Factbox: Key players in the Tea Party movement

(BestGrowthStock) – Here are some key names in the conservative Tea Party movement that has helped position Republicans to gain seats in the Democratic-led U.S. Congress in the November 2 election:

FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN

Seen as the queen of the Tea Party, Palin played a big role in turning previously obscure candidates — including one in her home state of Alaska — into Republican Senate nominees. The successes should give the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee a boost for a possible 2012 White House run.

US SENATOR JIM DEMINT

One of the Senate’s most conservative members, DeMint hopes to push the chamber to the right. His political action committee, Senate Conservatives Fund, backs 11 Senate Republican challengers. All but one of DeMint’s picks are ahead in the polls or is locked in a close race.

FORMER HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER DICK ARMEY

While there’s no national Tea Party leader, Armey is seen by some as a de facto one. As chairman of the conservative group FreedomWorks, he’s helped recruit and train activists and coauthored the book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.”

FOX TV’S GLENN BECK

The conservative commentator is also seen as somewhat of a de facto Tea Party leader — or at least a key and very popular supporter. Beck hosted a Washington rally in August that drew tens of thousands of people, many of them Tea Partiers, in a show of conservative power.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE

The first-term governor, who’s quickly made a national reputation as a budget cutter, narrowly won a presidential straw poll at a recent gathering of Tea Party activists in Virginia, topping Palin. Christie ended up with 15 percent of 1,560 ballots cast, Palin got 14.6 percent.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MICHELLE BACHMANN

Bachmann took the lead this year in creating the Tea Party Congressional Caucus. She said she did it to “listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” not be a mouthpiece for it. The caucus now has 52 members among 178 House Republicans. The number of caucus members may soar after the November election.

NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE SHARRON ANGLE

Angle is in a close race in Nevada with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, a top Republican target. Polls show Reid, the ultimate insider in an anti-Washington year, is seen unfavorably by most voters. So is Angle, a former state legislator.

KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE RAND PAUL

In Kentucky, Paul raced to a big lead over Democratic rival Jack Conway, but the contest to replace retiring Republican Jim Bunning has tightened. Paul has made several campaign gaffes — including casting doubt on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE JOE MILLER

With the help of Palin and the Tea Party, Miller, an Alaska attorney, knocked off Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. Murkowski had been a member of Republican leadership.

FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE MARCO RUBIO

A former speaker of the Florida House, Rubio enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls over Governor Charlie Crist, a former Republican turned independent. Democratic Representative Kendrick Meeks is running a distant third.

DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE CHRISTINE O’DONNELL

With the help of Palin and the Tea Party, O’Donnell upset veteran Representative Mike Castle to win the Republican Senate nomination from Delaware. She’s become a darling of conservatives but trails in the polls to Democrat Chris Coons.

COLORADO SENATE CANDIDATE KEN BUCK

Another Tea Party favorite, Buck defeated a Republican establishment candidate in a bitter primary and hasn’t slowed down in a tight general campaign against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, who he’s sought to tie to the White House.

UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE MIKE LEE

With Tea Party support, Lee, an attorney, is heavily favored to win the Senate race in Utah to replace veteran Republican Bob Bennett. Bennett was bounced in the state convention in May, largely because of his support for federal bailouts.

PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE PAT TOOMEY

Toomey served in the House for six years, stepping down in 2005 to honor a campaign pledge on term limits. He later headed Club for Growth, a conservative fiscal group. Polls show him leading in a race to replace veteran Senator Arlen Specter, a former Republican turned Democrat who was defeated in his new party’s primary this year.

(Reporting and writing by Thomas Ferraro in Washington; Additional reporting by Nick Carey and John Whitesides: editing by Philip Barbara)

Factbox: Key players in the Tea Party movement