Republican baffled by Tea Party endorsement of Democratic rival

When the Tea Party Express last week endorsed Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick — the only Democrat to receive the backing of the conservative grassroots group — one of his Republican challengers said he was simply baffled to learn the news, considering Minnick’s past votes that line up with Democrats on the estate tax and Guantanamo Bay.

“He voted for Nancy Pelosi.  I mean all these things — I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. This is the guy you guys want to get behind nationally?’” said Republican Vaughn Ward, an active Marine Corps reserve officer whose candidacy for Minnick’s seat was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

His initial shock, Ward told The Daily Caller during an interview Tuesday, turned to frustration upon learning from Tea Party groups in Idaho — who he said have not endorsed candidates in the race yet — that the Tea Party Express didn’t consult them before the endorsement of the Democrat.

“My campaign manager e-mailed it to me the day it happened, and I thought, ‘Huh, that’s interesting.’ And I started making some phone calls around and found out that, one, they didn’t consult anyone in Idaho,” said Ward, who also faces primary competition from state Rep. Raul Labrador and three other Republican candidates.

The Republican added: “It’s almost like, ‘Did they really do a thorough job of investigating his voting record?’”

Sal Russo, a strategist with Tea Party Express, said the group did reach out to a number of groups and activists, many of whom support Minnick. Democrats who “are willing to stand up to Pelosi and Reid” should get support from Tea Party organizations “to encourage others” to act similarly, he said.

“When you find someone willing to stand up, you got to stand up with him,” Russo said.

The strategist said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the group add another Democrat or two to the list. “It can’t be a one-party issue. Fiscal responsibility has to be embedded in both parties,” he said.

Yet activists are still asking questions about the motive of the endorsement. Andrew Ian Dodge, a Tea Party participant, said that the Minnick endorsement was an “odd” move “that is no doubt based on the Tea Party Express’s desire to be seen as non-partisan.”

“There are a lot of frankly befuddled Republicans, Tea Partiers and Idahoans that deserve an explanation why this race was singled out for such a spot of bizarre meddling,” Dodge wrote in an op-ed published by The Daily Caller.

Before the Tea Party Express announced their endorsement last week, Politico published a story suggesting the organization was merely a front for Republican political operatives seeking to take advantage of the energy of the Tea Party movement. The endorsement of Minnick has since been called a reaction to that view, with critics calling Minnick the group’s “token Democrat.”

Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell denied that’s the case, saying the Minnick endorsement was in the works for weeks prior to the announcement.

That confusion over the endorsement, Dodge wrote, is because Ward’s stance on issues reads similar to other candidates beloved by Tea Partiers: repeal and replace the health-care bill, eliminate wasteful spending, secure our borders are all planks listed on Ward’s campaign Web site.

  • rosey

    When Walt was elected I was concerned as I live in his district. I must say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by his vote. However, the issues that concerned me was and are that he supports a cap&trade bill. I thank him for standing up to his own party and I’m proud of him for standing on principles and for his beliefs that it’s not the gov’t place to spend our money, but on that issue he didn’t think it was appropriate to spend our monies yet he’s ok spending it on the unsettled but gov’t approved “science” of global warming??? No thank you Walt. I prefer to keep my money. If you want to spend YOUR money saving the planet, more power to ya, buy a tree and plant it. For that reason, sir I cannot vote for you, but I sincerly thank you for your service.

  • Pingback: Walt Minnick: The Tea Party’s ‘token Democrat’? – The Week Magazine | DEMOCRAT.GNOM.ES

  • Dredd

    If only we could learn our place in the party of things.

  • tdpwells

    I see that the Tea Party Express folks were asleep at the wheel of their ginormous bus during that whole Bart Stupak thing.

  • teabagger dummy

    Obamatards are always trying to paint the Tea Party in a bad light. If they think we can’t articlate what the hell we’re saying they need to see right darn here that we know the issues front and back and sideways. This video proves it for sure yall. I’m so mad I’m gonna shoot my durn gun in the air tonight after Hanity.


    • doncicciofitipaldi

      Unbelievable. I knew the majority of the Tea Party peopel had no idea of what was really going on in the real world outside their Faux news acho chamber, BUT THIS JUST TAKES THE CAKE. They repeat thing sthey know NOTHING about. Very sad. Our education system is really in the crapper.

      • moira1987


        “They repeat thing sthey know NOTHING about. Very sad. Our education system is really in the crapper.”

        • teabagger dummy

          That’s one durn good video right dar, Moira. The polital implications are huge and it would be totaly unfair to say that you are bringin this up for some sort of durn gratuitous racial reason becasue as we all know the durn Tea Party aint got even one durn rasist in it. We in the dang Tea Party dont hate blacks and ragheads none. We are just durn sick of them actin all uppity. They all the same, yall. But it sickens me when the durn media tries to say the damn Tea Partiers are all dummies when we’re not. We just hate the Dept of Educasion and we dont want no blacks telling us about dat damn Islam when we all knowed Jefferson was a dang Christian. Look it up on Hanity. Also, if it aint in the consitatuion it aint a law. That goes with durn gun control and incest and every durn thang. I’m so mad I could shoot my gun in the air tonight but I want to be sure to stay in now and catch Hanity.

          • moira1987

            Babble much? I said nothing, I merely present…and the video speaks for itself. But are you in agreement with the sentiments expressed in the video, including the justification of gunning down police officers? I believe the discussion is about “violent rhetoric,” is it not?

          • anniebanannie

            Stop with the stupid act. You’re just making a fool of yourself. Don’t you have something scientisty to do in DC beside troll?

          • patrick

            moira and annie – if we don’t respond to or feed the vermin they will probably just go away.

      • brian61

        Let’s see here. I get my news from the Wall Street Journal, cnn.com, Drudge, foxnews.com, and 3 or 4 other on-line sources. I guess that makes me an ignorant tea party person. Keep on throwing those stones donny boy, and remember to wear your tin foil hat every time the glass shatters.

        • teabagger dummy

          Dang, Brian61, you sure done showed him. Fox and the WSJ are dang owned by the same company, News Corp., so in a way you really got 3 solid sources right thar if you count that thar parent company. Drudge Report is definitely a good news source. They got whats called crack reporters who just read some dang things off of super duper respected rightwing news sites, like Breitbart, that never get accused of shoddy reporting or bias. I always love it when Hanity talks about something on Drudge. That’s a major coinkidink, no? But be careful with CNN. They a bunch of dumb libturd Nazi sympathizers. I always stay away from whats called “respected” news media because they always talking about Socialist Nazi progressive durn facts. I’m mad as hell!!!!

          • slightlyaboveaverage

            A ‘one trick’ pony, if your lame personification must be considered an accomplishment of any form.
            You should realize your only joke wasn’t funny with your first comment, and it won’t get any better with subsequent comments. Your handle is the next best thing to having a label on all your comments that tells readers to immediately ignore you.

            Hold on a sec.

            You’re still not funny. But at least I tried. Twice.

            Go ahead and wear out this moronic act of yours. *yawn* I’m sure it’s easier than actual thinking.

          • doncicciofitipaldi

            Ha Ha! Your ability to irritate TP types by sounding basically like they do when they form an opinion is a thing of beauty. Keep up teh good work. LOve it.