Who says that TEAPublicans don’t value education? Why, if you ask Tea Party-backed Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Cindy Hill, she’d tell you she loves kids. In fact, she loves kids so much she was the superintendent of Wyoming’s schools. In fact, she loved that job as superintendent so much she wanted someone else to experience having it, so she was relieved of duty by the Wyoming state legislature for — among other things — waving a knife around in a threatening and suggestive way, creating a hostile work environment by firing anyone she didn’t like, misusing the state airplane, and reducing staffers to tears. This is the woman that the Tea Party in Wyoming thinks should be the next governor.
The details of Hill’s reign of terror were released as part of a blistering report by sitting governor Matt Mead, a fellow Republican. Hill is Mead’s challenger in the Republican primary. The Tea Party must be upset with Mead not being far-right enough for their tastes so as per their M.O. they are trying to oust an incumbent Republican with someone who clearly has no business in the public sector. It’s Todd Aiken, Christine McDonnell and Linda McMahon all over again. They find candidates that they all fall in love with because they can memorize the rhetoric and aren’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops and in every interview they do.
The problem for the Tea Party as I see it is that they are a political movement that is geared to do very well in certain small segments of the country where the demographics line up just right, and to the rest of the country they look like lunatics. Maybe the Wyoming chapter of the Tea Party didn’t know the governor was sitting on this bombshell of a report and so they’d have no idea they were running out the Red Queen from “Alice in Wonderland” (OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!) as their candidate. However, something tells me they simply didn’t care and/or are too tone deaf to nominate anyone but straight-up loons, buffoons and goons. That should make every liberal very happy.
The Tea Party’s strategy might be great for shoring up power in the super-red states, and their big push in 2010 certainly let them gerrymander congressional districts to the point that many are now safely red for at least another half decade or so. What their strategy isn’t good for though is growing their movement into a national powerhouse that can take down both establishment Republicans in the primaries and also Democrats in the general election. These are the same feckless and paranoid people who thought Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain — all three of whom lead at some point in last year’s Republican presidential primary — were suitable candidates to run up against one of the most popular presidents (certainly in terms of raw votes collected) of all time. They are clueless, and it shows.
Cindy Hill is the exact kind of candidate that Tea Party opponents should be begging for. Her alleged abuse of state funds to use its private plane flies right in the face of the Tea Party mantra of “less government spending.” She is clearly not socially well-adjusted since most of the accusations about her in the report speak to her inability to deal with people without threats of intimidation and other forms of bullying. She even had some kind of weird, cultish meeting with new hires on the same day she brandished a knife at staffers. If all that weren’t enough, the Wyoming Tea Party still has to figure out how to spin the fact that she was relieved of her duties — fired — earlier this year by the state legislature.
The fact that the Tea Party would even consider Hill should give all of those who have interest in seeing the movement fail some genuine comfort. The 2012 elections weren’t just wake-up call for Republicans in general — they were a wake-up call for the Tea Party. The kinds of candidates they tend to fall in love with are not the kinds of candidates that non-sycophantic people like as their elected officials. The good news for the rest of us is that clearly the message of 2012 fell on deaf ears in the ranks of the Tea Party, and at least we know of one race in Wyoming they’ll most assuredly be losing.
Then again I don’t live in Wyoming, and perhaps knife-wielding fired superintendents are all the rage out there now?