In commenting on a recent special election Republican primary in Florida to replace the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young (who died in October), Washington Post columnist Dana Millbank saw the victory by establishment candidate David Jolly, a corporate lobbyist, over local favorite Kathleen Peters and Tea Party favorite Mark Bircher – by a 45-31-22 margin – as a sign that the Tea Party finally may be down for the count.
Millbank sees Jolly’s win as more than just backlash against the Tea Party, an oft-recalcitrant movement now infamous for its steadfast ideological principles, even at the expense of shutting down the government (as was the case a few months ago). Rather, he perceives it as mounting evidence that corporations never really lost their influence in the GOP, even as populism and social conservatism garnered the most attention from the media.
The Republican Party of old (aka before the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s) to a great extent attracted the well-to-do. More button-down corporate types than NASCAR fans and Walmart shoppers, holding “I Love My Gun” posters and wearing Revolutionary hats at public rallies.
As Millbank points out, that old-school GOP may indeed have made a comeback, and it will be interesting to see how that fares in the midterm elections this November, not to mention the race for the White House in 2016.