By Sam Foster
Via Adirondack Daily Enterprise
The members of UNY TEA, the local Tea Party representing the North Country section of NYS, met the other day to organize a petition drive to put Doug Hoffman on the Republican ballot. While many debate the effectiveness of the Tea Party movement on the national scale, they do present a sizable campaign force and the 2010 elections may be the true litmus test to whether there is any political potency for future elections. NY's 23rd congressional district may be one of many epicenters for the Tea Party tale to bare fruit, their endorsement of Doug Hoffman pits them against local Republican political bosses as 9 out of 11 counties have swung for Matt Doheny.
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise interviewed Mark Barie, the leader of UNYTEA:
The Upstate New York Tea Party has endorsed Doug Hoffman, and its ability to gather signatures for him will be "a numerical litmus test" of its strength, according to UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie. Candidates will need 1,250 signatures before the state's mid-July deadline to get on the ballot; UNYTEA's self-imposed deadline is June 30.
About 70 people came to a UNYTEA-hosted meeting at the Hotel Saranac Thursday evening. Barie's remarks were largely focused on advising the attendees on the petition drive and get-out-to-vote efforts. For example, Barie suggested members send out mailers to people in their communities with handwritten addresses, with handwritten "P.S." notes at the end of the form letters saying they have met Hoffman, to give it a more personal feel.
UNYTEA started last year and has more than 700 members. Hoffman is the first candidate the group has endorsed.
"This is a test, to see if we can help him," Barie said. He said UNYTEA will be holding more, similar events throughout the district in the upcoming weeks; they held one in Elizabethtown last week.
However, Barie said after the event, "whether (Hoffman) wins, loses, or draws, the Upstate New York Tea Party will live to fight another day."
Will UNYTEA bear fruit for the Hoffman campaign? Only time will tell, however, this many be the first election cycle in recent memory where right-wing organizers will likely be at work en masse. It will certainly be interesting to watch.