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Posted at 8:06 AM ET, 01/10/2011

The tea party: movement or moment?

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza

The tea party has certainly made its mark on the politics. But does it have a future?

It's a question that political observers have been asking ever since the tea party came along -- whether it's here to stay or is simply a flash in the pan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) weighed in on that very question this weekend. During an interview that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Reid suggested the tea party is a fleeting sensation.

"The tea party was born because of the economy," Reid said. "The economy is probably the worst it's ever been except for maybe the Great Depression. The tea party will disappear as soon as the economy gets better. And the economy's getting better all the time."

At least the first half of Reid's statement isn't in dispute. Political movements aren't formed in a vacuum. The struggling economy, combined with a weakened Republican Party and the actions of a Democratic-led Congress, bore what is known today as the tea party.

Just because something is borne from a certain set of circumstance, though, doesn't mean it disappears when those circumstances do. The two major political parties, in fact, are good examples of that -- enduring even as the issues of the day have changed.

But the tea party isn't a major political party, or even a political party at all. It doesn't have to stick around for decades to be considered a historically relevant movement.

In fact, the longevity required for historical relevance is relatively short. The populist movement of the 1880s and 90s, McCarthyism in the 1940s and 50s and the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s all lasted for a decade (or so) but are still a major part of our collective political history.

The tea party probably needs to last about that long in order to be more than just a footnote in history.

A recovering economy could hasten its demise, but tea partiers will tell you that it's about more than just the current economy -- it's about debt and government spending, and those are two things that are likely to take much longer to straighten out than the current economy.

The key for the tea party movement will be adjusting its focus accordingly and staying relevant and important to the political process. It is off to a very impactful start, but the jury is still out on the durability of the movement.

Meet the new RGA, same as the old RGA: Three top staffers at the Republican Governors Association are staying on at the committee for the 2012 election cycle.

Finance director Angela Meyers may be the most important retention as she led the fundraising effort that brought in $85 million for the RGA during the last election. Also staying put are MIke Adams, who serves as general counsel and deputy executive director, and communications director Mike Schrimpf.

Phil Cox, a former senior aide to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), will serve as executive director of the RGA in the 2012 cycle, replacing Nick Ayers who spent two elections at the helm of the committee.

The RGA has yet to name a political director.

Honold moves on: Bob Honold, who served as incumbent retention director at the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2010 cycle, is signing out with Revolution Media -- a GOP media consulting operation.

Honold will also maintain his own general consulting gig, focused primarily on the Northeast and New York, a state where he spearheaded House GOP's six-seat gain in 2010. "Bob played a big role in Republican victories in New York this cycle. He's extremely talented," said independent political handicapper Stu Rothenberg.

Honold has deep roots in campaign politics. He managed Rep. Rob Wittman's (R-Va.) successful special election campaign in 2007 and worked on the U.S. Senate race of New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) in 2006. Honold also has worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and former Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.).

Honold joins Matt Leonardo, Evan Kozlow and Mark Dion at Revolution Media. The firm claims Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) as well as Reps. Steve Southerland (Fla.) and Nan Hayworth (N.Y.) as its 2010 wins.

Fixbits

Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says he may decide on a challenge to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the coming weeks.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R-Texas) approval rating remains below 50 percent, including at just 56 percent among Republicans, according to a new Blum and Weprin poll for the Dallas Morning News. She seems ripe for a primary challenge.

Gallup shows Mike Huckabee is the most popular potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, while Sarah Palin is the most well-known.

Former Nevada state GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden said Friday that she would not run for Senate in 2012 if Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) were to run.

Mitt Romney is on a weeklong trip to the Middle east, during which time he is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan.

Freshman Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) is moving to the middle of his district, which could be beneficial if he is drawn into the same district as neighboring Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) before the 2012 election.

There will be no second season of TLC's "Sarah Palin's Alaska."

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani denies a report that he is readying another presidential campaign.

Must-reads

"Dems say that passage of 'Fair Districts' amendment will help them win congressional seat" -- Palm Beach Post

"Bitter Blue Dogs Ready to Cut Deals" -- Roll Call

"Barbour's Words on Kidneys, Klan Recall Mississippi's Struggles" -- Bloomberg

"Political Heavy Hitters Take On College Bowls" -- New York Times

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza  | January 10, 2011; 8:06 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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