It may be splitting hairs, but the DFL party’s claim that Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson received the Tea Party endorsement is technically incorrect. But only because the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance does not make endorsements.
Unlike labor groups, chamber groups, and other special interest organizations that do make endorsements, the Tea Party Alliance claims that it’s a grass roots education group, according to its president, Jack Rogers.
“It’s our primary responsibility to encourage voters to do the proper evaluation of the candidate,” Rogers said. “The Minnesota Tea Party does not endorse.”
But, Rogers added, “That doesn’t mean that a lot of us don’t go to work for candidates that carry out our principles,” which he defined as promoting free markets, fiscal responsibility, and limited government. Rogers made it clear that Johnson is just such a candidate.
“It’s very good,” he said of the Tea Party Alliance relationship with Johnson. But that’s no endorsement, he stressed.
The DFL has made no small effort to tie Johnson to the tea party. In a news release, the DFL party quoted Johnson asking for endorsement at a South Metro Tea Party event in April. “I would be truly honored to earn your support and endorsement in this race,” Johnson said in video taken at the event. The DFL said Johnson “was endorsed by Minnesota Tea Party Alliance President Jack Rogers at a July meeting of the North Metro Tea Party.”
To that, Rogers responded, “They make it look like a Tea Party endorsement, but Jeff Johnson is the person I’m personally going to stand behind. I try to keep my activities and activities of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance separate.”
The Minnesota Tea Party Alliance has a political action committee that is registered with the state. Here too, the group differs from other PACs that follow endorsement with financial support.
The MN Tea Party PAC’s stated mission is to “build new tea party groups, host tea party events, and train/educate our grassroots activists.” As of July 1, the PAC had $896 in cash on hand.