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Fallen tea party stars may rise again

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While the tea party wave helped sweep 87 Republican freshmen to the House last year, the movement made slower progress in the Senate, as a half-dozen of its "rock star" candidates — after some surprising primary wins — stumbled in the general election.

But as the sting of their November defeats subsides, many of those fallen GOP tea party stars are taking steps again toward the public stage.

Sharron Angle, who surprisingly won the Nevada Republican Senate primary last year before losing to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid by almost 6 percentage points, announced last week she was seeking the House seat to be vacated by Rep. Dean Heller, who is running for the Senate.

Mrs. Angle, a leading national tea party figure last year, has shown no signs she will temper her message. In a video posted at her campaign website, she echoed familiar tea party themes, saying she is committed to establishing a "government based on the Constitution, fiscal responsibility and personal accountability and resourcefulness."

She added that the 2010 election was "bittersweet" because, while conservatives had some victories, they still face obstacles from Democrats in Congress and in the White House.

"The Obama administration had made it clear that it intends to pursue unconstitutional legislation like the Obamacare, job-killing policies, new regulations and a federal spending increase that will paralyze our economic health," Mrs. Angle said.

Christine O'Donnell, who also scored a stunning Senate primary victory last year in Delaware before suffering a crushing defeat in the general election, still is striving for relevance in conservative politics.

Ms. O'Donnell, who was lampooned by critics — even by some in her own party — for explicitly denying she was a witch, along with other infamous statements and some financial issues, recently formed a political action committee to promote her conservative positions.

Christine PAC, she said, will push for the repeal of the health care law, encourage "everyday Americans" to run for office and fight to end the estate tax.

In a February letter asking supporters for donations, she said the money would help her book speaking engagements nationwide. She added that the committee will work to "investigate and counter attack leftwing groups, many funded with one million dollars or more from billionaire leftist George Soros."

Ms. O'Donnell also said she turned down an invitation to participate in the hit ABC television show "Dancing With the Stars" so she could concentrate on the PAC and finish writing a book about the 2010 elections.

Tea party darling Joe Miller of Alaska, who lost to Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Nov. 2 election after initially beating the Republican turned write-in candidate in the party's Senate primary, on Wednesday was named chairman of the conservative political action committee Western Representation.

"His character, and his commitment to protecting the values that make America the greatest nation on Earth, make Joe the perfect man to chair our organization," said the group's founder, Dustin Stockton.

Western Representation, which works to weaken "the overbearing influence and unsustainable cost of government employee unions," was a strong supporter of Republican Scott Walker's successful gubernatorial campaign in Wisconsin.

Colorado's Ken Buck, after losing a close Senate race to Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael F. Bennet, returned to his day job as the district attorney for Weld County.

He told The Washington Times on Thursday that he doesn't have plans to seek a higher office "but certainly will look at things as they come up."

Mr. Buck also is keeping busy promoting one of his signature issues: pushing a federal balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He recently launched a nonprofit group to press for the issue, and this week he was named a co-chairman of a newly formed group called the Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment.

Linda McMahon of Connecticut, who lost to Richard Blumenthal by 12 percentage points for Senate last year, has been quieter than other 2010 tea party losers. But when independent Sen. Joe Lieberman announced in January that he wouldn't seek re-election next year, she wrote on her Facebook page that running for his spot "remains an option."

"I will spend the next few months focusing on how I can best serve the people of Connecticut," she said.

John Raese also has kept a low profile since losing to Gov. Joe Manchin III in West Virginia's Senate race last year. But tea party activist Dee Armstrong said Mr. Raese remains a force within the Mountain State's conservative political movement.

"He will provide influence in the conservative political scene and will work to bring back our country to its conservative roots," she said.

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