Joe Kennedy: The Forgotten Tea Party Senate Candidate in Massachusetts

Things could go very badly for the tea party people around the U.S. if they push this too hard. First of all, Brown could lose despite all their efforts. They will have expended lots of energy and lost quite a bit of goodwill in the New England tea party movement for nothing. Secondly, it looks as if the Democrats would ignore a Brown victory for as long as they can and refuse to seat him until ObamaCare has been passed. In either case, the “vote Brown to stop ObamaCare” meme will look rather foolish. And considering that Brown voted for RomneyCare and is proud of the fact, he could be open to voting for national health care reform if changes are made to the bill (just like Olympia Snowe).

The full-court press to browbeat Massachusetts tea party members coming from across the country and demand that they give money and time to the statist Republican could backfire. It could make it seem like the tea partiers are just frustrated Republicans rather than independent actors. Do conservatives of all factions want to  invest their political capital for a candidate that is not really conservative anyway?

Fortunately the national tea party groups -- at least the ones not obviously Republican fronts like Tea Party Express -- have stayed well clear of this race for the most part. They have wisely not endorsed either candidate of the right. However, some tea party leaders around the country have not been so wise.

The tea party movement has got to learn to weigh the possible long-term downside against the potential short-term gain. There are no dead certainties in politics, especially with the current crop of Democrats in charge. The tea party movement needs to learn to keep its powder dry until it’s most effective to open fire.

Ultimately, those pushing for Brown from the tea party movement are taking a very large political gamble. It may in fact pay off, but the risk it won’t could have dire consequences and affect their non-partisan credibility. Is possibly having the one vote to defeat ObamaCare (in its current form) more important than the long-term viability of the movement as a whole?

I, for one, am glad I am not in the state to vote in the upcoming special election. It’s a tough call for any right-of-center type. What would you do and are you sure you would make the right decision?