I almost feel bad bringing some of this stuff up, but its our duty to properly vet these candidates so we don't get burned again. For Jamie Radtke, her major achievement in organzing politics was the 3,000 people-attended Richmond Tea Party Patriots Convnetion, that seems to have flexed some muscle.
Or did it?
Unlike most of the other battleground states, Virginia had no statewide races and instead were thrilled with what turned out to be four highly contested congressional races where of the four Democrat incumbents, Republicans won three.
So I'm sure the tea party can take credit for that. Sadly, they really can't. Part of it is that Virginia's state party machinery has historically been very conservative. Patrick McSweeney, Randy Forbes, John Hager, Ed Gillespie, Jeff Frederick - these are all very conservative politicians who served as state party chairmen. So the dynamic is different here, its not like the RVP was swimming with moderates. The "establisment" in Virginia does not equate to squishy moderate.
Secondly, the party has been pretty unified lately especially coming off the incredibly one-sided victories by Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli (not to mention our HoD candidats) so the party was doing well and had the confidence of a lot of Republicans. There wasn't a lot of angst pointing inward by the dawn of 2010.
But lets look at the politics inside these districts shall we? First, in the 2nd, a huge primary errupted headed by Scott Rigell, who is close to Gov. McDonnell who is from the 2nd. Various candidates claimed Tea Party support - Ben Loyola and Scott Taylor made major pushes in that direction. Rigell was talked into the race by McDonnell and many establishmnet Republicans and apparently has been active in local politics for awhile. In the end, Rigell won even as candidate after candidate talked the Tea Party game.
In the 5th, one would expect it to be a hotbed for tea party activism given the deep conservative strain in this, the district of Virgil Goode. Like in the 2nd, candidate after candidate from Jim McKelvey to Feda Morton to Michael McPadden bellowing Tea Party conservatism. Who won? "Moderate" Robert Hurt, a "career politician" who has actually voted for the Warner Tax Hikes when he was a delegate.
Now in the 11th, Keith Fimian did ride a tea party-fueled wave to defeat Pat Herrity in the GOP primary, but this was a local dynamic at play here and I'm not sure I ever heard of Jamie Radtke during the campaign and I was as big a Fimian guy as there was.
In the 9th, Morgan Griffith runs the House of Delegates for the Speaker, you can't be more "establishment" than that.
So what's the point of all this?
Lets be careful who is and isn't "tea party," whatever that definition is. As Brian and LI have already pointed out, Jamie Radtke has deep roots in the professonal conservative world with stints working for Jesse Helms, George Allen, and various conservative PACs and organization. She's not exactly the mother walking out of her home to take a stand that many of these Tea Party activists have.
That's not to say that Ms. Radtke isn't genuine in her beliefs and would make a fabulous US senator, that jury is still out. But the successful, high-profile US Senate candidates that ran with the Tea Party didn't just spout mantra and slogans, they formed individual theories of government. They didn't dumb it down, they got as complicated as possible. Listen to guys like Mike Lee and Rand Paul talk, they are genuine and orginial. Listen to new governors like Rick Scott and Nikki Haley, there is a boldness that goes beyond plattitudes and recyled jargon.
The question, which is she. Is she a candidate that just rallies agianst big government and the evils of Obama (think O'Donnell, Angle, and even Palin) or someone who puts forth a true vision of the role of government vis-a-vie the Constitution and how it applies to us today (think Lee, Rubio, Paul, and even Ron Paul). People outside this Tea Party movement get it wrong so much because they don't understand that the group is vaporous, its there but you can't jut grab it and shape or mold it. Nobody can really claim to lead it in any sort of meaningful way. And for what she did lead in Virignia, as noted above, I'm not sure Ms. Radtke can claim to have any sort of electoral success.