The gathering tea party movement has been a boon to the Republican Party.
It is also the bane.
Clearly tea party sentiment — the anti-establishment movement that generally favors hard-right Republicans — helped elected Scott Brown (R) in the Massachusetts special election to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D).
That same sentiment forced a Republican out of a contest in upstate New York in a special House election and elected a Democrat to a seat held by Republicans for generations.
The tea party movement may damage the Republican brand in other states.
When popular Governor Charles Crist (R) entered the Florida Senate contest in May 2009, he looked like a lead pipe cinch.
But the tea party types, who despise Crist, have gotten behind former Florida state Speaker Marco Rubio (R).
A Quinnipiac Univ. poll conducted January 20-24 shows Rubio, who trailed by a great margin a few months ago, has gone ahead of Crist by 47% – 44%.
Rubio still trails in the money chase, but is beginning to catch up there too.
If Rubio wins the primary, he will face a stiff challenge from U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D).
There are many other states where the most electable Republican in November will not survive the primaries.
We will see who has the best tea flavorings come November.