The other day, writing about the battle for the House, Evan McMorris Santoro memorably observed that progressives are “furiously chiseling away at the Tea Party Mt. Rushmore.” In other words, Dems are working very hard to defeat some of the most prominent and outsized Tea Party members of Congress — such as Steve King and Joe Walsh — who are known for extreme positions and whacked out public statements.
Interestingly, at a time when it looks like Dems will not recapture the House, it turns out that some of these members are vulnerable. Indeed, the liberal CREDO Super PAC, which is organizing against Tea Partyers, notices something interesting: A few days ago, National Republicans sank a surprisingly large amount of cash into defending these members.
On October 5th, FEC filings show, the NRCC sank a total of over $2.5 million into the races featuring many members of what CREDO has dubbed the “Tea Party Ten.” Among them: Steve King of Iowa, Joe Walsh of Illinois, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, Chip Cravaak of Minnesota, and Mike Coffman of Colorado.
Of those, Stuart Rothenberg has rated Walsh favored to lose against Tammy Duckworth. He has rated Coffman and Cravaak pure Toss Ups, and he has rated King and Guinta Toss Ups/Tilt Republican. Allen West of Florida also falls into that latter category. Sean Duffy seems safer, having been ranked Lean Republican. Meanwhile, Tea Party warrior queen Michele Bachmann — who would be the biggest prize of all — is favored to hold her seat.
Asked for comment, NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay emailed: “We’ll continue to defend our Members against the surge of outside spending from labor groups and other Democratic special interests that are investing heavily in many of these races in order to try to put Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s chair.”
The CREDO Super Pac is organizing on the ground in some of these races. The group says it has knocked on over 30,000 doors and has made over 400,000 phone calls. This isn’t a conventional Super PAC; as a grassroots operation it has raised far less than the mega Super PACs playing in the presidential races, but it is investing that money in get out the vote efforts, rather than TV ads.
Despite a surge of optimism a few weeks back, Democrats appear likely to fall short of winning back the House. But progressives are hoping that by knocking off a few prize Tea Partyers, they will help fuel the narrative that the Tea Party is on the wane.
UPDATE: Headline changed to address objections to my poor taste.