In Florida, the battle between unaffiliated tea party movement activists and the officially organized Florida Tea Party — which has put forward 20 candidates in races around the state — has centered around accusations that the latter is merely a front group for Democrats, Rep. Alan Grayson in particular.

“While a few Tea Party candidates across the state do have ties to the tea party movement, in the majority of instances, it appears that the Democrats have coordinated a dishonest attempt to hide phony candidates behind the name ‘tea party’ and to confuse voters who may be supportive of the tea party movement,” said Republican Party of Florida chair and state Rep. John Thrasher in a June statement.

In an article outlining the Florida controversy and similar ones around the country, Politico today quotes Florida Tea Party chairman Fred O’Neal comparing the accusations his candidates are facing to the intimidation tactics used against African-American candidates in another era:

Rival tea party activists are behaving “just like the South, in the good old days, when you could intimidate a black candidate off the ballot,” O’Neal said. “We are hoping those days are gone.”

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