Though he repeatedly joined with all of his Republican colleagues to force the government shutdown, in a candid moment last month Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) complained that the Tea Party’s influence forced them to do it.
Walden, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP’s campaign arm), reportedly told a group of top Republican donors that the Tea Party’s organizational strength meant that Republicans had to shutdown the government and obstruct a debt-ceiling increase.
“Listen,” Walden told them, “We have to do this because of the Tea Party. If we don’t, these guys are going to get primaried and they are going to lose their primary.” Noting that he often hears complaints from the pro-business wing of the party, he noted none of them get involved at the local level. “The Tea Party gets involved at the local level,” he added.
Thanks to gerrymandering, most House Republicans represent districts that are solidly Republican. Indeed while more than 51 percent of the nation’s voters backed President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, the average House Republican district gave Obama less than 40 percent of its support — more than an 11 point difference.