As Alaskans vote on Joe Miller's unlikely primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski today, the election will prove yet another test for the Tea Party movement and, more importantly, its ability to channel money to races around the country.
Tea Party Express, the only national Tea Party group to endorse candidates and spend money on races, has emerged this election cycle as a major conduit for Tea Party campaign money, and it has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Alaska to back Miller.
Since endorsing Miller June 16, it has spent over $560,000 on TV, radio, and direct mail on his behalf.
As Alaska pollster Ivan Moore told The Hill, the Tea Party isn't very strong in Alaska, numbers-wise. If Miller has a strong showing, it will be thanks to the money Tea Party Express has brought in from outside the state.
Tea Party Express has made its mark on this election cycle, with one major achievement under its belt: the group is largely responsible for Sharron Angle's presence on the ballot in Nevada, having endorsed her when she polled at five percent in her multi-way primary. Some low-budget TV ads and more than $400,000 in spending later, Tea Party Express had catapulted her to primary victory.