The Tea Party crowd now has its first elected office holder.
He's Dean Murray, a 45-year-old Long Island businessman, who won a lengthy recount in a special election for a New York State Assembly seat.
Murray, a Tea Party organizer from the protest movement's very beginning last year, also ran on its anti-tax, anti-big government platform. He takes the official oath of office Monday.
While Tea Party supporters have played influential roles in other elections such as Republican Sen. Scott Brown's upset win in Massachusetts, others are now running in GOP primaries elsewhere. Murray is believed to be the first to take office. He'll have to run again in this fall's regular election.
As advised by Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin, Murray picked a political party, the Republicans. He defeated Democrat Lauren Thoden by about 160 votes out of 8,000 in the 3rd Assembly District of eastern Long Island that has been represented by Democrats for the past 13 years.
"Whether they are active in the Tea Party movement or not," Murray told Fox News, "we want a smaller government. We want fiscal responsibility. We want accountability from our political leaders, and we want personal responsibility."
Murray said he wants to take a Ronald Reagan-type common sense attitude to Albany, adding, "What this movement is about is ordinary citizens, taxpayers, hard working people who have just had enough."
During the winter campaign, Murray's opponents argued against him because, they said, his election would send a message well beyond the district's borders. Murray says he hopes so.
Speaking at a Republican Party fundraiser in Arkansas Tuesday, Palin said Tea Party activists must make a choice. "Which party will best fit you?" she asked. "And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they're going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: 'R' or 'D'."
-- Andrew Malcolm
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