WASHINGTON -- Indiana cafe owner Tamyra D'Ippolito calls herself a "political virgin," and her inexperience shined through in her failed last-minute effort to find a place on the ballot.
Following US Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) announcement on Monday that he was retiring, D'Ippolito scurried to gather the necessary petition signatures to guarantee her place as a Democratic contender for his seat. The liberal Democrat even reached out to Tea Partiers, unwittingly insulting them in the process.
D'Ippolito wrote on Twitter and Facebook late Monday night: "We are calling all people to file signatures tomorrow Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Tea Baggers, everyone with a pulse go to your county clerks office tomorrow before noon in your district."
After Tea Partiers mailed tea bags to the White House and Congress to protest high taxes -- and held up signs at rallies displaying phrases like "Tea Bag Obama" and "Tea Bag the Liberal Dems" -- the word "teabaggers" was added to the Oxford American Dictionary as slang for members of the movement.
A finalist for Oxford's 2009 Word of the Year, its definition was, "a person who protests President Obama's tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as 'Tea Party' protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)." The phrase "teabagging" originally referred to a racy sexual act, but the dictionary doesn't include that definition.
Liberals and conservatives used "tea baggers" frequently until practically everyone caught on to the double meaning.
Commenters on her Facebook page immediately pointed out that calling them "Tea Baggers" wouldn't much help curry favors with the Tea Party crowd. D'Ippolito appeared surprised, responding, "[T]hank you for pointing out the lingo of the tea bag organization. What is the correct term?"
"Tamyra D’Ippolito Goes Out For The Pervert Vote," announced conservative blogger Jane Q in response. "This is just hilarious."
But the long-shot candidate still didn't quite get it. "I want to personally say I am sorry to the people of the Tea Bag Party if I have offended your feelings in any way," she posted on Twitter Tuesday evening, after her short-lived but much-hyped escapade was all over.
D'Ippolito fell far short of the 4,500 petition signatures needed to guarantee her candidacy by the Tuesday afternoon deadline. The timing of Bayh's announcement Monday gave her only one day.
Given D'Ippolito's weaknesses and inexperience, her failure to secure a spot in the primaries gives the Democratic Party a better chance of holding Bayh's seat, as it can now select its nominee for November.
On her Web site, D'Ippolito portrays herself as a progressive and highlighted health care inequities, destruction of the environment, poverty and polarization of wealth in her platform. She didn't get too specific on the issues, saying of the health care bill, "if this is just another give away to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, I will not rest until we have a health care system that works for all of us."
So likely was she to lose in the general election that conservatives waged a brief campaign to help her gather signatures to enter the race -- despite her slight to the right-wing Tea Party movement, inadvertent as it may have been.
RedState.com founder Eric Erickson sent out an email action alert Monday evening urging conservatives in Indiana to "go out of your way to help Tamyra get the signatures she needs by tomorrow at noon," Washington Independent's Dave Weigel reported.
"Let's help the Democrats have a contested primary too!" he concluded.