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   ‘Tea party’ conservatives prep for 2010 elections

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12/10/2009 9:00 am

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General

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Entered 12/10/2009, Updated 12/10/2009

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The energized "tea party" movement, which upended this year's political debate with noisy anti-government protests, is preparing to shake up the 2010 elections by channeling money and supporters to conservative candidates set to challenge both Democrats and Republicans. Buoyed by their success in capsizing a moderate Republican candidate this fall in Upstate New York, tea party activists and affiliated groups are unveiling new political action committees and tactics aimed at capitalizing on conservative opposition to health-care reform, financial bailouts and other Obama administration policies. The goal is to harness the anger that led to hundreds of protests around the country from spring to fall, including a gathering of tens of thousands of protesters on the Mall in September. The strategy poses both an opportunity and a risk for the beleaguered Republican Party, which is seeking to take advantage of conservative discontent while still fielding candidates who appeal to independent voters. Fundraising efforts are just beginning, but tea party activists have already inspired serious challenges to establishment GOP Senate candidates Carly Fiorina in California and Charlie Crist in Florida; a similar insurgency in last month's House race in New York splintered local Republicans, leading to a Democratic victory.


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