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Tea party split on Mitch McConnell's re-election bid

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Kentucky tea party leaders knocked a couple of the national branches of the grassroots movement Monday for endorsing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election effort, saying the groups should withdraw their support and help to replace the Republican with a “true conservative.”

In an open letter to “TheTeaParty.net” and “Tea Party Nation,” the United Kentucky Tea Party said the endorsement of Mr. McConnell showed showed a “lack of research” and “poor judgment.”

“Your endorsement undermines the work of the real grassroots tea party organizations all over Kentucky,” said Scott Hofstra, spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party. “Had you taken the time to reach out to us, you would have learned that the tea parties in Kentucky do NOT support Senator McConnell’s campaign.”

Mr. Hofstra said Mr. McConnell supported past taxpayer bailout laws, the 1986 immigration bill and the tax-raising deal that avoided the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the beginning of this year.

The letter was signed by 15 tea party groups in Kentucky.

TheTeaParty.net threw its support behind Mr. McConnell, the Senate minority leader, earlier this year following the news that the IRS had been targeting tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“With the new revelations that the IRS has been targeting tea party groups, we need Sen. McConnell more than ever,” said Niger Innis, the chief strategist of TheTeaParty.net. “He was sounding the alarm about the government’s assault on our First Amendment rights years ago, even when it fell on deaf ears. We all owe Sen. McConnell a debt for his vision and courage.”

Tea Party Nation also endorsed Mr. McConnell in May, saying that they could live with “someone who isn’t perfect” if it puts Republicans closer to taking over the Senate in the 2014 midterm election.

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