Politics & Government

Texas Tea Party activists are focusing on Republican candidates

FORT WORTH — Elected officials — Democrats and Republicans — have been routinely and loudly booed at Tea Party rallies and other conservative events over the past year.

But as area activists try to turn that anger into action, they are setting their sights on fellow Republicans more than Democrats.

Members of several local conservative groups that formed last year are focusing on a handful of Republican primary races in the hope of moving the party in a more conservative direction.

"The Tea Partiers, the 912ers and the Libertarians all need to come together and work together," said Adrian Murray, an organizer with the 912 Project Fort Worth. "It’s the outcome of those primaries that are going to determine what kind of support the Republican Party gets" in November.

They aren't endorsing candidates, but the anti-incumbent sentiment at rallies last year was palpable and is playing a role in local races. Several Republican challengers in races for Congress and the state Legislature say their appeal to those protesters fed up with the status quo will lead them to a primary win in March.

"A lot of people think that these are Republican groups, but they’re not. They're actually as mad at Republicans as they are Democrats," said conservative activist Bill Burch, who is running against former Arlington City Councilwoman Barbara Nash in the Republican primary for the state House seat held by Rep. Paula Pierson, D-Arlington.

The Tea Party movement and the 912 Project caught fire locally and across the county in 2009, with conservatives flocking to rallies to protest runaway federal spending and, more broadly, a Washington, D.C.-based approach to government.

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