“I think [Cuccinelli] closely represents the values of the tea party,” said Jerry Conner, a leader of the Franklin County Patriots, a tea party group.
Some Republicans, including Bolling supporters, believe that moving to the right is the last thing the party should do, given that President Obama won Virginia for the second time , and the growth of the suburban and minority voting populations will make the state more moderate in the long term. In many of the states where tea party candidates have secured Republican Senate nominations, Democrats ended up winning the general election.
Radtke was back in the news last month, when Bolling held a news conference after he suspended his gubernatorial campaign. Bolling criticized the state Republican party for switching from a primary to a convention to choose its nominee, a method seen as favoring Cuccinelli.
Radtke was on hand for the news conference, and later wrote to the state party central committee asking that Bolling be punished for his remarks. In her view, Bolling didn’t like that the party was finally inching in the right direction — toward the conservative grass roots.
Cuccinelli may be conservative, but as the sitting attorney general and a former state senator, he is not exactly an insurgent. Conner is optimistic that the tea party movement will eventually be able to put one of its own on a statewide ballot.
“I do believe that a tea party candidate is going to have a recognition problem but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable task,” Conner said.
Conner called the campaign of Radtke, who struggled to become widely known and raise money around the state, “a one-time failure.” Kidd agreed that Radtke’s performance had more to do with those flaws — and Allen’s residual popularity among Republicans — than any structural bias against the tea party.
For her part, Radtke has no plans to mount another campaign — for now.
“I’m certainly open to the idea of running again, but there’s nothing that I’m currently considering,” she said.