A Tea Party Vs. Establishment Fight In New York?

A Tea Party Vs. Establishment Fight In New York?

Rep. Richard Hannah (R-NY) is just asking for a primary challenge.

In September, he was one of only two Republicans who voted against a bill to delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year.

In March of 2012, speaking at a rally with Congressional Democrats, Hannah actually encouraged the audience to give their money to Democrats.

At a time when even Democrats were running away from President Obama, Hannah responded to last year’s State of the Union Address with praise saying he “agreed with much of it.”

Earlier this year, Hannah was the only House Republican to break ranks and oppose a bill banning federal payments for abortion.

Hannah has showed particular disdain for the Tea Party.

In an interview with a local editorial board in the summer of 2012, Hannah sounded off  saying, “I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we – I mean the Republican Party – are wiling to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history.”

Now, it looks like Hannah will get a run for his money in the June 24 primary.

New York State Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney has jumped into the race, and the well-funded conservative outside groups are giving her a look.

“Voters deserve better and it is clear that Richard Hannah is not providing the common sense, Republican leadership we need in Congress,” Tenney said in her announcement speech earlier this week.

Tenney is serving her second term in the state legislature and has built very formidable conservative credentials having been rated both the top “Conservative” and “Most Independent Member” of the state legislature.

She is starting behind, and the race is an uphill climb. Hannah’s pollster recently released a survey of 471 likely Republican voters showing Hannah with a significant advantage over Tenney.

However, she may be getting a big boost.

Tenney will be in Washington later this week to meet with key groups, like FreedomWorks, who, in a smaller media-market, could get some mileage out of attack ads at a much smaller premium.  The Club for Growth’s spokesman Barney Keller told me “We’re watching the race.”

Ultimately, the viability of Tenney’s campaign will rely on the ability to successfully define Hannah early as someone who has abandoned the Republican Party. 

If groups like FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Tea Party Patriots mobilize behind Tenney, the dynamics of the race could shift significantly and the broader symbolic implications could take on more meaning.

Hannah is vulnerable not because he disagreed with the Tea Party, but because he attacked them. Facing an electorate as unpredictable as this one, anything can happen.

Kurt Bardella (@kurtbardella) is the Founder and CEO of Endeavor Strategic Communications (@endeavorcom), a Public Relations firm that represents @BreitbartNews, @TeamIssa,@WPAResearch, @voteterry and @TonyStrickland.