Minnesota Republican Michelle Bachman stood on the Congressional steps on Wednesday and announced the formation of the Tea Party Caucus, and guess which state contributed the most members? Well, Texas of course.
Standing behind Bachman at the press conference were exactly who you might expect: Joe Barton of Arlington, Michael Burgess of Lewisville, Pete Sessions of Dallas, John Carter of Round Rock, John Culberson of Houston, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock and Lamar Smith of San Antonio. The Dallas Morning News has a nice story from Washington. Talking Points Memo has a slideshow of the press conference.
Is it any surprise that Texas Republicans would make up the largest delegation – almost 25 percent – of the most right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives? Not really. Gov. Rick Perry has courted Tea Party activists for over a year, and he seems to be betting his reelection on them. The only real surprise was to see Sessions join up. A Tea Party activist challenged him in the Republican primary. But apparently the lesson here is that even if you beat them, you better go ahead and join them too. As the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he apparently believes Tea Partiers will play a big role in the November elections.
His fellow Texans were full of piss and vinegar at Wednesday’s press conference. Culberson promised that the Tea Party would “sweep out these extremists that are governing the Congress.”
The most interesting part of the announcement, though, was Bachman’s preemptive denial of any responsibility for anything the Tea Party might do. She denied being a Tea Party leader, said she had nothing to do with any Tea Party organization and refused responsibility for anything a Tea Party activist might say or write on a sign. Instead, the said the caucus would be a “receptacle” for Tea Party ideas. With that kind of distancing, you’ve got to wonder if the Tea Party base are really feeling the love from these professional, incumbent politicians in Washington.