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Eye On Candidates
April 8, 2015

Tea Party Support Divided in 2016 Nomination Contest?

The Washington Times reports on how the Tea Party vote may wind up being split between three different candidates (at least) in 2016, citing Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz as the main contenders for the key Republican constituency of limited-government activists.

2016 hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio hope there’s enough tea to go around

Sen. Rand Paul officially announced his bid Tuesday for the Republican presidential nomination, vowing to bring the tea party’s anti-Washington message to the 2016 contest under a “banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other.”

But with Sen. Ted Cruz already in the race and Sen. Marco Rubio expected to join next week, three first-term Republicans hailed as champions of the tea party will be competing.

“We are kind of calling it the ‘tea party trifecta,’” said Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Tea Party Express. “I think it really speaks to the maturation of the tea party movement and just how far we have come since 2010.”

Whether there is enough tea to go around as the Republican primary battle heats up is a major question…

After a rough 2014 election season in which most of their candidates were shellacked in Republican primaries, tea party leaders said the trio in the presidential contest shows their movement still has life.

“The fact that the first three Republican candidates are going to be candidates that ran for the U.S. Senate and were elected to the U.S. Senate on tea party values and now intend to run for the presidency on tea party values shows the strength and maturity of the movement,” said Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots…

Some activists, though, warned that too many options could dilute tea party power and open the door for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or another establishment-backed moderate to emerge victorious…

The article focuses on Paul, Rubio, and Cruz, but it’s not hard to see many of the other candidates also seriously contending for support from Tea Party voters.