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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 11:28am

Tea Party Targets Some Republicans

Georgia Tea Party groups are gearing up for the 2012 election by identifying state Republicans whom they say aren’t fiscally conservative. The groups are targeting House Speaker David Ralston and other prominent lawmakers.

Georgia Tea Party groups are going after what they call a “RINO.” That stands for “Republican In Name Only.”

One key issue is next year’s transportation sales tax vote. Tea party groups oppose it because it’s a tax. And they plan to run primary candidates against GOP legislators supporting it.

But that’s not the only issue. Bill Evelyn is with the State Of Georgia Tea Party. He says states’ dependence on federal funding encourages government over-taxing:

“The state of Georgia’s budget isn’t balanced as the Constitution says it is," he said in a phone interview. "It’s subsidized by the federal government. Over 50 percent of our budget is money from the federal government and we wonder why the federal government is bankrupt?”

But unseating powerful Republicans won’t be an easy task. That’s according to Tom Crawford, editor of the political publication, The Georgia Report.

“Some of the Republican incumbents they’re going after -- I’m not sure they really have the political strength to give them much of a challenge but it certainly could be a nuisance if nothing else,” he said.

State Tea Party groups are also encouraging Democrats to target legislators who switched to the Republican party after the 2010 GOP landslide.

“We are very much against the Democrats who switched to Republicans,” Evelyn said. “The worst thing that can happen is to have a man or woman who was raised with Democrat ideology that just to get their agenda through switches to the Republican party and then the Republican party leadership embraces them as members of the Republican party.”

Evelyn has conferred with State Democrats about mounting challenges to the party-switchers, such as Rep. Doug McKillip of Athens.

"I encourage Mike Berlon and Eric Gray [of the Democratic Party of Georgia] to do everything they can to get rid of Doug McKillip in the general election," he said.