In 1984 the Boston Celtics were on the verge of getting blown away by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. After losing game one of the series the Celtics appeared to be about to drop another one to their rivals when this happened:
It transformed the series completely. The fast breaking Lakers were thrown off their game and the Celtics made it a much more physical, grinding series. With the change of style the Lakers fortunes faded and the Celtics won their 15th NBA title.
In many ways the Tea Party has been like the 84 Lakers when it comes to the GOP establishment. They have run right over them leaving those who opposed them (Castle, Simmons, Lugar, Snowe, Bennett, Grayson, Crist) in the dust.
Now Mitch McConnell finds himself facing a challenge from a Tea Party challenger. It appears McConnell is channeling his inner Kevin McHale.
He doesn’t want to win his primary against Matt Bevin. According to a story by Sam Youngman, McConnell wants to crush Bevin and in the process use that win to cripple groups like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and the Madison Project. He wants to knock down the fast breaking Tea Partiers and remind them who the champs really are in the GOP.
Rather than even let Bevin start his fast break McConnell is already throwing elbows and clotheslines. The McConnell campaign found this little nugget from Bevin’s past. You can bet there will be much more of this to cripple Bevin and some of this fire will probably be directed at groups like FreedomWorks.
See McConnell understands that if he can do that his life gets a great deal easier.
If Tea Party groups can be shown to be politically weak against strong establishment figures it will mean fewer challenges for incumbents. Meaning that McConnell can work out more deals with the Democrats and not have to worry about losing members to primary challengers, like he saw with Lugar, Snowe, or Bennett.
Also if McConnell can tame the Tea Party he will make it easier for more establishment Republicans to win primaries for open seats or to challenge weak Democratic incumbents. This will enable him to grow his caucus and not piss away opportunities like Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada, Colorado, or Missouri.
It appears now that the Tea Party is playing in the big time they may finally have met their match. We’ll if they can take and return a good clothesline.