Tea Party Candidate Boiling Over In Alan Grayson’s District

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Oct 06, 2010 12:01 AM
Tea Party Candidate Boiling Over In Alan Grayson’s District

Crazy old Alan Grayson is enjoying the spoils of a third party candidate who insists that she’s not a third party candidate.

Peg Dunmire is running for Congress under the name of a political organization called the TEA Party. Under this designation, Dunmire is winning six percent of the vote in Florida’s eighth Congressional district against Democrat Alan Grayson and Republican Daniel Webster, according to a recent poll. Florida political operatives say she could win as much as ten percent on Election Day simply because Florida conservatives will see the word “TEA” on the ballot and vote for her.

Whether it’s six or ten percent, Dunmire is squarely within striking distance of Republican Dan Webster. After all, Dunmire’s supporters are conservatives — people who will choose to vote for her instead of Webster. Democrat Alan Grayson can simply sit back, relax, and let the Republican base divide itself.

Dunmire, a 63-year old grandmother and consultant, is resentful at the suggestion that she might be dividing the base, or that she is the member of a subversive third party. This is in sharp contrast to most third party candidates who will typically be frank about simply trying to push certain issues or influence a major party candidate in a given contest.

“You’re repeating exactly what the Republican mantra is: going to siphon off the votes, you’re going to be a spoiler,’” she said in an interview, when asked about the possibility of her splitting the vote. “That’s Republican jargon, that’s their view.”

Dunmire claims that the Republican Party is more intimidated by a third party called the TEA Party than they are of Democrat Alan Grayson winning re-election.

“This two-party system is only about power — not about solving our country’s problems. It is power, power, power,” said Dunmire. “What I talk about is taking power away from the legislators and giving it back to the people. And that is absolutely not what the Republican Party wants to do.”

Lew Oliver, Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party in the 8th District, is incredulous that Dunmire is so opposed to a two-party system, because she ran in the GOP primary there until it became clear that she was going to lose.

“This apparent revelation (that the two-party system is about power) only struck her when it became clear that she was going to lose miserably within the two party system. So she effectively took her marbles — the tiny few of them she had — and went home,” said Oliver.

“She is a miserable failure as a candidate, and her ego has driven her to a third party, so she can remain relevant. She has no chance of winning.”

Webster puts it a little more simply.

“Any vote that’s not for me is a vote for Alan Grayson,” he said.

The TEA Party is planning a mail drop of almost two hundred thousand pieces and have already placed tens of thousands of calls on Dunmire’s behalf, according to Doug Guetzloe, the main consultant for the TEA Party and Dunmire’s campaign. Guetzloe claims the TEA Party has almost a million dollars in the bank, most of which is going towards Dunmire’s campaign.

The TEA Party of Florida is running about twenty other candidates for various state and national races, in addition to supporting Dunmire. Official Orlando Republicans claim that Grayson has funded some or all of these candidates, possibly with the help of Doug Guetzloe, the manager for the TEA Party and Dunmire’s campaign. But there are no paper trails to back up these claims.

It’s true that Guetzloe has been kicked out of the Republican Party for openly endorsing liberal Democrats in certain races. It’s also true that Fred O’Neil, who has made major donations to Dunmire’s campaign, spent time as a Democrat and an Independent before hooking up with the TEA Party in central Florida. But Guetzloe maintains that he would not want to vote down the line with the Republican Party because they don’t always represent what he believes.

“Right now, the Republican Party is basically walking on eggshells. They’ve lost their core values, they’ve lost their base, ad the only reason people are voting Republican is because it is the lesser of two evils in most areas,” said Guetzloe.

Dunmire agrees, complaining that Webster supports the wasteful Florida high-speed rail project, and supports double taxation via highway tolls.

Oliver has something to say about that.

“My favorite phrase in politics, the one that I repeat every single day, is very, very clear,” he said, referencing Ronald Reagan. “Someone who agrees with you eighty percent of the time is a valuable friend and ally, not a twenty percent traitor.”

“To nitpick one or two votes, whether or not they are horrendous or not, someone who has a 37-year history of lowering taxes, being fiscally responsible, honorable service, and is respected by everyone in the process… to nitpick two issues is certifiably insane. The solution is what… a raging lunatic liberal Democrat?”