Only a few days after rejecting an endorsement from the Tea Party Express, one of the many national voices of the Tea Party movement, Rep. Walt Minnick says is he unsure if he will join the newly-formed Tea Party Caucus in Congress. The caucus is the work of Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who believes the group will help legislators work more closely with anti-big government advocates in the movement. Bachmann said the caucus will not serve as the head of the Tea Party movement and that the group of legislators in the caucus will focus on fiscal responsibility in government.
John Foster, the campaign manager for Minnick, said that the Democrat hasn't decided yet. "He has been invited to join the new caucus, but hasn't had much time to think about it," said Foster. "He's been very busy with some new legislation and is preparing for a month of hard work in Idaho during the August recess. Minnick is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a collection of Democratic congressman who consider themselves to be more conservative than other Democrats in the House.
Caucuses are group of legislators that have similar interests. Congress boasts more than 300 different caucuses, with some focusing strictly on political issues, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some focusing on social issues, like abortion . The groups receive no taxpayer funds to conduct their business.
Minnick received national attention earlier this year when the Tea Party Express endorsed him for re-election. Minnick was the lone Democrat the group threw its support behind. He reluctantly accepted the backing from the group, saying that it was a show of his broad base of support. Foster said at the time of the initial announcement by the Tea Party Express, that he appreciated the group noticing Minnick’s fiscal responsibility, but that he wasn’t thrilled to be lumped in with the likes of Bachmann or Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, referred to by some pundits as conservative lightning rods.
Minnick condemned Tea Party Express on Monday 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.
Minnick's challenger for re-election, Republican Raul Labrador, told IdahoReporter.com that is is also undecided if he's join the Tea Party Caucus if elected in November. "I have not made any decisions regarding which caucuses I will join, except the Republican Study Committee," he said. Labrador was endorsed by Tea Party Boise Inc., earlier this year in his primary election contest with Vaughn Ward.