This weekend, however, delegates to the Utah GOP convention voted to force a primary that will determine whether Republicans in one of the nation’s reddest states are still satisfied with vague generalities — or whether they would prefer a senator who openly and proudly proclaims that it is unconstitutional for the United States to provide health care to children. On Saturday, tenther state lawmaker Dan Lijenquist (R-UT) earned enough support from convention delegates to force a primary against incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Lijenquist joins at least four other Republican senate candidates who believe the Constitution requires America to drown most of its protections for workers, consumers and the elderly in a bathtub:
- Dan Lijenquist: Lijenquist himself called the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) unconstitutional in at attempt to draw contrast between himself and Hatch, who once supported the program. It’s not clear what false theory of the Constitution Lijenquist bases this claim on, but a court decision striking down SCHIP would almost certainly have to take out Medicaid, and could endanger Medicare as well.
- Ted Cruz: Texas U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz co-authored a white paper suggesting that Medicaid and most federal education funding is unconstitutional. He also coauthored a complex but nonetheless unconstitutional plan to nullify the Affordable Care Act.
- John Raese: West Virginia U.S. Senate candidate John Raese, who is best known for declaring that “we need 1,000 laser systems put in the sky and we need it right now” when he also ran for the same job in 2010, also called the minimum wage unconstitutional during his failed 2010 race.
- Wendy Long: Long, a U.S. Senate candidate in New York, is a former law clerk to tenther Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She also penned a book review praising an opinion by her former boss which would lead to everything from national child labor laws to the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters being declared unconstitutional.
- Sam Rohrer: Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Sam Rohrer gave a speech claiming that “such things as education, or health care, or for that matter even highways and roads” are limited to the states, a position that would lead to Medicare, all federal education funds & student loans and the entire federal highway system being invalidated.
Although these candidates’ views are increasingly common among Republican elected officials, it is somewhat baffling that Republicans are willing to repeat this strategy of running tenther extremists in their bid to take control of the Senate. In 2010 — a year that otherwise benefited Republicans — four of the six outspoken tenther Senate candidates went down in defeat.