A lot of people seemed shocked that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia was bumped off Tuesday in the primary election by tea party-backed challenger David Brat.
Brat, a political science professor, was quoted saying, “This is a miracle from God that just happened.”
He should know better. Last week tea party backed Chris McDaniel forced U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi into a June 24 runoff election.
The Democrats in Virginia and Mississippi may be behind what looks like tea party victories.
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In Kansas, a Republican dominated state, Democrats in the past have often voted in the GOP primary. Many Democrats have said they’ve done that so they will have a say in picking the best Republican candidate for the general election.
The tea party has likely changed the Democrats’ strategy. Now instead of voting for the most moderate, most reasonable, most centrist, most likely to win GOP candidate, Democrats are punching the Republican ticket for the person who is the most far right, most likely to send the U.S. into a new government shutdown spiral or worse.
Then in the midterm election, voters seeing the options will be more likely to pick a moderate, reasonable Democratic candidate to send to Congress. That would give President Barack Obama and the Democrats control of the House and Senate for the legislation they hope to finally get passed.
If the strategy worked in Virginia against Cantor and in Mississippi against Cochran, it could work in Kansas against Sen. Pat Roberts and other GOP incumbents facing tough tea party primary challenges.