One lesson coming from last night's Florida primary: if you thought there were legions of tea party voters eager to support 'one of their own' running for office, you are mistaken. In every race with a grassroots candidate in it (speaking statewide here) there is single digit loss after loss. The career politicians and bureaucrats still rule at the ballot box.
But this does not have to be. Many of the mistakes of the tea party movement can be traced to running multiple grassroots candidates in the same race. Congressional District's 8 and 24 in central Florida are great examples of this.
Both had 3-4 conservative/constitutional tea party activists trying to win office for the first time. Pro's know that even winning a primary requires a lot of money AND volunteers. Splitting this up between multiple candidates yields the kind of results we saw last night. Lesson? Next time try and figure out who has the most resources, then persuade weaker candidates to 'get behind a winner'.
Likely these mistakes of underfunding and splitting votes will not be repeated again.
What is more troubling is the apparent lack of tea party voters at the poles. Statewide only about 23% registered voters bothered to go to the polls. In some major Florida counties, turnout was BELOW 20%. Wasn't this supposed to be the year of outraged voters yelling 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!'
Sounds more like a whimper to me!!
Well we live and learn. I've talked to several tea party organizers, activists, and candidates. Most are pretty depressed and I can't blame them. When you give you're all to a race and then see dismal results, you have every right to 'not even want to get out of bed the next morning' as one campaign aide told me.
One tea party leader even told me that "the tea party movement in Florida is dead." Say it ain't so! But the dwindling numbers at various state events indicate otherwise.
There's always November. Another battle is brewing. Time to get to work!