Politics

Conservatives register Tea Party as an official third party in Florida.

After hard-line conservatives and tea party activists forced moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race in New York’s 23rd congressional district, they announced that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would likely be their next target in the GOP civil war. Politico’s Ben Smith reports that some Florida Republicans recently registered an official “Tea Party” to challenge both Republicans and Democrats:

“The current system has become mired in the sludge of special interest money that seeks to control the leadership of both parties. It’s time for real change,” says Orlando lawyer Frederic O’Neal, the new party’s chairman, who couldn’t be reached immediately by phone, in a press release.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Secretary of State, Jennifer Davis, said the party had registered in August.

O’Neal compared his party’s role to that of the Conservative Party in New York’s 23rd District. Florida, however, lacks the “fusion” rules that has allowed third parties in New York to amass influence by offering their ballot line to acceptable major-party candidates.

On Saturday, Dan Semenza, a Lake County Republican Party executive committee member, told the Daily Commercial that the registration of the third party organization meant “that the Tea Party has considerable strength.”