Tea Party On!

The county's GOP central committee is in hot water with the tea party movement

After delivering a speech in October to the central committee questioning the party’s commitment to Steel, Barth announced the next day she would not be running for mayor. Instead, she’s now looking to influence the GOP by picking up a central-committee seat. “I thought that perhaps before I enter and sit in an office, I should maybe try to be an agent of change outside of an office,” Barth says. “I am not going to jump into the field with a bunch of folks that I don’t find trustworthy.”

Many of the new candidates say they can make up for their inexperience with enthusiasm and principles. Mike Munzing, a 46-year-old mortgage broker from Aliso Viejo running for central committee, says he has loved shaking hands and passing out stickers at rallies and meetings over the past few months. Blond, chipper and friendly, he admits that he’s not yet “100 percent” on what the central committee actually does, but, he says, he knows he’ll be able to serve the party well by bringing in some honesty. He talks giddily of his “I Like Mike” campaign slogan and the idea of returning the country to the idyllic 1950s. “We’re just a bunch of people who grew up loving Leave It to Beaver,” he says of the tea party. “We’re not an angry mob.”

Central committee member Tim Whitacre says the tea party is shaking things up—in a good way. He has little doubt that there’ll be a few new faces sitting on the committee after the election. “The pressure they’re bringing to bear is fantastic,” Whitacre says of the grumbling tea partiers. “It’s a good thing because it brings transparency.”

Tea-party central committee candidate Mike Munzing of Aliso Viejo
Christopher Victorio
Tea-party central committee candidate Mike Munzing of Aliso Viejo

As for Baugh, he’s glad to see the new energy. He understands it’s part of an anti-establishment wave sweeping the country, but, he says, he’s not worried about what may happen come June.

“There’s a remnant that wants to get rid of incumbents everywhere,” Baugh says. “The question is making a distinction between incumbents who have ignored the voice of the people and incumbents who are trying to make it better. And incumbents who have ignored the voice of the people should be thrown out.”


This article appeared in print as "A New Tea Leaf: The Orange County GOP Central Committee is in hot water with local tea party activists."

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