Monday, January 25, 2010

Still a disorganized 'tea party'

The Senate race became a big moment for the sometimes fractured and ragtag group of right-wing activists. "The movement rallied around the idea of defying the establishment," said Eric Odom, founder of another tea party network, American Liberty Alliance, which ushered volunteers to Massachusetts in the final days of Brown's winning campaign. "This had far less to do with Scott Brown and far more to do with proving we could coordinate and act in a mass way, showing we could move political mountains. We don't view this as support of a candidate; we view it as opposition to a candidate." But as much as the various groups contributed -- with e-mails, volunteers, money, TV ads -- the victory still had the feel of a crowd running to the sound of the guns. The movement is far from a well-disciplined army. Its pivot from protesting to politics has been fraught with internal disputes, turf wars and lawsuits. It has continued to struggle with its relationship to the Republican Party, which would very much like to harness the movement's energy without being subsumed by it. Recent weeks have seen activists tangled in infighting over an attempt to organize a national more

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