Mark Barie, the affable chairman of the Upstate New York Tea Party who is a former friend and current foe of Rep. Bill Owens, is stepping down from his post effective Jan. 15, he said in a letter today.
Mr. Barie was the first chairman of UNYTEA when it came into existence a few years ago at the height of the tea party movement. He helps dispel the notion that tea partiers were extreme, uncompromising bigots with an easy charm.
He was a longtime friend and business partner of Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, but their relationship fell apart in 20010 when Mr. Owens took office and, in Mr. Barie's estimation, started taking positions antithetical to conservatism.
Mr. Barie is stepping down for health reasons. It's not clear who will replace him. His son, Oliver, is also leaving the steering committee.
In 2012, it's not clear how powerful the tea party movement still is. In fact, if Democrats' tactics are to be believed, people don't view the tea party very well at all. Mailers that have gone out to residents of the 21st Congressional District have said that Republican candidate Matt Doheny is someone the tea party "can't get enough of." Mr. Doheny, for what it's worth, isn't exactly a tea party type of guy, though he has sought and received their endorsements.
What will happen to UNYTEA? It might just ride off into the sunset, "and hopefully we ride with a new president and new congressman," said Oliver Barie. The plan for UNYTEA right now is to terminate the federal PAC they started, and there's no heir apparent for Mr. Barie's spot.
Here's Mr. Barie's letter:
It is with regret that I announce my intention to step down as Chairman of the Upstate New York Tea (UNYTEA ) party, effective Jan 15, 2013.
As you may know, I am still recovering from the effects a brain aneurism and three strokes, which occurred some 18 months ago.
The constant fatigue and other medical problems make it impossible for me to carry on in the fashion that I would like.
Nevertheless, I hope you will agree with me when I say that UNYTEA has made a difference.
Since that day in Trinity Park some 4 years ago, we have been able to give voice to thousands of people who might otherwise have remained silent in the face of higher taxes, bigger government, and out-of-control spending.
Because of UNYTEA, a host of federal and state wide candidates have made the North Country a mandatory stop in their campaigns for public office.
We have informed the general public and our friends in the media of the dangers faced by our nation as a result of decades of tax and spend policies in Washington.
UNYTEA has also spawned a new generation of political activists and candidates all across the North Country, who believe as we do, that our taxes are not too low. Our spending is too high.
And finally, while we have yet to celebrate a victory in the NY 21st Congressional District, I think it fair to say that we have at least elevated the debate and forced all of the candidates to seriously consider our mantra of “lower spending, reduced taxes, and limited government.
As I slide into political retirement, it occurs to me that once again we should thank Jonathan Nelson, who fathered the Tea party movement in the North Country.
I would also like to thank my son Oliver, who will be leaving the Steering Committee to pursue a promising career in business. His work has been critical to our success.
And finally, I would like to thank each of you and all of our 1000 plus members, who have been so helpful and so generous with wise advice, moral support, and financial backing.
UNYTEA would not have been successful without your help and their support.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Chairman.
Mark L Barie