If you remember when we first heard about the tea party in early 2009, its supporters talked about having a pox on both houses — that is, they felt Republicans and Democrats were part of the same dirty cesspool that is Washington, D.C.
A lot of things have changed since then, but I became a bit cynical in early 2010. That’s when the late C.W. Bill Young received a tea party challenger by the name of Eric Forcade in his Pinellas County congressional election. Anyone remember him?
To go back to a story I wrote for Creative Loafing back in 2010, Forcade said the problem he had with Young wasn’t his famous predilection for earmarks, but that “we have 535 Bill Young’s out there, with everyone trying to bring pork home. It’s not just him, it’s everyone stealing from Peter to pay Paul, as long as Paul is one of his constituents.”
Two months later, Forcade endorsed Young. Hypocritical? Forcade said not really, and that Young was still far preferable than Young’s Democratic opponent that year, Charlie Justice.
“Do you support the guy who’s spent more than $500 million in earmarks, or the guy [Justice] who’s part of the problem by supporting spending a trillion dollars on health care and cap-and-trade and other government takeovers?” he said at the time.
Flash forward to yesterday, when Tea Party Patriots endorsed Marco Rubio over Carlos Beruff in the Florida Senate race.
Group leader Jenny Beth Martin said in her statement that yes, Rubio did essentially stab the tea party activists who helped elect him in 2010 in the back with his support for comprehensive immigration reform, but all is forgotten, because he’s now seen the light on the issue.
“Let’s be frank: That mistake hurt him with tea party activists in Florida, and across the nation,” she said. “But he now says he recognizes the difficulty of dealing with such an issue in a comprehensive fashion, and instead supports a one-at-a-time approach — first, implement real border security, and don’t make any further moves until the public agrees that our borders are secure. Then, and only then, will we be able successfully to move on to other aspects of the immigration reform agenda. Tea Party Patriots believes that will be a successful strategy, and we support Sen. Rubio’s decision to follow that course.”
Far be it for me to suggest what the tea party is or who they should represent. However, on a number of fronts, one can argue that Sen. Rubio is very much a creature of Washington these days. But there are several folks in the Senate who wear their tea party roots strongly — Utah’s Mike Lee, Texas’ Ted Cruz, perhaps you could say Kentucky’s Rand Paul. So why not Rubio?
Has the tea party “gone Washington” themselves? The message certainly has changed a little bit since those halcyon days in ’09…
In other news…
A D.C. watchdog group is calling on the Florida Inspector General and the Commission on Ethics to investigate Pam Bondi’s lack of an investigation of Trump University.
Hillsborough County State Attorney Democratic candidate Andrew Warren was rebuked by a federal judge last year for requesting a couple of days off.
Joni Ernst keynotes a big Americans for Prosperity Florida event in Orlando in September.
Ben Diamond is challenging Eric Lynn to a series of debates before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary in House District 68.
Ed Narain goes up with the first ad in the Senate District 19 campaign.
And Equality Florida says the fundraising campaign for the victims of the Orlando shooting massacre last month has now raised over $7 million.