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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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Jake Gibson

Washington, DC

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Tea Party Lists Enemies of Liberty?

January 25, 2010 - 3:45 PM | by: Jake Gibson

Tea Party Lists Enemies of Liberty?
Group Plans Multi-Million Dollar Nationwide War Chest

Washington – FreedomWorks, the conservative political action committee that is one of the major players with close ties to the Tea Party movement, released its list of 2010 target Senate races and congressional districts today. In the Florida Senatorial race, the group supports conservative Marco Rubio over current Republican Governor Charlie Crist, conservative Pat Toomey over Senator Arlen Specter (D) in Pennsylvania, Rand Paul (R), son of 2008 Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, for the open Senate seat in Kentucky and among those listed as an ‘Enemy of Liberty’, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. The group has not yet picked a Republican to back in Nevada, they just want Reid ousted.

On the House side they will work to topple Parker Griffith, the recently converted Democrat in Alabama, as well as Alan Grayson, the outspoken Florida Democrat who said the Republican Health Care plan amounted to telling people “hurry up and die.”

These races are just a drop in the bucket however, the group plans to monitor dozens of races and jump in with both feet when its ready.

FreedomWorks claims a half million members and has ambitious plans on the fundraising front. Rob Jordan, FreedomWorks’ Vice President of Federal and State Campaigns looks at the successes of moveon.org as an example. “They raised around 31 million dollars in 2003. We ‘re not sure we can raise that much, but think we can be in the multi-millions and be a major player in 2010.”

FreedomWorks also brought together dozens of conservative activists today and put them in a room full of reporters, hoping to let the grass roots speak to the Washington establishment. They came from as far away as California, Arkansas, Ohio, and Florida.

“It’s hot in Florida, Charlie Crist is on the run” says Thomas Gaiten, a Florida Field Coordinator for Freedom Works, “I’m arranging an event on February 10 for the one year anniversary of ‘The Stimulus Hug.’

Gaiten is referring to a hug between President Obama and Florida Governor Charlie Crist last year. Crist was an exuberant host and endorsed the President’s stimulus package, for which Crist is now under fire.

It is a moment that conservatives have flogged in Florida. A few months ago Crist was leading his Republican competitor, Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, by 30 points. However, the Tea Party movement in Florida has been aggressively organizing for Rubio both on the ground and on the web and the latest polls show the two neck and neck.

Meanwhile in Arkansas, Rob Porto of Little Rock, says Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) ,”is out… The only question is who is going to replace her, and we’re still vetting prospective Republican candidates. We’re planning a number of debates.”

Greg Fettig drove the 600 miles from his native Indiana to be part of this meeting. Fettig co-founded a group called “Hoosier Patriots” and feels that the Tea Party movement has given a voice to people like him. “I used to think I was alone, now I know there are others out there who want to stand up for fiscal conservatism.”

Fettig lives in the district of longtime Republican congressman Dan Burton, but thinks it’s time for Burton to go. “He’s got no fire… He’s been there too long, people should just serve a term or two and then get out.”

This sort of conservative organic grassroots uprising is proving to be quite powerful, with Republicans all over the country scrambling to get out in front of it, but the question remains, how will the Republican party be able to harness it?

A ‘National Tea Party Convention’ is scheduled for Nashville, Tennessee in early February with Republican party mega-star Sarah Palin as one of the featured speakers.

Tea Party organizers admit they are a scattered and loose knit group, joking that it’s kind of like “herding cats.” These activists are so anti-establishment they don’t even like the idea that their own organization is having a convention and charging money for people to attend.

“I like Sarah Palin,” said Scott Boston of the Bowling Green Ohio Tea Party Patriots, “But I’m not going to spend 600 dollars on a ticket. Tea Party meetings are free. I have a feeling that the convention in Nashville is going to be about people who want to lead our parade but wouldn’t be willing to march in it.”

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