Weatherford Democrat

May 9, 2011

Tea Parties differ on local candidates

Margarita Venegas
CNHI

WEATHERFORD — Members who thought they were part of the Parker County Tea Party were notified last week that the name has actually been registered to another political group.

As they accuse Zan Prince, chairwoman of the county’s Republican Party of unfairly taking the name — and forcing them to re-form as The Tea Party Patriots of Parker County — Republican party members have, in turn, pointed out that the Tea Party Patriots candidate, Eric Matthews, is currently being looked at by the state Attorney General’s office.

Although the Weatherford municipal elections are nonpartisan, both Jeff Robinson and Matthews have been backed by political groups.

“As far as non partisan races, each candidate carries values more closely related to a political party into a race,” said Prince about why political action committees she supports have chosen Robinson as the best candidate. “I have provided the primary voting affiliation of candidates to Parker County citizens as an educational tool in the voting process. I think it’s important to have less government, lower taxes, strong family values candidates elected to all positions.”

Yet, Matthews said, he is one of the members of the Republican Party who stopped attending meetings with the county group because he has a different ideology than Prince. He did not elaborate on what that difference was, but did note that, because he and others felt differently, they organized the Parker County Tea Party in 2009.

“The Tea Party Patriots back me because they are backing someone with the same ideology,” Matthews said.

However, in mid-2010, Prince registered two PACs, one of which has the name Parker County Tea Party.

Dawn King, who leads the Tea Party Patriots group, sent a release to the media Thursday noting that on Monday Prince contacted her by email, alerting King that she was not the organizer for the Parker County Tea Party.

King and Weatherford Planning and Zoning Chairman Brad Felmey both wrote pieces for Parkercountyblog.com in which they blasted Prince. Felmey went so far as to personally attack Prince. According to Matthews, neither was available or would comment if reached.

Instead, Matthews explained the dissatisfaction with Prince this way: “Most folks feel like she is trying to use her position as the Republican Party Chair to tell them how they must vote versus allowing them to research the candidates and make up their own minds.”

Prince, however, notes that she doesn’t understand why there is a disconnect among the groups — and points out that there are various active Republican and Tea Party groups in the county.

“I have no idea why Dawn’s ‘group’ is so against complimentary efforts for the common cause.  We have many TEA Party Patriots that are active in Republican events and activities.  They vote in the Republican Party, and by affiliation with Party Platform beliefs, they are Republicans,” Prince wrote in an email.

The tension between the two groups comes after Republican Party members and precinct worker Evon Markum, who works with Prince, wrote a letter to the editor that mentioned Matthews is being investigated by the state Attorney General’s office. Prince filed a complaint following the November 2010 elections indicating that Matthews was electioneering illegally in a precinct at which Markum was volunteering.

Matthews said he was simply trying to ask the state voting inspector questions and didn’t realize the complaint had been turned over from the Secretary of State’s office to the Attorney General’s office as of April 13.