It’s time for the tea party to go local

This is going to be an anti-incumbent election year. Right?

That’s the conventional wisdom. Nationally, the tea party movement puts on display what a host of opinion polls say: The public is weary of Washington’s hard-left policies, independent voters are fast fleeing the Democrats, and enthusiasm is high among Republican and conservative voters.

Typically, that kind of mix leads to big gains for the opposition. Political handicapper Charlie Cook’s latest list describes a whopping (all gerrymandering considered) 99 U.S. House seats as potentially in play; 62 of them, including 57 seats now held by Democrats, are tabbed as truly competitive. (The GOP needs a net gain of 40 seats to reclaim a majority.)

Georgia of late has bucked the national leftward drift, putting and keeping Republicans in power since 2002. But now they, too, have to face the anti-incumbent sentiment. What will that mean in 2010?

The number of new entrants and departing incumbents offers a signal about the level of turnover we can expect. If so, things could get interesting this fall. But only mildly so.

Qualifying for Republican and Democratic primaries is over, and an atypical number of lawmakers aren’t seeking re-election. The Legislature will have at least 41 fresh faces among its 236 members (180 in the House, 56 in the Senate).

Forty-one, or 17 percent, may not seem like a very high figure, but it’s progress: Just 26 legislators gave up their seats in 2006 and only 16 in 2008. The last time voluntary attrition under the Gold Dome was this high was in 2004, when redistricting meant that some incumbents were not-so-voluntarily pitted against one another.

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace.

Still, there are more primary challenges this year than in 2008 or 2006, more seats sought by both Democrats and Republicans (as well as any third parties), more races in which the winner will have won both a primary and a general election. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters.

And part of the reason for this situation, I believe, goes back to national politics.

An amazing 57 Georgians are running for our state’s 13 congressional seats as Republicans or Democrats this year — almost double the number just four years ago. That total includes 11 incumbents, six state lawmakers trying to move up, and 40 others.

Now, I’m all for newcomers running for office, and I’d be happy to see some of them win a place in Congress. But at the same time, only so many of them have a real shot at winning. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many of those 40 “others” had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed.

Georgia’s problems are also numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Now, a word for the tea partiers:

Your national focus is understandable and laudable. The sweeping changes sought by President Barack Obama and the Democrats have in part nationalized statewide elections, as we saw in Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate win in Massachusetts.

But Washington is not the only place that merits your attention and passion. Or your candidacy for office.

It’s too late this year for anything but an independent run, which is probably a long shot. But Tea Party 2.0 must include a greater emphasis on state and local policies and elections if the movement is to make it in the long term.

105 comments Add your comment


May 5th, 2010
7:50 pm

From Isackson’s website———————-He invited the federal government into your child’s classroom.

“As one of the authors of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, I have a vested interest in this legislation and its impact on our nation’s education system,” Isakson said. “Overall, our school systems are improving and our students are receiving more of the educational tools they need to compete in the 21st Century. I am especially pleased with the increased accountability under No Child Left Behind.”

Also, he feels that it is completely reasonable to bail out corrupt bankers with your money.

And he never let a photo op with Kennedy pass.

Say no to neoconservatives. We just need conservatives.


May 5th, 2010
8:22 pm

Scott Brown, is that the best you got?

Michael H. Smith

May 5th, 2010
9:20 pm

Rome was not built in a day, Kyle. America has been around for over two hundred years and we’re still building. It is not easy building a political party from a movement, as so many have failed before gives evidence to that fact. Nevertheless, The Tea Party remains a political force not only to be recognized, as well, it must be reckoned with.


May 5th, 2010
9:56 pm

I have a problem with incumbents that list their occupation as U.S. Congressman or U.S. Representative. I’d much rather they say “Temp worker occupying the people’s seat.”

Today we live in perpetual campaign mode. By the time the election rolls around I’m sick of ‘em already.

Legend of Len Barker

May 5th, 2010
10:08 pm

It’s hard to take a political “party” seriously that only decided that something was wrong with Washington when Barack Obama was elected.

Note to Tea Party: If you’re (falsely) going to accuse President Obama of being of a certain political inclination, try to pick one and stick with it. Communism and Nazism aren’t the same things and the two sides inherently hated each other.

Puddin Tain

May 5th, 2010
10:31 pm

If the Tea Partiers really want to “Honor the Constitution” they they will come out against the new unconstitutional immigration law in Arizona. Then I will believe they are not racist.


May 5th, 2010
10:40 pm

Kyle is desperate to believe that the The Tea Party crowd has broad appeal among Americans of different parties and ideologies. But one of these days, he’s going to have to wake up and face reality.

The Tea Party movement primarily consists of a bunch of angry Republican voters — angry that former half-term Governor Sarah Palin wasn’t elected Vice President — who are too embarrassed to admit that they will always vote Republican, no matter how disingenuous and corrupt.


Michael Funk

May 5th, 2010
11:24 pm

To even attempt to argue that the Tea Party will make much, if any, dent in national politics is, well. . . folly. You may want to read an excellent article on the political context of the Tea Party, its development, and likely evolution at:


May 6th, 2010
2:13 am



May 6th, 2010
7:06 am

Anyone voting in Georgia simply needs to listen to Huckabee, Thompson, et al, on talk radio to figure out who to vote for. :roll:


May 6th, 2010
7:18 am


The reason there are few competitive legislative districts in the Georgia General Assembly is because the republican majority has drawn legislative districts in such a manner that their majority is always protected.

What’s that you say, democrats did the same thing when they were the majority? Of course they did but what’s your point – that republicans are no better (or less partisan) than democrats? If so, you are 100% correct and this serves as just another reminder for anyone who naively continues to believe that it makes any difference who is charge, republican or democrats.

Only when legislative leaders, not partisan hacks, are elected will we have honest government.

Chris Broe

May 6th, 2010
7:34 am

The Tea Party is a natural reaction to liberal entitlement spending. Greece is the capital of entitlement spending. Those liberals are celebrated if they don’t pay their taxes. If Americans ever wondered how an entitlement-based economy plays out, they need to look no further than the country that’s too big to fail. Is Greece a prequel to our own national movie of social security and healthcare? Is there a national riot in our future? Is the Tea Party to weak to stem the tide of tax and spend? America can’t just drop our Capitol Dome over the fiscal leak seeping from the bottom of our economy. We’re in WAY too deep. We need a new party.

Introducing…..the Hemlock Party. Greece is famous for the way it traditionally handles it’s liberal illuminati founded by lazy government cheese-eaters like Plato and Socrates. Greece knew exactly how to veto those two creeps: Hemlock!

The Hemlock Party 2012: Stay thirsty my liberal friends.

Stop The Lies

May 6th, 2010
7:56 am

The Tea Party that snickered when Tancredo addressed them and alluded to literacy tests for voting. “People who couldn’t spell vote or say it in English”, Tancredo said. That Tea Party? We are only two generations removed from literacy tests where Jim Crow ruled.

Jason T

May 6th, 2010
8:03 am

And the Times Square “bomber” turns out to be…SURPRISE! Part of the serene, peace loving religion of Islam.
Since it happened on US soil, is it still considered an “Overseas Contingency Operation”?

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
8:04 am

Several people have asked where the outrage of the tea party members was during the Bush administration. Yet if you look at the nationwide voting trends after 2004 the numbers have shifted in the Democrat favor. Is it possible you are wrong about the tea partiers being Neanderthals? Maybe, and quite likely for many of them, they actually helped vote your precious Democrats into office! And no wonder they are upset now, the Dems have failed them too! Some of them obviously are too conservative to have gone as drastic as to vote for a Democrat, but all they had to do was not show up at the voting booth. Their voice heard, and Democrats took power! But now, after both parties have miserably failed to support the average middle-class American worker, while at the same time promising everything under the sun, people are sick of the lies! That is all you are seeing with the tea party movement, just pure disgust at our politics! And Kyle is right, they need to focus on state and local elections too!


May 6th, 2010
8:18 am

Here’s the bed we lie in:
In the Georgia Senate, 23 senators have no opposition in either the primary or general election (14 Republicans and nine Democrats).
In the Georgia House of Representatives, 91 representatives have neither primary nor general election opposition (46 Republicans and 45 Democrats). As a result, almost one-half of the Georgia Senate (56 total members) and over one-half of the Georgia House of Representatives (180 total members) will face no opposition in 2010.
Go back to sleep.


May 6th, 2010
8:24 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.


May 6th, 2010
8:36 am

Tea-Party=Modern day KKK


May 6th, 2010
8:44 am

Hey Kyle……Are the tea Party made of ,mostly Angry Republican’s who want change ?

If so then here are a few questions….

1. Does it not weaken the Republican party in general ?

2. Does it not really help the Democrat’s ?

3. What do they really want in general Kyle ?

4. Are they as bigoted as they seem ?

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
8:55 am

Peter, if I may…

The tea party is made up mostly of angry conservatives who want change in government spending.

1. It only weakens the Republican party if the GOP candidate is not a fiscal conservative

2. It only helps the Democrats if the GOP candidate is not a fiscal conservative

3. Lower taxes, government accountability (so racist! terrible! oh the humanity!)

4. Seems to me there are many more people that are bigoted against the Tea Party then there are Tea Party people who are bigoted against anything…


May 6th, 2010
8:58 am

Hey Whacks Eloquent ….After Bush and Cheney…….. Are there still Republican fiscal Conservatives ?


May 6th, 2010
8:59 am

The tea party crowd according to statistical polling is white, male, over 50, well-educated, and well-off financially. Many are retired and have nothing constructive to do so they dabble in this selfish protest.
Their protest is that their treasure pile might get smaller. That’s it. Period. Be honest.

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
9:10 am


Well, I wouldn’t call either Bush or Cheney fiscal conservatives…
They do exist, but I think to some extent they are hesitant to call themselves Republicans.
Hence the Tea Party movement!
BTW, Democrats can be fiscal conservatives too. Zell Miller comes to mind, and yes, I mean even before he supported Bush in 2004. Unfortunately too many Democrats today are in love with big government (and quite a few Republicans as well)!

Jason T

May 6th, 2010
9:14 am

If the Tea Party is so insignificant, bigoted and unimportant; why all the chatter from the Leftists, Big Government, and Moochers gang?

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
9:22 am

Folks, it’s just been brought to my attention that now has a policy against the use of the derogatory term “tea baggers,” or any form thereof, in reference to the tea parties and their participants. So I’m taking down the comments that use that term and will continue to do so.

This certainly does not mean the tea party can’t be criticized, and several commenters in this thread have done so without using any slurs. I expect everyone else to do the same.

– Kyle

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
9:27 am

Also, to Tom Jumper in this case, but also to anyone else for future reference: We typically don’t allow comments that consist of only a URL to another Web site, including political campaign sites. If you’d like to post a comment explaining why you support a particular candidate, and if it has even the slightest bit of relevance to the topic at hand, that comment will be allowed.


May 6th, 2010
9:27 am

So much for free speech. Rush Limbaugh used the term “tea baggers” on his show just yesterday. And it wasn’t being derogatory. What gives Kyle? Shouldn’t you check with his people first before banning free speech?


May 6th, 2010
9:30 am

That is very true, today we are in a perpetual campaign mode. Running for elecion is a big business like IBM or General Motors. What campaigners should do is incorporate like any other big business. Sell stock, the proceeds from the stock will go to finance the politician. When he is elected the dividends will start, little perks for the stock holders, trips to Hawaii and cash dividends in the form of government projects for their area. It would work. The name would be The Political
Have quarterly reports, shareholders meetings. Take a little work to set it up.

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
9:34 am

Kyle @ 9:27

Anyone who disagrees with dropping use of this term ought to go do a Google search on what it’s meaning is. Warning – may not be safe for work or suitable for young children! Yeah, exactly!

All started with liberal CNN poster boy Anderson Cooper referring to the actual practice! Ewww…and how would he know? Thanks to him, now we all do!

I do wish the movement had a better name. What was meant to evoke one of the most symbolic acts leading up to our fight for independence has been stained by true bigots…but I have confidence that stupid words and phrases will not deter the Tea Party patriots! (BTW, I am under 40, have all my hair, and am nowhere near rich!)

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
9:40 am

RushDidIt: This policy goes beyond my blog. You may have noticed that I’ve let comments with that term stand, until this morning.

As for “banning free speech”: Spare us the melodrama. We also ban a variety of four-letter words and slurs. If you want to stand on a street corner and shout “teabaggers” all day long, you still may do so.

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
9:40 am

I hereby dub this state…Californistan! They are now totally dedicated to the religion of fighting anything that could possibly be construed as Christian or patriotic (towards the US anyways)


May 6th, 2010
9:49 am

Chris Broe…..”Is the Tea Party to weak to stem the tide of tax and spend?”

Excellent comments in your portion of the blog. But you do have one incorrect phrase in the quoted sentence.

The problem is not “tax and spend”. If we had been “taxing and spending” the last 30 years we would be in much better shape financially.

But that is not what we have been doing. What we have been doing is “cutting taxes and spending”. This is the great error we have made as a nation. We increased spending astronomically at the exact same moment we decided to cut taxes. That combination has destroyed us.

From January 1961 to January 1981 the national debt increased $307. billion, that is an average of $15 billion a year. From January 1981 through January 2010 the national debt increased $11.3 trillion, an average of $390 billion a year. (You may verify the numbers at the Bureau of the Public Debt website).

January 1981 is when we decided, nationally, to allow spending to explode while at the same time cutting taxes to stimulate the economy.
And we have continued that policy ever since and do so today.

The national debt as of 5/4/2010 is $12,940,953,934,792.90.

Congratulations to us all.


May 6th, 2010
9:54 am

Sorry Kyle. As a public service maybe we should notify Rush to avoid the term also? I’m sure his tea party audience must get annoyed, but they just seem to go with the “ditto” flow or don’t know any better. What say you?

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
10:07 am

RushDidIt: I’m guessing his audience can distinguish between using a derogatory term and mentioning it by way of criticizing those who use it as a derogatory term. I’m sorry if you can’t.

jconservative: I’ve gathered over the months that you are, first and foremost, a deficit hawk. If you have some spare time and care to indulge me, I would be curious to know what you think of this (admittedly lengthy) article:

If not, no offense taken on my part.


May 6th, 2010
10:08 am

I am a fiscal conservative and will only vote for those who are. And I have to get that dim bulb Hank Johnson out of office. He embarrasses me, and should embarrass every Georgian.

Uncle Billy

May 6th, 2010
10:13 am

Anyone remember Ross Perot or George Wallace? Both had serious effects on elections but failed to sustain them as Parties. The last successfully established Party was Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in 1860. With the help of Generals Grant and Sherman they severely reduced the influence of the Democratic Party for many years. Does anyone want a repeat of that?

Gator Joe

May 6th, 2010
10:15 am

While the use of slurs and name calling rarely, if ever, advances one’s position, I also don’t approve of “scrubbing” the language of your contributors. Why just this term? I will endure the repeated slurs against Liberals, Democrats and President Obama, if it means allowing all language. Don’t make arbitrary choices, that is, unless you wish to demonstrate your Tea Party sympathies.


May 6th, 2010
10:17 am

Kyle, I can tell the difference. But I worry that Rush can’t, but not too much. He is after all, a money machine for his network and knows what he is doing. Whatever it takes to make a buck.

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
10:22 am

Gator Joe,
You are arguing with the wrong guy. Not Kyle’s decision. Did you not read where he said “it’s just been brought to my attention that now has a policy against the use of the derogatory term”. That comes from above him, he’s only a columnist.

Uncle Billy,
Very few of the Tea Party groups are advocating third party formation – mostly they are just trying to insert their own anti-incumbent into the GOP ranks. There may be a few that go independent, but for the most part I see Tea Party settling for GOP as lesser of two evils if it comes to that. At least somewhat right the ship…

Jason T

May 6th, 2010
10:27 am

Can we just insert Barney Frank for that word?

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
10:29 am

Gator Joe: Whacks Eloquent is correct: This was not my call. As for the use of other slurs: If you believe some of them are of a sexually explicit nature, as this one is, please let me know and I’ll send your complaint up the chain.

Jason T: No, you may not.


May 6th, 2010
10:47 am

Kyle, watch out with the term “whacks” It might be sexually explicit to some. Look it up.

Whacks Eloquent

May 6th, 2010
10:55 am


I use my handle in a totally baseball-bat-on-the-head implication only! Get your mind out of the gutter!


May 6th, 2010
11:01 am

Whacks Eloquent,

Sorry, but isn’t “baseball-bat-on-the-head” in the gutter also? It sure hurts a lot more than your implication of my implication. Kyle, suggest you stop us here, since this is going down hill fast.

Kyle Wingfield

May 6th, 2010
11:08 am

RushDidIt, I may very well stop you here.


May 6th, 2010
11:40 am

Kyle, you must not see the irony. Read it again please. Have a good day.


May 6th, 2010
11:54 am

At least we know what to call them.


May 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

The media should not misread Tuesday’s results.

Most of the people who feel some sort of connect with the “Tea Party” movement realize they really have no where to turn other than to the republican party.

The democrat party does not represent a viable alternative and voting third party is just helping the democrats.

On the other hand, republican voters are not going to turn to the democrat candidate if tea party candidates do prevail in primaries.

Let’s look at a few examples and agree to meet back here the day after the fall elections. First, let’s look at Utah. Utah will elect a republican senator in November as long as the republican candidate does not get caught kissing little boys or dead women. In Kentucky and Florida, if the tea party backed republican wins the senate primary, the tea party backed republican will win the senate seat. If the more “main stream” candidate in Kentucky (I don’t think there is one of these remaining in the Florida contest) wins the primary, the mainstream republican will win in November.

I doubt either of these republican candidates will win by anything less than an 8-10 point margin.

Finally, the republicans are likely to take back the House and Senate. Their margins will be so small and democrats will be so vindictive regarding the way republicans are now cooperating with democrats that few, if any democrats will cross the aisle to support republican legislation. This will mean we will have a deadlocked, do nothing Congress leading up to the November 2012 presidential election and this will greatly benefit President Obama’s re-election campagin.

No More Progressives!

May 6th, 2010
12:13 pm

Michael H. Smith

May 5th, 2010
9:20 pm
Rome was not built in a day, Kyle. America has been around for over two hundred years and we’re still building.

The Romans lasted 1,480 years. Quite an accomplishment for the Ancients.

We’ll be lucky to last another 25 at the rate we’re going.


May 6th, 2010
12:52 pm

Decades ago, there was not much difference between the Dem & Rep parties, especially at the state & local levels. The problem today at the national level is that the Dem party has been infiltrated with progressives/socialists/Marxists that seem to be in the process of intentionally bringing the country to its knees.