Tea Party groups warn GOP: Reduce spending or face primary challenges

Tea Party groups are warning Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and members of the Republican House majority not to stray from their pledge to reduce spending by the federal government, or they could face primary challenges.

Judson Phillips, the founder of the group Tea Party Nation, posted an open letter to Boehner on his website urging the GOP leader to make "serious and meaningful cuts in the budget."

"You did not become speaker because America suddenly fell in love with you or the Republican Party," Phillips wrote. "You became speaker because America, led by the Tea Party, repudiated Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the party of socialism."

Meanwhile, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, who was in Washington for the swearing-in of the 112th Congress, said his group is focusing on educating its members about the primary process. 

"Only a small percentage of people make the decision in the primaries," he told The Ballot Box. "We know that Tea Partiers turn out to vote in greater proportions right now than the rest of the population. So we can have a tremendous influence in the primaries, and that allows local people to make sure that they have candidates running that reflect their values."

Meckler said Tea Party Patriots, which has some 3,000 chapters nationally, doesn't endorse candidates.

"Our job is to provide the information," he said. "Our job is to say, 'these are our core principles, this congressman doesn't follow our core principles; go do what you will.' "

Tea Party activists were instrumental in shaping the outcomes of several primaries last year, much to the chagrin of the Republican Party's Washington leadership.