Sal Russo rocked back in his chair, put his scuffed shoes up on his desk and prepared to watch Karl Rove analyze the latest political shocker — a win by insurgent Christine O’Donnell against the establishment Republican candidate in Delaware.
Russo, a consultant whose roots in Sacramento stretch back to Gov. Ronald Reagan’s days, took a direct hand in O’Donnell’s victory Tuesday. He is the brains behind the Tea Party Express, one of several campaign operations that lays claim to representing the tea party movement.
It’s not the most sophisticated, nor most well-funded. But fueled by clever, constant and hyperbolic fundraising appeals, often allied with the queen of the movement, Sarah Palin, Russo is on a winning streak that is horrifying some Republican insiders, and delighting many Democrats.
Russo’s most stunning success involves O’Donnell, a candidate who had gained minor attention in years past for her strict views about chastity and, yes, masturbation. Bill Maher had her as a conservative foil on his “Politically Incorrect” cable TV show…