Monday, November 15, 2010

Wife of Clarence Thomas Joins Tea Party Movement | The Afro-American Newspapers | Your Community. Your History. Your News.

Wife of Clarence Thomas Joins Tea Party Movement | The Afro-American Newspapers | Your Community. Your History. Your News.

The recent announcement that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is wading into the conservative brew of the tea party movement has many within those ranks excited.

Thomas’ lobbying group, Liberty Central was formed in January to “serve the big tent of the conservative movement,” according to its Web site. It has already received the support of several high-profile conservative leaders. On the group’s Web site, it features a message from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“Ginni can help channel the frustration felt by millions across America at the current course of our country,” said Rumsfeld. “Leaders committed to smaller government, fiscal prudence, and a strong national defense will be returning to Washington, D.C., and I am confident that Ginni Thomas will be part of the reason it will happen.”

Thomas attended a rally denouncing the House of Representatives’ health care reform bill and is scheduled to attend another rally in Atlanta on April 15.
Several local tea party leaders said Thomas’ involvement gives the movement a stamp of legitimacy.

“Of course [her involvement] helps,” said Tony Passaro, organizer of the Federation of Maryland Tea Party Patriots. “As the wife of a Supreme Court justice she has a lot of visibility. Her involvement increases the visibility of the whole movement.”

Ron Wilcox, head of the Alexandria Tea Party in Virginia, agreed with Passaro as he excitedly spoke about her involvement.

“This is wonderful. I’m delighted that she’ll be doing such a thing,” Wilcox said. “It is one of the number of steps that has come forward that has advanced the credibility and the viability of the tea party movement.”

There is a sentiment, however, that her move is a further setback for Clarence Thomas in the eyes of many African Americans.

Clarence Thomas’ conservative past and involvement in the Anita Hill scandal has always been a source of controversy within the African-American community. Some say this may be the icing on the cake.

“[Clarence Thomas] is already alienated from the Black community and I don’t know how much further he can get,” said Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Center, and professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland College Park. “His wife played a very early role in his confirmation so this is really not surprising to me.”

Walters added that it is a little unnerving that that the wife of a Supreme Court Justice is joining this movement given the “vicious conservatism” he believes dogs the tea party movement. Given the Thomases’ contacts within the Republican Party, he thinks it could be part of a Republican strategy to gain more support.

“There’s an attempt on the part of the Republican Party to incorporate the tea party movement,” said Walters. “It’s possible that she’s becoming involved in that effort.”
However, members of the movement dismiss that concern as they believe she’s just expressing her rights as a U.S. citizen.

“She has every right to express her political opinion,” said Wilcox. “She’s not a Supreme Court Justice.

“People have their own interests and want to advance them. She shouldn’t be hobbled by her husband’s profession.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alexandria Times | There’s a Tea Party in Alexandria?

Alexandria Times | There’s a Tea Party in Alexandria?

There’s a Tea Party in Alexandria?

By Derrick Perkins
Republicans enjoyed a wave of election success nationally Tuesday, but with local gains non-existent, self-described “Tea Partiers” now turn their attention to city and state issues.

Given the much-hyped anti-incumbency backlash heading into the 2010 mid term elections, AJ Kearney, co-organizer of The Alexandria Tea Party, expected fiscally conservative voters with an eye toward promoting limited government and free markets would give 10-term Democratic Congressman Jim Moran a run for his money.

Not long after polls opened, he realized that wasn’t going to happen.

“We were surprised by [Moran’s] margin of victory,” he said. “I was standing in front of a polling station handing out literature and by 11 a.m. I started to think ‘there’s a lot of Democrats coming by here.’”

Republican challenger Patrick Murray picked up 37.3 percent of the electorate, not nearly enough to match Moran, who earned 116, 269 votes or 61.01 percent of the ballots cast. While Kearney expected a better showing for Murray, Moran’s victory at the polls didn’t come out of the blue.

There are two things to remember, he says: Democrats have had a lot of practice preparing for elections in what’s considered a safe seat for the party and local Tea Party enthusiasts didn’t have a lot of time to learn in the run up to the vote.

With the post-election hangover still settling in, Kearney worries fellow activists will lose interest, put away their placards and call it a year. There’s work to be done on the local level, even in a safe district for Democrats, he said.

“We’re trying to offset it by making sure people understand we’ve got a number of things on the docket we need their help on,” Kearney said. “There’s a definite movement, at least in the Virginia Tea Party, to basically get more local. Our focus is not just on national elections, it’s more concentrated on the state and local levels.”

At the moment, that means supporting Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s legal challenge of the recently passed health care reform bill and working with other Tea Party groups promoting a small government agenda at the state level, he said.

They’re also extending an olive branch of sorts to their political opponents. Former Alexandria resident and founder of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, Ron Wilcox wants to bridge the partisan divide with incumbents like Moran.

“The question isn’t just are with the politicians, but are they with us,” he said. “Each of those people has a vote on Capitol Hill, whether we agree with them or not. We respect the voice of the American people on these elections and we are going to continue to urge our elected officials to return to limited government.”

When 2012 rolls around, Michael Ginsberg, 8th District Republican Party chair, expects to see many of the same faces and local groups turn out to volunteer, man phone banks and go door-to-door. Until the issues driving the grassroots activism disappear, they’ll stick around on the political stage, he said.

“Certainly, they were an enormous asset to our candidates,” Ginsberg said. “I see them as staying around for as long as these issues are active. I don’t think the issues that are motivating the Tea Party will have gone away [by 2012]. They will remain active.”

It’s too soon to see whether Alexandria’s Tea Party organization will back a candidate in the next election cycle, Kearney said. He won’t put an exact figure on the number of Tea Partiers in the city — a couple of hundred, he says — but they’re preparing for the future.

He laughed at Moran’s acceptance speech analysis of Murray’s campaign as doomed by “extremist Tea Party views.”

“We can’t tell them don’t do that, we just got to concentrate on organizing,” Kearney said. “We just think we have a better ideas.”

Political Activists Question Tea Party Impact

Political Activists Question Tea Party Impact
Political Activists Question Tea Party Impact
Democrats and Republicans say ‘anti-government’ message unlikely to resonate in Fairfax.

By Julia O'Donoghue
Friday, October 29, 2010
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Back when Sandy Green was a federal employee several years ago, public sector workers made less than private sector employees. But today, Green believes federal employees make more than their counterparts in the private sector, she said.

"Now, it is totally the opposite. You can make more money as a government employee. It all happened very quickly," said Green, who worries that federal spending, including retirement packages and other benefits, have gotten out of hand.

Traditionally, Green had never been very politically active. But she was dismayed by what she saw during the 2008 Democratic Party primary race, when President Barack Obama beat Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

So in the summer of 2009, she started to become active with the Tea Party movement, going to marches on the National Mall and attending local meetings.

A year later, Green is participating in a monthly discussion group on the U.S. Constitution and watching Glenn Beck on a regular basis. She and two other women formed the Fair Lakes Tea Party, a local chapter of the larger Northern Virginia Tea Party, three months ago.

"Now, I am a conservative," said Green.

Green is a conservative, but she is not a Republican.

"For myself, it is not really about political party. ... But I do really think we can make a difference. We can provide manpower to candidates," she said.

LOCAL TEA PARTY activists intend to have an impact in Fairfax County's three congressional races Nov. 2.

Northern Virginia Tea Party founder Ron Wilcox said the organization will try to have volunteers at most of the local polling stations on Election Day, much like the Democratic Party and Republican Party do. The group is also sponsoring seminars on how to become "conservative Internet activist" and community organizing workshops.

"Tea Party folks are not a happy lot. They want to know that their candidates are going to pursue limited government," said Wilcox, who described himself as a conservative grassroots organizer.

Though flyers for the Tea Party described the organization as nonpartisan, Wilcox encouraged members to volunteer for Fairfax's three Republican candidates for U.S. Congress — Patrick Murray, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) and Keith Fimian.

"One of the things that I am hearing is that the campaigns need help with phone banking," said Wilcox during the Fair Lakes gathering.

Wilcox, who has worked with conservative movements and on previous political campaigns, is confident that the Tea Party activists will have an impact on local elections.

"There is a lot of energy. This group meets once per week. Sometimes they meet more often than that," he said.

"For each one of us here, there are 10 other people that cannot be here but have gotten involved," said Alma Jackson, a Fairfax resident who is a Fair Lakes Tea Party member.

BUT SEASONED Democratic and Republican political activists question the impact that the Tea Party brand of conservatism can have in Northern Virginia, particularly if the movement pursues an "anti-federal government" message.

"Fairfax is a government town and it is always going to be a government town," said former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, who used to represent Connolly's district and now works for a large federal government contractor.

More federal contracts flow to Fairfax than any other locality in the country and the largest employer in Virginia's 11th congressional district, where Fimian is running against U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11), is the federal government, according to a Fairfax Economic Development Authority report.

In part because of the large federal workforce, Fairfax County is also enjoying a much lower unemployment rate, around 4.7 percent, than the country as a whole, where unemployment is just over 9 percent.

"I think the Republican base is very angry and upset but I am not sure we are seeing the level of anger here that there is elsewhere," said Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock).

STILL, elected officials said many local voters are upset and nervous about the direction of the country, even if they haven't aligned themselves with the Tea Party movement. Incumbents, including Connolly, should not underestimate their level of concern, they said.

"There is tremendous anger out there directed at any person who holds any position of power. People are angry about unemployment and the national deficit," said Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee).

State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), who has been campaigning for Connolly, said he also hears about concern from the voters.

"I think this is a difficult environment for incumbents. People are worried about the deficit and voters are going to do what they think sends the best message," said Marsden, who also thinks the election between Connolly and Fimian will be close.

In a more positive economic climate, the race between Fimian and Connolly would not be as close as it is, said some Republicans and Democrats.

"Northern Virginia is not in love with Republicans. But I think our voters want to add a little balance to the political equation," said Davis.

"As the incumbent and former Fairfax County chairman, Connolly should be way ahead. I think the fact that this is a close race shows how unhappy people are," said Cook.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Northern Virginia Tea Party Members and Events were featured in this video about the Tea Party Movement
on Voice of America produced by Todd Host Todd Grosshans.

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