Many in the blogosphere (including your truly) have labeled Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson as the “Tea Party candidate,” given Johnson’s appearance at a Madison Tea Party rally earlier this year, as well as claims Johnson helped found the Oshkosh tea party group, but folks from the various Tea Party groups in Wisconsin made a point to announce they didn’t have a preferred Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. As Cody Oliphant of One Wisconsin Now points out, Ron Johnson really isn’t the “Tea Party candidate;” he’s just the preferred candidate of Mark Block.
In case you didn’t know, Mark Block is the ex-convict leader of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and he’s a mover and shaker in conservative political circles, with deep ties to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Block also has ties to former Governor Tommy Thompson, who was was widely rumored to have strongly considered a run against Sen. Russ Feingold before begging off, and from what I’ve been told by folks I trust, it was Block – and not the leaders of the various Tea Party groups in Wisconsin – who invited Ron Johnson to appear at the Madison Tea Party rally in April. No doubt thanks to Block’s machinations, Johnson went on to secure the Republican Party’s endorsement of his candidacy at the recent Republican Party of Wisconsin convention, despite the fact that Johnson had only been a candidate for a little over a week and had not said much about where he stood on any issues of importance.
There’s no word yet on whether the various Tea Party groups in Wisconsin will actually be able to agree on a preferred Republican U.S. Senate candidate, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d bet that Mark Block’s preferred candidate won’t be the preferred candidate of those groups.