Tea Party activists got to play the part of the glitterati Wednesday night at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, DC, where FreedomWorks debuted "Tea Party: The Documentary Film" (a title distinguishing it, I suppose, from "Tea Party: The Three Act Drag Revue" and "My Little Pony Live! The World's Biggest Tea Party") to a crowd of activists, filmmakers, and, of course, the Washington Independent's Dave Weigel.
The stars of the film relaxed and talked with former House Majority Leader and FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) handed out business cards to a steady stream of well-wishers. All of the guests made their way into the auditorium on the FreedomWorks version of a red carpet -- a strip of green astroturf.
The most significant attendees, however, were various and sundry congressional Republicans, which included -- in addition to DeMint and Wilson -- Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.):
Price, the sponsor of a resolution paying tribute to the 9/12 march, credited Tea Party activists with giving Republicans "the courage to do what we need to do." After his short remarks, he asked more than a dozen activists to join him onstage to accept framed copies of the resolution, which has been sponsored by 148 members of the Republican conference but has not come up for a vote.
Price's efforts were not merely symbolic. All across the electoral landscape, self-styled Tea Party candidates are springing up, and they're drawing down on GOP incumbents. ThinkProgress' Lee Fang offered up a run-down of the potential matchups. Some of the more significant highlights include:
- Earlier this year, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) had the audacity to criticize Beck. Beck has marshaled his supporters into a crowded primary to take out Inglis. One of the challengers, college professor Christina Jeffrey, directly cites Inglis' criticism of Beck as part of the reason she is running.
- Liz Lauber, a former aide to tea party leader and corporate lobbyist Dick Armey, is challenging Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO).
- Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) is being challenged by Jason Sager, who said he is running because of Brown-Waite's support for moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, the opponent of Beck mentee Doug Hoffman.
- Even NRCC Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), charged with recruiting Republicans to challenge House Democrats in 2010, is facing a contested primary. Conservative activist David Smith says he will rely on the tea party movement to bring down Sessions.
Fang notes that another vulnerable Republican is Arizona Senator John McCain, who was last seen "clinging to a two-point lead over a possible challenger, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.)."
That's a lot of people who maybe shouldn't wait to catch the movie on Netflix.