Tea Party activists urged to borrow page from – ACORN
A Tea Party leadership conference in Dallas on Saturday urged the conservative movement’s activists to adopt old-fashioned, get-out-the-vote tactics, including driving people to the polling booth.
“This is something ACORN has been doing,” said Dallas Tea Party activist Lorie Medina, referring to the left-leaning group that conservative Tea Party types love to hate.
Medina’s presentation — one of several at the weekend conference — focused on retooling the protest movement into a well-oiled political machine that can deliver the vote in primaries and general elections for candidates that subscribe to its view of limited government, low taxes and “national sovereignty.”
Much of what Medina said mirrored tried-and-true strategies employed by both Republicans and Democrats, including organization by zip code, voter registration drives, neighborhood walks and signing up members for affiliates.
The conference was a sign the movement — it grabbed headlines last year as it channeled conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies into nation-wide protests against bank bail-outs, the drive to overhaul healthcare, and other aspects of the White House agenda — is becoming more focused.
The Dallas Tea Partiers hope to make an impact in the March primaries in Texas. In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the organization has 136 groups organized by zip code with 20 or more members and across the state it claims over 20,000 members.
In the Republican primary for Texas governor, the Tea Party activists mostly are backing libertarian-leaning Debra Medina against incumbent Rick Perry and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Few expect Medina to win, but her candidacy could force a run-off or push Perry and Hutchison to the right.
And that raises a question nationally: will Tea Party activists pull the Republican Party further to the right? And if so, is that ultimately a winning strategy?
(PHOTO: A man holds signs during a “tea party” protest in Flagstaff, Arizona August 31, 2009. Organizers say the event is an effort to work against members of Congress who voted for higher spending and taxes. REUTERS/Joshua Lott)