Republicans In Disarray: Losing Candidates Increasingly Unwilling To Unite Behind GOP Nominees

For months, a civil war has raged between Tea Party activists and the GOP establishment for the heart of the Republican Party. While House Republicans have tried to co-opt the movement by creating a Tea Party Caucus, corporate Tea Party leaders like Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe scoff at the idea, declaring instead, “The movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party. It is aiming for a hostile takeover.” Meanwhile, despite public overtures, the Republican establishment has spent millions fending off Tea Party primary challenges.

It is no surprise, then, that in a multitude of races where Tea Party candidates have faced off against establishment Republicans in a GOP primary, the losing candidate is rejecting customary practice by refusing to endorse the winner. For a party that is supposed to have a banner year, immense disunity could spell trouble for the Republican Party. Here is a list of races this cycle — most of which pitted an establishment candidate against a Tea Party candidate — where the losing candidate has refused to officially endorse:

AZ-SEN: Sen. John McCain soundly trumped former Rep. J.D. Hayworth in the August 24 primary. Afterward, McCain never received a congratulatory phone call and Hayworth, who has not endorsed McCain, never received an invitation to a GOP unity event.

WA-SEN: Sarah Palin-endorsed Tea Partier Clint Didier was trounced by establishment candidate Dino Rossi on August 17. Didier has since withheld his endorsement until certain policy demands are met; Rossi isn’t budging. Didier’s spokeswoman responded, “So is Dino saying, ‘F*** you’ to those people [who supported Didier]? ‘F*** you,’ I don’t need your votes?”


MO-SEN: On August 3, Rep. Roy Blunt secured the GOP nomination over Tea Party candidate Chuck Purgason. Four weeks later, Purgason still has not officially endorsed Blunt.

FL-GOV: Rick Scott defeated Bill McCollum on August 24 in one of the most bitter primaries of the year. McCollum has since refused to endorse Scott, saying instead that “I still have serious questions…about issues with his character, his integrity, his honesty.”

CA-GOV: The bad blood didn’t end after Meg Whitman trounced Steve Poizner on June 8. Whitman continued to attack Poizner on the radio, leading the latter to declare that Whitman “apparently hasn’t gotten the memo that the primary is over” because she is “still misrepresenting my track record.”

NV-GOV: Brian Sandoval toppled Gov. Jim Gibbons on June 8. Sandoval spokesman Mary Sarah confirmed to ThinkProgress that Gibbons has not endorsed Sandoval following the primary.

IA-GOV: Bob Vander Plaats lost a contentious campaign to former Gov. Terry Branstad on June 8. Then, after Vander Plaat’s supporters fell just short of usurping the lieutenant governor slot against Branstad’s wishes, Vander Plaat himself said that he will not endorse Branstad for governor.

SC-GOV: After Nikki Haley secured the GOP nomination on June 22, one of her primary opponents, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, pointedly refused to show up for a unity rally.

NY-23: After Doug Hoffman drove RNC-endorsed Dede Scozzafava out of the 2009 special election because she wasn’t sufficiently conservative. Scozzafava proceeded not only to withhold an endorsement from Hoffman, but went even further and threw her support instead to Democrat Bill Owens.

SC-04: On June 22, Tea Party challenger Trey Gowdy defeated Rep. Bob Inglis 71 percent to 29 percent. Price Atkinson, a spokesman for Inglis, confirmed to ThinkProgress that Inglis has not endorsed Gowdy following the primary.

WA-03: Establishment candidate Jaime Herrera topped Tea Party candidate David Castillo on August 17. Afterward, Castillo would not endorse Herrera in the general election.

PA-04: On May 18, Tea Partier Keith Rothfus beat out GOP favorite Mary Beth Buchanan. ThinkProgress called Rothfus’s campaign, where a press contact who declined to give her name confirmed that Buchanan has not given an official endorsement.

IN-04: Todd Rokita defeated Brandt Hershman on May 4. Since then, Zach Zagar from the Rokita campaign confirmed to ThinkProgress that they “haven’t had any contact with Mr. Hershman’s campaign since the primary.”

KS-04: Mike Pompeo emerged out of a crowded field on August 3 but embittered himself with his primary rivals in the process. None of his three GOP opponents have endorsed his campaign.

FL-08: Daniel Webster emerged from a crowded GOP field on August 24. However, one of his top primary opponents, Kurt Kelly, was conspicuously absent at last night’s unity rally.

If you know of other races where the losing candidate refuses to endorse the winner, email ThinkProgress and let us know.