The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pondered in a story today whether the tea party has become a liability for the Republican Party.
"The tea party movement, now nearly three years old, has fallen out of favor with Americans," he writes. "And Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in the 2012 election."
That got me pondering whether the first part is true in the north country; the second part most certainly is.
I haven't been around in the north country long enough to compare the tea party movements this year to the tea party in 2010 (when I was merely a twinkle on Bob Gorman's budget line).
And polling doesn't get granular enough to make broad conclusions about the north country.
But given the region's conservative leanings, and its independent spirit, it's probably safe to say that the conservative movement will still be a factor in the 2010 election. Will it be for good or bad?
As Mr. Blake points out in his Washington Post piece, one Democratic representative is slamming the tea party to boost his own fortunes.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, has done likewise.
In three emails to supporters in this campaign, Mr. Owens takes aim at the tea party, chiding his "Tea Party opponent" and partially blaming the tea party movement in general for gridlock in Washington.
The Upstate New York Tea Party frequently blasts Mr. Owens, suggesting recently that he is in a "committed relationship" with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Privately, Owens backers have suggested that being attacked by the tea party might actually be a good thing for his November election chances, based on the idea that the tea party is becoming more and more unpopular.
Meanwhile, that supposed "tea party opponent" of Mr. Owens isn't, biographically speaking, really much of a tea party guy. Matt Doheny is similar in some respects to Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee who is as bland a strain of tea as they come. There are differences, of course, but let's focus on the two major similarities for now: Extensive backgrounds in finance that come with political benefits and pitfalls, and efforts to connect with average folks in the face of elitist, out-of-touchism allegations (Mr. Doheny has never commented that all the trees in Alex Bay are the right height, but his campaign did post pictures of him shoveling his own walkway during the winter).
But there's little in Mr. Doheny's portfolio of positions for tea party-minded folks not to like. He would vote no on Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget because it wouldn't balance the budget quickly enough, a position that stakes him to the right of many GOP representatives. He says the right things about gun control. Abortion is the trickiest issue for Mr. Doheny, but he is pledging to religious voters and tea party voters that he'll have a "100 percent pro-life" voting record in Congress.
The Upstate New York Tea Party, along with Chuck Ruggiero, Jefferson County's most visible tea party leader, have endorsed Mr. Doheny.
"I appreciate the support from these organizations and I look forward to working with all those who are passionate about bringing fiscal sanity back to Washington," Mr. Doheny said in the news release announcing their support.
Mr. Doheny went to Plattsburgh to accept the group's endorsement.
Which could be coming to a campaign flier, or an attack ad, near you.