The Tea Party movement has had much impact on the 2010 midterm election, and one of them has been to re-position the meaning of conservative. Congressman John Salazar, the threatened Democratic congressman from the Third Congressional District, is the clearest example of the danger to Democrats from the new definition.
Salazar, assumed as a Blue Dog, moderate Democrat who voted against cap and trade, he was sufficiently conservative to have the votes of substantial numbers of 3rd CD Republicans. He beat his current opponent by 80,000 when Scott Tipton first ran in 2006. National commentators agreed Salazar, who had more than $1 million in the bank, was not threatened.
But, the Tea Party didn’t care that Salazar only voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi 92 percent of the time and not 96 percent like his urban and liberal Democratic colleagues. Voting with Pelosi at all made Salazar suspect, and 9 out of 10 voters was more than enough to campaign hard against him. “Salazar, Ciruli said, is ‘clearly a Democratic moderate’ who has been unable to connect with conservatives in his district so far this election cycle and seems to be paying the price.” (Grand Junction Sentinel).
Salazar missed the threat and didn’t’ really start a hard campaign until the end of August when he hired a couple of experienced campaign workers.
While it will be a surprise if Salazar loses, if there is a Republican wave strong enough to capture 70 or 80 seats, it might claim Salazar’s.