Inside and outside of Oakland

COMMENTARY: Tea Party, toilet paper and Bret Farve?

  The tea party movement in Michigan has to be feeling a little like Minnesota football fans would if Vikings quarterback Brett Farve showed up to work wearing his old Green Bay Packers uniform.

  Confused, and maybe a little bent out of shape.
  The loosely-knit bunch of organizations spent a year or more protesting government intrusion into health care and vowing to "take back our government" only to be upstaged in July by a group calling itself The Tea Party seeking political party status on the November ballot.
  Almost immediately, Republicans were screaming the group was a plot by Democrats to siphon votes from Republicans in the November election. Organizations in the tea party movement also call the group a fake.
  It has since evolved into the messiest of election-year politics that has resulted in investigations into election fraud in the filings of some of The Tea Party candidates and a call for a grand jury investigation.
  The Tea Party's bid to appear on the ballot was rejected by state canvassers and their appeal was denied by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
  A further appeal is pending before the Michigan Supreme Court and a decision could come today.
  State elections workers say a decision has to come today so they can get ballots printed and shipped to absentee voters and voters serving overseas in the military.
  Some of them worry that if The Tea Party were to appear on the ballot, it'll mean other groups will also pick popular, or populist, names to seek party status, muddying the election process for voters.
  What's to prevent, they ask, someone filing for political party status next year under The Republicans, or The Democrats, or The Cowboys, or The Bret Farve Party, regardless of their political affiliations?
  The scuttlebutt is that the state's high court will decide the fate of The Tea Party group one way or the other late today, either by quickly agreeing to hear the group's appeal and ruling, or by refusing to hear any further appeal.
  Which brings us to the newest Michigan Supreme Court justice, Alton T. Davis, who was appointed by   Democrat Gov. Jennifer Granholm Aug. 26 when Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned, giving the court a 4-3 majority of Democrats.
  Davis, on the high court for just a week after his elevation from the appeals court, could well decide the fate of The Tea Party.
  Many believe that the allegations of election fraud, the investigations and the pure politics surrounding The Tea Party means it's likely the high court will want to shed itself of a politically messy situation, much like they would want to shake off a piece of dirty toilet paper stuck to their shoes.
  Stay tuned.

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