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The tea party endorsement that wasn't

The Tea Party Express's endorsement of Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) has had little real political impact so far. After the endorsement, TPE's Sal Russo couldn't tell when we might see, say, a TV ad or mailer for Minnick -- although Mark Williams claimed that the group had planned to run ads supportive of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) until he decided to support the final version of health-care reform.

So what impact have we seen? A vast and efficient cheesing-off of tea party groups in Idaho. Maine-based tea party activist Andrew Ian Dodge collects comments from Tea Party Boise:

The recent announcement by Tea Party Express that they planned to endorse Walt Minnick for Congress was a surprise to Tea Party Boise, who was never consulted on this issue. Our position is simple – We believe that the people of Idaho will determine who they will support and endorse as the fall election draws closer. Tea Party Boise does not endorse Mr. Minnick or any candidate from any party at this time. Tea Party Express would be well advised to talk to those in Idaho who cast the votes.

And from Idaho Tea Party Patriots:

I am very disappointed and have requested an explanation. Minnick is no Conservative and I’ve been in touch with TP folks on his side of the state when they have had repeated demonstrations at his offices. He’s only voted with “us” because we hold his feet to the fire! So, I am not in agreement.

Why so much annoyance? It's the same reason that activists have been slow to buy into the campaign against Tea Party Express as some sort of front group -- they don't know the difference between the groups that organize rallies. Here are just two comments from the Idaho Tea Party Patriots site:

(carmelcecils) honestly, i am very disappointed that you have endorsed Walt Minnick. He is not a fighter against big government. we are seriously considering withdrawing our support for the this organization. There is no evidence from his record or even speach that he will fight against deficit spending.

(larry652) Very sad to hear national tea party is endorsing Mennick! Yes, he votes conservative most of time but is a vote for NANCY

The media cover it as a powerful tea party group endorsing Minnick. The activists interpret it as their movement selling out.

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By David Weigel  |  April 20, 2010; 1:34 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Tea Party  | Tags: Bart Stupak, Health care, Idaho, Mark Williams, Tea Party Express, United States, United States Congress, Walt Minnick  
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