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Continued: Political halftime for the GOP?

  • Article by: LAWRENCE R. JACOBS
  • Last update: December 28, 2013 - 4:08 PM

For its part, the establishment is talking tough so far, viewing a fight as the “best chance for growing the GOP.”

“Escalating the argument with the right on carefully selected issues and not retreating,” a party strategist calculates, is an opportunity to rebrand the party and win independents back.

A prominent national Republican fundraiser warned the right against its risks of “fighting on an island by itself with no legitimate shot at moving their agenda.” Kurt Bills won the nomination but found himself abandoned by many independents, by some Republicans and by traditional Party donors — he raised less than $1 million compared with Klobuchar’s $7.7 million. A leader in the Minnesota business community swore off “standing next to another candidate who’s not immediately credible to independent voters.”

The left often assumes that grass-roots organizing favors its agenda and candidates. But the Liberty Movement and Tea Party originate in local organizing. While progressives may cheer the attacks on the right, the resurgent Republican establishment is peddling political remedies — from using the power of money to reining in populist control over nominations — that may threaten the left’s own grass-roots strategies if Democratic elites mimic them.


Lawrence R. Jacobs is director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.


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  • State Sen. Julianne Ortman, who plans to challenge U.S. Sen. Al Franken in next year’s election, has gained some attention from the Liberty Movement.

  • State Sen. David Thompson, who plans to run for governor in 2014, is seen by some activists as the new “rock star” of the Tea Party.

  • Former U.S. Rep. and presidential candidate Ron Paul is credited with sparking the “Liberty Movement” in the Republican Party.

  • U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has announced that she will not seek re-election in 2014, has embodied Tea Party zeal.

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