Simple minds

All I can say is, Democrats better be prepared to obstruct just as vigorously as the Republicans did or they’ll be even more unpopular than they are now. As for the Tea Party nutjobs — well, I just can’t wait until they shut down the goverment and have to explain to constituents why their Social Security checks aren’t going out:

WASHINGTON—The Senate is likely next year to see the largest group of strong conservatives enter the chamber since 1995, with Republican candidates calling for an end to the minimum wage, a phase-out of federal involvement in education and for challenging federal regulations they say have no foundation in the U.S. Constitution.

But Senate candidates and the tea-party activists pressing them say they view their initial mandate narrowly: Cut federal spending significantly, even in defense programs, and block the health-care law.

Some of the candidates say the mandate is strong enough that they should push ahead even if that means a clash with President Barack Obama that shuts down the government.

“I certainly can foresee circumstances where that is necessary and important,” said Mike Lee, who will almost certainly be the next junior senator from Utah. “The mandate from the voters is unequivocal: Do everything in your power to get this situation under control. Sometimes it is necessary to belly up to the bar and do what needs to get done.”

This year’s election will bring at least six new Republicans to the Senate, but likely more than that—possibly more than a dozen. Conservative activists say this year’s crop will be fundamentally different from those who arrived in 1994, when eight Republicans joined the Senate amid an election nationalized in part by the GOP’s “Contract with America.”

The 1994 GOP gain was engineered by a small group of House conservatives already in the Republican leadership, “very much an inside job,” said Matt Kibbe, a tea-party organizer at the conservative group FreedomWorks.

The Republican electoral wave that year was so sudden, it swept in Congress candidates with different motives.

This time, the grass-roots tea-party movement has helped unite Republican candidates around fiscal conservatism and opposition to the health-care law. Anti-government activism is driving the Republican leadership from the outside. Those activists are likely to hold elected Republicans to their promises.

“There’s more unity of purpose,” Mr. Kibbe said. “And what’s different this time is, I don’t think the tea party goes away Nov. 3.”

Senate Republican candidates have converged around a set of conservative positions.

Eighteen have expressed some support for either a single, flat-rate income tax or a national sales tax that would replace an income tax.

Sixteen have expressed a willingness to allow some Social Security taxes to be diverted to private investment accounts. Eleven have expressed interest in turning Medicare into a voucher program that young people can elect to join upon retirement.

Ten have broached eliminating or scaling back the Department of Education.

Four have talked of eliminating or lowering the federal minimum wage.

John Raese, the Republican nominee for Senate in West Virginia, suggested that the minimum wage, which he termed “price controls,” contributed to high unemployment among young workers. “The highest amount of unemployment we have is youth, isn’t it? Entry-level jobs, where we have, probably, what—minimum wage,” Mr. Raese told the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board last week.