UNYTEA is making plenty of noise about just that: uniting the right in the effort to take on Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
The Upstate New York Tea Party took a swipe at Kellie Greene, a candidate for Congress and challenger to the more established Matt Doheny, because, an official there said, she hasn't contacted them and won't attend a mixer at 6 p.m. Friday at the Westside Ballroom in Plattsburgh.
“The chairman is rather disappointed about it,” Oliver Barie told the Times in an email message. He was referencing his father, Mark Barie, the UNYTEA chairman. “He feels we are a significant organization (1,000-plus group) that deserves the courtesy of at least a check-in when claiming to be a ‘principled tea party conservative' candidate in NY-23.”
The elder Mr. Barie said in a Feb. 15 blog post that Mr. Doheny is “likely” to be the GOP nominee in the congressional district. UNYTEA hasn't endorsed anyone, though its Twitter feed has had some positive things to say about Mr. Doheny and some negative things to say about splitting the right. (Some of the tweets were later deleted.) The endorsement is based heavily on a poll of the group's membership and its steering committee. Its foot soldiers helped collect signatures on petitions on behalf of Douglas L. Hoffman, whom it originally endorsed in 2010.
Ms. Greene's campaign declined to make her available for an interview, but a staffer said in an email message she wouldn't attend the UNYTEA event because of a scheduling conflict.
She is holding a meet-and-greet from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Denny's restaurant on Arsenal Street in Watertown. On Thursday, according to her campaign Web page and Facebook page, she will host a town hall event from 6 to 8 p.m. at Plattsburgh City Hall. At noon Friday, according to her Facebook page, she'll be a guest speaker at SUNY Plattsburgh.
A deputy campaign manager did not respond to a followup request by press time for comment about whether she has contacted UNYTEA. She has been in contact with several grassroots groups in the north country, including the Jefferson Tea Party, NNY912 and the Old North Church Patriots.
Timothy Stampfler, a Plattsburgh man who has signaled interest in running for Congress, is expected to attend the UNYTEA event, according to Mr. Barie.
Mr. Doheny will be at the event, too.
"It shows us Matt is a serious candidate and realizes the importance of the tea party, not just in NY-23, but throughout the country as well," Mr. Barie said in the email.
I asked whether Mr. Owens would attend (he's declined in the past).
Mr. Owens is always welcome to our events, they are open to anyone," Mr. Barie said. "Although the Chairman has a sneaking suspicion he would rather be with the big unions than the Upstate New York Tea (UNYTEA) Party on a Friday evening."
UPDATE: Chris Nichols, a deputy campaign manager for Ms. Greene, responds:
"To my knowledge, UNYTEA has not reached out to this campaign either. With the primary being advanced to June, we are currently focused on setting up events with groups that have expressed an interest or invited Miss Greene to meet with them. They are more than welcome to contact the campaign if they have an upcoming event that they would like her to speak at."
This response displeased UNYTEA.
"Candidates are supposed to reach out to their constituents, not the other way around," the elder Mr. Barie said. "We have a long history of hosting candidates for governor, for the US Senate, and for the US Congress. Ms. Greene is acting like our incumbent Congressman. Aloof."