Interesting new from The Politico:
Jeffrey Clark, a Virginia tea party activist and small businessman, is planning an independent campaign for Congress in Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello’s district — but he’ll follow through only if the GOP nominates the one candidate he’s judged unacceptable.
If state Sen. Robert Hurt wins the GOP primary on June 8, Clark told POLITICO, he’ll move ahead as an unaffiliated conservative candidate even at the risk of undermining Republican efforts to oust Perriello.
“I would rather see Tom Perriello for two more years than the wrong conservative there for 20 years,” Clark said.
Hurt has drawn support from establishment Republicans in Virginia and Washington, winning the endorsement of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. But he’s been greeted with suspicion by some in the GOP’s activist base because of his moderate voting record, including his support for tax hikes during the administration of former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner.
Though Clark might be in a position to peel off some disaffected GOP activists, he acknowledged that he’d be at a serious financial disadvantage in the race: “I’m not under the illusion that we’re going to be able to compete with Tom Perriello’s $1.6 million or Robert Hurt’s money.”
Despite the monetary disadvantage, though, Clark could pose a problem for Hurt:
How serious would a Clark candidacy be? When we polled the district in early February we found that a generic Tea Party candidate would pull 19%. Perriello received 44% and Hurt 27% in such a scenario.
We also polled the GOP primary on that survey and this finding puts into context just how much of an aversion there is to Hurt among the Republican voters who don’t support him- among folks who had made up their mind for the primary and decided to vote for someone other than Hurt only 38% said they’d vote for him in the general election compared to 42% who said they’d rather vote for a Tea Party candidate.
Do I really think Clark would pull 19%? No. But Perriello has held up pretty well so far given the political climate and the nature of his district, and even if 48% is the best he can get to in an off year election that would still put him over the top if Clark got just 5% from Hurt’s disaffected supporters.
Is that what the Tea Party wants ? To hand the District to Periello for another two years ?
Foolish, if you ask me.