- - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The media narrative is on full display today. This is a narrative that the left and establishment Republicans want to spin.

That spin is that the tea party is losing. The tea party lost in North Carolina and now lost in Kentucky.

The tea party did not lose. But the tea party has a major problem: It is being hijacked.

In 2010, the Republicans welcomed the tea party movement. The GOP was all but dead, and the tea party movement was the vehicle for a GOP resurgence. In 2012, the Republicans tried to ignore the tea party. This year, Republican consultants in D.C. are trying to hijack the tea party.

Perhaps it is a testament to the power of the tea party that they are trying to do this. It should shock no one that groups would want to try to take over the tea party movement, given the movement’s ability to stir the grassroots.

The problem the tea party faces is due to its greatest strength. The tea party is a decentralized movement with no specific leader. Because of that, some groups can try to use this movement for their benefit.

This has been on full display in two of the early Senate primaries. In North Carolina, outside groups came in and declared Greg Brannon was the tea party candidate. He was a terrible candidate and lost. He lost because he was a bad candidate and he did not have the full support of the tea party.

In Nebraska, Shane Osborn had the support of local tea party groups and even Freedom Works for a while. Then these outside groups came in, anointed Ben Sasse as the tea party candidate in the race. Despite Osborn’s track record and Sasse’s lack of one, some how, he became the tea party candidate.

Sasse won, with the help of a lot of money coming in from outside of Nebraska. Now those same groups that promoted Sasse as a candidate are declaring him to be the next Ted Cruz. Since Sasse has no record, everyone is left in the position of hoping he will be the next Ted Cruz — and not the next Scott Brown.

And then there is Kentucky.

For those whose only source of information was the drive by media, they might believe that Matt Bevin was the tea party candidate.

Bevin was supported by one local tea party group and some Washington-based groups that came in an anointed him as the tea party candidate. Two national groups, Tea Party Nation and the TeaParty.net, endorsed Mitch McConnell, and Tea Party Express did not become involved in that race.

So with the tea party movement at best fractured in Kentucky, how did Matt Bevin become the tea party candidate?

The answer is, he never was the tea party candidate. Kentucky voters rejected him by a 2-to-1 margin in the primary. Bevin was the candidate of Washington-based consultants who want to control the tea party for their own purposes.

This is the third election cycle for the tea party. If the tea party is to succeed in the future, it needs to learn from those who want to harm the movement but also from movement successes.

One of those successes is in Tennessee, where all of the state’s tea party groups united to vet and endorse a candidate to replace liberal Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

After a three-month process, the tea party groups agreed that Joe Carr was the best candidate and they endorsed him.

2014 isn’t over yet, but tea party groups should learn from the mistakes of this year. If the tea party is to be a continuing force in American politics, the tea party and not outside groups must decide who the tea party candidates are.

If the tea party is to succeed, one of the first things it must do is fight off those who would hijack the movement for their own purposes.

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