Key Republican: Palin cost us the Senate

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) cost the GOP control of the Senate, a powerful House Republican said. 

Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.) said that Tea Party-backed candidates endorsed by Palin underperformed against their Democratic rivals, costing the GOP key pickup opportunities.

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"The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware," Bachus said at a local Chamber of Commerce event last week, the Shelby County Reporter wrote Sunday. "Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate."

Bachus is one of the most visible Republicans to criticize Palin, a Tea Party icon, for her political activities during the election season. Some Republicans have privately groused that Tea Party-backed candidates who were not electable prevented the GOP from taking control of the upper chamber. 

The Alabama congressman noted that candidates backed by the Tea Party fared well in the House but "didn’t do well at all" in Senate races.

Bachus is considered the front-runner to supplant Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, though Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) is also vying for the position.

Tim Johnson, Bachus's spokesman, said that the congressman believes that the Tea Party movement and Palin were positive forces for the GOP.

“Congressman Bachus, like other political observers, said that seats in states like Delaware and Nevada could have been won by stronger candidates and that’s a lesson going forward," he said in an e-mail. "As the article noted, he was extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday. He said that the tea party, rather than being criticized, is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes, and limiting the size of government."

Palin endorsed 11 Senate candidates in the general election. Six of Palin's preferred Senate candidates were victorious, but four other candidates that she backed lost. The defeated candidates ran in races the GOP needed for a majority, most notably Sharron Angle in Nevada and O'Donnell in Delaware. 

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas), who helped steer his party to a net gain of six seats, last week brushed aside concerns about the Tea Party candidates, saying they were the best in the field. 

This post was updated at 5:54 p.m.

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