Enjoying a Strong Brew of Tea

CONSERVATIVES WHO HAPPEN TO BE BLACK:  That’s how many African-American candidates running on the Republican ticket for Congress this year often refer to themselves. With less than a month to go before November, signs are strong they will finally score some political success. Fourteen black Republicans won nominations for the U.S. House in primaries this year and if just three of them win it would be the first time since Reconstruction that more than two black Republicans will be serving in Congress, Dr. Timothy Johnson of the Frederick Douglass Foundation told Newsmax last week. Even if 13 lose, State Rep. Tim Scott seems a shoo-in to win South Carolina’s 1st District. The 34-year-old Scott, who had the backing of the local Tea Party movement and the Club for Growth, told reporters he believes President Obama is a “Socialist.” 

ENJOYING A STRONG BREW OF TEA:  For all the reports in the liberal press that Republicans are nervous that the Tea Party movement is taking over the party, there is strong evidence that most Republicans accept the new movement after all. According to a just-completed Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 71% of Republicans nationwide describe themselves as Tea Party supporters, say they have a favorable image of the movement, or hope most Tea Party candidates would win in November. Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who helped conduct the survey, told the Journal that his poll also found that Tea Party supporters are one-third of those most likely to vote next month and this proved that the movement “isn’t a small little segment but it is a huge part of what’s driving 2010.” 

CHANGES IN SENATE BEFORE LAME DUCK:  As jittery as conservatives are growing about a lame-duck session of Congress that might enact cap and trade or other costly programs without fear of voter retribution, the election rules of at least three states provide some solace. In Delaware, Illinois and West Virginia, state law requires the winners of special elections for Senate seats vacated before the previous senator’s term was up be promptly sworn in. So if Republicans win any of the seats previously held by Joe Biden in Delaware, Barack Obama in Illinois and the late Robert Byrd in West Virginia, their current 41-seat minority in the Senate would be strengthened, helping to sustain any filibuster in a lame-duck session.

DUKAKIS ADVISING WHITE HOUSE:  Twenty-two years after he won the Democratic nomination for President and then carried only ten states, Michael Dukakis resurfaced a few weeks ago in a visit to the White House and to offer some political advice. Dukakis told the Boston Globe he “popped in” at the White House during a trip to Washington and met with several aides to President Obama. The former Massachusetts governor said that he told the aides “it seems to me there has to be a single message coming from Democrats, from the President on down. We’ve got to pound that message as hard as we can from now until November.” That message, he explained, is that Republicans “want to go back and do exactly what got us in this mess in the first place” and that George W, Bush left the country with an increasing deficit. Dukakis declined to identify the aides he passed this hackneyed Democratic message along to, but told the Globe “I think they certainly get it.” 

CHAMBER OF COMPROMISE:  Another reason that many conservatives sometimes use this unkind nickname for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is being displayed this year in Nevada. With most polls showing pro-business conservative Republican Sharron Angle in a dead-heat with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the chamber steadfastly refuses to endorse the GOP nominee against the key Senate figure behind healthcare reform, cap and trade, and so much other anti-business legislation. This is in striking contrast to ’04, when the chamber endorsed and urged its members to contribute to Republican John Thune, who ousted then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.). Sources close to the chamber say its reluctance to take on Reid has less to do with Angle than with the chamber’s belief that if Reid loses, he will be replaced as leader of Senate Democrats by someone even more hostile to business—most likely Charles Schumer (N.Y.) or Dick Durbin (Ill.).

  Although White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed not to be familiar with his name and the latest development in his criminal activities was buried in the Metro section of the Washington Post, former Democratic “superlobbyist” Paul Magliocchetti last week pleaded guilty to illegal funneling of more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to House members controlling the Pentagon budget. His sentencing is still to come. The man often likened to onetime Republican power Jack Abramoff was a top fund-raiser for powerful Democrats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Among them were Representatives James Moran (Va.) and Peter Viscloskey (Ind.), and Magliocchetti’s old boss, the late Rep. John Murtha (D.-Pa.). The onetime powerbroker agreed to plead guilty to two counts of making illegal campaign donations (which included using his parents and two acquaintances) and a third count of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. Democrats seeking re-election who benefited from donations of $10,000 or more from Magliocchetti or political actions committees he controlled include Representatives Christopher Carney (Pa.), Timothy Ryan (Ohio), Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.), Chet Edwards (Tex.), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.).