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Tea Party leader: Senators who stay silent on earmark vote will be presumed guilty

With Republicans slated to vote next Tuesday on Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) proposal to end the practice of members requesting earmarks in the Senate, Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, tells me that the group’s local chapters will be paying very close attention.

“We’ll do what we always do,” said Meckler. “Our members will put immense pressure on every senator to vote against earmarks. This is a fundamental issue — it’s both substantive and symbolic. Will they vote against the politics of the past or are they still stuck in it? This is a vote that will never go away, like TARP. Tea Partiers have long memories. Politicians have always taken advantage of the fact that voters have short memories, but we’ll know, we’ll remember, and in 2012 when they have aggressive, well-funded primary challengers, they’ll know why.”

But how will the Tea Party groups know who to challenge when the vote is to be held in secret? The answer, according to Meckler, is that those who remain silent on the issue will be presumed guilty.

“It might not ever be known but if somebody won’t come out and say they’ll vote against earmarks, then we’ll be pretty sure we know they voted for allowing them,” said Meckler. “And if that’s what they’re going to do, then a lot will see themselves facing primary challenges.”

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