Jilted Tea Partiers Spelled Mike Haridopolos’ Doom
Around the State
The demise of Mike Haridopolos’ U.S. Senate campaign could have been foretold by the tea leaves.
Tea party wrath over the state Senate president’s failure to deliver an E-Verify immigration bill at the last session angered grass-roots conservatives. Though the Florida House shoulders at least equal blame by failing to pass a bill, Haridopolos’ opening-day pledge to a tea party rally in Tallahassee put him in the cross-hairs.
Attempting to salvage a shred of respect, the Republican lawmaker on Monday declared that there is important work to do in Florida.
To which one tea partier riposted:
“If he had taken care of business at home, he wouldn’t have had to drop out,” said Robin Stublen of Charlotte County.
Tea groups from Fort Lauderdale to Bradenton to Jacksonville thrashed Haridopolos for what they alternately called weak or nonexistent leadership on the immigration issue, which, right or wrong, came to define his record. Last week, the Brevard County senator couldn’t even win a tea party poll in his own district.
Of course, Haridopolos took ritualistic hits from the left as well. That was to be expected, given that he was the top campaign-fund collector in the race. Backed by many in the GOP establishment, he was pilloried for his $150,000 college “book deal” and was even the target of a “Dirty Hari” website produced by the liberal group, Progress Florida.
In the end, even Haridopolos’ $3.5 million war chest wasn’t enough to stave off political implosion. And if there’s one healthy conclusion to be drawn from his ill-fated campaign, it is the refutation of the notion that the candidate with the most money is destined to win.
Tea party and patriot activists – so often marginalized or dismissed by the GOP establishment – counted for more than bundles of cash this time. That’s a civic lesson even Democrats should celebrate (but won’t).
And don’t feel too badly for Haridopolos. Under federal rules, he can keep his $3.5 million for some future campaign.
Reach Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 559-4719.