A day later, Baltimore Dem. resigns from tea party
Del. Curt Anderson, leader of the all-Democrat Baltimore delegation, abruptly resigned from the new House tea party caucus this morning, a day after he made news by becoming the vice chairman of the otherwise Republican group.
Fellow city delegates lashed out at Anderson in an emergency delegation meeting this morning, telling him he had "embarrassed" and "hurt" them. Anderson will remain chairman of the delegation, though several colleagues warned they wanted him out in the long run.
Anderson said he was stunned by the reaction -- from constituents and fellow lawmakers alike -- to his short-lived time in the tea party, a caucus he said he joined because of a shared interest with its conservative members in reducing the size of government and avoiding taxes.
"It's almost like I joined the Ku Klux Klan," he said. He said he told tea party chairman Del. Mike Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican, this morning that he was resigning.
Senior members of the delegation said they felt that Anderson was "being naive" about the motives of the tea party caucus. The caucus, they said, cannot be disentangled from the well-funded national tea party movement.
"It is a subset of the Republican party," said Del. Maggie McIntosh. "It's highly organized. We should take them seriously."
Del. Cheryl Glenn called the tea party "the anti-Christ to the Democratic party." She said she could not believe Anderson had wanted to be affiliated with them because, in her view, they are targeting President Barack Obama for defeat in 2012; Anderson campaigned hard for the president's first election.
"You have to be more careful," she told Anderson. "You can't violate the philosophy of the Democratic party."
After about half a dozen delegates had taken a turn chastising Anderson, the delegation meeting adjourned. Anderson said he felt appropriately admonished.
"The president wants us to reach across party lines," he said. "Maybe I reached too far."