Tea Party scores big wins in key races

Kentucky Senate winner Rand Paul (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Voters embraced the tea party’s conservative throw-the-bums-out anthem in key races across the country, with the movement’s favored candidates taking more than a dozen House seats held by Democrats, three Senate races and the South Carolina governorship.

The movement commanded widespread victories but did not make a complete sweep, with the most prominent losses coming from Senate hopefuls Christine O’Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angle of Nevada. Angle couldn’t overcome Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and O’Donnell was soundly defeated after old videos emerged of her discussing witchcraft, masturbation and mice with human brains.

But tea party stars Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida were elected to the Senate, while Sarah Palin-backed Republican Nikki Haley was elected South Carolina governor. All were long shots when they declared their candidacies but won over voters with their Washington outsider, anti-tax campaigns.

“We’ve come to take our government back,” said Paul, a first-time candidate and son of libertarian hero Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. He promised to lead a movement for fiscal sanity, limited constitutional government and balanced budgets and to begin working to build a tea party caucus in the Senate first thing Wednesday morning.

“There’s a tea party tidal wave, and we’re sending a message,” Paul said.

Tea Party Patriots co-founder JennyBeth Martin said local activists from across the country would host a meeting for freshmen tea party lawmakers Nov. 14 to remind them that the movement’s continuing support depends on their performance.

“We’ve watched what’s happened in the past — Republican or Democrats promise things when they are running, and then they get to Washington and they do what their party leadership wants them to,” she said in a telephone interview from a tea party victory party at a Washington hotel. “We’re not going to let that happen this time. If they uphold our core values and the Constitution, then they will have political backing from us. If not, we’ll do this again in two years.”

Tea party candidates were running strong as returns came in Wednesday morning, picking up several Democratic seats in the Republican takeover of the House. Chief among them was Republican Vicky Hartzler, who courted tea party support in her victory over House Armed Service Committee Chairman Ike Skelton. She ended Skelton’s 34 years in Congress.

Republicans with tea party support also defeated Democratic incumbents in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Dakota and two seats each in New York and Illinois. And they picked up seats held by retiring Democrats in Louisiana, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan and two in Arkansas.

Tea party candidates put some leading House Democrats who usually win by wide margin on defense. That included House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who lent his campaign $200,000 to stave off a tea party challenger, and Michigan Rep. John Dingell, who after 55 years is the longest-serving member of the House. Both were able to hold onto their seats in closer than anticipated contests.

The question for Election Day was whether the tea party candidates would end up hurting the Republican Party more than they helped by putting up some less viable candidates. That appeared to be the case in the Nevada Senate race and in Delaware, where tea party-fueled candidacies for O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart for the state’s Republican-held House seat gave Democrats easy victories that wouldn’t have been expected early in the campaign.

Democrats were able to hold onto the Colorado governorship after tea party-backed GOP nominee Dan Maes’ campaign imploded and third-party candidate Tom Tancredo entered the race and splintered the support of the state’s activists. But fears that other third-party tea party candidates would siphon voters from Republican nominees were unfounded.

Rubio, Paul and tea party Republican Mike Lee of Utah were elected to seats held by Republicans, so they did not contribute to GOP hopes for gains in the Senate. And Republican leaders may get a challenge from tea party lawmakers who vowed to put their conservative principles before party.

“Our nation is headed in the wrong direction and both parties are to blame,” said Rubio, a former state House speaker and son of Cuban exiles. He said his election was part of “a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.”

Rep. John Boehner, who planned to take over as speaker after Republicans won the House, assured tea party activists from his Ohio district in a Skype call after poll closing that he would never let them down, Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Candidates with tea party support were on the ballot in more than 70 House districts, seven races for Senate and three for governor. Some were incumbents, such as South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson. Wilson became an early hero to tea partyers for yelling “You lie!” to President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress, and held onto his seat in a race that was infused with out-of-state donations for both sides after the heckle.

Four in 10 voters considered themselves tea party supporters, according to preliminary exit poll results. And nearly 9 in 10 of those tea party supporters voted for the Republican House candidate.

But the tea party also was a polarizing force among some voters — about a quarter of voters said they considered their vote a message of support for the tea party and nearly as many said their vote was meant to signal opposition to the movement. About half said the tea party wasn’t a factor.

The movement’s candidates had no unified agenda, but often pushed for a balanced budget, elimination of the federal debt, repeal of the health care law and strict interpretation of the Constitution. The AP’s polling analysis found nearly 9 in 10 tea party supporters wanted to repeal health care and felt Obama’s policies hurt the country. Only about a quarter of non-tea party supporters felt that way.

Tea party candidates weren’t always easy to identify since the movement is a network of loosely connected community groups — not an established political party with official nominees. Even within the tea party there often was disagreement among rival groups about the legitimacy of candidates claiming tea party credentials.

In identifying candidates, The Associated Press assessed factors including a candidate’s history with the movement, the involvement of local leaders and activists in a campaign, endorsements or support from tea party-affiliated groups and whether a candidate is running on a platform that dovetails with the movement’s agenda.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

What ever happened to Juan Williams?

1929 –  Black Tuesday, Stock Market crashes triggers Great Depression

2004 – Osama bin Laden, in a videotaped statement, directly admitted for the first time that he had ordered the Sept. 11 attacks.

COINCIDENCE? I think NOT!

“Is there no longer freedom of speech in this chamber, Mr. President?….Mr. President…MR. PRESIDENT?….You can turn my microphone off now.”
Michelle Bachmann

“It is not enough to be abstinent with other people, you also have to be abstinent alone. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. You can’t masturbate without lust!”
Christine O’Donnell

FROM THE CHURCH OF INEFFABLE STUPIDITY:

About three months ago I predicted that O’Keefe and other radical, serial lie-based life forms (See generally, Drudge, Rush, Sean) would concoct some new issue, and go hog wild on Democrats and liberals.

Sure, O’Keefe did hire actors, dubbed lines, and creatively edited a recent meeting of the New Jersey Educational Association, because people were awake this time, his efforts have gone nowhere.

There have been a few other bits of tid, efforts and tossing up huge handfuls of shit, and seeing what might stick to the ceiling. Unfortunately, their efforts were eclipsed by a series of events so odd, so unusual, that one feels like quoting Condi Rice’s reaction to accusations that she fell asleep on the job before 9/11.

For a short while, I worried that the Yawn Williams imbroglio would grow legs, and become the rallying cry against an already mentally barren NPR, and quite possibly grow into an attack on all outlets, journalists, and media figures who failed to toe the most conservative GOP  line. Despite strong pushes by John Kyl, deMental deMidget DeMint, and other hatchetmen, the most surprising thing happened. The Williams story died an early death.  After all, not one democrat dared show the slightest bit of support for NPR (Shades of ACORN) and even NPR managed to outdo itself in terms of how lame its response and handling of the situation was. But again, the story died before it could become a movement.

True, in part, Juan dug his own grave. Pawing and harassing sweet young things since 1991 didn’t help matters any. Neither did coming into proverbial gold, to the tune of $2,000,000. But again, something else happened, something that killed these kind of stories in their tracks. So, what stopped the final framing (and sideways attack on Democrats) from taking hold?

We know it as the Tea Bagger impact.

From wrestling divas out east, to clueless, cold hearted, semi-slave owners on the left coast, people could not help but notice that today’s GOPers, along with their evil mini-me sidekicks, the Tea Baggers, are raving loons. Sharron Angle, Jan Brewer, Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Joe Miller, and so many others continuously showed themselves to be the ideal representatives of America’s Ignorant, the modern know nothings, the people most likely to be helped by a new Americans with Mental Disabilities Act.

To be sure, the media did its best to ignore Rand’s gestapo stomping tactics, but because the media no longer controls the story, those ugly videos were seen by millions. Sharron tried to ignore the media, and therefore, keep out of the public eye, (Running for public office in secret? the mind boggles) but her own well-documented history and her political stances (circa 1438 CE) kept her in the news. Joe Miller, bless his unethical soul, was forced to out himself. Despite half-baked mea culpas, Joe’s unsavory past easily blended with his present persona, and not even Sarah can save his bloodied ass.

When Jim DeMint is out-weirded by senatorial candidates trying to join him inside the Bloatway, you know something strange is up.

In some ways, I would love to relax and enjoy the moment. The daily outrages, the constant drumbeat of Ineffable Stupidity, and the ever distant relationship these Tea Baggers have with reality would be really entertaining and amused, but for one problem. Some of them could be elected, and actually might be, if we let down our guard, and forget to get out the vote as early and often as possible. I am sure many here would have loved to do the same. Instead, we fought. We raised money. We got out the vote. We voted early. We fretted, we worried, and we wrote LTTEs.

Luckily, our efforts have not gone for naught. Partly due to the Tea Baggers own mental Buggery, partly due to a population realizing that these “morans” are blithering idiots, and partly due to an allergic reaction from the presence of so much conservative corporate money, early voting has never been higher.

In Illinois alone, especially among the yute, people of color, and in lower income areas, early voting has doubled, yes D O U B L E D, the numbers in 2008.  Absentee voting is also twice as high as 2008, and far higher than 2006. Lines yesterday (our last early voting date) were reported to be more than two hours long.

Chew on that for a bit. Imagine an unengaged, uncaring, non-enthusiastic voter waiting in line for TWO HOURS simply to vote early.

I do not predict major upsets on Tuesday. The economy has been too troubled, the employment figures are jarring and upsetting, too many democrats in office proved to have a Slinky-like spine, and the President misread just how evil his opposition was going to be. Besides, after two huge victorious election results, we were bound to lose ground in this one. Besides, the MSM has been pounding the “Dems Lose” meme since June. Koch and company, along with other ultraconservative bastards, have spent close to $400,000,000 attacking Dem candidates, and supporting Tea Baggers. The top self funders spent another $250,000,000 of their own money. No matter how you cut it, money does create interest, and interest can translate into votes.

I do predict that it will not be as bad as we feared, and nowhere near as bad as MSM was trying to paint it. Already, news groups are backtracking, questioning the methods pollsters used, and suddenly realizing (something we knew back in 2008), that the younger, more liberal LIKELY voters were connected to the world by cell phone, not a land line. In fact, the most likely landline owners are Fox News watchers, whose average physical age of 103 (with a mental age of 73) make them not only incredibly conservative, but astoundingly unread, uneducated, uninformed (hey, they watch Fox!), and allergic to facts.  Of course the polls are wrong. The question is how wrong.

So, to sum it all up,

a. The polls are skewed heavily to the right, to the elderly, to fox viewers.

b. Young voters, more liberal, and more progressive voters had no enthusiasm gap

c. Tea Baggers are fucking lunatics.

d. People are rebelling against too much money, mostly conservative, in politics

e. Colbert/Stewart will be a huge success, in part, because people want sanity back in our country.

All this adds up to one result: Who the hell can predict this November election?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tea Party winners will find life in Congress is not a party

Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul addresses supporters during a campaign stop at a restaurant in Glasgow, Ky., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010. As Paul lumbers toward an expected win in Kentucky's often nasty Senate race, he embodies the promise and peril of a phenomenon the GOP establishment must accommodate if the party is to govern and campaign effectively from here on. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

As Rand Paul lumbers toward an expected win in Kentucky’s often nasty Senate race, he embodies the promise and peril of a phenomenon the GOP establishment must accommodate if the party is to govern and campaign effectively from here on.

Paul is almost the perfect tea party flag bearer. The first-time candidate and small-government philosopher is practically tea party royalty since his father is libertarian hero Ron Paul, the Texas congressman.

And no one did more than Rand Paul to make the tea party this year’s political sensation. He trounced the Republican establishment’s hand-picked candidate in the May primary. Then he withstood a barrage of attack ads, and aired his own, to stay in front of Democrat Jack Conway in virtually all polls.

But if the intense, curly haired ophthalmologist personifies the tea party’s dogmatic grit, he also hints at its potential weak spots and looming challenges.

With Conway, the Kentucky attorney general, battling Paul right up to Election Day, some Kentuckians wonder why Paul wasn’t able to lock up this contest long ago. After all, he’s seeking a Republican-held seat in a Republican-trending year in a reliably Republican state. John McCain beat Barack Obama here by 16 percentage points, and GOP operatives said six weeks ago they hoped to knock out Conway with early attack ads.

GOP Senate nominees in several states that Obama carried, including New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin, appear to have opened comparable or bigger leads in their races, with minimal tea party involvement.

If Paul has set examples for doggedly sticking to small-government principles, he also set some less attractive trends for his fellow tea partiers.

He stumbled early in national media settings, mainly by criticizing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and then sharply limited his interactions with reporters. Untested tea party Republicans in Nevada, Delaware and Alaska later did much the same.

That said, political insiders from both parties expect Paul to win Tuesday and to enter Washington as one of the most closely watched newcomers.

The campaign has deeply frustrated Kentucky Democrats who feel that voters, despite countless TV ads attacking Paul’s views, still don’t understand how unorthodox he is on issues such as replacing the income tax and other levies with a hefty sales tax.

“This Rand Paul is so far out,” said Jerry Cox, a lifelong Democrat who joined about 50 other people when Conway visited Cafe Bonin this week in Campbellsville, in south-central Kentucky.

How Paul and his fellow tea party freshmen behave in Congress, and how the Republican leaders cope with them, will help determine the party’s ability to counteract Obama’s agenda and to pick a strong presidential nominee for 2012.

Barring an upset on Tuesday, Paul will be at the epicenter. Kentucky’s other senator is Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who opposed Paul in the primary and now must bite his lip and try to integrate the Bowling Green upstart and other tea partiers into the GOP caucus.

The freshman tea party class could number half a dozen, enough to bond with their spiritual godfather, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and cause massive headaches for McConnell if he seeks even modest compromises with Democrats.

“The whole center of gravity of the Republican Party is going to shift to the right,” said Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. “Congress is going to be much more polarized now.”

If Republicans take over the House, as many expect, the influx of tea partiers there will make it difficult for GOP leaders to find even the minimal flexibility they will need to reach accords with the White House and Senate. Without that, the party may prove it has muscle but little to show legislatively for a Republican-led House.

“They could be setting Obama up to run against a do-nothing Congress,” Abramowitz said.

Meanwhile, he noted, every Republican presidential hopeful will have to cater to tea party champions such as Paul to win the party’s primaries. That could complicate efforts to attract centrist voters in the 2012 general election.

Paul pushes libertarian-leaning policies that seldom draw serious debate in Congress. Conway and his allies have repeatedly tried to depict Paul as too conservative even for Kentucky, with little apparent success.

In an 11-minute speech to the gathering in Campbellsville, a rather tired-looking Conway said in frustration that Paul “says all this stuff and then claims he doesn’t.”

Conway cited Paul’s tax proposals. Paul says he wants to eliminate the IRS and income tax and institute the so-called FairTax, a 23 percent sales tax on all new goods and services. Families would get a rebate for taxes on all money spent up to the poverty line.

With Democrats blasting the idea in TV ads, Paul’s campaign released a video from February in which he seemed less adamant. In it, Paul says he would prefer no IRS and income tax, adding: “I think a sales tax would be better. But I also will support, if it’s an alternative, a lower income tax rate, marginal rates going down.”

Paul’s campaign centers on tying Conway to Obama. He claims, wrongly, that Conway endorsed Obama in the presidential primary. Paul invoked Obama’s name more than 20 times in the candidates’ final debate Monday, which was notable mainly for a female liberal activist getting roughed up outside by a Paul supporter, who was banned from future campaign events.

“He’s a disaster for our country,” Paul said of Obama, glaring at Conway. “He’s bankrupting us, and you sit blithely over there and support his policies.” A prominent Paul TV ad ends by saying Conway is “another vote for Obama.”

The Kentucky campaign’s biggest hubbub seems to have had little impact on voters’ views. A Conway ad charged that Paul, 47, had belonged to a group in college that mocked the Bible and forced a young woman to “bow down before a false idol” called Aqua Buddha. Paul did not deny the details, but he called the ad absurd and out of bounds, as did some Democrats. Republicans say the ad backfired on Conway.

Analysts differ on whether Paul and his fellow tea partiers would bend Congress in their direction or become little more than quixotic debaters. Michael Baranowski, a political scientist at Northern Kentucky University, predicts Paul will soften and work with McConnell in the Senate. “He’s too far out of the mainstream to get much accomplished unless he’s willing to compromise,” Baranowski said.

Emory’s Abramowitz has his doubts. He said McConnell and GOP House leaders will feel heavy pressure to show fierce resistance to Obama and Democratic lawmakers.

The tea party has captured a significant portion of the Republican base, Abramowitz said, and “I don’t think these people are going away.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

Early voting report – Illinois

Wow, what a pleasant surprise. In my town of 19,000 (with its 2,187 churches and 2 bars) the voting has been fast and furious. I voted yesterday, expecting to pop in city hall, and get back to work.  Nope.  There were 25-30 people ahead of me, waiting for one of four booths. The pleasant voting clerk was advising people after me that the wait was more than an hour.  (it turned out to be 1.5 hours)  Yet, every time she mentioned the wait, PEOPLE STAYED AND VOTED.

The idea that there was some enthusiasm gap is clearly a media concoction, and bears no relationship to reality. People were not only excited to vote, they were determined to vote.

What was even more surprising was the discussions I overheard. This is the reddest part of Cook County, the largest county in Illinois. People supported McCain almost 2-1 here in 2008. Yet, it seemed that people were voting Democratic at the same pace as Republican, a major shift to the left. Reports from the South Side of Chicago also show extremely strong turnouts from Chicago’s black wards.

In a year where a deluded, misinformed and certifiably crazy Sharron Angle seems to be winning in Nevada, where a raving lunatic like Rand Paul can survive his gestapo beating up and stomping on Move.On members, and where Eric Canter (R-Va)  gets the local police to arrest Democrats at open house meetings – for the crime of being Democrats, it was easy to predict that Democrats and liberals would be demoralized. Add to that, every MSM was proclaiming a blowout by the GOP, and repeatedly claimed that the Democrats had no interest in this election. Perhaps, if only they had  stayed on that message longer and louder, they could have turned off people from this election.   Then again, the presence of Tea Baggery  has had several impacts on this year’s election.

First, it mobilized  a group of functionally illiterate, unread, misinformed, and willfully ignorant christian conservatives.

Second, Tea Baggers forced an already rabid GOP even further to the reich. Right. Whatever.

Next, The noise and constant free coverage that MSM provided the Tea Baggery movement also shook up someone else. Like the undecideds, the liberals, the progressives. Seeing just how insane, ludicrous, and ignorant the Tea Buggery movement is was one hell of an incentive for voting this year. We owe them all a vote of thanks.

Voting is important, even when, no, make that especially when the US Supremes foolishly lifted the cap on corporate interference in our political system. Citizens United will go down as being one the worst decisions made by any Supreme Court, following closely on the heels of Dred Scott.

Not only does the Citizens United decision make a screwed up system even worse, not only does it invite the wholesale purchase of desperate politicians, and not only does this decision allow one large corporation to have a voice a million times stronger than any individual, CU also shows that corruption in our political system does not stop in congress, but exists just as much in our Supreme Court.

Get out the Vote, folks. It is important. Vitally important.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Even Democrats think Conway attack on Paul went too far

Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway: Over the line

Democrats cringe when asked about Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway‘s latest attack ad against Republican opponent and tea party favorite Rand Paul in their contentious race.

Sen. Claire McCAskill is one Democrat willing to go on the record saying Conway went “way over the line” in the ad that attacks Paul for an alleged participation in a mock pagan ritual as part of a secret society in college more than three decades ago.

So is Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, who told the Huffington Post‘s Howard Fineman that “I wouldn’t have done it,” adding “and it looks like it is backfiring.”

Democrats contacted by Capitol Hill Blue admit they are “bothered” by the ad and feel Conway “went too far” but few are willing to go on record saying so.

“He’s blown it,” one Democratic consultant said of Conway and the ad. “He just handed the race to Paul. Any chance he had is gone.”

Rand refused to shake Conway’s hand at their recent debate, telling his opponent that his actions “demean Kentucky.”

View the ad below.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Kentucky Senate debate takes nasty turn

Kentucky Senate GOP candidae Rand Paul (Reuters)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul angrily accused Democratic rival Jack Conway of descending “into the gutter” with a TV ad questioning Paul’s faith and demanded an apology during a Sunday night debate that turned bitterly personal.

Paul denounced the commercial during his opening statement and quoted Scripture to deflect the attack while calling himself a “pro-life Christian.” Conway offered no apology and even repeated the accusations in his ad, which started airing statewide Friday night.

“Those who stoop to the level of attacking a man’s religious beliefs to gain higher office, I believe that they should remember that it does not profit a man to gain the world if he loses his soul in the process,” Paul said.

The candidates wrangled over health care, taxes, entitlements and other issues, but the debate’s defining exchange came in the opening minutes at the University of Louisville.

The issue flared again in the closing moments, when Paul declared he would not shake Conway’s hand afterward, stating: “I will not be associated with someone who attacks my religion.”

“We will try to keep the debate on a higher tone,” Paul said. “I hope you will leave my church, my family and my religion out of it.”

Paul walked past Conway without offering his hand or making eye contact with his Democratic opponent.

The ad is based on published reports from an anonymous woman who claims Paul was a member of a secret society when he attended Baylor University. Paul has dismissed the reports as “ridiculous.”

A narrator in the ad repeats the claims from the woman, asking why Paul, while in college, tied her up and told her to worship an idol called “Aqua Buddha.”

Conway, the state’s attorney general, defended the attacks during their contentious exchange.

“Why did he freely join a group known for mocking, for making fun of people with faith?” Conway asked. “And secondly, when is it ever a good idea to tie up a woman and ask her to kneel before a false idol, your god, which you call Aqua Buddha?”

Paul said he was disheartened that the race had turned so personal.

“We have serious problems in our country … and he’s descended into the gutter to attack my Christian beliefs,” said Paul, a Bowling Green eye doctor. Paul and his family attend a Presbyterian church in Bowling Green, where his wife serves as a deacon.

“Jack, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should apologize. Have you no decency? Have you no shame?”

During the debate, Conway kept up his favorite attack lines, accusing Paul of being out of touch with Kentucky’s drug problems and claiming Paul supports a $2,000 deductible for Medicare recipients — comments Paul was caught making on videotape shown on YouTube. Paul has said the comment was taken out of context, and that he doesn’t support such a high deductible.

Paul, a tea party favorite, advocated his belief in limited government and the free market.

Paul and Conway are competing for the job of retiring GOP Sen. Jim Bunning.

___

Online:

Conway campaign: http://www.jackconway.org/

Paul campaign: http://www.randpaul2010.com/

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rand Paul hedges on tax code revamp

Rand Paul: Oh, never mind (AP)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul sidestepped questions Wednesday about revamping the federal tax code, a day after the tea party favorite took a stand to replace the income tax with a national sales tax.

Paul, a limited-government advocate, said he supports a “simpler tax code” but wouldn’t offer specifics about his written comments to an anti-tax group supporting repeal of the 16th Amendment that created the federal income tax.

“I haven’t really been saying anything like that,” Paul told reporters following a speech in Henderson as part of his Kentucky bus tour. “I think it’s probably better to go … with what I’m saying on the campaign trail.”

Paul, who is running against Democrat Jack Conway in a closely watched race, didn’t mention the tax issue in his speech to about 100 supporters in this western Kentucky city. Instead, Paul kept to some of his main themes: criticizing President Barack Obama’s health care and environmental policies that he characterizes as anti-business.

An anti-tax group on Tuesday released to The Associated Press a written statement from Paul saying he would support changing the federal tax code to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, and he would vote to repeal the 16th Amendment. Paul’s statement called the federal tax code “a disaster” and said he supports making taxes “flatter and simpler.”

“I would vote for the FairTax to get rid of the Sixteenth Amendment, the IRS and a lot of the control the federal government exerts over us,” Paul wrote in a statement verified by his campaign.

The FairTax proposal has been championed by the Texas-based group Americans for Fair Taxation and a newly formed affiliate, FairTax America Support Team. Paul’s former campaign manager, David Adams, is a member of the affiliate’s governing board.

Conway’s campaign has said the FairTax proposal calls for a tax of nearly a quarter on every dollar.

“Working people are having a tough enough time making ends meet,” Conway campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley said. “They can’t afford Rand’s plan to put a 23 percent sales tax on everything they buy — from groceries to gas to medicine.”

When asked by a reporter about his written comments about taxes, Paul turned his focus on government spending.

“Right now the primary problem we have in our country is a spending problem,” he said. “I am for a simpler tax code, and there are various ways you can get to it, but I think the first thing we have to address is … spending.”

He declined to answer further questions on the topic.

Conway spoke on Wednesday to about 50 people on the front lawn of the Old State Capitol in Frankfort and accused Paul of considering a litany of long-standing government initiatives unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

Conway also accused Paul of opposing laws to protect minorities and the disabled, as well as those setting standards for consumer protection, workplace safety and a federal minimum wage.

“Rand Paul on Monday night challenged me to step up and be a man,” Conway said. “I’m going to step up and protect the Constitution of the United States.”

Paul countered that Conway supported Obama’s unconstitutional federal takeover of the health care system.

“Jack needs to read the Constitution,” Paul said. “He needs to understand that … there is no enumerated power for the current health care (law) to force people to buy insurance. He has a completely backwards understanding of this.”

Conway, the state’s attorney general, refused to join in a lawsuit by a number of other states challenging the law on constitutional grounds. Conway supports the health care overhaul but says it could be improved. Paul says he wants to repeal the landmark law and have Congress start over.

___

Online:

Conway campaign: http://www.jackconway.org/

Paul campaign: http://www.randpaul2010.com/

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rand Paul: Scrap income tax, use sales tax

Kentucky Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul speaks during a debate with Democrat Jack Conway at Northern Kentucky University, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010, in Highland Heights, Ky. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky says the federal tax code is a “disaster,” and he wants to replace the income tax with a retail sales tax.

Paul said Tuesday that he would support changing the federal tax code to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax.

The sales tax proposal is being championed by the Texas-based advocacy group Americans for Fair Taxation and a newly formed affiliate, FairTax America Support Team. Paul’s former campaign manager, David Adams, is a member of the affiliate’s governing board.

Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway in one of the most closely watched races in the nation. They’re seeking to replace 78-year-old Sen. Jim Bunning who opted not to seek a third term.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

Social issues trap some Tea Party candidates

New York Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino (AP Photo Stephen Chernin)

The tea party movement was born in anger over the recession and the Obama administration’s bailouts, and built largely on a platform of lower taxes and smaller government. But some of its candidates are getting tripped up on social issues.

In New York, Carl Paladino, the tea party-backed Republican candidate for governor, caused a furor among Democrats when he said over the weekend that children shouldn’t be “brainwashed” into thinking homosexuality is acceptable.

In Colorado, GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck has tried to deflect questions about his stance against abortion rights. In Delaware, Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell has come under fire over the conservative religious views she espoused as a TV commentator, including preaching against the evils of masturbation.

And in Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle, a Southern Baptist, has called herself a faith-based politician. She opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest, and doesn’t believe the Constitution requires the separation of church and state. Her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, seeks to portray her as outside mainstream America.

One by one, tea party challengers have veered away from the issues of taxes and spending — or in some cases were pushed off message, either by the media or by the Democrats, who have tried to portray the insurgents not as populist alternatives to the mainstream GOP but as Republican regulars.

“It is clear that the Democrats and many of their allies in the media will attack the Republicans for being ‘too extreme,'” William Mayer, an associate professor of political science at Northeastern University, wrote in a position paper this month.

Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said his research shows tea party activists are overwhelmingly conservative Republicans. Rather than an outside alternative to the GOP, he said, the tea party is a movement from within the Republican Party’s most active members.

“My feeling has been that social issues were always an important component of the tea party movement all along,” Abramowitz said.

He said candidates have been questioned on their social views by reporters and by Democrats more now that they emerged as GOP nominees: “There’s more attention to it now, now that they are actually running their general election campaigns.”

Some tea party candidates are trying to moderate their social views or deflect attention from them back to the economy.

In Denver, Buck is challenging first-term Sen. Michael Bennet and opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. He endorsed a state constitutional amendment that would give fetuses constitutional rights, then withdrew his support after doctors and lawyers pointed out it would also ban some types of fertility treatments and emergency contraception.

“Democrats see this as an opportunity to discredit Ken Buck, but I think most people are smart enough to know one person isn’t going to be able to do away with Roe v. Wade,” said Bobbie Chiles, president of the South Platte Republican Women’s Club.

In Kentucky, tea party Republican Rand Paul, a candidate for Senate, opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and a proposed mosque near ground zero in New York City. But he doesn’t talk about it much.

“I say the top three issues of the tea party movement are the debt, the debt and the debt,” Paul said in a recent campaign stop to a group dedicated to smaller government.

But in May, just hours after the political novice won a landslide primary victory, he took heat for a rambling interview in which he expressed misgivings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and appeared to suggest that businesses be allowed to deny service to blacks without fear of federal interference.

Paul scrambled for damage control, issuing a statement saying, “I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person.”

In Alaska, tea party candidate Joe Miller says he is “unequivocally pro-life,” and also opposes hate crime laws as violations of free-speech and equal protection under the Constitution.

In New York, Paladino spent Monday’s Columbus Day Parade, a staple for politicians seeking votes in New York City, fending off a stream of criticism from Democrats for his comments the night before to a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders.

“That’s not how God created us,” Paladino said Sunday of homosexuality, “and that’s not the example that we should be showing our children.”

He added that children who later in life choose to marry people of the opposite sex and raise families would be “much better off and much more successful.”

“I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option,” he said.

Paladino’s Democratic opponent for governor, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, called Paladino’s comments “reckless and divisive … (the) worst cynical politics,” especially since they come as New York City police investigate reports that three men were tortured in a night of anti-gay bias in the Bronx.

“It is repugnant to the concept of what New York is,” Cuomo said Monday at the parade. “We celebrate our diversity.”

State Sen. Thomas Duane, an openly gay Democrat, said he was “enraged” by Paladino’s “despicable rhetoric, which does cause people to hate themselves and commit suicide.”

Paladino, who trails Cuomo by double digits in the polls, insisted his opposition to gay marriage and “brainwashing” in schools about gay life is a view held by millions of New Yorkers.

“I unequivocally support gay rights, unequivocally,” Paladino said during the parade. He noted that he has a gay nephew who works for his campaign.

“The one thing that I don’t (support) is marriage. I’m a Catholic,” Paladino said. “I believe in the Catholic position on it and if Andrew doesn’t like it, he should go see a priest.”

Cuomo is also Roman Catholic.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Kristen Wyatt in Denver; Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, and Marcus Franklin in New York City.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta

Key Tea Party wins

Christine O'Donnell: Upsetting the status quo (Reuters)

Tea party-backed candidate Christine O’Donnell upended nine-term Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday. Castle was the latest establishment-backed candidate to stumble as the grass-roots movement displayed its political strength. Tea partiers can claim success in some eight Republican Senate contests, a handful of GOP governors’ races and numerous House races. A snapshot of where the tea party movement made a mark in 2010:

___

SENATE:

UTAH: Sen. Bob Bennett lost his job at the state convention in May when tea party activists and other GOP voters rallied behind Mike Lee, now the favorite in November.

ALASKA: Lawyer and tea party favorite Joe Miller’s surprise GOP primary win has left Sen. Lisa Murkowski pondering a write-in candidacy.

COLORADO: Ken Buck, who played up his ties to the tea party, defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Republican primary.

NEVADA: Sharron Angle says “I am the tea party,” and endorsements from out-of-state groups including the Tea Party Express and Club for Growth helped her defeat former state Republican leader Sue Lowden in the June primary. She is looking to knock out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

KENTUCKY: Rand Paul defeated Republican establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the May primary, a closely watched race that was viewed as an early test of tea party strength.

FLORIDA: Tea party favorite and former House Speaker Marco Rubio is in a three-way race with Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist, who abandoned the GOP to run as an independent.

WISCONSIN: Businessman Ron Johnson, who had the state GOP’s backing, also courted tea party activists and won his primary easily.

DELAWARE: Marketing consultant Christine O’Donnell, who lost statewide in previous tries, stuns Rep. Mike Castle, a top GOP recruit, to win the primary.

___

GOVERNORS:

SOUTH CAROLINA: Nikki Haley trailed for months before a tea party surge and Sarah Palin’s endorsement lifted her to the GOP nomination.

MAINE: Paul LePage courted tea party activists with a conservative fiscal agenda and won a commanding victory in the Republican primary.

COLORADO: Republicans have tried to get their nominee, tea party favorite Dan Maes, to quit the race after embarrassing missteps.

___

HOUSE:

ALABAMA: Rep. Parker Griffith is dumped in the 5th Congressional District in favor of Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, who had tea party support in the GOP primary.

ARIZONA: Marine veteran Jesse Kelly, a tea party favorite, defeats state Sen. Jonathan Paton and two other Republicans in the 8th District.

COLORADO: Republican Scott Tipton is in a rematch with Democratic Rep. John Salazar in the rural 3rd District, where tea party rallies turn out large crowds.

MARYLAND: Businessman Charles Lollar, who has courted tea party votes in the 5th Congressional District, will face Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer.

FLORIDA: Retired Army officer Allen West, who has sought tea party support, won the GOP nomination in South Florida’s 22nd District.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

Enhanced by Zemanta