On Monday, Democrat Walt Minnick decided to reject an endorsement from the Tea Party Express, one of the national voices of the Tea Party movement. Minnick, the lone Democrat endorsed by the group, condemned the group after its spokesman, Mark Williams, authored a fictional letter from what he called "Colored People" to President Abraham Lincoln. The Tea Party Express has refused to rebuke Williams or remove him from his official position, which led to Minnick's criticism of the group Monday. Aides for his opponent, Republican Raul Labrador, won’t say if they are seeking or would accept an endorsement from the group.
Labrador condemned Williams but wouldn't censure the whole movement. “As someone who has experienced racism, I condemn the statement of this one individual,” said Labrador, who was born in Puerto Rico. “But I have met many people of different ethnic backgrounds at Tea Party events and I don’t think the actions of this one person should paint a picture of the rest of the individuals in the movement.”
Williams’ letter has drawn the ire of many, including other Tea Party groups. Earlier this week, the Tea Party Federation, a collection of more than 60 anti-big government groups, decided to expel the Tea Party Express from its ranks. Here is a portion of the fictional letter penned by Williams:
Dear Mr. Lincoln,
We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us Coloreds.
China Veldhouse Gum, acting spokesperson for the Labrador campaign, refused to say if her team would seek an endorsement from the embattled group. She also refused to say if Labrador would accept an endorsement if it is offered by the Tea Party Express.
Joe Wierzbicki, coordinator for the group, said in an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com that the group has not decided if it will issue a statement on Minnick's rejection of its endorsement. He also did not specify if the Tea Party Express would endorse Labrador, who already has the backing of Tea Party Boise, Inc., one of the most prominent anti-big government groups in the Treasure Valley.
Minnick said he didn’t want to be associated with the group if it wouldn’t rebuke Williams. “Instead, the Tea Party Express has apparently decided to stand by Mr. Williams and support him in his own contention that he did nothing wrong. I cannot agree with that course of action. Since the Tea Party Express refuses to reject and rebuke Mr. Williams, I have no choice but to decline your endorsement,” Minnick wrote. “I thank you very sincerely for your kind words about my work as a Congressman, and hope that your group can see the error of its ways.”