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The Merry Month of May

11:37 AM, May 16, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
 So frolic, so gay....

—Thomas Dekker (c. 1572-1632), "The Merry Month of May."

The poet Thomas Dekker is surely set to become a Tea Party favorite, anticipating as he did the merry and gay (in the old-fashioned sense) month of May 2012: Merry and gay for all who'd like to see a more conservative, more reform-minded, more populist (but responsibly populist) Republican party.

First, on May 8, Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock came from behind (who was down by double digits a couple months ago) to defeat six-term incumbent senator Dick Lugar in the GOP primary. Lugar had the support of the Washington, D.C. GOP establishment (even the so-called "Young Guns"), and outspent Mourdock. He lost by 22 points.

Yesterday, on May 15, Tea Party favorite Nebraska state senator Deb Fischer won a come-from-behind victory over her establishment-supported opponents in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, despite being massively outspent and trailing just two months before by over 30 points.

Next Tuesday, May 22, conservative Iraq and Afghanistan vet Tom Cotton looks poised to win the nomination in the 4th Congressional District of Arkansas over his opponent, a veteran of the Huckabee administration who ran and lost last time.

And at the end of the month, on May 29, 41-year-old former Supreme Court law clerk and Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, who's been surging in the polls, could well force a runoff (or even win outright) against a quintessentially wealthy, conventional, and unimpressive establishment candidate, lieutenant governor David Dewhurst.

So: In Indiana, a conservative office holder with the courage to take on his state's senior political figure and establishment icon is victorious; in Nebraska, a rancher and mom sick of the mediocre establishment figures in her state surges to victory; in Arkansas, a young combat vet (from Harvard, no less!) goes back home to fight for a congressional seat and now leads; and in Texas, another bright young conservative taking on a wealthy self-funder who thought he was entitled to the Senate seat has a real chance.

The merry month of May: so frolic, so gay.

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