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Democrats had better fear Tea Party candidates

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
  • Roland Martin: Primary victories for Tea Party favorites have left Republicans stunned
  • Democrats could be in a similar rude awakening in November, Martin says
  • Martin counsels Democrats to take anger fueling Tea Party candidates seriously

Editor's note: Roland S. Martin, a CNN political analyst, is a syndicated columnist and author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith," and the new book, "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable Network and host of a Sunday morning news show.

Democratic political operatives are excited and filled with enthusiasm over the prospects of running against several Tea Party candidates in November, suggesting the Republican nominees are so extreme and out-of-touch that there is no way they stand a chance of winning in November.

Have you listened to the euphoria in Democratic circles since Christine O'Donnell's victory this week over the legendary Mike Castle, a congressman, former governor and the man considered absolutely unbeatable? The GOP establishment had already started measuring the drapes in his U.S. Senate office and was salivating at the chance to see Vice President Joe Biden administer the oath of office to the man who would occupy his Senate seat.

But Castle is busying himself this week packing up his campaign office after O'Donnell dusted him in the Republican primary.

The same has taken place in other races. In the New York Republican gubernatorial race, Rick Lazio was also considered a shoo-in to face New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in November, yet a Tea Partier with a racist streak in his body, Carl Paladino, beat the former congressman. Badly.

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These victories, and others, have left the GOP establishment reeling, unable to figure out how the devil they danced with has now consumed the party. What was supposed to be party unity to target the Democrats is now a party civil war, complete with infighting, backbiting and finger-pointing.

The political punditry has sounded the bell and declared that for Democrats, their potential loss of the U.S. Senate is now a false alarm, and O'Donnell's primary victory has assured the GOP they can't take it over.

Such talk is hilarious to Dick Armey, the former Republican House leader who is the founder of Freedom Works, a conservative activist group aligned with Tea Partiers.

I caught up with Armey in the airport Wednesday, and he had a Cheshire grin on his face as he talked about O'Donnell's victory.

Armey, who didn't endorse anyone in the race, wondered how GOPers could be so angry, saying it was an open primary, O'Donnell had the right to run and only spent a fraction of what Castle did to win the primary.

He said that in the end, it doesn't matter what polls say, pundits try to intimate or how much money you have. All that counts is if you have more votes than the other person.

And he's dead right.

That's why Democrats shouldn't see Tea Party candidates such as O'Donnell, Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada as a firewall to keep them in power. What they should be doing is having a laser-like focus on their core supporters and driving them to the polls.

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If they want to cast the Tea Partiers as out of the mainstream, go right ahead. I don't think that will work for a second. What will matter is that voters are, in the words of the late comedian Robin Harris, are "pissed off to the highest level of pissivity."

This election will boil down to a rage that cannot be estimated about the economy. It was in shambles when President Obama took over, and is still dragging along like a ball and chain on our collective feet.

If Democrats aren't focused, they'll look up and have to contend with Sen. O'Donnell, Sen. Rand and Sen. Angle. Falling asleep at the wheel in this rancorous and unpredictable election will result in nothing but disaster.

Dems, you didn't pay attention to Scott Brown and look how that worked out for you in Massachusetts.

You might not want to be as carefree about these races, lest you want to be like Castle and scratch your heads on November 3 and ask, "What in the hell just happened?"