Tea party activists said that a campaign that submitted 60,000 petition signatures to the state Wednesday to qualify candidates for office under the banner of the Tea Party is a trick to help Democrats. The activists said the group that submitted the petitions wants to siphon votes from tea party conservatives running as Republicans.
A Tuscola County man who described himself as head of the party that turned in the petitions, issued a statement Wednesday criticizing both major parties and claiming "the tea party is a grassroots movement that belongs to everybody. No one person, click (sic) or party boss owns the tea party."
"This is absolutely not legitimate," said Mark Graham, an organizer of a tea party group in Tuscola County.
A similar dispute is under way in Florida, where Republicans and tea party activists have accused Democrats of financing so-called Tea Party candidates for local office in an attempt to dilute the anti-Democratic Party vote.
Most of Michigan's public tea party activists, like those elsewhere in the country, have dismissed the idea of forming an official third-party alternative as counterproductive to their goal of reining in the cost and size of government. "We don't need another party," said Bill Hollister, chairman a Macomb County-based tea party organization. "The tea party is trying to cleanse the Republican Party." Hollister said Wednesday's filing was "as bogus as it can get. They don't have support from anybody in the tea party movement in this state."
So the only people allowed to use the term Tea Party are people who don't think there should be a Tea Party?