Real tea party candidate or a planted spoiler?

From today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal/Kristi Jourdan & Benjamin Spillman:

He’s a Las Vegas businessman who owns an asphalt company and has real estate holdings. And he’s a political newcomer.

Other than that, Scott Ashjian, the rumored U.S. Senate candidate for the newly formed Tea Party of Nevada, remains something of a mystery.

Ashjian is expected to file March 1 to run against U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican challenger in the November general election. But Ashjian has remained quiet about his campaign, giving cryptic e-mail interviews and hardly returning phone calls.

Barry Levinson, a lawyer, registered Democrat and secretary of the Tea Party of Nevada, said he “represents the candidate” and wants to help his longtime friend get elected.

However, representatives of the national tea party movement say Levinson’s political affiliation raises red flags and that the group is working to reelect Sen. Harry Reid by dividing the conservative vote.

“That’s not true,” Levinson said. “(Ashjian’s) in it to win.”

National tea party organizations are distancing themselves from the local U.S. Senate campaign using the “tea party” banner.

The Tea Party of Nevada filed with the secretary of state in January to create a new political party, which aims to “promote this nation’s founding principles of freedom, liberty and a small representative government.”

However, the group has no known ties with national tea party organizations, which emerged to protest the government’s $787 billion stimulus package. The groups usually support fiscal conservatism and are against taxation.

“I have never heard of him,” said Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation, which will hold its second convention from July 15-17 in Las Vegas. “The tea party movement is very successful, and I’m not shocked that opportunists will try to use the movement.”

Another group, the Tea Party Patriots, issued a statement last week to “make it clear that we are not associated with any attempts to form a third party.”

The group said it believes voters should “demand appropriate reform within their own parties” rather than creating a new party.

“The mechanisms exist for citizens to participate in their parties and to drive their parties in the right direction.”


8 responses to “Real tea party candidate or a planted spoiler?

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