We in the Upper Peninsula had our moment in the national spotlight last week. Reminded me of my days at CNN.
CNN was here, along with Fox and NBC and several newspapers covering, first, the arrival of the Tea Party Express, and then the sudden, unexpected resignation of Congressman Bart Stupak. It was a front page story in the New York Times the following day.
The Tea Party, of course, boasted that they had forced the resignation, which Stupak, of course, denied. There was probably some truth to the Tea Party’s claim but the fact was, Stupak had been hammered by both the left and the right over the last several weeks, and he was just weary, burned-out. He was a moderate Democrat, reasonably representative of the U.P. over these last 18 years, but he got to a point where he couldn’t please anybody.
To say nothing of the fact that he and his family were receiving vile threats.
You can hardly blame the man for wanting to change careers.
You’ve got to wonder whether this is the apex of the Tea Party’s influence and the decline starts here, or whether, in fact, this is only the beginning, and before too long, we actually have viable Tea Party candidates.
My bet would be on the former.
The big question now is whether the Republicans can harness and corral all this Tea Party anger and enthusiasm in time for the November elections. The Republicans need the votes, but some GOP candidates clearly aren’t comfortable with some of the Tea Party rhetoric.
And here in the UP, we’ll get an up-close view of the political maneuvering over the next several months and we’ll probably return to the national spotlight at times because the First Congressional seat that Stupak is vacating will be hotly contested.
The New York Times, NBC, Fox and all the others will be watching us closely.