KNOXVILLE (WATE) - To judge how much influence tea party members may have in the Tennessee governor's race, look no further than a recent event in Gatlinburg.
All three Republican candidates attended a large tea party gathering in May.
Tea party organizers say Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey are actively seeking their support.
"I like to think most people in Tennessee will make up their minds on the issues and not just what one group may say. However, most people understand the kinds of things the tea parties stand for so if they're looking for that, there could be significant influence," said Roane County Tea Party member Charles Smith.
Some people see a tea party endorsement as a way to prove how conservative a candidate is.
6 News political analyst George Korda says the Republicans aren't worried about endorsements hurting them in the general election.
"It is because their poll numbers and their people are telling them you need their support. Trust me, if these guys thought the tea parties hurt them, they wouldn't even order iced tea. They would avoid the whole thing, but they are not. They are gravitating towards it," Korda said.
There are dozens of small tea party groups throughout the state. Many won't endorse candidates, preferring to promote issues instead.
The Roane County Tea Party believes all three Republicans show conservative values, but one more than the others.
"They may be considered conservative in some camps, but they are not all as conservative as others. I think Mayor Haslam has been fiscally conservative, but maybe not conservative in social arenas and so on. I really truly believe Ron Ramsey has both sides of the coin," Smith said.
Tea party members say the biggest thing they're looking for in the next governor is someone who'll push back against the federal government.