by boxing stronger challengers out of the race. In the stretch of the Republican primary, Angle faced two-time loser Danny Tarkanian and one-term state Sen. Sue Lowden. The NRA and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Lowden, but she never recovered from an April 2010 TV interview in which she pined for “the old days” when people could barter for health care by bringing “a chicken to the doctor.” Lowden collapsed in polls that tested her against Reid—Angle, ironically, was able to sneak through the pack as the gaffe-free and electable candidate. People have forgotten all about this, to the extent that they sometimes think Angle made the chicken gaffe.