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The Battle for America 2010: In Virginia 5, Tea Party Complicates GOP Challenger’s Campaign


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Pajamas Media:

Incumbent Democrat Tom Perriello is in critical danger, but Republican Robert Hunt has run afoul of local tea party activists due to his past support for tax increases.
Mary Beth Niemeyer

Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, which is anchored by Charlottesville at its northern point and runs south to the North Carolina border, followed a national trend in 2008, dumping a Republican incumbent for a Democratic challenger. Now, the current incumbent, Tom Perriello, is in critical danger. But the candidate who still stands to be burned by grassroots fire is his challenger, Republican Robert Hurt.

Freshman Perriello is learning what several of his House classmates have discovered: President Obama’s coattails, once rivaling the length and breadth of a royal wedding gown, are now more closely resembling a cocktail dress. The Cook Political Report currently colors VA-5 the barest shade of pink, listing the race as a Democrat toss-up.


Hurt’s lukewarm ideological support highlights another reason why the VA-5 race is so compelling. It may act as a referendum on the power and potential governing ability of the tea party movement, a conglomeration of citizen-run groups which has distinguished itself by the lack of a controlling establishment. The divide within the VA-5 coalition crystallizes a significant debate for those self-identifying as tea partiers, a defining argument that is raging across many political blogs. In the quest for the most conservative candidate possible, is the tea party movement making the perfect the enemy of the good? Or should the movement simply back the most conservative candidate with the best chance to win, risking a RINO candidate who would enact “socialism lite”?

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