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Tea party leader* endorses Saul Anuzis for RNC chair

One day after getting many headlines for suggesting Sarah Palin as Republican National Committee chair, Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips endorsed former Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis. (His endorsement is behind a cumbersome online registration process.)

But before Anuzis is anointed as the tea party candidate of choice — Phillips has minimal influence in tea party circles. A Washington Post survey of 647 tea party groups showed only nine with connections to his organization. By contrast, 208 groups said they worked mainly with the Tea Party Patriots. The for-profit Tea Party Nation did hold a January 2010 convention — the first of its kind — in Nashville featuring Sarah Palin, but her $100,000 speaking fee and the ticket price of $550 were criticized by other tea party groups. An August convention in Las Vegas was called off. David Weigel called up several tea party leaders yesterday and they agreed that Phillips wasn’t a big player anymore in the movement.

Another reason to discount this endorsement as influential: Look at who hosted last week’s RNC debate — it was not Tea Party Nation but FreedomWorks. Though all of the RNC candidates at the debate were varyingly deferential to the tea party, and tea party questioners want ownership of the RNC, there just isn’t a candidate that the tea party has coalesced around. But that’s almost beside the point, as 168 members of the RNC decide the chairman, not activists in primaries.

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