Tea Party Challenges Stumbling as Primaries Approach
McConnell, who has weathered strong Tea Party criticism despite winning the endorsement of Paul, maintains a healthy lead over Bevin. A survey conducted Feb. 24-26 by Public Opinion Strategies shows McConnell gaining support over the past few months, leading Bevin 61 percent to 23 percent.
Regardless, Bevin is confident he can close the gap.
"I like where we are,” Bevin said at a recent forum sponsored by FreedomWorks. “It's always good to be the underdog. It's good to be the stealth player under the radar screen.”
The same situation can be found in Tennessee where Tea Party activists hoped to pick off Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). State Rep. Joe Carr mounted a challenge with the support of groups like Tea Party Nation and The Coalition for a Constitutional Senate.
While there has not been much polling in the race it appears Alexander maintains a large lead. A survey by North Star Opinion Research conducted Feb. 3-6 gave the incumbent a 45-point lead – 62 percent to 17 percent.
In Kansas, one of the nation’s most conservative states, activists continue to search for a way to dump GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, even though Heritage Action determined that he is the most conservative senator seeking re-election this cycle and is considered the upper chamber’s fourth most conservative member.
It appeared Roberts could face problems when it was revealed that he no longer actually resided in the state. A challenge was offered by Milton Wolf, a radiologist, political commentator and, interestingly, President Obama’s second cousin, making his first run for public office with the support of the Tea Party Express and the Senate Conservative Fund.
Again, polling is scarce but Public Policy Polling, an organization with Democratic ties, found Roberts ahead in a survey conducted Feb. 18-20 by 26 points – 49 percent to 23 percent. Wolf found some good news in the results – the incumbent remains below the magic 50 percent mark. The bad news is the survey found Kansas voters desire an even more conservative candidate than they appear to be getting and there is speculation that former congressman Todd Tiahrt might jump in.
To this point, Wolf retains strong Tea Party support.
“Unlike the career politicians that have buried future generations under crippling debt, Milton Wolf is a conservative game-changer that will tackle the complacency culture of D.C.,” said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express. “Dr. Milton Wolf has intimate knowledge of America’s healthcare system and is the perfect person to tackle President Obama’s failed healthcare policy.”
Wolf has offered an alternative to the “Obamacare train wreck,” Kremer said, displaying “that kind of conservative leadership that has been largely absent for far too long in D.C. I am confident Dr. Wolf will join the ranks of Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul when he is elected.”
The Tea Party faces better odds in two other races.
Many political observers, including the Cook Political Report, believe conservative activists have the best opportunity for a pick-up in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran, seeking a seventh six-year term, is facing a tough re-election fight against state Sen. Chris McDonald, who is drawing support from, among other groups, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.