Andrew Keiffer, 42, was the first in to approach Judy Campanella, New York State Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, about setting up a Tea Party office in Livingston County. Keiffer, who states that he is the Chairman of the Republican Party in West Sparta, hopes that local Republicans will rally to the Tea Party to endorse candidates.
“I have been chairman of the Republican party in West Sparta for about 6 years, and remain in that capacity with hopes of bringing some of the conservative Republicans who are tired of the road we are on over to our side,” said Keiffer. “We will work with the Conservative party with hopes of having a voice with the Republicans.”
Party officials are careful to point out that the Tea Party, despite its name, is not a political party, and does not offer candidates for elections. Campanella says that it is an organization of voters from many parties that feel poorly represented and want to address issues within their respective parties. The Tea Party does, however, endorse candidates that agree with their basic principles, and protest political actions that they consider irresponsible.
Keiffer says the new group has about 500 members and is growing fast. He says he will stop at nothing to have his supporters’ voices heard in County politics. “After the decisions of the Republican party, and mainly their Chairman, several people decided we needed our local townpeople’s voices to be heard,” said Keiffer. “If I can’t do it as a Republican, we will do it another way.”