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Health Care Ruling Re-Energizes Tea Party

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Tea partyer William Temple protests against the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court announced it was upholding the constitutionality of the law Thursday. The ruling has fired up tea party groups across the country.

“The grass roots is going to look at the GOP and say you are either going to repeal this or we will replace you,” said Ned Ryun, the founder and president of American Majority, a Texas-based tea-party-type nonprofit that deployed more than a dozen field staff in the Wisconsin recall election. “It highlights the importance of new leadership should the GOP take the Senate back. [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell ducked on this issue, saying that the Supreme Court would overturn it — what a horrible miscalculation.”

Within hours of the ruling, House lawmakers announced they would convene for a second, largely symbolic vote to repeal the law on July 11.

Early fundraising numbers suggest Democrats, moderate Republicans and the president have something to fear from the tea party groups.

The Tea Party Express has a war chest of at least $7.5 million raised through its political action committee and a super PAC dubbed Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama. That sum does not include contributions to its new political nonprofit, which allows anonymous donations that only need to be reported annually.

In the days leading up to the decision, tea party activists were certain the high court would rule in their favor.

“I’m going to gleefully spike the football and I don’t care what John Boehner says,” said Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, referencing the Speaker’s instructions to his caucus about not gloating over a victory.

Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, spent the last week on a bus tour with the conservative senior citizens advocacy group 60 Plus Association. The group held rallies in battleground states including Florida and Virginia before landing Thursday in Cincinnati.

“This is not about health care; this is about government overreach and government power. This is the biggest tax increase in U.S. history,” Kremer said. “The silver lining is that it has riled everybody up.”

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