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A GOP-Tea Party Summit

Ken Vogel has a revealing scoop on the Republican Party’s effort to co-opt Tea Party activists — something anathema to a few activists, something that other activists had hoped would happen from the beginning. Tomorrow, Michael Steele will meet with 50 state Tea Party leaders. One of the models for this kind of accord, reports Vogel, comes from Colorado.

In Colorado, tea party activists raised a ruckus when a Republican gubernatorial candidate in December appeared on Fox News Channel as the “Tea-Party-backed candidate,” prompting state Republican party Chair Dick Wadhams to begin a series of ongoing meetings with tea party activists across the state to encourage tea party activists to get involved in the party.

“Prior to that, we hadn’t heard anything from him,” said Lu Ann Busse, the state chair of a coalition of tea party-esque entities known as 9/12 groups. Even now, she says “there is not a great deal of cooperation. On the Democratic side, they want to fire up their base and cause even more divisions between conservatives. And Republicans are trying to use the tea party movement. They see it as a way to get elected by combining the Republican base with the tea party activist base, which includes a lot more independents.”

Wadhams said his message to Colorado tea partiers has been: “Join the Republican Party, participate in our process and help us nominate candidates.”

February is shaping up to be a pivotal month in the shift of most Tea Party energy into Republican politics. The organizers of the National Tea Party Convention launched a PAC that will, practically, spend its time electing Republicans; CPAC this weekend will give us some more clues about where this is all going.

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