Tea Party movement faces next big test

Andrew Ian Dodge Contributor
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We are approaching the next big test for the Tea Party movement. And if the current rhetoric is anything to go by, there is going to be quite a bit of fireworks nationwide. May is the season for state conventions, where parties chose their leaders for the next two years.

Many Tea Party groups have sought to influence their state parties towards a more Tea Party mindset. One of the best ways to accomplish this end is to influence who is elected to state committees for the various parties.

In Ohio it has reached a fevered pitch with each side making accusations of attempted take-overs and destruction.

Chris Littleton of the Ohio Liberty Council has claimed that the Republican Party of Ohio has “declared war” on the Tea Party movement in that state. He backs up his statement with a detailed list of charges against the party.

“In recent weeks the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) begged primary votes for candidates of their choosing, sending mailers which contain a logo of, “Support Tea Party Values.” This new logo was used for Jon Husted and others. What’s wrong with this? Nothing, except leaders in the Tea Party movement, like myself, would hardly consider him or the ORP supportive of “Tea Party Values.””

Many Tea Party groups across the country will be well versed in the attempts to steal the flag of the Tea Party movement for party political aims. However some observers, including Joe Hallet, claim just the opposite. Hallet insists the Tea Party movement is trying to hijack the ORP and move it to the right. He believes this will kill off the Republican Party completely.

“A deeply involved Republican from northwestern Ohio called last week with a tip: The Tea Party is trying to take over the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee and, if successful, will oust state party Chairman Kevin DeWine. If she’s right and that happens, the Ohio GOP will die.”

No doubt feeling threatened, Littleton, claims that the ORP have gone to extreme measure to protect them from the Tea Party onslaught. Its gotten so bad a lawsuit has been filed.

“Tea Party members were encouraged months ago to run for committeeman and committeewoman at the county and state level, in order to increase their influence in the major political parties. Many have heeded that call, and now the ORP is trying “bar the door” to keep them out, regardless of cost, party rules or state law.”

Other Tea Party groups, notably those under the Tea Party Patriots national banner are finding some amusement in the whole saga. They claim the OLC has tried to make itself the only Tea Party with a relationship with the ORP. The fact the Republican Party has turned on the OLC has caused a certain level of schedenfreude among the non-partisan Tea Party groups in Ohio.

In fact Scott Boston, state co-ordinator for Tea Party Patriots in the state and local coordinator for Bowling Green Tea Party Patriots said the following when asked about the situation.

“”The Ohio Republican Party seems to think that engagement with the Tea Party movement in Ohio consists of putting a logo which reads “Tea Party Values” next to their slate of candidates. It is just this type party arrogance that gave rise to the Tea Party movement. It is for individual voters to decide which candidates of any party hold their values. The sooner political parties in Ohio realize that fact and become interested in real engagement with the voters the better off they will be.””

It is probably the case that we shall see this sort of saga happening in many states across the United States as the Tea Party flexes its muscle and the Republican Party reacts. It is clear that the establishment of the parties feel threatened by the organized grassroots movement that is the Tea Party.

Fireworks are coming early this year, political journalists and observers are going to have a lot to watch.

Andrew Ian Dodge is a 40-something writer, consultant and musician. He blogs at andrewiandodge.com.