Red State Democrats Quick To Blame Tea Party For Shutdown


Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said at a press conference on Tuesday she expects the tea party wing of the Republican Party to to get blamed for the government shutdown.

Landrieu specifically cited Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been the single biggest cheerleader in urging Republicans to go to risk a government shutdown to push Democrats to vote to defund the Obama administration’s health care law. The senator from Louisiana was asked how she expected the shutdown to affect the Senate race for her seat. She is running for re-election against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

“Well it’s not about being happy for my race,” Landrieu told TPM on Tuesday. “But I don’t think the whole Republican party is going to be blamed, I think the tea party is going to take it on the chin and frankly if Cruz is their representative, they deserve it.”

Landrieu’s comments, made shortly after a press conference with a number of other lawmakers on Tuesday (including Cassidy), come as lawmakers look to avoid the blame for causing a government shutdown. Landrieu specifically mentioned a number of Republicans senators as lawmakers who should not be blamed for causing or helping to cause a shutdown: Sens. John McCain (AZ), Bob Corker (TN), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lamar Alexander (TN) and Susan Collins (ME).

“I don’t think all Republicans will get the blame. I think the tea party will get the blame and they deserve it. It’s not the whole Republican Party,” Landrieu said. “I mean John McCain, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham have been trying to find — you know Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins — have been trying to find a mainstream way forward to get back at the basics of governing.

“The problem is they have a faction in their party, that I think is actually a minority, that they’re very vocal. That they’re very loud, loud and vocal and they’re saying things with a lot of fervor and a lot of inflammatory language. It might be inflammatory but it’s not informative.”

TPM then asked Landrieu how she thought the shutdown would affect her re-election campaign. Landrieu is facing a challenge from Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who was also at the flood insurance press conference.

Landrieu wouldn’t say if Cassidy was likely to feel part of the blame for the shutdown.

“I don’t know,’ Landrieu said. “It’s about the tea party and their followers.”

Cassidy refused to discuss the fallout of the shutdown on his race or Republicans in general.

Other red state Democrats, like Sen. Mark Pryor’s (D-AR), have been quick to point blame tea party opponents for the shutdown. Pryor’s e-election campaign strongly hammered challenger Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) since the shutdown went into effect. Pryor’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, described Cotton as a “cheerleader” for a government shutdown.

“There’s no denying that from his very first month in Washington, Congressman Cotton has been a cheerleader for shutting down the government, and now Arkansas families are living with his irresponsible priorities,” Weaver said in a statement.

Cotton voted for all four of the House continuing resolutions passed on Monday that also delayed Obamacare for one year. The funding measure, which passed in the House 228-201, was favored by most Republicans and opposed by Democrats, effectively resulting in a government shutdown.

Since the shutdown, Cotton’s campaign has focused on the Obamacare aspect of the continuing resolution. Pryor has refused to vote for legislation that defunds or delays Obamacare.

“I supported a one-year delay in Obamacare, because Arkansas families deserve fair treatment,” Cotton said in a statement on Tuesday.