One of the tea party's most prominent targets is losing his bid for re-election to the House, a new poll shows.
Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md., is lagging Republican challenger Andy Harris by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent, in a Monmouth University Poll out today. The numbers indicate a shift back to the right in Maryland’s 1st District, which elected a Democratic member of Congress for the first time in 18 years when Kratovil beat Harris, 49 percent to 48 percent, two years ago.
Now, the poll shows Kratovil with a 34 percent approval rating in the district; 76 percent of those responding to the poll said they think the country is on the wrong track.
Kratovil’s struggle could be largely due to another factor measured by the poll: tea party influence. Fifty-two percent of respondents said their opinion of the tea party is favorable. The movement has had Kratovil in the crosshairs for more than a year, despite his membership in the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, which includes some of the party's most fiscally conservative members.
The congressman's most headline-making brush with the tea party came last summer, when he earned nationwide publicity after opponents of President Obama's health care bill hung Kratovil in effigy. Tea party group Americans for Prosperity disavowed any connection to the effigy and officially condemned it, although some members of the group reportedly attended the small event.
Last March, as the House was preparing to take up the health care bill, local tea party leaders picketed Kratovil's Maryland office. Kratovil was one of 34 Democrats who voted against the legislation when the House sent it to Obama's desk on a 219-212 vote.
That did not appease his tea party critics. Earlier this month, Americans for Prosperity accused the Maryland Democratic Party of siccing hecklers on its activists during an anti-Kratovil event in the state. The group has also been running advertisements criticizing Kratovil's voting record.
This article appears in the October 22, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.