The free-market PAC's spokesman, Mike Connolly, explains all to David Catanese. The rundown:
-- The Club for Growth spent only $177,750 against Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), "largely on phone calls to delegates, online strategy, mailings and robo-calls."
-- The pivotal moment for Bennett, as many strategists told me, was the election of a new crop of conservative activists in the March 23 caucuses. Those activists, many coming out of the tea party movement, held Bennett's fate in their hands. And he never had a chance at the convention.
It emphasizes that as exciting as this story was, it's simply not repeatable in other states -- Utah's empowerment of the most dedicated activists, which lets them shrink the primary field to their two preferred candidates, is unprecedented.
Keith asked Dave Weigel if electing these tea party candidates is going to be beneficial to the Democrats.
Weigel: Well, they do celebrate whenever this happens. They’ll have a better shot at a couple of Senate seats, a couple of House seats if tea partiers nominate somebody who can’t win. In this case Utah’s a very tough nut to crack. They’ve got a candidate but they’re not optimistic. But in Arizona if J.D. Hayworth beats John McCain they’ve got a Phoenix city councilman who they think could win there.
Charlie Crist if he ends up winning that three way race or if Kendrick Meek wins in Florida that’s better than they could have had in a two way race. They actually had a bad situation this weekend in Hawaii where there’s an intra-Democratic Party feud that cost them a seat. But generally they’re quietly cheering and they’re waiting to unleash a lot of opposition research once these nominees are well chosen. Utah not so much, other states like South Dakota, Ohio, not Ohio yet, other states they’re hoping that tea party candidates make these challenges.
Keith also asked him if some of them getting elected are going to hurt the Republican Party since it's going to show them to be extremists. Weigel expressed something along the lines of my feelings about Republicans. If the crazies like Michele Bachmann haven't already hurt the party, a few more of these wingnuts isn't going to matter much with the electorate as pissed off as they are now at politicians in general.