By Meghan Keenan -
The 2012 GOP National Convention coming up on Aug. 27 in Tampa, will formally recognize Mitt Romney as the party's presidential nominee. Many Tea Party activists are less than enthusiastic about Romney’s nomination, questioning whether he is conservative enough - some say they may not even vote for him in November.
Romney is, of course, in the tough position of trying to win the support of two very different groups. In addition to trying to gain the Tea Party’s support, his campaign needs to attempt to appeal to the moderate voters to have a chance at defeating President Obama.
The Tea Party has prominently cited Romney’s signature on a healthcare overhaul as governor of Massachusetts as evidence that he is not conservative enough to ensure their support.
Consequently, the Tea Party’s involvement in the convention this year will be a little different. Activists will be staging a rally the day before the convention begins - among the speakers will be two Republicans who challenged Romney for the presidential nomination, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. Tea Party leaders and groups such as FreedomWorks PAC are also planning to petition the party platform and present new ideas.
Tea Party members have lately been focusing on state and local races for Congress, as opposed to the national race. Recent Tea Party candidate victories include Ted Cruz’s success last week in the Texas Republican primary for Senate, and Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s defeat of two other Republicans in the primary for Senate on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named 13 new “Red-to-Blue” candidates on Wednesday. These are candidates who they are concentrating in states that the party considers most winnable due to redistricting, such as Illinois, California and New York.
There are now a total of 51 of these so-called Red-to-Blue candidates including: former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Scott Peters (Calif.), as well as several candidates fighting for seats vacated by Democrats. Illinois' 12th CD race between Republican Jason Plummer and Democrat William Enyart is one of those the Democrats hope to win back in November.
Democrats need to win 25 seats to regain the House majority – a tall order; however, lukewarm enthusiasm from the Tea Party is giving the independent and moderate voters the most power in deciding this election.