Republicans in the U.S. Senate have already broken all records for unprincipled partisan obstructionism, preventing the administration from putting people into key positions in the executive branch, blocking judicial confirmations, and delaying and preventing Congress from dealing with important issues facing the nation, from financial reform to immigration. Now a bumper crop of far-right GOP candidates threatens to turn the “deliberative body” into a haven for extremists who view much of the federal government as unconstitutional and who are itching to shut it down.
Fueled by the unlimited deep pockets of billionaire anti-government ideologues, various Tea Party and corporate-interest groups have poured money into primary elections this year. They and conservative voters angry about the actions of the Obama administration have replaced even very conservative senators and candidates backed by the national Republican establishment with others who embrace a range of radically right-wing views on the Constitution, the role of government, the protection of individual freedoms, and the separation of church and state.
Recently, Religious Right leaders have been grousing that Republican candidates arent talking enough about abortion and same-sex marriage. But this report indicates that anti-gay and anti-choice activists have little to worry about, as the right-wing candidates profiled here share those anti-freedom positions even if they’re talking more about shutting down federal agencies, privatizing Social Security, and eliminating most of the taxes paid by the wealthiest Americans. A number of these candidates oppose legal abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina is helping to lead the charge with his Senate Conservatives Fund. DeMint, an absolute favorite of both the Tea Party and Religious Right political movements for his uncompromising extremism on both economic and social issues, is at the far right fringe of the Republican Party and has committed himself to helping elect more like-minded colleagues. Sarah Palin, also popular among both Tea Party and Religious Right activists, has also injected her high-profile name, busy Twitter fingers, and PAC cash into numerous Senate races.
Among the right-wing insurgents who defeated candidates backed by national party leadership are Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, Joe Miller of Alaska, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Mike Lee of Utah. Others, like Carly Fiorina of California, came through crowded primaries where right-wing leaders split their endorsements, but have now coalesced around her candidacy.
And thanks to the conservative Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, which said corporations have the same rights as citizens to make independent expenditures in elections, right-wing candidates across the board will be benefitting from a massive infusion of corporate money designed to elect candidates who will oppose governmental efforts to hold them accountable, for example environmental protections and government regulation of the financial industry practices that led the nation into a deep recession.
This In Focus provides an introduction to a select group of right-wing candidates who hope to ride a wave of toxic Tea Party anger into the U.S. Senate. The potential impact of a Senate with even half of these DeMint-Palin acolytes would be devastating to the Senate’s ability to function and the federal governments ability to protect the safety and well-being of American citizens.
Alaska: Joe Miller
Joe Miller defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski with an endorsement from Sarah Palin (which he called “pivotal”) and $600,000 in campaign ads and flyers from the Tea Party Express, a huge amount of money for Alaska parties. He also got a $5,000 contribution for the primary election from the Citizens United Victory Fund. He has since been endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint, which makes sense because Miller would join DeMint on the far-right fringe of the Senate. Among his other backers are Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham. Murkowski, over the objections of the Republican Party, announced her intentions to run as a write-in candidate.
Miller takes a hard-line view on social issues. Miller is the of the Alaska Family Council, whose mission is to “to hold our public officials accountable to a higher law – the law of God.”He opposes legal abortion “from the moment of conception,” even in cases of rape or incest. He spouts the deceptive Religious Right line on hate crimes laws, opposing them “as a violation of the Constitutional guarantees to freedom of speech and equal protection under the law. He also strongly opposes comprehensive sex-education and stem-cell research, and is a champion of the “global gag rule,” or the prohibition of US funding to family planning services and the groups that promote them.
Miller takes an extreme Tea Party line on the role of the federal government, saying that the Department of Education should be eliminated because it’s not in the Constitution. Also violating the Constitution, in Millers mind, was health care reform and legislation to extend jobless benefits to out-of-work Americans. He has called for cuts in foreign aid, funding for the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, the Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the elimination of ” more than 640 duplicative federal programs.”And he says he would phase out social security and Medicare.
He says he’s not running on a birther platform but in a June interview did not give a direct answer to a question about President Obamas citizenship. In an interview on “Armed American Radio,”he contrasted “constitutionalists”and those who support the “European Socialist Model”. Asked what he would do about the health care reform law, he said, “Defund it. I mean a repeal would be perfect but obviously that would get vetoed. So defund everything. Get rid of the socialist aspects of government, not just in health care but the other entitlement areas that are driving us into insolvency.”
He doesnt deny that the climate is changing, but says theres no proof that it’s the result of human activity.
On immigration, Miller opposes comprehensive immigration reform as “amnesty”and complains that “the cost of illegal aliens in this country also runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars.” He says, “We need to secure our borders and not reward illegals [sic] for coming and staying in our country.” He says “When you reward law breaking, you encourage more of the same. One of the reasons we have such a huge illegal immigrant problem today is the amnesty offered under the Reagan administration.”
Special bonus points for class: When news reports suggested that Senator Murkowski might seek the Libertarian Party nomination, he tweeted, “What’s the difference between selling out your party’s values and the oldest profession? He later blamed a campaign volunteer.
California: Carly Fiorina
Fiorina has also been endorsed by the “Government is Not God” PAC. She opposes the freedom to marry for gay couples and pledges that she would “absolutely” vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if given the opportunity.Fired former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina won her primary after being endorsed by Sarah Palin, even though Jim DeMint, Mike Huckabee, and some Tea Party activists had backed her opponent Chuck DeVore. When some of them complained about Palin’s endorsement, Rick Santorum joined Palin in backing Fiorina.
Fiorina works the Tea Party circuit, telling rally participants that they’re all part of “the Party of “had enough.” She says the “the federal government is most usually part of the problem “and” the federal government can destroy the American dream.” She opposed emergency aid to save thousands of teachers jobs and to fund Medicaid. She has signed Grover Norquists “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”
Fiorina ran an ad mocking Barbara Boxers description of climate change as a national security issue, characterizing it dismissively as Boxer being “worried about the weather.” In a debate she didnt answer directly whether she believes global warming is real, saying “We should always have the courage to examine the science.” Said Salon: “willfully pretending that being concerned about the threat of global warming is the same as being worried about whether it’s going to rain today” should “disqualify anyone for higher office, especially in California.” Salon suggests that what Fiorina wanted – and got – was the endorsement of far-right climate change denialist Senator James Inhofe.
She said proponents of the Islamic cultural center in New York should “withdraw and say they will find someplace else where their objectives can be met, instead of continuing to inflame the passions of the people who lost and suffered so much.”
Colorado: Ken Buck
Former District Attorney Ken Buck was the Tea Party candidate who defeated Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Republican primary. He displays his anti-government credentials by calling for the elimination of the federal Department of Energy and Department of Education and the elimination of student loans. He says he “doesnt know” whether Social Security is constitutional, but calls it a “horrible policy” and says the federal government should not be running health care or retirement programs.
Like a number of other Tea Party supporters, Buck has been caught denouncing earmarks while having sought them himself. The Denver Post reported that Buck “has requested at least $5 million in earmarks and grants for Weld County projects,”despite signing Americans for Prosperitys “no earmarks” pledge and “repeatedly railing against the pork-barrel practices while campaigning.”
Buck supports what he calls “common sense” legislation – promoted by “birthers” who question President Obama’s citizenship – that would require a birth certificate to run for federal office. At one point he supported repeal of the 17th amendment, which provides for direct election of senators, but has since recanted that position.
He questions whether the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship to those who are born here, applies to the children of illegal aliens. He opposes comprehensive immigration reform, saying “we need to stand firm and say ‘no’ to amnesty. Illegal immigrants must return to their country of origin to enter the United States.”
He says the separation of church and state is too strictly enforced. According to Politico, “he’s advocated for a closer relationship between God and government” and “emphasized his conservative values, expressing his opposition to the principle of separating church and state.”
He opposes legal abortion, with no exception for cases of rape or incest and says he would sponsor a constitutional amendment to make abortion illegal. He has said, Congress should not support federal funding of abortion or embryonic stem cell research or organizations that promote either,”a dog-whistle for Religious Right activists who have long sought to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving government funds.”
He too says he doesnt believe that human activity is causing global warming, calling himself a “skeptic”and embracing the term “denier.”
Bonus points for class: When asked why primary voters should support him over Lt. Gov Jane Norton, he answered, “I do not wear high heels.”
Delaware: Christine O'Donnell
She says, “America is now a socialist economy,”and calls President Obamas support for a United Nations global poverty initiative “perhaps the greatest affront to our national sovereignty since the War of 1812.”Christine O’Donnell’s big win was probably the biggest Tea Party upset of the 2010 primary season. O’Donnell defeated Rep. Mike Castle, one of the most prominent figures in statewide politics, whom she derided as an “Obama Republican” during the campaign. In 2008, she called then-candidate Obama “anti-American” because he did not support a law that would make English the official language and ban ballots in other languages.
GOP voters selection of O’Donnell, who is far outside the states tradition of moderate Republicanism, is widely viewed as making the seat much harder for Republicans to win. Karl Rove has described her as a candidate with a “checkered past” who says “nutty things” and declared flatly that the GOP would not be able to win the seat.
Nevertheless, O’Donnell was enthusiastically backed by Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, the Tea Party Express (which ran radio and TV ads on her behalf), the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, a Religious Right group that hates Castle’s support for abortion rights, anti-discrimination laws, and hate crimes legislation. O’Donnell met with Jim DeMint over the summer; he was “extremely impressed”and his Senate Conservatives Fund backed her.
Some have suggested that this wave of support had less to do with O’Donnells strength as a candidate and more to do with the Tea Partys overriding desire to punish Republicans, like Castle, who stray from right-wing ideological purity.
She says that she believes “our country was founded on core values of faith, family and freedom and will fight to defend those values.”She has said, “we took the Bible and prayer out of public schools, now were having weekly shootings practically.”
O’Donnell believes “that the solution to the healthcare crisis is less government meddling in the doctor/patient relationship, more competition in the insurance market and more choice for families about their health plan.”She calls the DISCLOSE Act, meant to bring some transparency to campaign financing in the wake of the Citizens United decision, a “grassroots gag order.”
O’Donnell, a former spokesperson for Concerned Women for America, is strongly opposed to a womans right to choose (CWA allows no exceptions for women who have been raped), and was endorsed by Susan B Anthony List, a PAC that opposes legal abortion. She founded and led a group called Saviors Alliance for Lifting the Truth, where she promoted abstinence and decried masturbation and homosexuality. And where she wrote things like this:
Adolph Hitler said that to engineer a society you must first engineer its language. Starting with the youth, he set in motion a design to erode the power of words, to steal the significance and beauty of a single word. We can see the unfolding of that plan in our society. For example, “gay” means joyful and gleeful. Yet, today, when we say that Ellen is gay, we’re certainly not talking about her emotional well-being.
O’Donnell says that there is “just as much, if not more” evidence for creationism – which she describes as “believing that the world began as the Bible in Genesis says, that God created the Earth in six days, six 24-hour periods”– as there is for the scientific theory of evolution.
She opposed women being allowed into all-male military colleges, saying:
Schools like The Citadel train young men to confidently lead other young men into a battlefield where one of them will die. And when you have women in that situation, it creates a whole new set of dynamics which are distracting to training these men to kill or be killed. And these dynamics between men and women are what make the relationship between men and women beautiful. So I don’t think that we should try to desensitize men to the differences.
Castle’s campaign against her focused on her messy finances more than her positions on issues. O’Donnell did alienate even some conservatives, such as radio host Dan Gaffney, with false statements about her educational record and about how well she did in her previous Senate campaigns. In addition, the right-wing Weekly Standard has reported that in 2005, O’Donnell sued the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute, for which she was once a spokesperson, for nearly $7 million alleging gender-based discrimination and “mental anguish.”
After her primary victory, O’Donnell was invited to speak at the Values Voter Summit, the biggest Religious Right political event of the year, and was a guest of honor at a political fundraising event held the first night of the summit by the Family Research Councils PAC. And Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund reportedly committed at least $250,000 for an ad buy on her behalf.
Florida: Marco Rubio
The young and handsome Rubio wins all these accolades with an optimistic, patriotic stump speech that talks about his familys Cuban origins and his hardworking immigrant parents and repeats over and over again how exceptional America is. Heres how one not-so-in-love blogger describes him:Among all this years Senate candidates, Marco Rubio is the one who most sets right-wing hearts a-flutter. After the National Organization for Marriages Maggie Gallagher heard Rubio speak in Florida, she gushed, “I fell in love.” Mike Huckabee has called Rubio “our Barack Obama but with substance.”Others have compared him to Ronald Reagan and called him the face of the GOPs future.
Marco Rubio is a unique blend that combines red-meat starve the beast fiscal conservatism with dashe’s of let’s bomb Iran neo-conservatism and flavored just enough with the religious-based bigotry to appeal to social conservatives. Not only can he appeal to Hispanics but he can appeal to independents because he sounds sane even though he is a Jim DeMint clone.
Rubio does try to put a smiling face on a hard-right agenda. The former speaker of the Florida House ran a Tea Party-fueled come-from-behind race against popular Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now running as an independent in a three-way race that includes Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek. Rubio was endorsed by Tea Party kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint back in June 2009, when Crist had a big lead in the polls. Rubio told the New York Times that DeMint is the current senator he admires most. Hes been championed by the Club for Growth, Rush Limbaugh, and National Review.
He pushe’s the Tea Party anti-government line hard. In May he headlined the Florida Family Councils dinner and said,”You know what the fastest growing religion in America is? Statism. The growing reliance on government.” He called the stimulus a Euro-Socialist assault on his children. He says Democratic leaders, whom he calls “extreme left activists” are using the economic downturn “as an excuse to implement the statist policies that they have longed for all this time.” Hes got Wall Streets attention with his calls to abolish taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest, and multi-million-dollar estates. He is endorsed by “Government is Not God” PAC.
Hes also on Tea Party talking points on the Constitution, saying “if the Constitution is a living and breathingdocument, it will stand for whatever the people in power say it stands for on any given day.”
Rubio gives Religious Right leaders plenty to be happy about. Rubio not only endorsed Mike Huckabees 2008 presidential bid but also worked on his campaign. Hes opposed to legal abortion and says “I also pledge to support well-qualified judicial nominees who will interpret the laws of our land, not establish new policy from the bench as the Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade 37 years ago today.” He told the Florida Family Policy Council that “life at every stage is worthy of protection and the Conservative Political Action Committee that “all life is sacred at every stage of life.”
It’s a similar story on gay rights. Rubio is opposed to repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – which puts him at odds with three quarters of the American people. He opposes the freedom to marry for gay couples and supports a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in any state.
Time Magazine reported that while campaigning last year, Rubio said the separation of church and state is not in our founding documents and backed the right of public schools to teach intelligent design.
It’s no wonder that in June 2009, Dennis Baxley resigned as executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida to promote Rubio’s campaign.
Like his fellow right-wing candidates, Rubio has his head determinedly in the sand on climate change, saying , “I Don’t think theres the scientific evidence to justify it.”He says cap and trade will “make us the cleanest third world economy on the planet.”
He’s opposed to a ban on the sale of assault weapons and is endorsed by both the NRA and the even more extreme Gun Owners of America.
In spite of his appeal to his familys inspiring story, Rubio supports Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law.
Kentucky: Rand Paul
Paul’s victory energized the movement to believe it could win others, though for many Kentucky voters, the bloom is off the rose since Paul has made a series of blunders that exposed the true colors of his radically right-wing positions.Kentuckys Rand Paul, son of the libertarian Republican congressman from Texas, was one of the first victories for the Tea Party phenomenon over a candidate backed by establishment Republicans, including obstructionist-in-chief Mitch McConnell. Paul had early backing from Sarah Palin and her PAC, and from DeMint. Hes backed by the Club for Growth and James Dobson. He’s also supported by the Citizens United PAC.
His candidacy hit a snag early on when he suggested that he didnt believe the federal government should be able to tell private companies they cant discriminate against anyone. So, according to Paul, while whites-only restaurants might be distasteful, they shouldnt be illegal. In one short breath, he rejected a universally acclaimed centerpiece of the civil rights movement.
Pauls harshly anti-government beliefs have also gotten notice. He has suggested that Congress should not be making mine safety rules, a stunning remark in a coal state whose miners lives depend on federal safety regulations. He called the Obama administrations efforts to hold BP accountable for the oil spill “un-American:”
What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.’ I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I’ve heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it’s part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it’s always got to be someone’s fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.
As one Kentucky newspaper, the Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg, editorialized, Rand Paul is dangerous because his views resonate with people who blame government for everything that’s bad, including salmonella and hemorrhoids.
Paul calls himself a “constitutional conservative”and says Medicare is socialized medicine. He wants to eliminate the Departments of Education and Agriculture, do away with the Federal Reserve, and abolish the Americans with Disabilities Act. I think the top three issues facing the nation are the debt, the debt and the debt, Paul said. It’s all about government overspending. It’s about a government out of control.
Hes also adored by Religious Right leaders. He opposes abortion in all cases without exception for rape or incest.He believes “life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life. I will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortio n or lead us in the direction of ending abortion.”He says he would “strongly support”court-stripping legislation “restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade” and would back a “Sanctity of Life Amendment” that would define in law that life begins at conception.
Heres how Concerned Women for Americas Beverly LaHaye describes him:
Rand Paul is a strong man of faith and of conviction. Rand is strongly pro-life, and has pledged his support for federal measures to end abortion. Additionally, Rand is pro-parental rights, and will fight to get the federal government out of the business of indoctrinating our children with the liberal agenda, and will fight for both alternative schools and home schools… It is for these many reasons, that we proudly endorse the pro-life, pro-freedom, pro-constitution small government champion, Dr. Rand Paul, to be the next senator from the state of Kentucky.
Paul explained to one questioner who asked about his views on separation of church and state that he does think “church really should be separate from the government,” but added that he thinks “you could have prayer in public schools” and declined to answer a question about the age of the earth.
On April 25, 2009, Rand Paul was the featured guest speaker at The Constitution Party of Minnesota’s event of the year. According to the Constitutional Party’s website, “The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations… The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law.”
Like many other Tea Party candidates, his libertarianism does not extend to LGBT Americans. He says the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that has forced thousands of gay service members out of the Armed Forces “has worked relatively well.”
He’s in favor of ending birthright citizenship and supports Arizonas immigration law. He says, “I support local solutions to illegal immigration as protected by the 10th amendment. I support making English the official language of all documents and contracts….I will work to secure our borders immediately. My plans include an electronic fence, with helicopter stations to respond quickly to breache’s of the border. Instead of closing military bases at home and renting space in Europe, I am open to the construction of bases to protect our border.”
He believes the U.S. should not belong to or fund organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank.
Missouri: Roy Blunt
Some Tea Party activists were unhappy with Bachmanns support for Blunt, a Washington insider who was central to the GOPs “K Street Project,”which invited corporate lobbyists to write legislation when the GOP was in the majority. “Not all members of Congress carry water for special interests quite as obviously as Blunt has,” said Allison of the Sunlight Foundation. “He kind of made an art form of it.”Roy Blunt has been described by his opponent Robin Carnahan as the “worst of Washington. “Blunt could hold his own in competition with any of the candidates profiled here for across-the-board right-wing extremism. Michele Bachmann campaigned for him in his primary campaign.
His opposition to government programs includes Medicare, which he says “has never done anything to make people more healthy.” He signed Americans for Prosperitys No Climate Tax pledge. On August 30th, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch summed up Blunts “jobs plan” this way: ”More for the rich. Less for the poor and middle classes.No savings. Higher deficits.Smoke. Mirrors. Buzzwords.”
Blunt is a stalwart for the Religious Right, with a 100 percent record opposing legal abortion and a 0 percent record on equality for LGBT Americans. He promoted a federal constitutional amendment to deny gay couples in any state the right to marry and voted to ban gay couples in Washington, D.C from adopting children. He opposes legislation to protect gay people from discrimination in the workplace and spreads Religious Right lies about the bill, suggesting that it would put people at risk if they had a Bible in their cubicle at work. When he spoke at the Values Voter Summit last year, where he was introduced by the Family Research Councils Tony Perkins, Blunt declared, “our values are about America, our values are for America.” Blunt is also an ally of John Hagee, one of the Religious Right leaders whose support was repudiated by John McCain during his presidential bid.
On climate change, he’s a member of the head-in-the-sand caucus, saying last year that “There isnt any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.”
Hes lent support to the birther movement, saying, “What I don’t know is why the president cant produce a birth certificate. I Don’t know anybody else who cant produce one. I think thats a legitimate question.”
He has supported amending the Constitution to prevent flag burning and supports stripping federal courts of the ability to hear cases challenging the Pledge of Allegiance. He voted to ban the practice of using race as a factor in college admissions.
Bonus points for class: Blunt used images of the destruction at Ground Zero in an ad attacking his opponent for suggesting that it should be up to New Yorkers to decide the future of the controversial Islamic cultural center, and he has drawn an untenable analogy suggesting that the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero would be just as inappropriate as Dr. Laura’s n-word filled rant that led to the end of her radio show.
Nevada: Sharron Angle
Even her anti-government zealotry goes above and beyond. She would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The Department of Education is unconstitutional. Social Security and Medicare should be phased out. She told a reporter in 2005 that if she were in Congress she would have voted against legislation to provide emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina. She’s been endorsed by the “Government is Not God” PAC and suggests that government assistance to the poor is an unbiblical form of idolatry that violates the first of the Ten Commandments. When BP set up an escrow account to pay damages for the oil spill, she denounced it, saying Government shouldn’t be doing that to a private company. And I think you named it clearly: It’s a slush fund.Sharron Angle’s wingnuttery is almost in a class of its own; in this cohort it’s hard to stand out as an extremist, but she manages the trick. Angle, who has connections to “Christian Reconstructionists” at the far fringes of the Religious Right movement, believes that her candidacy is a mission from God. She won her party primary after a burst of publicity and fundraising following an endorsement from the Tea Party Express. According to Slate, Angle “used to be a member of the Independent American Party, an offshoot of the Constitution Party, which was started by avowed Christian Reconstructionist Howard Phillips.” Slate says Angle came to politics because of her opposition to state-run schools and her interestin home-schooling.
Like many of the candidates profiled in this report, she opposes the extension of unemployment benefits. “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesnt pay as much. And so that’s whats happened to us is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said you don’t want the jobs that are available.”
According to Politico, Angle says legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions “is based on an unscientific hysteria over the man-caused global warming hoax. “A spokesman falsely suggested the lack of a strong scientific consensus: “Science is best left to the experts, and currently there is lively debate on the impact of humanitys impact on global warming and climate change.”
She supports a total ban on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, suggesting that teens with difficult, at risk, pregnancies should turn lemons into lemonade. She opposes the freedom to marry for same sex couples and believes they should not be allowed to adopt children.
Angle says there are domestic enemies in both houses of Congress. She suggested that if things Don’t go her way this fall, conservatives might have to turn to violence, or as she termed it, “second amendment remedies.”
She has been endorsed by Citizens United and offers the ultimate private-sector solution to the issue of corporate money in politics: “Campaign finance limitations must come from the candidates themselves.” She’s the beneficiary of ad spending by groups like Karl Roves American Crossroads, which is running thousands of dollars worth of ads attacking Harry Reid.
New Hampshire: Kelly Ayotte
After a district court overturned New Hampshires parental notification law that hampers young women from exercising their right to choose even in the case of health emergencies, Ayotte appealed the decision to the Supreme Court despite objections from the governor. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court, and Judge Joseph DeClerico ultimately found that Planned Parenthood, which brought the case to trial, deserved “a reasonable award of legal fees and costs”from the state, effectively ruling in the groups favor. In the end, the parental notification law was repealed and the state paid Planned Parenthood $300,000.As New Hampshires state Attorney General from 2004-2009, Kelly Ayotte was more concerned with pushing her own ultraconservative social agenda than dealing with a major state crisis.
Following her disastrous attempt to sustain parental notification laws, Ayotte became a favorite of anti-choice groups. She is one of Sarah Palin’s most esteemed Mama Grizzlies, and Palin erroneously claimed that Ayotte won the case in her Facebook endorsement. Susan B. Anthony List, the militantly “no exceptions”anti-abortion rights group, spent over $150,000 on behalf of Ayotte in the primary.
Ayotte is a staunch opponent of LGBT equality and same-sex marriage, and believes that New Hampshire’s current laws allowing for the freedom to marry should be overturned. She has pledged to support the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) and said that same-sex couples should not have the right to adopt children. In 2008, Ayotte initially joined other right-wing Attorneys General attempting to delay legalizing same-sex marriages in California.
When Elena Kagan was nominated for the Supreme Court, Ayotte dubbed her a “radical” whose views fall “well outside the mainstream.”
While Ayotte pursued her own right-wing ideology in the officially nonpolitical job, a severe emergency developed under her watch: the Financial Resource Mortgage (FRM) Ponzi Scheme. According to New Hampshire Public Radio, even though “the criminal bureau, the civil bureau, and the bureau of consumer protection all received reports of problems with FRM” for years, the Attorney Generals office never investigated the investment company which turned out to be a gigantic Ponzi scheme. The State Legislatures investigation of FRM faulted Ayotte’s office for failing to take action against FRM despite numerous warning signs.
North Carolina: Richard Burr
Burr fought hard against financial industry regulation, saying it would be “overburdensome”to the financial industry and saying he didnt want “government playing a bigger role with a stronger hand.According to Grist, Senator Richard Burr “came into the House with Newt Gingrich’s class of ’94 and was hand-picked by Karl Rove to run for the Senate in 2004. He has voted with his party 94 percent of the time. According to National Journal, he’s the seventh most conservative member of the Senate…and one of its top 10 recipients of oil and gas money.”
He has also opposed extensions in unemployment, arguing at a time when millions of long-term unemployed Americans simply cannot find jobs that unemployment insurance is “a discouragement to individuals that are out there to actually go out and go through the interviews.”He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which protects workers against discrimination on the job. He voted against an amendment that would withhold defense contracts from firms that prevent their employees from taking cases of sexual harassment to court. He voted against legislation preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to victims of domestic violence by declaring them to have a “preexisting condition.”
Burr is a reliable vote for the Religious Right. He opposes legal abortion and supports a constitutional amendment denying gay couples in any state the freedom to marry. He opposes laws to protect gays from discrimination on the job, opposes legislation allowing gay service members to serve openly in the armed forces, and has voted to ban adoption by gay couples in Washington, D.C. He has promoted organized prayer in public schools.
Hes voted against comprehensive immigration reform, for building a fence along the Mexican border, and declaring English the official language of the United States.
Burr was on hand on Friday to present the Bethlehem, N.C., fire department with a grant for $2 million to build a new fire station. Burr called the grant a great thing for the area.
We’re not accustomed to federal dollars in that magnitude finding their way to North Carolina, Burr said, according to a local newspaper.
The grant, according to the local fire chief, came through the Department of Homeland Security by way of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That money was allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $787 billion stimulus measure passed with just three Republican votes in the Senate in February.
Ohio: Rob Portman
Portman is known in Washington for his close ties and loyalty to President George W. Bush. Portman strongly supported his efforts to privatize Social Security and played an important role in his campaigns. He has called for repeal of health care reform and supported the GOP filibuster of Wall Street reform.Before John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, some pundits were suggesting that he consider former Congressman and Bush administration budget and trade official Rob Portman. Portman calls Ohioans “common sense conservatives”– one of Sarah Palin’s favorite phrases – and, not surprisingly, he has a hard-core right-wing record on economic and social issues.
Hes a Religious Right dream candidate – a 100 percent anti-choice record on abortion, an anti-gay record that is strident even for a Republican, and a history of backing legislation to promote school prayer. In 2005, Portman sat at the head table at an organizing meeting for Rev. Rod Parsley’s Patriot Pastors and their effort to register 400,000 “values voters”to try to elect Ken Blackwell as governor. (Parsley is one of the far-right preachers whose inflammatory record caused John McCain to disavow his endorsement.) At the event sponsored by Parsley’s Center for Moral Clarity, Parsley declared himself a “Christocrat.” Portman said, “We are in the right place doing the right thing.”
Among the other speakers at the event was Roy Moore, who lost his seat as chief justice of Alabama when he refused a federal order to remove a 10 Commandments monument he had installed in the courthouse. And among the bills being promoted for “values voters:” making it illegal for gays to be foster parents or adopt.
Portman himself has voted to ban gay adults from adopting in DC. And he’s a long-time backer of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and parochial schools.
He has voted against using race as a factor in college admissions and for allowing religious groups to discriminate in hiring with federal funds.
Portman has also backed efforts to amend the Constitution to limit personal freedom, including amendments to make it illegal for gay couples to get married and to prohibit flag desecration.
Portman has no problem with the Tea Party anger-on-display spirit. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a right-wing Ohio talk-radio host, Bill Cunningham, made offensive comments about Obama using his middle name Hussein and disparaging him as a terrorist sympathizer. Cunninghams remarks were so over the top that McCain distanced himself from them when it was his turn at the microphone. Not so for Portman, who joked about the remarks and praised the DJ’s role in McCains campaign, leading an American Prospect blogger to call it Portman’s “macaca” moment.
Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey
Toomey , a former derivatives trader, is of course opposed to regulation of the complex financial instruments that made millions for investment bankers while leading the nation to economic catastrophe. Videos have surfaced showing Toomey on the floor of Congress praising credit swaps as “very important tools” and calling derivatives “the most important, creative, and innovative development in finance in the last 30 years.”Former Congressman Pat Toomey, who nearly beat then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter in the GOP Senate primary six years ago, is an unabashed anti-government ideologue who spent years working for the Club for Growth, which has a single-minded fixation on lowering taxes for the wealthy. Toomeys congressional voting record was to the right even of former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum.
Toomey supports at least a partial privatization of Social Security, saying younger workers should be free to invest their social security taxes in the stock market. He warns that Democrats would turn America into a “European” welfare state.
Toomey is also backed by Religious Right leaders. In 2004, James Dobson campaigned fervently for Toomey in his primary challenge to Arlen Specter.
Toomey believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, thinks abortion should be illegal and doctors who perform abortions should be jailed. In Congress he voted to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds even for non-abortion women’s health work.
Hes opposed to marriage equality, voted for a federal constitutional amendment that would bar any states from allowing gay couples to marry, voted to strip federal courts of the right to hear challenges to bans on same-sex marriage, and voted to ban gay couples in Washington, D C from getting married. He opposed hate crimes laws as “an attempt to criminalize thought.”
He says, “My idea of gun control is a steady aim.”
Toomey is another member of the earmark hypocrisy hall of shame. As the Philadelphia Inquirer has noted,
Republican Pat Toomey crusaded against earmarks for most of his three terms in the U.S. House, and not long ago took a live pig to Independence Mall as he challenged his Senate-race opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, to swear off the funding that lawmakers direct to their pet projects.
But in his first term representing the Lehigh Valley’s 15th District, Toomey won at least $9 million in earmarks, including $3 million for a private company that became for a time his largest single source of campaign contributions.
Toomey has challenged President Obamas patriotism, saying the president doesnt believe in American exceptionalism, which Toomey defines as the belief the United States’ model of freedom and free enterprise is the best one.
Utah: Mike Lee
Lee is about as far to the right as you could possibly get when it comes to hostility to the federal government. He has denounced as “domestic enemies” those who disagree with his radically limited view of the (divinely inspired) Constitution. Hed abolish the federal departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security. Earmarks, too, are unconstitutional, he says. “Americans have been too willing to allow this document [the Constitution] to be the exclusive province of the Supreme Court of the United States,”he says. “The saving grace is that we Don’t have to rely on the Supreme Court.” Instead, the country needs members of Congress who are willing to “stand up for this document.”Utah lawyer Mike Lee, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, is the most likely of the Tea Party candidates to be a U.S. Senator next year; Utah hasnt elected a Democrat to the Senate for 40 years. Lees election to the Senate would ensure a new radically obstructionist voice, one who believes that huge portions of the federal government are unconstitutional and one who says “We need a ‘Dr. No’ right now in Washington, and Id like to be that Dr. No. ”
He wants to eliminate capital gains taxes and make the current tax system more regressive – more reliant on lower income taxpayers – and says his favorite approach to taxation would actually be to repeal the 16th amendment altogether, strip the federal government of the power to tax income, and leave it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the limited federal government that would be left.
Hes a constitutional lawyer whod like to make lots of changes to the Constitution: he has said he supports repeal of the 17th Amendment, which calls for popular election of U S Senators; he wants to “clarify” the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents; he wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits.
Not surprisingly he calls for repeal of health care reform, saying “The real solution to our current health care challenge is found in less government involvement in the process — not more.”
Not only that, he has called for an end “once and for all” to what he calls the “unauthorized federal occupation of our land.” He says he’s “sick and tired” of “people back east”who prevent Utah from using its own land. “It’s time to reclaim that territory which is ours,” and “which can be regulated only by the great state of Utah.”
He seems to have a forgiving approach to corporate misbehavior. He told the Salt Lake Tribune he didnt want to increase liability for corporations like BP even if it meant taxpayers will be on the hook for accidents like the one in the Gulf .
He is opposed to legal abortion, and says, “The Constitution says nothing that can plausibly be read to suggest–as the Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade–that States are essentially powerless to protect unborn human life. This power to protect the most vulnerable members of society needs to be returned to the States.”He is not a supporter of equality for LGBT Americans: he says Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell works and should not be repealed, and he opposes freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
He is opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, particularly to guest worker programs and a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, saying “illegal aliens should receive no benefit from having entered the United States illegally,”and should not be granted guest-worker visas or the opportunity to purchase lawful immigration status. In addition, he wants to mandate and enforce “the denial of federal and state welfare benefits to illegal immigrants.”
Lee, who says, “George Washington was the original Tea Party man,”has been endorsed by a cavalcade of right-wing leaders, including Sen. Jim DeMint, Reps. Ron Paul and Tom McClintock, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Freedomworks PAC, the Tea Party Express, radio talker Mark Levin,Red States Erick Erickson, and Mitt Romney.
Wisconsin: Ron Johnson
Johnson supported Catholic Church efforts to defeat a legislative effort to lift the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits against priests. He reportedly invited Charles Murray, who promotes racialist theories on intelligence, to speak at an event earlier this year.Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is being challenged by Ron Johnson, a far-right millionaire who is flooding the Wisconsin airwaves with self-financed TV ads. Johnson calls Ayn Rands “Atlas Shrugged” his “foundational book,” even though he abandons libertarian principles when it comes to culture war issues like a woman’s right to choose and equality for LGBT Americans. He opposes legal abortion and marriage equality. On those issues, he promises to “take these principles with him to Washington” and “stand up to those who would attack these cherished traditional values.” Johnson has been endorsed by Jim DeMint and Wisconsin Right to Life.
Hes got the Tea Partys simplistic, divisive rhetoric down pat. He says the difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives “actually believe in free speech”while liberals just talk about it “because they hunger for power over people.”He calls health care reform legislation “the greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime.”He says the country needs to be “pulled back from the brink of socialism and state control.” Civil rights? To Johnson, “the most basic right is the right to keep your property.”
He calls the United Nations “a joke.” He opposes the extension of unemployment benefits as well as the stimulus package. He said this summer that When you continue to extend unemployment benefits, people really don’t have the incentive to go take other jobs.
Johnson doggedly ignores the science when it comes to climate change, saying, I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination. He disagrees with any government spending to address climate change, calling it a “fools errand.” Johnson has suggested climate change is probably due to sunspots or “something in the geologic eons of time.” He came up with this flawed gem to make his point: There’s a reason Greenland was called Greenland, it was actually green at one point in time.
Johnson, who owns a significant amount of BP stock and contradicted himself over whether he would sell it, felt sorry for the company, saying in June, “this is not the time to be beating up on those guys” and he criticizes the escrow fund BP set up as “circumventing the rule of law.”
Johnson said about the organizers of an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan, Those folks are trying to poke a stick in our eye. I just hope the zoning officials and the city, the state revisit that, rezone that piece of property. If they don’t do it I hope the construction workers in New York show their outrage and say we are not going to do that.
Johnson is part of the hypocrisy hit parade when it comes to government aid to private businesses, which he says he opposes. But Wisconsin media have reported that his company received $4 million in government-subsidized loans in the 1980s; the companys precursor used a $75,000 federal grant in 1979 to help build a railroad to the company.
Washington: Dino Rossi
Rossi is an avid supporter of repealing both Wall Street Reform and Health Care Reform, and signed the Tea Partys “Contract from America,”which calls for repealing the progressive income tax. A multimillionaire real estate broker, he was scheduled to lead a real estate seminar the Seattle Times described as an event to “teach investors how to make a big profit from buying and selling foreclosures.”Dino Rossi is no moderate Republican. While he is often lumped in with other “moderates” by journalists, Rossi’s views on civil rights and corporate power position him as a classic right-wing politician. Rossi, who is challenging Senator Patty Murray, served in the Washington State Senate from 1996 to 2003 and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2004 and 2008.
Long a beneficiary of corporate money, Rossi was forced to testify about an investigation of illegal campaign coordination with the Building Industry Association of Washington, which spent millions to promote Rossi’s 2008 gubernatorial bid. In fact, he was so close with the group that he bought property with the help of two BIAW state lobbyists while serving in the State Senate. Along with Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio, he is one of the watchdog CREW’s Crooked Candidates of 2010.
As a state senator,Rossi was a champion and co-sponsor of the “Personhood” Amendment, which sought to grant Constitutional rights to fetuses. Rossi’s bill would have essentially outlawed abortion in Washington, and the head of a leading anti-choice group called Rossi a “solid pro-lifer.”
He is also an unapologetic opponent of LGBT equality. Rossi not only opposes giving same-sex couples the freedom to marry, but also attempted to prevent same-sex partners of state employees from receiving health care benefits.
Such ultraconservative positions have been rewarded with endorsements from Family Research Council Action, Citizens United, and Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who believes that abortion doctors should face the death penalty and that gays and lesbians are greater threats than terrorists, has also endorsed Rossi’s bid.
While he claims to be a principled opponent of earmarks, as a state senator he requested millions of dollars worth of earmarks. McClatchy reports that his budget plan “included $500,000 for a pirate-themed water park, $150,000 to acquire land for new gun and archery ranges, $500,000 for new turf at a high school, $350,000 for baseball fields, and money for a farmers market, a skateboard project, a naval museum and salmon habitat restoration.”
A DeMinted Senate Won't Be DeLovely
Government is out of control and freedom is the only solution. In America, freedom is built on the principles and values that are derived from Judeo-Christian religious convictions. If we allow this government to continue to purge religion and faith and religious values and the principles that are derived from them from our culture, we will lose our freedom.Sen. Jim DeMint, who was elected to the Senate in 2004, seamlessly blends Tea Party anti-government extremism with a reactionary Religious Right social agenda as he did in his speech to the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference:
DeMint has been a one-man force dragging the Senate and its GOP caucus to the Right. But this year he’s looking for far more.
DeMint’s PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, has played a key role in identifying and supporting candidates who pledge fealty to his right-wing issue agenda, often in gleeful defiance of the party establishment. He hasnt won all those battles, but DeMint’s primary picks have repeatedly toppled candidates backed by the National Republic Senatorial Committee. And DeMint doesnt care if some of his more radical candidates lose to Democrats in November. Hes fond of saying “Id rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who Don’t believe in anything.”
No matter how many of his candidates win, theres going to be a new Senate caucus of far-right candidates who owe their jobs in large measure to DeMint’s backing and the financial support that DeMint’s imprimatur can bring. If you think the Senate Republican caucus has been ugly and obstructionist this session, and it has, a Senate with DeMint as a powerbroker could be far worse.
DeMint has called President Obama “the worlds best salesman of socialism” and his 2009 book Saving Freedom promises, “We can stop Americas slide into socialism.”At the Conservative Political Action Conference that year, David Keene of the American Conservative Union noted that DeMint was the only Senator to get a 100 percent rating on the groups last congressional scorecard.
DeMint would eliminate all taxes on interest income, capital gains, dividends, and estates, and end the alternative minimum tax. Hed get rid of corporate income taxes altogether. In April, he denounced financial industry reform legislation as “another Big Government power grab masked as “reform.”
He was one of the leaders of the Family Research Council’s “prayercast” against health care reform, during which he denounced the legislation as a “monstrosity” and prayed that God would “move the hearts” of those who had been “mesmerized” by President Obama. He said the bill, which was less about health care and more about expanding government power, would bring an end to American exceptionalism. He predicted the bill would be Obamas “Waterloo.”
DeMint opposes legal abortion even in cases of rape or incest. His states’ rights views don’t extend to states granting gay couples the freedom to marry. He thinks no government should be allowed to promote “behavior thats proven to be destructive to our society.” On Religious Right activist Janet Porter’s radio show, he said that “traditional marriage” is “foundational”to “our country, our freedoms, our prosperity,” and said:
Ithink we need to make a constitutional case of it. The federal government and our courts have no business redefining marriage and even at the state level, the courts have no business telling us what marriage means. So we need to fight this, because this is not about equal rights. This is about the government legitimizing and promoting behavior that culturally we have always considered wrong. And this is not something that we should give up on.
He has also said that gays and unwed pregnant women should not be allowed to teach in public schools. Hes sponsored a Religious Right-inspired Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
And he led Senate opposition to hate crimes legislation, which he said “perverts our justice system.”
DeMint regularly promotes false claims about threats to religious liberty that are designed to frighten and energize conservative religious voters. In 2008 he warned on Pat Robertson’s show that religious conservatives are “losing our freedom of speech.”He worked with Religious Right leaders to manufacture an entirely bogus controversy about a supposedly anti-religious provision in the stimulus bill, saying on the floor of the Senate that it would prevent religious students from talking about their faith on college campuses. In a floor speech falsely characterizing the provision, which was actually standard boilerplate against using federal money to build houses of worship, he said, “Someone is so hostile to religion that they are willing to stand in the schoolhouse door, like the infamous George Wallace, to deny people of faith from entering into any campus building renovated by this bill.”
He sent a letter to pastors about the hate crimes legislation to remind them that “religious principles and biblical teachings produced the values and policies that made America exceptional, prosperous, and good” and to charge that the legislation would “lead to the criminalization of biblical truth as “hate speech.” He claimed falsely that “Under this legislation, a pastor who teaches that homosexuality is wrong could be accused of a hate crime or charged with inducing a violent crime against a gay person.”
DeMint opposes comprehensive immigration reform as “amnesty.” In addition, he supports reducing the number of legal immigrants into the country. He believes international aid programs should be scaled back and eventually eliminated.
Republican Senators have spent the past two years exploiting Senate rules and procedures to wage obstructionist partisan warfare to an unprecedented degree. But things could be even worse. If the November elections usher in a new crop of Senators with a 19th-Century view of the Constitution, reality-denying approaches to urgent problems, and a disregard for the rights of women and LGBT Americans, they could prove disastrous for America’s future, for the values of individual liberty and equality under the law, and for the ability of the federal government to take any effective action to advance the national interest and the common good.