Indeed, the Nashville event is not about chartering a new political party to represent conservative ideals like low taxes and states’ rights, but more about unifying to take on “Obama, Pelosi and Reid this year,” writes Judson Phillips, head of Tea Party Nation, one of many Tea Party groups and the lead sponsor of a convention that will feature conservative firebrands such as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota.
Already, tea-colored races are appearing around the country, including the looming matchup between Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (seen as Republican Lite by many conservatives) and Cuban-American conservative Marco Rubio, who has gotten the stamp of approval by Tea Party folks.
But courting what many call a fringe and inchoate movement carries huge risks, argues Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, in Atlanta.
He says a Republican shift toward the Reaganesque Tea Party ideal could lead to a sort of pogrom for moderate Republicans, forcing out those (think Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe) who don’t hew precisely to rock-hard conservative principles around economic freedom and limited government interference.
“The Republican Party is trapped by their base, which is going increasingly conservative,” says Mr. Abramowitz. “Yes, Republicans can do fairly well in the 2010 elections – it’s entirely possible that they could pick up 20 to 30 seats in the House – but they could read the wrong message from that. In 2012, if the economy is doing reasonably well again and Obama’s popularity has stabilized, that strategy is going to be very risky and this could all come back to haunt them.”