Alaska Senate Race Underscores GOP's Tea Party Risk

Joe Miller brings unnecessary northern exposure for Republicans.

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Republicans are sending help north, in the form of money and manpower, to their newly minted Alaska Senate candidate, Joe Miller, Politico reports this morning. I wonder if they could use those resources elsewhere? Score another 2010 election victory for the Tea Party.

[See a roundup of political cartoons about the midterm elections.]

According to Politico's "Morning Score" newsletter, National Republican Senatorial Committee senior adviser Terry Nelson is heading North to huddle up with Joe Miller, the Tea Partyer who won the recent Alaska GOP senatorial primary. Nelson will reportedly bring promises of more than $200,000 the committee plans to pour into the race.

Part of Nelson's mission of course is to ward off incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost the primary to Miller but keeps grumbling about a possible independent bid for the seat. At the moment Miller is the overwhelming favorite to win the seat, but if Murkowski were to run as a third party candidate, it could throw the seat into some doubt.

But this is the bottom line: Alaska should not be a state which is on the NRSC's radar screen at all. The hundreds of thousands of dollars and senior level attention should be available to actually competitive races in places like Nevada, Kentucky, Colorado, and a half-dozen other highly competitive battlegrounds.

Of course some of those battlegrounds shouldn't be competitive either. Kentucky would not be on the GOP radar but for the fact that Rand Paul is a deeply polarizing candidate. Ditto Nevada, where Harry Reid's poll numbers would have him left for dead against virtually any GOP nominee other than one who goes on about "Second Amendment remedies" and domestic enemies in the Congress.

[See a slide show of 2010's bad candidates.]

This is the double-edged sword the Tea Party represents for the GOP. They bring energy but they also bring deeply flawed candidates and other troubles.

  • See a slide show of 10 hot races to watch this November.
  • Check out our editorial cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.
  • Follow the money in Congress.