The Tea Party insurgency sweeping through the US Republican Party has claimed its first sitting senator, dramatically raising the stakes for the mid-term elections in November.
Bob Bennett, a three-term senator from Utah, blamed a “toxic” political environment for his defeat at the hands of the anti-establishment, anti-government movement in the party's pre-election convention.
Two Tea Party-supported candidates will now fight for the nomination in Utah, in a result that alarmed sitting Congressmen not just from the Republican Party but Democrats, too. Disapproval of Washington is at levels not seen since 1994, when Republicans swept into power in the House of Representatives and hobbled the Clinton presidency.
The Tea Party movement, whose spiritual guide is the former Alaskan governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, has been flushing away moderate Republican candidates across the US.
It is organised loosely around policies of low taxes, minimal government and cuts to public spending.