Tea party peeved with GOP over governor races, says Ken Cuccinelli was robbed

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The movement leaders said they thought party elders intended to undercut the Virginia campaign so they could use Mr. Christie’s landslide victory as proof that the party can win without appealing to the tea party.

“I think they are willing to lose a governor’s race just to be spiteful and just win a message war,” said Keli Carender, national grass-roots coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. “Now they can go in 2014 and 2016, and they want to be able to use the Cuccinelli race and the outcome in Virginia as an argument as to why they should be supported and the tea party shouldn’t be.”

Mr. Priebus, though, said the RNC made a full effort in Virginia. In addition to the $3 million financial commitment, the party deployed more than 60 full-time staff members into Virginia, where members worked in tandem with the state party and the Cuccinelli campaign to bring out the vote.

Mr. Cuccinelli nearly defeated Terry McAuliffe, whose solid lead in the polls collapsed in the final days of the campaign.

“I am not sure what other groups put in the race, but I think $3 million is a lot of money,” Mr. Priebus said. “It is nothing to laugh at. There is always some Monday-morning quarterbacking going on, but you can only spend what you reasonably have.

“If we didn’t put out $3 million on the ground, what would the score be then?” he asked. The RNC put $2.5 million into Christie’s race and had 32 staff members in New Jersey.

Tea partyers countered that in 2009 the RNC funneled $9 million into Bob McDonnell’s successful gubernatorial campaign in Virginia and said it was evidence that the RNC was not serious about getting Mr. Cuccinelli elected.

Others, though, noted that the money spent on the McDonnell campaign four years ago was excessive and an example of why the RNC was saddled with $23 million in debt when Mr. Priebus took charge in 2011.

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