TEA Party Election Win in Georgia Might Foreshadow Something of the Potential of the TEA Party’s Influence in the Coming Election Year…
Newnan, Georgia—Georgia has a new TEA Party Senator in the Georgia legislature. On Thursday, December 15, Mike Crane was sworn in as the 28th District State Senator at the Newnan historic courthouse before a crowd of supporters. In an off-election year, this TEA Party conservative won the senate seat over a much better funded and moderate Republican Duke Blackburn. His victory underlies a dichotomy becoming more apparent within the GOP, and his election could be a foreshadowing of things to come at next year’s elections.
The 28th seat on the State Senate became vacant a few months ago when Georgia Governor Nathan Deal appointed the former Senator Mitch Seabaugh to a new position in his administration as deputy state treasurer, requiring him to vacate and hold a special election. The district for that special election includes Coweta, Carroll, Troup, and Heard counties at the middle-west edge of Georgia along the Alabama border and has almost 200,000 residents.
Mike Crane ran on a ticket of small, fiscally responsible and constitutional government, frequently quoting from passages of The Federalist Papers in his speeches. An unashamed Christian, he spoke about the need for citizens to be mindful of their family responsibilities before God rather than looking for the government to bail them out. A homeschool father, he spoke about the need for school choice. In a speech before the Coweta County TEA Party the week before the election, he also called for citizens to live responsibly rather than cede their liberties to the civil government.
Crane came in second for the November election behind Duke Blackburn who was lauded as a former Georgia State Patrolman and hostage negotiator. Blackburn’s family stretched back several generations in the community and his connections made the task of catching up with Blackburn in time for the runoff a significant challenge for Crane.
But Crane’s 60% win over Blackburn in the runoff has been attributed to a grass-roots effort led by TEA Party conservatives from the community and abroad. These supporters went door to door throughout the district in the weeks leading up to the runoff, telling voters about Mike Crane, handing out brochures, and posting signs. Blackburn, on the other hand, did not even bother to speak before the Coweta County TEA Party when invited.
As comparatively small a political victory as it was in this low-profile Georgia runoff, it might foreshadow a hint at one of the under-appreciated influences the new TEA Party movement will have in the coming election year. That movement does not merely represent a potentially hefty voting block, but one so fervent about their beliefs that they
have time and again demonstrated how they will go the extra, extra mile to publicize and build fervor around a candidate or cause they support.
Take, for example, the TEA Party supporters who have been stumping for presidential candidate Ron Paul, a man who has been called “the father of the TEA Party movement.” Their fervor has become so renowned that even rival Mitt Romney recently remarked, “One of the things [that] always amazes me is when I come to a debate like this, the only signs I see are the Ron Paul people out there. In freezing temperatures they’re always there. He ignites an enthusiasm with a number of people that’s very exciting to watch.”
However, can the TEA Party supporters actually go too far in their fervor if they come across as obnoxious? Some have criticized Ron Paul supporters, for example, for being too pushy. If TEA Party supporters get carried away, might they diminish their own ability to win over more to their cause?
As the coming election year draws near, it will be interesting to see the part that the TEA Party will play in determining races across the nation from the White House to the State Senate.