Monday, May 24, 2010

Meet the Tea Party: North Carolina edition

The Republican Party's embrace of the Tea Party was a bargain with the Devil. In early 2009 Republicans worried that their party would never be competitive again. Crushing defeats in 2006 and 2008 had Republican rank and file demoralized. Then along came the Tea Party.

Sure, they were a little nutty, but they were enthusiastic at a moment in time when the Republican Party had no enthusiasm. They had energy, while the GOP had none. Republican leaders were unwilling to wait for their party to rebuild itself, and so they made their deal with the Devil: they climbed in bed with the Tea Party.

Now, a year later, the GOP is trying to organize itself for this year's mid-term elections. Normally, in the course of typical party politics, the GOP as opposition party could expect to pick up some seats in Congress. In addition, a soured economy has heightened ordinary "throw the bums out" feelings into a positively hostile atmosphere. So everything is going okay for Republicans, right?

Not so fast. The Tea Party, as payment for providing most of the energy to oppose Barack Obama and the Democratic Party over the past year is now presenting its bill for services rendered. The Tea Party wants to supply the Republican Party with its candidates for Congress. We've seen how dangerous this can be just in the first week of Rand Paul's candidacy. The Tea Party isn't ready for prime time. But Rand Paul's clumsy ineptitude is nothing compared to the problem Republicans have saddled themselves with in North Carolina.

Enter Tim D'Annunzio.

Tim D'Annunzio is a leader in his local Tea Party movement and he's running for Congress in North Carolina's 8th House District. Earlier this month, D'Annunzio won 37% of the vote in the Republican primary--the most of any candidate--but did not reach the 40% threshold that North Carolina law requires to avoid a runoff. Unfortunately, Republican Harold Johnson has demanded a runoff election and D'Annunzio is now preparing for a runoff on June 22, 2010.

Who is Tim D'Annunzio?

Well, I better let D'Annunzio's Republican friends tell you who he is:
"Mr. D'Annunzio has disqualified himself by his background, his record and his behavior," said Tom Fetzer, North Carolina's Republican Party chairman. He said the GOP embraces the tea party but doesn't believe a person with such a checkered past should be the party's nominee.

In Hoke County divorce records, his wife said in 1995 that D'Annunzio had claimed to be the Messiah, had traveled to New Jersey to raise his stepfather from the dead, believed God would drop a 1,000-mile high pyramid as the New Jerusalem on Greenland and found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona. A doctor's evaluation the following month said D'Annunzio used marijuana almost daily, had been living with another woman for several months, had once been in drug treatment for heroin dependence and was jailed a couple times as a teenager.

The doctor concluded that his religious beliefs were not delusional. A judge wrote in a child support ruling a few years later that D'Annunzio was a self-described "religious zealot" who believed the government was the "Antichrist." The judge said he was willfully failing to make child support payments.
Gasp. Really? Do tell.

Those Tea Party folks are going to do the Republican Party proud this year. Mark your calendars. On June 22nd, Tim D'Annunzio might just win the chance to represent the Republican Party in North Carolina's 8th House District. We wish him the best . . . in the primary.

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