Nevada Tea Battle: Grassroots Groups Call New Third Party Fake, Ban It From Events

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Is there a fake tea party brewing in Nevada? Tea partiers who have declared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) public enemy No. 1 sure seem to think so.

The Tea Party of Nevada formed an official third party in the Silver State, with candidate Jon Ashjian hoping to defeat Reid. But tea party groups that oppose becoming official third parties cried foul. Some conservatives have even accused Ashjian of being a front for Reid supporters who hope to dilute the Republican and tea party votes in the fall.

Twenty of Nevada’s self-proclaimed “grassroots tea party groups” signed a statement denouncing the Tea Party of Nevada. The groups issued a blanket ban, saying the third party won’t be invited to or welcome at any grassroots events in the state.The Tea Party Nation jumped on board with the Tea Party of Nevada-bashing, saying the group is infringing on their “TPN” acronym.

“It has recently come to our attention that an email is circulating referring to the newly established liberal-funded Tea Party of Nevada as TPN. This email repeatedly disparages the Tea Party group using the acronym TPN,” Tea Party Nation organizers wrote members in an email, obtained by TPMDC as a member of the mailing list.

Sherry Phillips, vice president of the Tea Party Nation group, asked members to “make any and all attempts to correct this misinformation,” reminding them the group “is against the formation of a third party political party.”

After the group filed its formation in Nevada, several groups balked and news reports looking into Ashjian prompted accusations the group’s founders are “imposters.”

Some who question the legitimacy of the group point to the political leanings of its secretary, Las Vegas attorney Barry Levinson. He is reportedly a registered Democrat and has criticized former President George W. Bush.

Ashjian got the Las Vegas Sun treatment last week, with the article’s first sentence insisting the candidate is no “stooge” for Reid. “This elitist crowd doesn’t have any clue about the pain and suffering experienced by the average American. … Every small-business owner is in the same boat,” Ashjian told the Sun. We’ve been looking for his campaign Web site, but can’t find one.

Tea Party of Nevada sure sounds legitimate after quick check of their bylaws, found here. Among their “core principles” is this line: “We believe in personal responsibility and oppose government run health care and socialized medicine.”

This is brewing as the Tea Party Express plans a major push to try and defeat Reid. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Andrew Breitbart and Joe the Plumber are slated to appear at the rally in Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nevada at the end of this month.

Though polls show the official tea party group helps Reid, he is in trouble no matter which candidate Republicans choose. The TPM Polltracker shows Reid losing to the top Republican conteners.

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