Tea Party Primaries Percolating Nationally

Republicans have put Democrats on the defensive in the Congressional midterm elections, but are facing their own challenges from conservatives across the country more frequently identifying with the tea party movement.

The trend started last fall when national momentum built behind conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd Congressional district, pushing the party-chosen Republican Dede Scozzafava out of the race.

Now, Democratic sources tell us, tea party challengers have sprung up across the country. In many cases they are specifically saying they want to fight against the “establishment” of the National Republican Congressional Committee-backed candidates and incumbents who are too comfortable with the Washington way.That’s one reason you’ve seen Republicans paying homage to and lauding the work of the grassroots tea party movement, and the Democrats are happy to push this story line because in the case of NY-23, it resulted in an unexpected win for their candidate.

We’ve been tracking the race in VA-05, where seven Republican candidates are lining up in hopes of challenging top target Rep. Tom Perriello (D).

In the latest development there, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher of 2008 presidential campaign fame is endorsing Laurence Verga.

Wurzelbacher called Verga “a true American that truly understands the importance of the Constitution, and will follow it.” They will campaign together this weekend.

As we have reported, Verga also was lauded by conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham.

In AL-02, Rick Barber announced his candidacy in the Republican primary, challenging the NRCC candidate Martha Roby.

Barber, who calls himself a “conservative Tea Party Patriot,” also announced he has hired Yates Walker, who served as a regional director of the Hoffman campaign in NY-23.

“There are a lot of parallels between Doug Hoffman and Rick Barber,” Walker said in a release put out by the Barber campaign. “We need more representatives who believe in free market principles and understand balance sheets.”

In PA-06, the race is heating up to replace Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), who is retiring to run for governor.

A TPM reader tipped us off to the fight between NRCC favorite Steve Welch and state Rep. Curt Schroder, a conservative.

Welch, like the establishment candidate in VA-05 Robert Hurt, just signed the Grover Norquist Americans for Tax Reform pledge against backing tax increases.

In this video below filmed at the July 4 tea party, Schroder addresses the tea party groups and asks for liberty to be continued.

“We don’t like the direction our country is going. … We have to return to a Constitutional republic,” he said.