Amid the fervor surrounding the Presidential election, two Tea Party giants are in a fight for their Congressional lives. Michele Bachmann, the representative for Minnesota’s 6th district, and Allen West of Florida’s 18th district are locked in too-close-to-call battles that may result in recounts.
Bachmann has represented Minnesota in Congress since 2007, and has made headlines ever since, especially during her failed bid for this year’s Republican presidential nomination. Some of her most controversial moments include refusing to fill out the census, claiming the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation, implying that Democrats in Congress were “anti-American,” and most recently, implicating a staffer of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in a Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the federal government. Her opponent, Jim Graves, is a hotel magnate whose success in fundraising and campaigning seems to have taken even the Democratic National Committee by surprise. The Congresswoman has survived several reelections, but this election is impossibly close: Bachmann leads by less than 1000 votes, at last count. Minnesota election law automatically triggers a recount if the margin of victory is less than .5%, an outcome that is not beyond the realm of possibility in this nasty Congressional race.
Allen West, Tea Party darling who was swept into office in the Republican wave of 2012, is also well-known to liberals and conservatives alike. West has declared that members of the House Progressive Caucus were Communists, and has stated that Islam is a violent religion; however, he is considered a star of the Tea Party movement. Both sides have raised over $21 million, making it one of the most expensive races in the country. Beyond that though, it’s been an embittered and nasty one, with Democratic challenger Chris Murphy even considering a defamation lawsuit. Congressman West looks unlikely to win; his lead continues to evaporate, and the two opponents are basically tied in votes.
No matter who wins these races, the House will remain in control of the John Boehner and the Republicans. Nonetheless, Bachmann and West are the stars of the Tea Party, and if they are ousted, it would clearly be an indictment of the movement’s more extreme members by the American people.