Texplainer

Texplainer: How Do You Get Tea Party Approved?

Last week, freshman state Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, had her “TeaApproved” status revoked by the North Texas Tea Party following her vote in favor of re-electing Speaker Joe Straus. How did she get “TeaApproved” in the first place?

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Hey, Texplainer: What are the criteria to be Tea Party approved or disapproved? Obviously, they have a problem with the speaker, but I would like to know what puts you on their good or bad side.

Last week, freshman state Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, had her “TeaApproved” status revoked by the North Texas Tea Party following her vote in favor of re-electing Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. How did she get “TeaApproved” in the first place? For starters, she lives near the North Texas Tea Party, which came up with the “TeaApproved” label. Ultimately, “TeaApproved” status, or the equivalent, is in the eye of the beholders that run the local Tea Party, provided it is not a nonprofit (political action committees, like the North Texas Tea Party, are allowed to endorse political candidates; nonprofit groups may not).

Unlike the country’s two major parties, there is no overarching Tea Party organization, at least not yet. Rather, the Tea Party movement is made up of loosely affiliated local organizations. It is up to each individual organization how it choose to interpret and manifest the Tea Party mission — and there can be variation. Getting a particular organization's backing is simply a matter of politics. Tea Party groups tend to organize around conservative interpretations of five core principles: limited government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, the rule of law and national sovereignty. Politicians seeking the approval of a particular Tea Party need to convince the members that they share their values and will be the best candidates to implement them.

Some, like the Collin County Tea Party, endorse candidates outright. The North Texas Tea Party chose a different approach in its “TeaApproved” process. On its website, the group calls it “more of a due-diligence process.” Multiple candidates in a race can receive the label, provided they meet with the NTTP and, as the website says, “not only verbally commit to the 5 principles but — more importantly — give indication through background, experience, actions, and voluntary associations, that they will apply them in office."

For the North Texas Tea Party, as well as many others, supporting Straus was not in line with its interpretation of the five principles. When it came to revoking Carter’s approved status, only two of more than 80 voting members were opposed.

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