Sessions Sees ‘Energized’ Tea Party as Lugar Loses Vote

Texas Representative Pete Sessions, who leads the Republican Party’s re-election efforts in the U.S. House, said the Tea Party movement remains “angry and energized” almost two years after it helped Republicans take control of the House.

Sessions, who spoke today at a breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, said Tea Party activists have as their chief goals repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and controlling federal spending. He spoke the morning after Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, a six-term Senate veteran, lost in a primary to Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who was backed by the anti-tax-and- spending movement.

“I am seeing not just a resurgence but a continued support from Tea Party people who are becoming involved in the system or actively pushing each and every one of us,” said Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “If you look at what is occurring in Republican conventions around the country they are energized.”

The future of the Tea Party movement has been debated as polls show the public growing less sympathetic to it. According to a May 3-7 AP-GfK Roper Public Affairs poll, 22 percent say they support the Tea Party, down from 31 percent in a May 2010 survey.

West Virginia Vote

At today’s breakfast, Sessions and Oregon Republican Greg Walden, deputy chairman of the Republican congressional committee, said the results of the Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia last night underscore Obama’s problems with “blue-collar” voters in states that include Illinois and Kentucky.

In the state’s Democratic presidential primary, Keith Judd, who is serving a sentence at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institute in Texas for extortion, received 42 percent of the vote. The results could qualify Judd for delegate representation at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, according to DNC rules.

“The president’s policies met blue-collar reality,” Walden said. “His attack on coal and energy really met a direct response. How embarrassing is it if you’re the president and you’re losing West Virginia to a guy sitting in prison.”

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt responded by saying the president received more primary votes in West Virginia and in North Carolina than did former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.

Romney received 77,477 votes to Obama’s 105,833 votes in the West Virginia primary, according to Associated Press vote totals. In North Carolina, Obama received 755,934 votes and Romney had 635,028.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heidi Przybyla in Washington at hprzybyla@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at Jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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