Nationally, Democrats say they intend to campaign against the tea party movement. But locally, Democratic officials and activists in at least four states now stand accused of collaborating with tea party candidates in an attempt to sabotage Republican challengers in some of the closest House races in the nation.
The charges of dirty tricks are being leveled in Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Florida — and they involve more than a half-dozen contests that could tip the balance of power in the House.
The accusations range from helping tea party activists circulate candidate petition sheets to underwriting the creation of official tea parties, which then put forth slates of candidates that local conservatives accuse of being rife with Democratic plants.
In all of the affected races, the outcome is expected to be close enough that a third-party candidate who wins just a few percentage points could end up swinging the outcome to the Democratic congressman or candidate.
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