So far in in this election cycle, two U.S. Senators — Arlen Specter and Robert Bennett — have fallen short in their effort at being nominated and a third — Lisa Murkowski — may be on life-support. Murkowski would be the first Republican Senator to lose a primary this year. Bennett lost by a vote at a convention and Specter, of course, is an ex-Republican.
Murkowski would also be the first Senator to lose a primary to a candidate supported by the Tea Party Express. But that organization has been a significant player in several primaries where a contender seemingly came out of nowhere to defeat one or more better known candidates.
In light of these successes, I thought we should hear Tea Party Express’s explanation of how Miller either defeated or nearly defeated Murkowsk. Here, in relevant part, is its statement about the Alaska primary:
For the past 2 months we have criss-crossed Alaska on the ground quietly building a network of support for Joe Miller. We activated our membership of over 1,000 people in the state and told them how important this election was and how hard we needed them to work.
At the same time, our supporters from across the nation contributed nearly $600,000 to allow us to blitz the TV and radio airwaves, as well as newspaper ads and direct mail pieces. We were able to narrow the funding advantage Senator Murkowski had over Joe Miller. . .
During the past two months the Tea Party Express organized rallies, held meet-and-greet events, and sat down for meetings with tea party activists across Alaska including the following cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Wasilla, Kodiak, Ketchikan, Homer and more.
The Tea Party Express commissioned two polls during the race. The second poll came out the Thursday before the election and showed Miller had gained 25% and was surging fast. At that point the Tea Party Express made a giant final round of advertising buys to help give Miller the chance to pull out a win.
We were the only people to release a poll of likely GOP primary voters in the final days of the campaign. So we knew this race was going to be close. Apparently some people got caught sleeping at the switch, not the least of whom was the Murkowski campaign. . .
The Tea Party Express spent nearly $600,000 on the Miller Senate race including TV and cable ads that at times ran at rates that exceeded twice per hour on various stations and networks in the final week of the campaign. Half-page newspaper ads were purchased in two waves including a final blitz of half-page ads that ran on Election Day in the Anchorage Daily News, Sitka Sentinel, Kodiak Daily Mirror and Peninsula Clarion. The newspaper ads featured an issue-by-issue comparison between Miller and Murkowski.
The Tea Party Express also activated its membership to phone voters in Alaska, reaching 10,000 high-propensity Republican households in the final 2 days of the campaign.
The Tea Party Express regularly featured Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Miller in the advertising, as polls showed Palin enjoyed a higher level of “Strongly Favorable” poll responses than Senator Murkowski or any other Republican in the state.
So many media stories cited polls that questioned Governor Palin’s popularity. The problem was, those results reflected the responses of hardcore Democrats. Among GOP primary voters Palin was beloved, but the media missed that. . . .
Governor Sarah Palin and her husband Todd also increased their campaign activities for Miller in the final days of the campaign, galvanizing conservative voters to turn out in higher numbers than the experts predicted. Meanwhile, KFQD-Anchorage conservative radio talk show host, Dan Fagan, came out heavily for Joe Miller in the final days of the campaign joining other conservative radio talk show hosts who had increasingly mobilized their listeners to not count Joe Miller out.
The Tea Party Express has been one of the most politically active tea party organizations in the nation. With over 400,000 members, the Tea Party Express has lent its backing to winning candidates such as Sharron Angle in Nevada, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Mike Lee in Utah and Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
These victories are just the most recent for the Tea Party Express’s political action committee. The Tea Party Express has also successfully defeated or forced to retire such incumbents as Congressman Bart Stupak in Michigan, Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Congressman Alan Mollohan in West Virginia.