Radio talk show host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham called out national tea party groups for allegedly “not helping” David Brat, the college professor who derailed U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s congressional career in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
Brat has been reported as a “tea party-backed candidate” but Ingraham disagrees with giving credit to the national tea party groups for his victory Tuesday night.
“People say this is a big tea party victory. So people understand this — the national Tea Party Network, Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works — I don’t believe any of these organizations did anything for Dave Brat. Dave Brat couldn’t get Jenny Beth Martin, who is the head of the Tea Party Patriots, the largest tea party organization in the country — he couldn’t get her on the phone, much to my consternation,” Ingraham told Fox News Channel Tuesday night.
The radio host continued: “The national tea party groups were not helping at all. There were little pockets in Virginia but no national presence.”
Tea Party Patriots National Finance Director Richard Norman disagrees with Ingraham’s assessment of the national tea party’s involvement.
Norman called in to a DC-based morning-drive talk show Wednesday morning and told WMAL 105.9 FM, “Laura Ingraham misspoke last night. She is simply mistaken. If you talk to Dave Brat, he will set the record straight for her. They did talk to Jenny Beth. He called her and she did return his calls. She actually got in the car and drove to Fredericksburg. Spent the afternoon meeting with them. She wanted very much to help them. Tea Party Patriots did do grassroots training inside his district and some of the folks there last night came forward and said that.”
Tea Party Patriots head Jenny Beth Martin responded to social media comments asking where the group was in helping Brat.
.@factanonverba7 I did meet w/ Brat in Fredericksburg in May. We trained folks who engaged/turned out vote-Now must focus on winning general
— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) June 11, 2014
Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation co-founder Jamie Radtke’s view of the national tea party’s involvement was dismissive.
“Brat’s experience with the national tea party organizations is the same one I experienced where they cheerlead you behind-the-scenes in quiet but won’t come out publicly and support you,” Radtke told WMAL in an interview Wednesday morning. “We have seven different local tea party groups here in the 7th district… it is where the real power is.”
Norman told The Daily Caller that because of the big lead between Brat and Cantor in pre-primary polling, it would have been “political malpractice” to put resources into a race with someone 25 points down.
Norman said they decided to put the majority of their resources into Mississippi GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel’s tight race against U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. However, he says they were “involved as much as they could possibly be” and had helped with grassroots training in Brat’s district.
Other national tea party groups joined in on praising Brat’s victory.
In a blog post on the FreedomWorks for America website, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe congratulated Brat. “The statement from the grassroots could not be any clearer. It doesn’t matter what office you hold or how powerful you are. If you lose touch with activists on the ground, then your seat is in danger,” Kibbe said in a statement.