Ben Smith at Politico today reports that Erick Erickson of Red State backed off his early endorsement of Jamie Radtke — a Tea Party-backed candidate in the Republican primary for next year’s Senate race in Virginia — because of what Erickson called “the long term relationship” between former Sen. George Allen and Red State’s corporate owner, Eagle Publishing. Smith reports:
Erickson, who prides himself on breaking with the GOP Establishment, softened his stand after initially casting a conservative challenge to Allen as a key Tea Party test, and his shift offers a glimpse at some of the forces at work behind the partisan commentariat.
He entered the primary with a bang in January. Warning that former Senator Allen’s record had “serious problems” on “issues which are, for the most part, at the core of the tea party movement,” Erickson endorsed Radtke, a conservative activist..
“This race may be the big grassroots vs. party establishment race of 2012 and a test of the tea party’s continued momentum,” wrote Erickson, who is also a CNN contributor.
The endorsement, Radtke campaign manager Carter Wrenn said, gave the campaign a boost. But soon, he noticed that RedState wasn’t giving Radtke’s campaign much attention.
“The word came back to me that the people who own Human Events and RedState were for Allen and had asked Erickson to step back,” he said. . . .
While there is nothing wrong with corporate publishers exercising editorial oversight, Erickson’s admission obviously undermines his image as an independent voice for grassroots conservatives.
Erickson recently scored a publicity coup by having Texas Gov. Rick Perry announce his presidential candidacy at the annual “Red State Gathering” in South Carolina. Radtke was not initially invited to attend that event but, according to Smith’s account, she was added to the agenda (introducing Stephen K. Bannon, director of the Sarah Palin documentary, The Undefeated) after Erickson cautioned he had to “tread carefully” and “be delicate” in order not to offend Allen’s supporters at Eagle Publishing.