Tea Party and GOP: Will the tail wag the dog?

Whether perception or electoral reality, the conventional wisdom in Mississippi was that in the 2010 midterm congressional elections the state Republican Party had the Tea Party movement – in its various forms and incarnations – to thank for ousting two incumbent Democratic congressmen in the state’s First and Fourth congressional districts.

Whether the Tea Party proper or groups like the Gulf Coast 912 Project or other factions, the ouster of 10-term incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis and that of one-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville raised both the influence and the visibility of the conservative groups and brought Mississippi into the mainstream of what was perceived as a national victory for the Tea Party movement in taking control of the U.S. House away from the Democrats and handing it to the GOP.

Now comes some of Mississippi’s best known and most visible Tea Party movement spokesmen – figures like John Rhodes of the Gulf Coast 912 Project – talking to the press in terms of possible moves to oust both Republican U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. In an interview with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, Rhodes said of the state’s entire congressional delegation: “There’s going to be an anti-incumbent movement in the next election. I can tell you that already. We sent these guys up to fight the battle in our behalf, and they’re not. We’re either going to get our heads together, or we’ll replace them.”

Sid Salter
9/16/11