Allen West Concedes Defeat, but the Tea Party Isn’t Over

Two of the loudest House Tea Partyers lost.

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Two weeks after Election Day, Florida Congressman Allen West finally conceded defeat with a 3 a.m. Facebook missive after a preliminary recount extended his opponent’s slender lead. For Democrats, it’s a sweet victory. West, after all, was the guy who publicly proclaimed that “78 to 81″ members of the Democratic caucus were card-carrying Communists. It was these sorts of McCarthyesque pronouncements that made West, a former Army colonel, the public face of the new House Tea Party faction that stormed the Capitol in 2011 promising to usher in a new era of conservative purity.

West’s main competition for the role of House Tea Party mascot, Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, also went down to defeat. Like West, Walsh became a household name by embodying the anti-compromise Tea Party id. And like West, Walsh often acted like a jerk. He shouted down constituents, said the Democratic “game” was getting Hispanics and blacks dependent on government, had a Todd Akin moment of his own and suggested his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs as a helicopter pilot serving in Iraq, wasn’t a “true hero” because she talked too much about her military service. The two freshmen were partners in bombast, always good for a juicy quote or over-the-top denunciation of the other side. This played really well on Fox News and in the conservative blogosphere. Now they’re both gone.

Here’s the thing, though: neither West nor Walsh was defeated because of their clownish behavior. Controversy carried them closer to victory than they might have otherwise gotten. West garnered nearly half the votes in his newly redrawn district, outrunning Mitt Romney in two of the three counties that comprise it. That’s partly because his Tea Party stardom made him a fundraising juggernaut. He raked in more than $17 million, the most of all House members save two, one of which was Speaker John Boehner. As for Walsh, he captured 45% of the vote against a tough opponent, despite his outre remarks, a district newly gerrymandered to his detriment and a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife that accused him of stiffing her on $117,000 of unpaid child support.

As for Walsh and West’s Tea Party compatriots, they did quite well in the House. Only a tiny percentage of the 60-member House Tea Party caucus was defeated. Two of them, Akin and Denny Rehberg, lost Senate races; Maryland’s Roscoe Bartlett was defeated in a redrawn district that made him perhaps the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country. A pair of blustery Tea Party figureheads, Michele Bachmann and Iowa’s Steve King, escaped strong challenges. Bachmann, of course, spent the better part of her term getting facts wrong on national television. She survived on celebrity star power hard-won in Fox News green rooms, and the outsize war chest it brought her. (She was the other House member who out-raised West.) Alas, in Congress it still pays to be a clown.

But even though the vaunted Tea Party class of 2010 survived largely intact, it’s unclear how much influence they will wield in the next session of Congress. With Boehner and other Republican leaders angling for a deal that keeps the country from skidding off the fiscal cliff, as well as immigration reforms that could ameliorate the GOP’s dismal image with Hispanic voters, the Tea Party will have to decide whether to play ball or prioritize ideological purity.

130 comments
fitty_three
fitty_three

One Flew Over The GOP Tent

Starring Michelle Bachmann as Nurse Ratchet*

Allen West as Colonel Matterson

*Some people will get this. Others, not.  Most of the ones who don't are in the GOP already.

D.T
D.T

Hey fhmadvocat, Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers party, which means they were more for nationalism and socialism which is far left ideology.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

Seriously, can anyone tell me anything Allen West did in Congress other than issue bombastic statements and show an extremely thin skin to any type of criticism?  Calling 80 Democrats "Communists"?  Had a Democrat compared 80 Republicans to the Nazi Party, she or he would have been made to come on the House floor to apoligize for such an outlandish statement.  Being loud and obnoxious is not a qualification for Congress.

JonSmith
JonSmith

After a week of rude and bombastic comments by Allen west and his staff Murphy still said he was "humbled by Congressman West's gracious concession" and eager to get to work on behalf of all voters.

This statement on it's own shows the real contrast between these candidates.

Murphy has class.

It will be a fresh pleasure to have a real gentlemen representing us here.

superlogi
superlogi

As our debt continues to increase to the point where default is inevitable and/or our currency becomes worthless, I suspect the Tea Party will thrive.  Unfortunately, it probably won't matter to most of us. 

justamaz11
justamaz11

Allen West, you can't talk about fiscal responsibility and morals these days.  You have to get with it and join the liberals for sin and charging that card til you drop.

Bonsai
Bonsai

LOL...Allen West claims he was the biggest threat to the democratic party.  Frankly, he has been the biggest threat to the cohesion of the Republican Party.  The only reason why he got as far as he did with his hate rhetoric is simply because the Republicans caved to the Tea Party because they knew their efforts would split the ticket and lose the election.  Guess what.  The hate mongering voracity of the TPr's sent them all packing anyway.  It would behoove the Republicans to reassess the value of the TPr's and flush them down the toilet where they can swim with their own ilk.  

galens
galens

the dichotomy progressives love!

the more the Te Party stays, the more the GOP loses ground to the Dems. gerrymandering will help this cause but will not be anymore powerful in the long term, then the billions spent backing them.

THE PEOPLE RULE, we found that out, but the GOP thinks they did not go `right enough... haahaahaahaaaaa :) 

CTracyIII
CTracyIII

D*** - I thought he'd never leave.  

Interesting though, how the clowns get more dough.  Does anyone really thing Boehner will control his caucus?  

Dan504
Dan504

People like West and Walsh (and Bachman, who barely won in a heavily-gerrymandered district) are the poster children of the extreme nature of many Tea Party members.  Their behavior and policies are slowly doing them in, and now that many members of the GOP are publicly acknowledging they are part of the reason for the loss in the election, you will see more of them go away in 2014.  The GOP has been pushed to the extreme right, and that's not acceptable to most people.

notsacredh
notsacredh

I have to get ready and go to work, but let me end with this: I won every single bet I had on the election. I took $ 625 from conservative friends because they were CONVINCED that the country hated Obama as much as they did. They live in a universe that doesn't include reality. The country has moved on. They haven't. They prefer to believe in things that aren't true and aren't going to be true again. They don't like change and they're pretending that the "good old days" are going to make a comeback. Their "good old days" were only good for them. Blacks, women, Hispanics, the non'religious, gays/lesbians and all of the other folks that used to "know their place" are entitled to the same rights that every angry white guy has. It's about f'n time.

.

Have fun folks.

sandifjm
sandifjm

@D.T Hitler arrested and murdered thousands of socialists and communists, banned leftist parties, and attacked Soviet Russia. Do you want to revise this statement at all, or are you comfortable with your ignorance?

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

@DerrickTassin 

Hey Derrick, Oceania's ministries were called the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Truth, The Ministry of Love, and the Ministry of Plenty.

jus sayin

celtic_thistle
celtic_thistle

@superlogi As most Teabaggers get too old and senile to even vote, and get outnumbered by young people (especially young people of color) the Tea Party will continue to lose credibility and become more of a joke.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@superlogi As the Nazi Party thrived in 1930's Germany? Luckily conditions aren't bad enough here to allow this group of bigoted know nothings take full power.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Somebody mentioned not long ago that Dems are focused on the debt.  I heartily say we should not.  The full weight of the US Government ensures that countries everywhere will get a return on their investment at some point.  It's a big deal, but not as big as neocons make it.  The deficit is more relevant and more important.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@justamaz11 And yet its the Conservatives that have caused the bulk of the spending and debt in this country. Oh the irony.

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

@Bonsai 

Yes but what is the Republican party without the Tea Party?  Nothing but a less competent and more corrupt and scandal prone version of the Democrats, who have moved far enough to the right to co-opt legitimate conservative values.  The Tea Party is the natural result of the fact that America has two major conservative parties and no major liberal parties.  The slightly more conservative party had to produce the Tea Party in order to differentiate themselves from the nearly ideologically identical but slightly more competent competition.

outsider
outsider

No. He couldn't when the gop was in a position of strength after 2010 - now they've lost seats, and been humiliated.

I think he has less control

@CTracyIII

paulejb
paulejb

@Dan504 ,

I submit the name of Alan Grayson which is proof positive that Democrats would elect any extremist who promised to keep funding the gravy train.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Fla4me, if I hadn't offered to let several friends out of bets at a discount, I could have made over 1k. When I got into political discussions with friends and they started saying stuff like "Romney will win in a landslide", "Romney will beat Obama by more than Obama beat McCain" or "Romney will win by a least 5 million votes", I pounced. Some even insisted that I bet them because "You know you'll get your ass kicked. Put up or shut up". Living in a conservative area has it's advantages. They think every place else is conservative too. They're insulated and only listen to media sources that agree with them and tell them what to think. If Nate Silver had been predicting a Romney win, I wouldn't have bet. I'm a partisan hack, but I accept reality.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@sacredh I'm so envious...  I couldn't get any wing nuts to wager a dime on old Mitt.  Oh well.

notsacredh
notsacredh

TyPollard, we had a recent tragedy in our family and the funny took a vacation. I'm just starting to get over it. Everything was going well and then I forgot to put the chili powder in the chili. It was bland. Adding the powder after it was already cooked just wasn't the same.Everybody else said it was OK. I think they lied.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@sacredh 

Damn straight. Let them stick to their decrepit 'principles' and get run over. It's a disservice to them and the country that their most vocal fringe is also the ones who call all the shots.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh 

A great post to leave on.

P.S. when you come back bring the funny. Too serious in here.

D.T
D.T

@sandifjm @D.T 

He did murder communist people and jewish people, but the people that put him in office were a left leaning party. Shame on them for wanting government to solve there problems. He ran as a socialist. He preached class warfare, agitated the working class to resist capitalist. His ideas also called for nationalization of healthcare, and major industries. Inforce a strict gun control regimen. You for get a hole nation turn there head and allowed him to do these things. Notice how i say his ideas are left leaning, not the hole entire party.

jason024
jason024

@paulejb @Dan504 Good then you admit that West, Walsh, and Bachmann are rightwing nutcases who even you can't support. 

celtic_thistle
celtic_thistle

@galens @AmericaphileMinistries lmao, adorable. Do you have any idea how reality even works? Hate and ignorance spew forth from the Right like a volcano of stupidity and worthlessness. Keep moving further to the right; it'll SO serve you well as all your angry old white men are dying off and young people, especially young people of color, grow as a demographic. Your ideology is DYING. It is only a matter of time til you go the way of the Whigs (look it up; I doubt you even know what they are off the top of your head.)

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Mr. President, do you love the hate and ignorance?

"Yeh - it makes it SOOO easy!"

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Thankful for me mother coming through knee replacement.  She darn near cursed me out b/c I had to go to w--k.  She's near normal.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh 

Sorry about that. When the funny returns, we'll all be here.

La_Randy
La_Randy

@sacredh This will probably go down in the Chili Hall Of Shame!

What a sad tale.

D.T
D.T

@sandifjm 

Do you want to revise this statement, or are you comfortable with you ignorance?

D.T
D.T

@nhautamaki 

Here, I will make it simple for you. The left-wing opens the door to these theories.

D.T
D.T

@nhautamaki @DerrickTassin 

I think you are the one missing the point. Look at history, any form of socialist ideas always leads to a dictaor or another party like nazism,marxism or what ever kind of party that  has idealistic point of views, which liberals, democrats, progressive or what ever name they want to call themselves, promote some form of it. Always government control. Thats why our Founding Fathers believed in limited government, thats why we are a ideal nation. individual responsibility. Do not look at a figure to solve your problem.

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

@DerrickTassin

Unfortunately it seems you've entirely missed my point, willfully or not.  Someone who honestly thinks that Nazism is meaningfully associated with liberalism is probably not worth attempting to communicate with.  Someone who willfully promotes that idea even knowing that it's total BS even less so.

celtic_thistle
celtic_thistle

@paulejb @jason024 @Dan504 This country needs more ACTUAL leftists. And it's amazing how most veterans who go into politics end up Democrats, isn't it. A "hero." Yeah, okay, sure.

BobJan
BobJan

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb @jason024 I served in Vietnam and saw things I'd rather forget. Even so, not being a fan of West I don't see anything out of the ordinary. When in combat situations arise and you make your best decision and have to live with it. Evidently he chose to live with it. Stop bashing him for this.

While serving in Taji, Iraq,West received qualified information from an intelligence specialistabout a plot to ambush his unit. The alleged plot reportedly involvedYahya Jhodri Hamoodi, a civilian Iraqi police officer. West had his men detain Hamoodi.[12] Soldiers testified that in the process of detaining Mr. Hamoodi, he appeared to reach for his weapon and needed to be subdued.[12] Hamoodi was beaten by four soldiers from the 2/20th Field Artillery Battalion on the head and body.[13] West then fired his pistol near Hamoodi's head,[12]after which Hamoodi provided West with names and information, whichHamoodi later described as "meaningless information induced by fear andpain."[12] At least one of these suspects was arrested as a result, but no plans for attacks or weapons were found.[12]West said "At the time I had to base my decision on the intelligence Ireceived. It's possible that I was wrong about Mr. Hamoodi."[12]West was charged with violating articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. During a hearing held as part of an Article 32 investigation in November 2003, West stated, "I know the method I used was not right, but I wanted to take care of my soldiers."[13] The charges were ultimately referred to an Article 15 proceeding rather than court-martial, at which West was fined $5,000.[12]Lieutenant Colonel West accepted the judgment and retired with fullbenefits in the summer of 2004. Asked if he would act differently undersimilar circumstances, West testified, "If it's about the lives of mysoldiers at stake, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can."[13]At his hearing, West pointed out that there were no further ambushesagainst American forces in Taji until he was relieved of his leadershippost on October 4.[14] After West's retirement he received more than 2,000 letters and e-mails offering him moral support.[12] A letter supporting West was signed by 95 members of Congress and sent to the Secretary of the Army.[12]

MrObvious
MrObvious

@mantisdragon91

paulejb finds it heroic to threaten unarmed people.

West then fired his pistol near Hamoodi's head,[12] after which Hamoodi provided West with names and information, which Hamoodi later described as "meaningless information induced by fear and pain."[12] At least one of these suspects was arrested as a result, but no plans for attacks or weapons were found.[12] West said "At the time I had to base my decision on the intelligence I received. It's possible that I was wrong about Mr. Hamoodi."[12]

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb

Hero?

What he did in Iraq might be heroic, but here in USA he's just a dime a dozen moron. None have anything to do with the other.

paulejb
paulejb

@jason024 @paulejb @Dan504 ,

Only in a nation that is so depraved that it elects a leftist ideologue over a hero warrior would an Alan Grayson go from the asylum to the Democrat caucus in Congress.