We will be a headache for anyone who believes the Constitution of the United States … isn’t to be protected,” said Dick Armey, chairman of the anti-tax and limited government advocacy group FreedomWorks, which helped plan and promote the tea parties, town hall protests and the September ‘Taxpayer March’ in Washington. “If you can’t take it seriously, we will look for places of other employment for you.”
“We’re not a partisan organization, and I think many Republicans are disappointed we are not,” added Armey, a former GOP congressman.
In Florida, where the national party has signaled its preference for centrist Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP Senate primary, tea party activists are lining up behind former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in reaction to Crist’s public backing for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.
This isn't surprising. The general theme of the Tea Parties is a very pure theme. Tea party goers are both conservative and even libertarian. They have no use for moderates from either party. They certainly have no use for liberals. So, when the Republican establishment, in this case the NRSC, chooses a moderate over a conservative, the tea parties will protest. Crist, as the story points out, supported the stimulus, the bailouts, and appeared with President Obama. He's a moderate. His challenger, Marco Rubio, is a much more pure conservative.
To me, this is short sighted. Rubio is a long shot in the general election whereas Crist is a favorite. A Democrat, we can guarantee, will be more liberal than both of them. Still, the tea parties have the most influence on Republicans in both fundraising and in the primaries. The tea parties have decided to flex their muscles in several local and state races. They are raising a stink in races in Colorado, Connecticut, and in California according to the article.
What's really fascinating is how quickly local regional and local splinter tea party groups have formed from the tea parties. All of this is occurring not from a central national office but from pressure from local and state tea party affiliated groups in each of the areas. It is the South Florida based Tea Party Patriots that is making the most noise against Crist. Similar state groups are raising stinks against Carly Fiorina and other pols deemed to moderate.
If anyone still doubted the political power of the tea parties, you need to doubt them no more. It's entirely unclear just what will be the final outcome of all this newfound power. If they use this power to purge each and every moderate from the Republican party then the tea parties will find that ultimately they'll wind up only helping put more liberals into Congress. I've long said that this movement is "organic" and so it will evolve in ways that ultimately no one can predict. At this point, the movement is transforming from a national movement to a local one.