Just as the Independence Day weekend neared, the 18th District’s establishment Republican candidate, Darin LaHood, appeared on a Chicago-based radio show claiming that all five local tea party groups in the state had endorsed his primary campaign to replace the disgraced establishment Republican Aaron Schock in the coming July 7 special election. But is this true?
Appearing on the Joe Walsh radio program, LaHood enthusiastically said, “I have 5 active Tea Party groups. I show up at all their events. I’m proud that they’re supporting me and my race for Congress.”
No one is quite sure, though, exactly which tea party groups LaHood is claiming support him. As it happens, many of the local groups have announced their support for LaHood’s conservative opponent Mike Flynn.
That’s right, Tea Party leaders in Morton, McLean County, and Springfield are all supporting Breitbart editor Mike Flynn.
In fact, one tea party leader noted that LaHood’s big fundraiser with House Speaker John Boehner was the final straw that put his group in Flynn’s camp. Via email, Morton Tea Party member Dave Hulliger said that Boehner’s support of LaHood was it for them. Hulliger said:
What changed my mind about Darin is when we just recently found out that the next day after Darin announced his candidacy, Darin flew off to Washington DC to meet with Boehner, received huge donations, and Boehner and another politician sponsored a $1000 a plate fund raiser for Darin. Our Tea Party members in Morton (and Peoria) just found this out–after Darin came and spoke to our groups, taking questions about his support for Boehner, and obviously lying to us all the time. Anyone who knew exactly where to go for that kind of funding will not go against the speaker of the House or the Republican establishment.
Mulliger added, “We need the fire in the belly of someone like Mike Flynn to actually stand up and fight for us. Mike is not always the most personable and can be rude at times, but he is exactly what we need in DC fighting for us. And he will be living in his region when elected. I could just tell it when Louie Gohmert spoke about what Conservatives in the House can do when Mike is elected. I’m all for that.”
Sandy Dragoo of the Springfield Tea Party noted that her group doesn’t endorse candidates at all, so LaHood can’t be talking about them.
So, just what tea party groups is LaHood claiming endorsed him?
The line of demarcation between establishment endorsements and grassroots supporters is easy to see. A long list of super rich lobbyists have lined up behind LaHood. So has the amnesty-supporting U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Republican establishment has also lined up for LaHood.
But the grassroots, local supporters are all going for Flynn. And a growing number of conservative talk show hosts are also supporting Flynn. The Blaze’ Dana Loesch, RedState’s Erick Erickson, and conservative talker Mark Levin have all joined Flynn’s camp. Texas congressman Louie Gohmert has also endorsed Flynn.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com