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Trouble brewing between the Tea Party movement and the GOP?

Members of the Tea Party movement say they are not beholden to the GOP.

(Page 9 of 12)



Ray Franz, a local Republican politician in western Michigan for three decades, is running for state representative for the 101st district, which includes Manistee.

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"The Republicans and the Tea Party movement are on the same page on most issues," he said at a local Tea Party meeting. "The party has lost its brand and these conservatives are right to want to hold our feet to the fire and make sure we represent them properly."

Adam Kinzinger won the Republican primary to run for Illinois' 11th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a blog in early January Eric Odom, executive director of the American Liberty Alliance, described Kinzinger as a "strong" Tea Party candidate and recommended readers consider donating to his campaign.

Kinzinger said his campaign saw a major spike in small donations between $10 and $20 following that blog. "I'm a conservative Republican, and Tea Party people believe in the same things that we do," he said. "The movement has helped remind the party that it lost track of the Republican principles that I believe in."

ENDANGERED RINOS

The polarization of U.S. politics may explain why moderate Republicans are in trouble. According to the Pew Research Center, as recently as 2004, 30 percent of Americans were Republicans, but that fell to 23 percent in 2009. Conservatives made up 37 percent in 2004 and ended 2009 at the same level.

According to Gallup, conservatives went from 36 percent of the population in 1992 to 40 percent in 2009, while moderates slid from 43 percent to 36 percent.

Conservatives derisively call moderate Republicans RINOs -- Republican In Name Only. They are angry at moderates over issues like immigration and the cap and trade climate bill.

Joe Walsh, a Tea Party Republican who won the Republican primary for 8th U.S. congressional district in Illinois, said conservatives in his district are furious. "The biggest applause I get from audiences comes when I whack the Republicans over the head for doing the same thing as the Democrats," he said. "This year, party establishment support could be the kiss of death. What will matter this year is the support of the rank and file."

Ted Schendel, 53, a semi-retired police officer and a Tea Party Republican, is running against "four millionaires" to be the Republican candidate for the 2nd district of Michigan.

"Just before Christmas I was watching Glenn Beck when I realized that Glenn alone cannot take our country back," he said, speaking at the Manistee Tea party meeting. "So instead of just shouting at the TV, I decided to run for office."

"I'm not stupid, I know I've got one almighty mountain to climb," he said. "The only way I can do it is if I can get the common man behind me."

Tea Party Democrats are a rarer breed. Tim Curtis, 53, is a former U.S. Marine who owns a UPS Store franchise and is a member of the Tampa 9.12 Project. He is running as a Democrat for U.S. Congress in Florida's 11th district.