Jon Campbell considers himself a loyal member of the tea party.
The Kingsport, Tenn., man is a conservative Christian who wants the government to keep its hands off his wallet and his personal life. And that's why, he said, a bill that originally targeted supporters of Islamic law is a bad idea for Tennessee. State officials could have used the bill to punish unpopular groups, he said.
Today, that's Muslims, he said. Tomorrow, that could be the tea party. He pointed to a 2009 report by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security, that labeled Ron Paul supporters as potential terrorists.
The Material Support to Designated Entities Act, proposed by state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, exposed an ideological divide in Tennessee's tea party. It split Libertarians who supported Paul's candidacy for president, many of those in East Tennessee, from Middle Tennessee social conservatives concerned about national security who have supported Ketron and Matheny.The dispute came at a time when tea party influence is increasing in Tennessee and nationwide. The group backed successful congressional candidates during midterm elections.