Tea Party Activist Challenging NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions In GOP Primary

November 6, 2009 10:23 a.m.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the NRCC, may have another problem on his hands in addition to the House GOP’s recent woes in the NY-23 race: A primary challenge from a conservative activist back home.

David Smith, a corporate financial analyst, has declared his candidacy against Sessions in the Republican primary, citing the budget deficit, federal spending, and Sessions’ votes for the Wall Street bailout as his main issues.

In an interview with TPM, Smith said that he has participated in Tea Parties as an activist, though he has not been an organizer, and explained that those events are motivated by the same issues of spending in Washington that he’s long been concerned about. “And that begun under Republican control of the House and Senate and Republican control of the White House,” said Smith. “I know it didn’t boil over into marches in the streets and to the White House until a Democrat got elected, but that happened because Republicans weren’t doing what people wanted, and Pete was a part of that.”Smith said that his decision was not motivated by Sessions’ performance in the NY-23 election, with the party’s nomination of moderate-to-liberal candidate Dede Scozzafava and the subsequent right-wing revolt — but it helps. “I was already doing this,” he explained. “That’s just one additional thing that I’ll be able to use and say, ‘You know, look, this is what you’ve got, is this what you want? That’s already what Sessions is about and what he’s doing.”

Smith added: “It’s nice to have my opponent in the national news for a bad reason at the same time I’m announcing my candidacy. It was totally of his making.”

Smith has a fundraiser this Monday, and has invited the local Republican Party precinct chairs — and says that some of them have RSVP’ed, and more could come, though he won’t give a number or name anybody: “The Dallas County Republican Party is expected to come after me with guns-a-blazing, and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to put the precinct chairs in a bad light with them, because I don’t want them to get splattered with the blood, so to speak, when the county party starts firing away at me.”

Will he tap into the Tea Party movement, to power his campaign? “Absolutely, absolutely I will,” said Smith, saying that the principles of the Tea Party movement are largely in line with his own. “I anticipate that those will be the most active supporters of my campaign, those are going to be the people who will go out for my campaign and wear out shoes, and make phone calls to people in the district.”

Smith also warned the Republican Party about Sessions’ performance as NRCC chairman, in the wake of NY-23: “If this is the performance we can expect from the NRCC nationwide, going into the primaries and general election next year, this is a D-minus — and that’s friendly.”

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