House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in the primary elections two weeks ago could indicate bad news for Minnesota Republicans. His PAC was a major contributor to the campaigns of Torrey Westrom and Stewart Mills, as well as Congressmen Erik Paulsen and John Kline.
The only conflict bigger than the Tea Party taking out a candidate who donated over $150,000 to Republicans in Minnesota is the tension that continues to grow within the Republican Party. Will Minnesota Tea Partiers back these candidates in November who were supported by this “establishment politician”?
Minnesota’s own GOP establishment candidates for congress may have their own problems consolidating rank-and-file Tea Party Republicans this fall. After all, those who are high-fiving over Cantor’s loss are now the ones that have to be the ground troopers for GOP candidates in the election.
For instance, Congressman John Kline recently spoke at a Minnesota Tea Party event. Jake Dusenberg, the treasurer of the MN Tea Party PAC, ended up tweeting about the event rather aggressively. When he was asked if the Congressman was treated with respect at the event he responded by saying, “He was treated the way any rep of the people would be treated if they ignore the Constitution and fiscal responsibility.”
Cantor’s loss highlights ongoing major divisions in the Republican Party between establishment Republicans and the Tea Party, and also sheds light on the challenges Republicans are likely to face in the upcoming months. Back here in Minnesota, what’s going to happen to these candidates who were heavily funded by Cantor? Can Kline, Mills, Paulsen, and Westrom have their cake and eat it too? Can they benefit from establishment money at the same time as rallying Tea Party support? These ongoing divisions are clearly going to cause them problems consolidating their base in the fall.