Two leading tea party leaders from Northeast Tarrant County and Waco were puzzled when learning that Texas Governor Rick Perry endorsed embattled Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell for re-election Saturday as reported by Breitbart Texas.
Despite her thoroughly stated respect and pride in “a cordial relationship” with Governor Perry, Waco Tea Party President Toby Marie Walker could not see the grassroots gain in jumping into a U.S. Senate race boiling over with anti-establishment fervor during an interview with Breitbart Texas on Sunday.
“Why upset the base by going with the establishment? I have seen very loyal Perry supporters state on social media that they are disappointed in him.”
Walker reasoned the move could serve as an attempt for Beltway approval well in advance of a 2016 presidential bid. Further, she found it odd that Governor Perry would endorse an out of state race this year, given “he so strongly objected to outsiders endorsing in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Texas.”
Julie McCarty of NE Tarrant Tea Party echoed Walker’s confusion, seeing an emerging disconnect between Perry and the grassroots he generally holds positive relationships with.
McCarty told Breitbart Texas, “This was a big misstep for Perry, in my opinion, and it makes me wonder, what’s in it for him?”
Senator McConnell’s rhetoric toward the greater tea party movement has been reported to be less than harmonious in recent months. The senior senator was quoted last week claiming his intention to “crush” presumably tea party-aligned candidates. McConnell reportedly exhibited some animosity towards Nebraska senate candidate Ben Sasse–a candidate supported by the Senate Conservatives Fund alongside Kentucky challenger Matt Bevin.
Perhaps the most ironic twist in the McConnell matter is the influence the IRS targeting scandal plays in the larger rhetoric over the race. When considering interviews with Breitbart Texas, regional tea party leaders expressed discomfort in discussing Perry’s endorsement–some declining altogether–over concerns of the IRS using their language against the groups in federal court.
Despite the chilled rhetoric among grassroots leaders, Senator McConnell has relished the opportunity to use the scandal in his campaign. In May 2013, McConnell’s campaign YouTube account uploaded a glossy web ad titled “Demand Answers,” seeking justice for the tea party.
Julie McCarty of NE Tarrant Tea Party broke the matter down, “If [Governor] Perry is thinking about making another run at President, this is not the way you energize the grassroots.”
Follow Logan Churchwell on Twitter @LCChurchwell