Takeover: Tea party activists target local GOP precincts

Across the country, tea party groups that had focused on planning rallies are now educating members on how to run for local GOP precinct representative positions. The representatives help elect county party leaders, who write the platform and, in some places, determine endorsements.

“That’s where it all starts. That’s where the process of picking candidates begins. It’s not from [GOP leader] Michael Steele’s office down. It’s from the ground up,” said Philip Glass, whose National Precinct Alliance is among the groups advocating the strategy. “The party is over for the old guard.”…

Many Republican Party leaders have welcomed the activity, particularly because they worried that the energy driving the tea party movement might create a third party that would split the conservative vote. That scenario played out in New York’s 23rd Congressional District in a special election last year, a cautionary tale in Republican circles because it led to a Democrat capturing a longtime GOP House seat. The precinct strategy is a sign that tea party activists are finding a home — or, in many cases, are willing to return to a home — in the GOP.