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Tea Party group may get involved in Ga. Senate race

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Tea Party protestersOne of the nation’s most prominent tea party groups has launched a political action committee and says it is weighing involvement in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary to ensure the nomination of a candidate more conservative than retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

The Tea Party Patriots, a Georgia-based nonprofit that represents some 3,000 local tea party groups across the country, announced Friday it had filed paperwork to launch an affiliated super PAC, the Tea Party Citizens Fund, to oppose “big spending politicians.”

The new super PAC may engage in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary, national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said, if it believes a moderate candidate is poised to win the contest.

“They’re focused on getting organized in Georgia and making sure we get somebody who won’t go in and say we need to raise taxes, like we’ve had with Sen. Chambliss,” Martin told the Daily Caller.

But none of the potential GOP recruits are especially moderate and most have been explicitly supported by tea party groups in earlier intraparty bouts.

Rep. Paul Broun, an outspoken conservative with considerable support among grassroots activists, is the lone announced candidate in the race. But other Republicans still testing the waters also have legitimate claims to tea party support.

Dozens of tea party groups flooded the capitol switch board late last year in support of Rep. Tom Price’s bid to steer the House Republican Conference and a super majority Tea Party Patriot members enthusiastically pressured GOP leadership in 2010 to award Rep. Jack Kingston a plum appropriations chairmanship.

The burning question of who might earn the group’s support has already triggered some quiet sniping among congressional aides and donors already aligned with possible candidates, each spotlighting instances in which conservative activists have worked on their behalf.

“Our caucus is uniformly conservative, so what concerns me is the yardstick by which this pac will measure our candidates,” one senior Georgia Republican official told Tipsheet. “Just saying something crazy doesn’t make you any more conservative than the guy who knows to keep his mouth shut.”

He added that “the threat that a powerful tea party group might give its blessing to one of a host of conservative candidates makes it entirely possible the race will descend into a conservative pissing match.”

- James Richardson