The vast majority of Americans thought the Shutdown was a stupid idea and blamed Tea Party Republicans for the entire situation. Now Americans are hitting the Tea Party where it hurts, in the pocketbook.
Two recent developments show that Republicans are getting fed up with the Tea Party’s antics.
Campaign contributions to Tea Party candidates have dropped off significantly, and big business, perhaps the most important source of Republican campaign contributions, has begun pouring money into the effort to defeat Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries.
Back in July, Tea Party candidates made headlines because they had such had fundraising numbers. But not anymore; on Saturday, USA Today reported that campaign contributions to prominent Tea Party candidates have, “tumbled in recent months.”
Fundraising dropped sharply for 28 of the 42 Tea Party Republicans who were elected to the House in 2010, and who signed a letter urging House leaders to link funding the government to defunding the Affordable Care Act. That letter triggered the Shutdown that Americans hated so much.
Fundraising for the other 14 Tea Party Republicans in the House who were elected in 2010 was flat, while fundraising for non-Tea Party candidates in next year’s Republican primaries skyrocketed.
Bloomberg News, which specializes in business news, reports that a Civil War has erupted in the Republican Party between Business Groups and the Tea Party.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $35.7 million on federal elections in 2012, is supporting moderate Republicans running against Tea Party Republicans.
Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the Chamber said, “We are going to get engaged. The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness.”
“The hope is that people will get hit in the pocketbook enough times so they'll correct the problem.”
Last week two Washington-based Tea Party groups announced that they will support efforts to defeat several prominent Republican Senators in next year’s Republican primaries because they voted for the measure to end the Shutdown.
The Senators targeted by the Tea Party include: Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, Thad Cochran from Mississippi, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
All are from States where Democrats have little or no chance of winning the election. So whoever wins the Republican primary will almost certainly be elected. Tennessee, for example, has no Democrats in Congress.
In response to the Tea Party’s announcement that it would try to unseat a group of mainstream Republican Senators, David French, the top lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, targeted incumbent Tea Party members of Congress.
The National Retail Federation spent more than $300,000 on races in 2012, but French put Tea Party incumbents on notice when he said:.
“There are incumbent Republicans who are on the wrong side of some of these issues. There are definitely some incumbent Republicans we’re not going to support again.”
Because of the Shutdown, and the way it dropped American’s confidence in the Republican Party to its lowest point in recent history, mainstream Republicans have decided that Tea Party Republicans costs the party more support than they bring in.
Mainstream Republicans are turning on the Tea Party by using the same tactics the Tea Party used to unseat moderate Republicans in the last Congressional elections. Business groups and other moderate Republicans are now actively supporting moderate candidates running against incumbent Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries.
What goes around comes around.