Michele Bachmann’s conservative successor is taking an incremental approach to shrinking the federal government – and his Tea Party backers aren’t happy.
The president of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance, which backed Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) in last fall’s election, said he was “very disappointed” with the lawmaker, reported USA Today.
Jack Rogers, the Tea Party activist, said Emmer was rated between 50 percent and 60 percent for conservatism by groups such as FreedomWorks and Heritage Action.
He said he was becoming increasingly “anxious” that Emmer could be counted on to vote the way supporters had anticipated.
Bachmann remains popular among conservatives for her outspoken criticism of the Obama administration and liberalism, but Emmer said he hopes to better serve his constituents by building relationships in Washington.
"This is a generational struggle, this is not an overnight fix, and I think those that take that approach, they aren't going to have long-term success," Emmer said.
The former talk radio host called for nullification of federal laws as a state legislator and as a gubernatorial candidate questioned whether restaurant servers should be paid minimum wage, and he won Sarah Palin’s support with his fiery criticism of Democrats.
"They're destroying wealth in the United States of America because they hate wealthy people unless they're paying for their campaigns," he said in September 2011.
But his first three months in Washington have been marked by a more moderate approach.
Critics have been angered by Emmer’s support for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to remain Speaker of the House and his votes on Amtrak funding, Medicare payments to doctors, and Department of Homeland Security funding.
He defended his vote on Homeland Security, which went against Republican attempts to defund President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration, by saying the government must protect its citizens.
"If you don't vote for that, I don't care what your protest is, you have just violated the Constitution, the No. 1 constitutional obligation," Emmer said.
He has won praise from some Democrats for his low-key approach to legislation, but not everyone is impressed.
"Well, compared to Michele Bachmann, I think just about anybody would look good because she was such a divisive person," said David Hoff, a local chairman of Minnesota's Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.
Bachmann regularly scored ratings between 76 and 100 from conservative groups, and her outrageous statements made her a formidable fundraiser, but Emmer suggested her approach did not always help her constituents.
"If you want to go out there and make a lot of noise, maybe you're going to get people from all across the country to send you a lot of money, and that's great because then you can increase your own brand," Emmer said. "But you'll never change the inside of the building."
Emmer said he has heard mostly praise from his constituents, but Tea Party activists say they will attempt to run against him if the lawmaker does not stand “on the Constitution dead center instead of moving to the left with the establishment or the leadership.”
"Tom is doing things that are hurting me inside," Rogers said. "That doesn't mean I stop loving him or caring for him or praying for him."