Conservative activists who helped bring Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee to Washington and helped foster rabble rousers on the state level like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley fear the well has gone dry.
As the right prepares for the upcoming 2014 mid-term congressional elections with hopes to add reinforcements to the Tea Party-influenced wing of the Republican Party, some of those who have funded and supported the current stars of the movement like Cruz and Paul claim they can't find good recruits. Texan Cruz was the last major Tea Party-backed candidate elected.
RedState blogger Erick Erickson was among the first to air his concerns about the lack of a conservative farm team. On Monday, in announcing his plans for his 5th RedState Gathering set for the first weekend in August in New Orleans, Erickson said, "Five years ago we introduced the nation to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Michael Williams, Ken Cuccinelli, Karen Handel, and more." Now, he said, "I am struggling to find good, disruptive candidates to challenge the established ways of Washington."
And those he does find, he added, aren't up to snuff. "We need more disrupters and I see few on the horizon. Those who I see are of questionable merit for general elections."
Unlike in 2010 and 2012 when conservatives challenged moderate Republicans and Democrats in a bid to upset Washington, Erickson said that the new crop of candidates on the right are more traditional in their politics. "Most of the candidates running in 2014 are running because they want to go to Washington, not because they want to go blow up the system."
That likely is encouraging to mainstream Republicans, however, like those who agree with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain who views the new Tea Party-backed lawmakers as "wacko birds," and political strategists who fear the elevation of candidates who are not ready for a bruising campaign.