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Tea Party largely frozen out of GOP transition team

The plot lines in the battle for control of the soul of the Republican Party just got thicker today with the announcement by transition chair Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) of the members of his transition team. Not only did Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) not make the cut while her competitor for GOP conference chair, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), did, but the team as a whole is looking fairly un-Tea Party-friendly:

According to the AP, two of the four incoming members ([Adam] Kinzinger and [Tim] Scott) are Tea Party favorites, but they were most likely chosen for their previous legislative experience, which many of their fellow representatives-elect lack. Of the 18 current House members on the transition team, only two—Rob Bishop and Pete Sessions—are part of the Tea Party caucus. And Sessions is already more closely associated with the old guard, having served as NRCC chair.

Well-known Tea Partiers such as Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Joe Wilson have been left out, and the transition team includes Jeb Hensarling, whom Eric Cantor and others are backing against Bachmann. Finally, transition chairman Greg Walden (who called the team “a nice cross-section of our Republican conference”) is himself relatively moderate; he even refused to say he would include a Tea Party member in the leadership when interviewed on MSNBC.

It’s pretty clear at this point that the Republican leadership is trying to keep its rowdier, Tea Party brethren at arms length. Whether new Tea Party members of Congress defer to the established pecking order or openly challenge such an affront remains to be seen.

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