McClellan: The tea is a little bit weaker today - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

McClellan: The tea is a little bit weaker today

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Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 10:25 am | Updated: 3:23 pm, Thu Dec 13, 2012.

Did the tea party get slapped in this week’s elections?

Maybe. One night’s results certainly aren’t a trend. Still ...

In Ohio, the law restricting public workers’ bargaining abilities — one of the signature tea party legislative acts — was repealed by a huge number, 62 percent to 38 percent.

Locally, look at the Phoenix city elections:

The two Council winners were challenged by tea party types — small government, low taxes, help businesses. And both tea party types were whupped, one by 11 percent, one by 13 percent.

As was the mayoral candidate who attempted to mimic the tea party agenda: Wes Gullett. Who campaigned — laughably — as an “outsider,” a “reformer” who would downsize government, rein in the unions, make the city more efficient, be business friendly. In other words, the tea party agenda.

And who lost by 13 percent to the guy tea party types tried to label the “status quo,” the Big Government Democrat.

But the biggest tea party kick in the pants?

The End (at least temporarily) of the Emperor of Arizona.

The King of the Arizona Tea Party.

The Guy who Personified Everything Right About America (at least if you believe him).

The Most Powerful Man in Arizona (at least according to some).

Russell Pearce. Who lost by a substantial margin, 53 percent to 46 percent.

Does this mean the tea party’s over?

Hardly.

But like any other movement that achieves some influence and power, some tea party types have overreached.

The Ohio law, admits even the Republican governor who pushed it into law, was too much too soon.

And in Pearce, the tea party has all the stereotypes of its movement: Angry, unyielding, unwilling to work with the other side.

Right or wrong, that’s the perception many have of tea party elected officials: They won’t cooperate with anyone they disagree with, so little gets done.

That perception, of course, began with the debt ceiling circus this past summer, with the small self-described tea party caucus unwilling to move from its original position.

Maybe some of those folks in Congress who’ve previously been sympathetic to the tea party movement are reading the, ahem, tea leaves. Twenty Republicans have broken from the dogma of no new taxes and signed onto a letter sent to the Super Committee, asking them to consider new revenue as a way to cut the debt.

I suspect that the majority of Americans still agree with one tenet of the tea party: a desire for smaller government, more efficient government. Makes sense: Government, especially the one at the federal level, is bloated and needs to be cut — but by a surgeon’s scalpel and not a butcher’s knife.

And in Pearce’s loss, other tea party politicians now have a road map ... of what not to do.

The only bad news associated with Pearce’s loss?

The state senator who’ll likely succeed Pearce as Senate president. Gilbert’s Andy Biggs. Who’s even more strident and unbending than Pearce. And less likable.

• Mike McClellan is a retired Mesa high school teacher who lives in Gilbert.

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