Santee Mayor Randy Voepel has made the decision to leave the Republican Party.
Records show that three-term Mayor , 60, registered to vote this year as an independent. In a Dec. 12 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Voepel is quoted as saying this is due to his being "fed up" with Republican Party ideals and his now identifying more with the Tea Party movement.
The Tea Party, self-described as both conservative and libertarian, has garnered quite a bit of media attention since its inception in 2009. While it's not yet formally recognized as a national political party, proponents of its ideals—lower taxes, reduced government spending, reducing the national deficit and closing holes in the federal budget deficit—are steadily increasing in number. Voepel has cited many of these reasons, and what he sees as the general liberalization of the Republican Party, for his switch.
San Diego Tea Party Proponents and founders of the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, Sarah Bond and Dawn Wildman, said they've "seen an uptick in formerly fiscal moderates rebranding themselves as tea-party-ish fiscal conservatives," they said.
"Our focus is fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets and constitutionally protected liberties. We want lower taxes, lower spending, more transparency, and less government intrusion," Bond said, further stating that these are issues that many Americans agree on, regardless of party affiliation.
"We have people who self identify as Libertarian, Democrat and everything in between," Wildman said. "The Tea Party is about principles not party. We are about returning our country to the nation of principles and ethics it was born of."
Republican consultant John Dadian pointed out that Voepel, who is rumored to have his eye on a run for a seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, may find his newly found political persuasion a challenge should he enter that race.
Dadian said that financial backing which would previously have supported Voepel in a race for higher office will no longer be available should he run as an independent.
"Party affiliation always helps you when you need it," Dadian said. "If a candidate is endorsed by the Republican Party, the party could spend unlimited money on member communications, which is the format in which the party can send any type of communications to party members. If Voepel wants to run for reelection in Santee, his switch won't be a problem because they all know him. The instance in which this will become a problem is if he runs for a higher office, like county supervisor, which is rumored."
As for Voepel's possible future campaigns in Santee, though they are technically nonpartisan in nature, parties still play a role, and the , at 45 percent, and 21 percent declining to state, otherwise known as independent. Should a registered Republican run against him, there is speculation that a real race could ensue.
Still, Bond said that candidates should be considered based on their ideals, not their registered party.
"The primary difference between the Republican Party and the Tea Party is that the Republican Party has one job, and that job is to get anyone running as a Republican elected, regardless of the minutia of their own views," Bond said. "People should be in touch with their local Tea Party movement as a means of having their voices heard by lawmakers."