Katie Kieffer

Some like it hot. Some like it cold. And the Tea Party likes it red-hot, as in, red states. Three energetic Tea Party candidates are heating up to beat RINOs and help return the U.S. Senate to a true conservative majority.

Rhinoceros horn is popular in Asia for its purported healing powers. Asian demand sends poachers to Africa to hunt the endangered animal. Last November, one Hong Kong poacher surrendered $2 million of illegal rhino horn to authorities. In the GOP, however, RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) are losing popularity. The RINO’s “horn” is compromise and Americans are tired of compromises like Obamacare. Americans want politicians who will just say “no” to socialism.

The GOP needs togain four seats this fall in order to take majority control of the U.S. Senate. To win these seats, I think the GOP must run authentic Tea Party conservatives. Leave the big-spending, EPA-kissing RINOs behind; they are unelectable. Here are three hot Tea Party Senate candidates that I believe can paint the political map red in November:

1.) Greg Sowards, The Reaganesque Businessman

Greg Sowards is the New Mexico GOP U.S. Senate candidate running against RINO career politician Heather Wilson in the June 5 primary. Like Reagan, Sowards’ easygoing confidence, respect for life, fiscal hawkishness and straight-shooting personality endear him to conservative and independent voters.

When I called Sowards at his New Mexico office to see if he was “for real,” he ensured me: “I’m not going there [the U.S. Senate] for re-election. ... I have six children and 20 grandchildren. I look at everything we spend as borrowed from the next generations. I will vote against bills that sound good but are really 5 percent good and 95 percent cancerous.”

My assessment is that Sowards is the fresh, electable voice for the GOP because he is a life-long entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses since college. Sowards is an inventor with five patents under his belt. 24 years ago, Sowards and his wife started a child-care business that today employs over 80 Americans, commands six facilities and cares for over 700 children. In Sowards, I think New Mexicans see a trustworthy, everyday job-creator to represent them in D.C.

Sowards is also gaining traction in New Mexico because his foreign policy views are more reflective of mainstream American sentiment and take into account our nation’s swelling debt. As a U.S. veteran, Sowards understands how to weigh the costs and benefits of multiple elongated wars.

So, what is the New Mexico establishment GOP’s infatuation with Wilson? I’m unsure since she is about as conservative as Nancy Pelosi. Certainly, Wilson has “experience” in politics serving as a U.S. Representative. However, the only thing she seemed to “learn” in D.C. was how to waste money. Wilson voted for: TARP; federal control over healthcare; repeatedly raising the debt ceiling; allocating taxpayer dollars for Abortion Mart (Planned Parenthood) and she really, really loves the unconstitutional EPA.

Wilson voted to allow the EPA to begin implementing anti-business emission regulations recommended under the Kyoto Protocol—even as her respected Republican colleagues at the time like Paul Ryan, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, Pat Toomey, Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson and John Boehner voted against implementing Kyoto.

I think it would be a mistake for the GOP to run Wilson. New Mexico’s Senate seat is still considered “in play” by The New York Times. New Mexicans, many of whom are Hispanic, are looking for a new face that is socially and fiscally conservative. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman vacated the seat after serving five terms. Since the Democrats are still locked up in their own primary, it stands to reason that independents and conservative Democrats—unattached to an incumbent—will be open to voting for a clean conservative businessman from the Republican party.

2.) Kurt Bills, The Economics Teacher

Kurt Bills is a full-time high school Advanced Placement economics teacher in Minnesota. He has no plans to give up his day job if he becomes Minnesota’s next U.S. Senator (replacing Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar). While he’s teaching young people how to budget in the classroom, he plans to teach his fellow Senators how to budget in D.C. Bills is running against a RINO in the May 18 Minnesota GOP primary.

I combed through the voting record of Bills’ opponent, former Minnesota State Rep. Dan Severson, and I found a pattern of voting for anti-business spending. Severson repeatedly said “yes” to: Massive bonding bills to fund higher education, mass transit and light rail; taxpayer-subsidized collegiate and professional sports stadiums; an anti-business smoking ban and a $9 billion government healthcare spending bill that included a 75-cent per pack tax on cigarettes.

Like Heather Wilson, Dan Severson seems to enjoy telling businesses to go broke in favor of enviro-socialism. For example, Severson voted for a renewable energy standard bill in 2007 that would give Minnesota the toughest energy standard in the entire nation—forcing Minnesota utility companies to obtain at least 25 percent of their power from solar, burned waste and wind by 2025.

Like Sowards, I think Bills is gaining favor with conservatives and independents in Minnesota for three reasons. First, he is not a career politician. Second, he has real-world experience and he understands economics. Third, he embraces mainstream foreign policy that combines hard-nose diplomacy with Economics 101. For example, Bills does not think that the U.S. is “defending” Israel by giving $1.3 billion in military aid to Israel’s foe, namely Egypt. (Just last month, Egypt withdrew from a deal with Israel whereby it effectively denied Israel access to about 40 percent of its natural gas needs.) Bills does not think that places like Egypt are worthy of U.S. military funding—and Minnesota conservatives who support Israel seem to agree.

3.) Richard Mourdock, The Tea Party Favorite

Richard Mourdock ran and won the Indiana GOP nomination for U.S. Senate against establishment RINO Sen. Richard Lugar who had spent 35 years (six terms) in the U.S. Senate. Mourdock has the opposite resume, boasting at least 30 years of direct business experience, including starting and running his own company. Despite Lugar’s name recognition and “experience” in politics, GOP primary voters ditched Lugar and went for the businessman.

Rush Limbaugh explained on his May 4 talk radio show: “In Indiana, Richard Mourdock is a Tea Party candidate. He is going up against the Republican establishment, and the Republican establishment's trying to destroy him. He's being outspent ten to one (we're talking millions of dollars) against a Jurassic Park entrenched incumbent: Dick Lugar. … The Tea Party hasn't gone anywhere, folks. They're only getting better and bigger.”

Mourdock won his party’s nomination, but, as Limbaugh points out, the establishment GOP worked feverishly against him in the primary—despite Lugar’s big-spending history. I think Indiana’s establishment-types should whole-heartedly back Mourdock now—with volunteer hours and funding. As of last month, Obama had a 10-1 financial advantage over GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. Team Obama is likely to use its financial edge to help Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly compete with Mourdock.

So Long, RINOs

These three hot Tea Party leaders offer a fresh brand of leadership with the potential to end Washington stalemate. They are businessmen, not career politicians. And, because they preach liberty louder than partisanship, I think Democratic congresspeople will be more likely to work with them. For, these leaders do not hold out the RINO olive branch of socialist compromise. Rather, they extend the unifying olive branch of constitutional freedom.

Hopefully the establishment GOP will support Tea Party businessmen like Sowards, Bills and Mourdock who can win against Democrats in the fall instead of RINOs who will fall on their horns.


Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is the author of a new book published by Random House, LET ME BE CLEAR: Barack Obama’s War on Millennials and One Woman’s Case for Hope.” She writes a weekly column for Townhall.com. She also runs KatieKieffer.com.