Jon Scott Ashjian

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Excerpt from LA Times

In Nevada, a number of tea party groups joined together to denounce the candidacy of Jon Scott Ashjian, the one labeling himself the Tea Party of Nevada candidate. In a letter, the groups wrote: "The TPN is not now, has never been, and will never be affiliated with grass-roots efforts in Nevada."

Still, tea party activists are far from certain that letter will be enough to keep tea partiers from sending votes to Ashjian.

"If our plan was to defeat Harry Reid, this is the worst thing we could do," bemoaned Roger Stockton, treasurer of the Western Representation Political Action Committee in Sparks, Nev.

For his part, Ashjian, a businessman with no history in state politics, has pounced on the letter and the appearance of a new tea party "establishment," calling the groups that signed the letter "Republican plants."

"The tea party movement in general has been co-opted by the Republican Party," he said in an interview at a Las Vegas coffee shop.

Ashjian says he is motivated by the same principles that have led thousands to protest against Washington bailouts and more recently the Democrats' healthcare reform bill, although he acknowledges he's not been a regular at tea party rallies.

"I was watching that movement very intently. I've been a longtime Republican," he said, adding that he "felt like this was the first year that I really didn't feel like it made a difference in voting" for either Republicans or Democrats.