Tea Party unlikely to influence Fla. primary
In Florida, the Tea Party remains a powerful force. Monday’s Quinnipiac University poll says 34 percent of Republican voters support it.
Tea partiers have helped elect a number of candidates in Florida, but CBS News correspondent Chip Reid found there is frustration in their ranks.
William Benedict, 69, a retired cab driver, co-founded the Manatee County Tea Party soon after President Obama took office.
“I am, at times, blisteringly angry at my government,” Benedict says.
Anger over spending and the national debt turned the tea party movement into a major force in the 2010 Florida elections, propelling Rick Scott into the governor’s office and Marco Rubio to the U.S Senate. But Benedict says today, there’s frustration among the faithful over what happened after the 2010 election.
“We definitely helped get (Scott elected governor),” Benedict says. “We worked our buns off.”
Despite that, Benedict says he believes the governor is no longer listening to them, “because he’s in office.”
On the east coast of Florida, 50-year-old Alex Berry is the tea party coordinator for Boca Raton. He says he was drawn to the movement by the idea of limited government.
Berry’s deeply discouraged with both Republican frontrunners, who he sees as not much different from President Obama.
“I think the current administration is toxic to America as we know it in terms of it being a free market economy system,” Berry says, adding that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich would just be a little less toxic.
Tea partiers seem to be split among the Republican candidates. Many are also dispirited by the absence of movement favorites like Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain. Berry plans to write in Ron Paul in November. Like many tea partiers, he would rather vote his conscience than win an election.
“A vote for the lesser of two evils is still evil,” Berry says.
William Benedict doesn’t feel that way.
“If Romney becomes the nominee, yes, I will vote for Romney, but I will not actively get out and bust my buns for him. I don’t like him,” Benedict says.
Benedict says the Tea Party may not make a big statement in Florida tomorrow, but come November they will mobilize in their first presidential election, in what will be a must-win state.