But Wheeler’s group needs a local candidate to rally behind. Varley suggested Wheeler could have trouble finding a viable challenger. She said the Bay State tea party movement has learned from the mistakes of conservatives in places such as Delaware, where they blindly supported Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell for the Republican primary and ultimately handed a Senate seat to Democrats.
“She was kind of out there,” Varley said of O’Donnell. “That’s part of the political education that we try to give people through the tea party movement — that it’s all well and good to have principles, but we also want to make sure we can get people elected.”
She continued: “Scott Brown is probably right now the most conservative person we can get elected in Massachusetts. It’s our job to find people who will be more with us than against us. Is it worth it to go after Brown? I don’t think it’s a good idea to go after him.”
That said, Varley expects a primary challenger to emerge from the tea party movement. But she does not expect that challenger to have the strength to be able to knock off Brown, who has more moderate appeal than some think, in addition to a $6.7 million war chest.
“I don’t think anybody in the tea party movement in Massachusetts has learned enough in the last year to launch and effective primary campaign against him,” she said. “But I think there will be people who try.”
Brown, who won his race one year ago to fill the remainder of Kennedy’s term, will be up for a full six-year term in 2012. Roll Call Politics rates this race a Tossup.safe
The short list of potential candidates includes recent losing GOP Congressional candidates Jeff Perry and Keith Lepor as well as former Senate candidates Jeff Beatty and Jim Ogonowski.
Varley doesn’t expect any of them to knock off Brown.
“It is interesting that [tea party] people will say Scott Brown needs to be defeated, and you say, OK, who can beat him?’ And it’s crickets,” she said. “I think Scott Brown is completely safe.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.