The reason for keeping the so-called Tea Party off the Michigan ballot in November - a single word on ballot petitions - may seem a bit nitpicky. But the result is no tragedy. There is growing evidence the party is nothing more than a front for political dirty tricks. Its timely death is a favor for Michigan voters.
The group calling itself ''The Tea Party'' had sought to be on the ballot to run 23 candidates in various races. The party nominated candidates for attorney general, secretary of state, two of Michigan's 15 congressional districts, six of 38 seats in the state Senate and eight of 110 seats in the state House, in addition to other offices.
The races involved high-profile and competitive seats, where running under the flag of The Tea Party could siphon votes from Republican candidates and tip the race toward the Democratic side. That dynamic is one reason most people aligning themselves with the real tea party movement have not sought to run candidates under a separate party label. Instead, tea party activists, who favor more limited government, have looked to wield influence primarily within the Republican Party, as evidenced by the brief squabble at the recent GOP state convention over gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder's choice of a lieutenant governor nominee.
The Michigan Supreme Court last week affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling that the group calling itself The Tea Party did not qualify for the ballot. The group was disqualified because the word ''the'' in The Tea Party did not appear in 24-point boldface type on the petitions as required by law. The Supreme Court's 5-2 decision - a majority that included two Democratically nominated justices - killed The Tea Party's last hope of running candidates in November.
The decision followed a divided ruling from the Board of State Canvassers. Two Republicans on the board voted against putting The Tea Party and its candidates on the ballot. Two Democrats voted for the party. The tie left the party off the ballot, and the matter went to the courts. The decision at all levels focused on a narrow point of law, one certainly open to interpretation.
Still, the result is a good one, for reasons entirely different than those outlined by the canvassers or the courts. There is every indication that The Tea Party was a front designed to manipulate the electoral process for Democratic gains. ...
Jason Bauer, a one-time employee of the Oakland County Democratic Party, is the notary on 13 candidate filings for The Tea Party. Mr. Bauer is under investigation on allegations some candidate signatures were forged. He resigned his post with the Oakland County Democrats. So did Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Mike McGuinness, who also may be connected to this scheme. ...
Voters deserve better than that. They deserve serious candidates and serious political organizations. The now-defunct Tea Party, as it called itself, provided neither.
The Grand Rapids Press