Florida’s Rep. Alan Grayson, the freshman congressman from the substantially conservative Orlando area, has already managed to make a name for himself over the course of his first two years in office by insinuating himself into some of the bigger political debates on the national stage. Recently, as David Weigel illustrates in his Slate mini-profile, Grayson has become a favorite target of conservatives in his native stomping grounds by painting the tea party movement in a decidedly less-than-flattering light. –KA


Grayson was a lawyer and telecommunications executive before he got into politics. (Consequently, he’s worth more than $30 million.) He studied politicians like Huey Long and historians like Zinn, and decided he could win by being blunt, liberal, and profligate. In 2010, he’s one of the few Democrats nationwide trying to outmatch the passion and organization of the Tea Party movement.

Outmaneuvering the Tea Party takes a multipronged strategy. Grayson has tried to work on the problems that inspire the movement while dismissing the movement itself as racist, stupid, and crazy. For example, he says, he has found common ground with Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. “I agree with him on the wars,” says Grayson. “I agree with him on civil liberties. We’ve worked together very effectively regarding the Fed.”

And now here comes the dig. “Many people, improperly, lump together libertarians and the Tea Parties. That’s really wrong. Many of the libertarians are physicists, and many of the Tea Party people don’t bathe. There’s really not much in common there!”

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