FreedomWorks, the Dick Armey-led group that's been instrumental in fostering the Tea Party movement, tells The Washington Post's Amy Gardner it will expand its target list of candidates for the general election, from 25 House and Senate races to 80.
It's one signs that the Tea Party movement is gaining steam, as Gardner poses it in her story for the Post, but it's important to take this for what it is: a list of races FreedomWorks sees as being in play--races that weren't necessarily considered competitive a year ago--a suggested guide for FreedomWorks' members, and the broader community of groups and activists who have worked with FreedomWorks, for where efforts should be concentrated this fall.
The FreedomWorks target list is, in a sense, a suggested target list for the Tea Party movement, but it's not guaranteed that the Tea Party movement will follow. National organizations and local Tea Party activists don't always communicate and coordinate their activities; state and local groups have been active in influencing Senate races, for instance, but it remains to be seen whether local groups will similarly influence House races, particularly in neighboring districts that don't represent a majority of members in a given Tea Party group..
Nor does it mean any money will get spent on 55 new races: FreedomWorks decided last year to handle its political spending through its political action committee (PAC), which has spent just over $31,000 this year and has just under $200,000 in the bank. The main conduits for Tea Party election spending are the Tea Party Express and Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, with likely help from the Club for Growth.
FreedomWorks' optimism is a good indicator that the midterm map is indeed expanding for the Tea Party. It's also a public guide to competitive races that can be used by 501(c)3, 501(c)4, and 527 independent groups looking to pour money into this year's elections in the hopes of turning Congress Republican.
But it will be up to election spenders, national Tea Party groups, and local activists to heed FreedomWorks' advice for that map to expand in such an agreed upon fashion.