Tea Party Primaried. Verb. Per Urban Dictionary, primaried means:
To have a wealthy backer provide support to someone who will publicly oppose and trash you, usually in politics, and usually from your own party.
That, friends, is what is now staring down recently-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Why? Because he had the gall to govern instead of obstruct.
When the Tea Party wave entered Congress in 2010, they had a strategy. Well, not so much a strategy as a strategic hissy fit. That strategy was to basically ignore and obstruct anything they didn’t like, which, conveniently, is everything the government actually does.
They would continually offer no compromise in an effort to pull the entire political spectrum further to the right, and effectively make their own jobs obsolete.
This didn’t go over well with normal Congressional Republicans because they couldn’t get anything done without help from the uncompromising Tea Party. They were the thorn in former Speaker John Boehner’s side for several years before he finally just packed up and left.
House Republicans needed someone in the role who would be willing to compromise, but also someone who could reel in the Tea Party from time-to-time. Because, I promise you, John Boehner had enough. As a reminder, watch this video:
Enter Paul Ryan.
As Mr. Ryan got set to take over and Mr. Boehner got set to walk away, the two of them bypassed the Tea Party wing and worked across the aisle in both chambers, as well as the White House. This led to passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a gigantic funding bill that raised the debt limit and locked in spending into March of 2017. And the Tea Party lost their damn minds.
That frustration led to an onslaught of attacks on Ryan from the right, starting with a conservative group quickly scooping up the domain FirePaulRyan.com. The claims of betrayal are ridiculous, but the anger is real. And now it has a face.
Wealthy Wisconsin businessman Paul Nehlen is challenging Paul Ryan for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, saying “he’s failed to put America’s security and American jobs first.”
Mr. Nehlen seems to have cleared the first hurdle for running as a Republican; he’s got the lingo down cold:
Paul Ryan’s embrace of big government spending, his continued support of illegal immigration and imported workers, and his championing of the job-killing trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership betrays me, this district, and this nation.
And lest you wonder if Mr. Nehlen is concerned about the extremism of Republican presidential candidates hampering the ability of Republicans to get elected in November, he assures us in harmony with the two craziest presidential candidates in American history:
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have become front-runners in this presidential election cycle because they have dared to communicate an anti-establishment message. They won’t be alone.
His chance in a primary against Speaker Ryan seems like a long-shot at the moment, but it’s not without precedent. In 2014, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was stunned in a primary race against an economics professor that no one thought had a chance. And it wasn’t even close.
The last time Paul Ryan had to win a primary was before his first election in 1998, and he won with 80 percent of the vote. It will be interesting to watch Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district in the Wisconsin primaries on April 5th, as the combination of a relevant primary and a heated Wisconsin Supreme Court election may push overall turnout to 40 percent, normally a number unheard of in a spring election.
If that district goes heavily for Trump, Paul Ryan better start breaking out his old yard signs, cause it’s on.