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On Tuesday across America, voters had a strong message for tea party extremists who have hijacked the once-proud and formidable Republican Party.
“Go to hell,” they told the tea party. “Go straight to hell.”
That message was delivered strongly in Alabama where in a GOP Congressional primary runoff, business-backed Republican moderate Bradley Byrne convincingly defeated tea party candidate Dean Young, a hardcore right-wing ideologue.
The same message came in Virginia where tea party firebrands Ken Cuccinelli narrowly lost his bid for governor against Democrat Terry McAuliffe and an even more right-wing preacher E.W. Jackson lost by a bigger margin to Democrat Ralph Northam in the lt. governor’s contest.
In both states, the tea party did everything it could to put its latest crop of right-wing extremists into office. They praised the government shutdown. They railed against Obamacare.
In New Jersey, moderate and centrist Republican Chris Christie — hated by the tea party –won by the largest margin of all. Polls among Republicans show they think Christie — and not tea party right-wingers like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul — should be the party’s Presidential candidate in 2016.
In Alabama, the federal government shutdown was a big issue with Byrne saying it was “not good for the country” and Young it was “not the end of the world.”
The shutdown also played big in the Virginia governor’s election and Cuccinelli, whose extreme views were often driven by his compliance to tea party dogma, faced the wrath of anger over the shutdown in the Washington suburbs of Northern Virginia and the military-dependent Tidewater area where McAuliffe won by large margins.
Writes Julie Hirschfield Davis for Bloomberg:
In the closing days of his losing campaign for Virginia’s governorship, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli called the contest a referendum on Obamacare. Virginia voter Lee Killen saw it instead as a referendum on the Tea Party — and he voted no.
Killen, a Republican-turned-independent from Fairfax, cast his ballot for Terry McAuliffe less to endorse the Democrat than to lodge a protest against the small-government movement he said has hijacked his former party.
“I don’t particularly like McAuliffe, but I went with him basically because I disagree with the Tea Party approach to life — no compromise, no middle ground,” Killen, 70, a retired software engineer, said in an interview just after casting his vote yesterday. “Cuccinelli has been a Tea Party leader from the very beginning, and those values are not my values.”
“More and more rank and file Republicans have had it with tea party extremism,” GOP strategist Monica Lansing tells Capitol Hill Blue. “They want them to get the hell out of the party and stay out.”
In Facebook postings on Wednesday, many tea party partisans saw the handwriting on the wall and declared they were leaving the Republican Party.
“Good,” says long-time Republican activist John Stallings. “We need the party to get back to its real core values and away from the fanatics.”
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