How The Florida Tea Party Might Help Alan Grayson In November

June 18, 2010 1:32 p.m.

As election day approaches, Republicans have lost some of their bravado when it comes to possibly taking control of the Senate from Democrats.

But down in Florida’s 8th district, Tea Party candidate Peg Dunmire is crushing the dreams of some Republican hopefuls who want to take over Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson’s House seat as well.Dunmire is unlikely to beat Grayson in the fall, but some Florida Republicans are worried that she’ll draw conservative voters away from whichever of the seven primary candidates wins the GOP nomination.

Dunmire, a business consultant from Orlando, is running as the Florida Tea Party’s candidate on a third-party ticket. In an interview with the AP, she called Grayson a “seductive speaker” and referred to President Obama as a “Chicago thug.”

Some of her positions are potentially fringe-bait as well. On her campaign website, Dunmire writes about how “none of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were American citizens. Yet, nine of the nineteen were registered to vote. And of the nine, most were registered to vote here in Florida.” This is part of her call to “verify legal status of the person requesting government services.”

Such statements notwithstanding, Dan Fanelli, one of the Republican primary candidates, told the Orlando Sentinel that “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that it would split the conservative vote and weaken the Republican Party so that Grayson would have more of a shot at winning.”

Dunmire, though, was not as concerned about this prospect: “I find it appalling. We live in the United States, where we believe in the free-market system. But when it comes to politics, competition is bad.”

The Florida Tea Party, as we previously reported, has troubles of its own. It’s being sued by members of the local tea party movement for co-opting the “Tea Party” name to form a political party “supported by well-funded GOP operatives and others bent on the destruction of the tea party movement.”

Dunmire did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

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