-By Warner Todd Huston
State lawmaker Raul Labrador beat party establishment pick Vaughn Ward to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for Idaho’s 1st District this week. While Ward was supported by the national party, Labrador received the support of Idaho’s largest Tea Party Group, Tea Party Boise. The question that immediately comes to mind is just what effect did the Tea Party group’s support have on the race?
Labrador won in a 47.6 percent to 38.9 percent tally on Wednesday afternoon. Sadly it was again a low-turnout at the polls.
Late in the race Tea Party Boise endorsed Labrador as campaign troubles mounted for party pick Vaughn Ward. Labrador had trouble throughout raising money, but still won the primary. One wonders if the support of Tea Party Boise was enough to bridge the money gap for Labrador?
On March 15 I posted an interview I did with Glenn Reynolds in which he posited that with Tea Party groups behind any particular candidate, money is a bit less important. “In many ways,” Reynolds told me, “Tea Party activism is the substitute for cash that is to say you don’t have to pay people to go out and campaign yourself because Tea Party people will do it for free.”
We may be seeing this idea born out in Idaho. Despite his lack of campaign cash, with the support of the Idaho Tea Party folks Raul Labrador beat the party establishment.
In the Illinois 8th candidate Joe Walsh found a similar situation. He was not the party establishment pick and he had a perennial lack of campaign cash, but he also had the support of two local Tea Party groups. With their support Walsh beat the party established candidate despite his money woes.
We might be seeing the Tea Party effect in both Idaho’s 1st District and the Illinois 8th.