Tea Party endorses a Democrat: Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick

McClatchy NewspapersApril 16, 2010 

Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, snagged an unusual endorsement Thursday from the Tea Party Express, the group with the greatest national stature in the loosely organized Tea Party movement.

Minnick is the only Democrat to land an endorsement from the organization, which had a rally Wednesday in Boston with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and another rally Thursday in Washington. The Tea Party Express announced its slate of endorsements and targets Thursday at the Washington rally, held to mark the April 15 tax deadline.

They weren't soliciting an endorsement, said spokesman John Foster, and the endorsement caught Minnick's campaign off-guard.

Minnick doesn't agree with all aspects of the Tea Party movement, Foster said, but the campaign welcomes support from a broad coalition of people.

"Walt has worked very hard to show that he can represent a wide variety of interests," Foster said. "We're not going to stop talking to people who we disagree with on some things."

Minnick in 2008 was endorsed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, NARAL. He’s also seen support in the form of donations from individual members of firefighters and carpenters unions, Foster said.

Foster said they suspect the endorsement came in part because of Minnick’s voting record: he voted against the stimulus bill, cap-and-trade legislation and the health care overhaul.

"They are fundamentally about fiscal responsibility," Foster said of the Tea Party.

Minnick was the only member of the Idaho congressional delegation to attend a Tea Party town hall in Boise in August, at the height of the national fervor over health care reform.

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