Liberal group deems House GOPers ‘Tea Stained’

A liberal group is launching a campaign tomorrow against almost four dozen House Republicans – including four Californians – whose voting records it says are “Tea Stained” from kowtowing to Tea Party conservatism.

Americans United For Change – a labor-funded issue advocacy organization – is singling out Reps. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto; David Valadao, R-Hanford; Ed Royce, R-Brea; and Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga, for scrutiny.

The campaign’s scorecard rates these and other Republicans on 48 votes they cast last year. Nationally, the 47 swing-district Republicans reviewed voted with the Tea Party 81 percent of the time, AUC says; Royce came in at 87 percent, Miller at 81 percent, Denham at 79 percent and Valadao at 75 percent.

Votes scored include several featured in the official scorecards of major Tea Party-affiliated groups Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, including votes to slash food stamps, reduce regulations, dismantle the health insurance law, and shut down the government.

It’s part of AUC’s (and other liberal groups’) effort this year to make Tea Party loyalty a central part of their messaging, and a liability for the targets. AUC started the project following last October’s government shutdown.

“The American people were furious and disgusted, and Republican members of Congress in all but the reddest districts knew they had to somehow differentiate themselves from the Tea Party extremists who were being – rightly – blamed for this mess,” Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse said in a news release. “And so they … talked. They didn’t vote against the Tea Party ideologues who had masterminded this disaster. They didn’t take a stand where it really matters, on the floor of the House. But in the press and on TV, they made every effort to sound rational and moderate, as if they were making a real effort to buck the Tea Party.”

But lawmakers who vote the Tea Party line will be held responsible for their votes, said Woodhouse, who used to be the Democratic National Committee’s communications director.

“Voters deserve better. Whether they embrace the Tea Party ideology or despise it or fall anywhere in between, they have a right to know where their elected representatives fall on the Tea Party spectrum – not where they say they fall, but how they actually vote,” he said. “What it proves, unfortunately for non-extremists who are represented by Republicans, is that there is no longer a meaningful distinction between the Tea Party and the Republican Party in American politics today.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.