Jonathan Chait

Are Boehner and Cantor Freezing Out the Tea Party?

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[Guest post by James Downie]

A Tea Party wave just swept the country on Election Night, but as the Republican congressional leadership assembles its transition team, it looks poised to freeze the movement out:

Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) made the announcement hours before the group is set to meet to review the rules of the House and the GOP conference before assuming the majority next Congress.

The members include: Reps. Rob Bishop (Utah), John Campbell (Calif.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Jason Chaffetz (Utah), Tom Cole (Okla.), Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (Calif.), Mike Conaway (Texas), Bob Goodlatte (Va.), Doc Hastings (Wash.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Buck McKeon (Calif.), Candice Miller (Mich.), Mike Rogers (Mich.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), campaign committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and Patrick Tiberi (Ohio).

Four incoming members also will serve on the transition team: Cory Gardner (Colo.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Martha Roby (Ala.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).

According to the AP, two of the four incoming members (Kinzinger and Scott) are Tea Party favorites, but they were most likely chosen for their previous legislative experience, which many of their fellow representatives-elect lack. Of the 18 current House members on the transition team, only twoRob Bishop and Pete Sessionsare part of the Tea Party caucus. And Sessions is already more closely associated with the old guard, having served as NRCC chair.

Well-known Tea Partiers such as Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Joe Wilson have been left out, and the transition team includes Jeb Hensarling, whom Eric Cantor and others are backing against Bachmann. Finally, transition chairman Greg Walden (who called the team "a nice cross-section of our Republican conference") is himself relatively moderate; he even refused to say he would include a Tea Party member in the leadership when interviewed on MSNBC.

In other words, if the Tea Partiers want to stake their claim on the Republican leadership and "unify" the GOP conference behind them, they've got a lot of work to do.

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