Bachmann steps aside, avoids House Republican-Tea Party tussle
There will be no showdown at the GOP corral. (For now anyway).
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party potentate, decided to step out of the ring . And so evaporated the potential for a high-profile internal duel for House Republican Conference chair, the fourth highest position.
Bachmann in July started the Tea Party Caucus as the conservative movement was gaining momentum ahead of the November elections. Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives in those midterms which also brought wins to Tea Party candidates who will want to flex their muscles in the new Congress.
But Bachmann’s decision has staved off what could have been high-level drama when Republicans pick their leaders next week.
(We don’t know yet whether there was any behind-the-scenes gentlepersons agreement as is often the case on Capitol Hill, or whether it was simply a realistic look at her prospects for winning).
In her statement last night, Bachmann said “Jeb Hensarling has my enthusiastic support” because the Texas congressman had demonstrated a commitment to limited government, reduced spending, and lower taxes — all positions promoted by the Tea Party movement.
Hensarling said he was humbled to earn the support of his dear friend. “Michele Bachmann is a committed movement conservative whose effective voice played an important role in America’s decision to trust House Republicans once again,” he said.
Bachmann won a third two-year term after raising a House record $13 million in her latest campaign and contributing to more than 20 Republican freshmen who won last week.
“Bachmann’s withdrawal from the race says more about her than the Tea Party,” said political analyst Steve Schier of Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota.
“She is known for flamboyant and factually dubious comments, such as her recent claim that Obama’s current overseas trip cost taxpayers $200 million a day. Her fellow GOP lawmakers don’t want such comments to come from someone who is in their leadership,” Schier said. “Hensarling, her opponent in the race, is probably as conservative as Bachmann but much less prone to verbal gaffes.”
Republican leaders are talking about adding a position at the leadership table for a first-termer in a nod to the freshly elected tea partiers.
The question to be answered in coming months is will the Tea Party members become an offshoot sect or part of the fold?
Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (Flag displayed in front of Capitol by Tea Party supporters on election day)