Having never bought into the breadth, depth or staying power of the so-called Tea Party “movement,” particularly here in Washington state, I somewhat what agree with Eli Sanders’ assessment of the “Didier Bubble” over on Slog:
Now, I love the Didier story line as much as the next person—a tractor-driving, government-handout-slurping, Sarah-Palin-endorsed insurgent? irresistable!—but this idea that he’s about to become the favorite of the National Republican Senatorial Committee just doesn’t have anything to it.
That said, I’m open to being surprised, at least to the extent that Clint Didier could potentially create enough trouble for Dino Rossi that it seriously damages his prospects in November. And in that context, I’m particularly intrigued by Didier’s “impromtu” meeting with Sarah Palin last week, in which, according to PubliCola, the two discussed “a series of Didier fundraisers with Palin.”
Like many Alaskans, Palin has strong ties to Washington, and is frequently in-state visiting family, so it’s not surprising that she would take a special interest in our U.S. Senate election. Likewise, if Palin chooses to headline “a series of Didier fundraisers,” it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suppose that they might be able raise a substantial amount of money.
How much qualifies as substantial? I’d say a million or two, and while even that likely wouldn’t be enough to overcome Rossi’s substantial lead, it could potentially take an awfully big bite out of it, assuming the money is spent well. And by “spent well,” of course I mean relentlessly negative.
As Sanders writes, “If Didier were really a surging threat, would Rossi’s campaign be so studiously ignoring him?” Probably not, and if I were advising Rossi I’d tell him to focus solely on Sen. Murray too. But faced with a well-funded attack from Didier (and perhaps Nevada-style independent expenditures from the likes of the Tea Party Express and Club For Growth), that strategy would have to change.
No, I’m not all that impressed by either Didier or the folksy antics of our indigenous teabaggers. But I retain a profound respect for the transformative power of targeted political money.