Is your Tea Party group doing this? I’d love to hear about it if you are. Write to me, and we’ll try to get you on the radio show to tell others how you’re distilling it down to the BEST candidates.
Read this to see how one tea party organization has it figured out.
Special Report: Tea Party grassroots army readies for battle
Tea Party activists carry signs as they protest the exclusion of Tea Party candidate Jamie Radktke from a Senatorial debate during the AP Day at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Dec. 7.
For insight into the conservative Tea Party movement’s battle plan in 2012, check out Joe Dugan’s Google spreadsheets.
Dugan, 66, a retired manufacturing executive and chairman of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, is particularly proud of the scoring system he’s devised for South Carolina legislators. Every vote by a member of the state’s House or Senate is recorded, with points awarded for those that reflect the conservative position.
“Let’s say you get above a five, we’ll actively campaign for your reelection,” Dugan says. “Below a three, then – Republican or Democrat – we’ll come after you.”
In 2010 the Myrtle Beach Tea Party backed 10 Republican candidates for state and local offices – from school board to governor. All ten won, including sitting Governor Nikki Haley, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint and Myrtle Beach freshman Congressman Tim Scott.
This year, when South Carolina gained a seventh seat in the House of Representatives based on the 2010 U.S. Census, Dugan’s group successfully lobbied for the new district to be in their area and is now vetting candidates.
The group has also been actively courted by most of the Republican presidential candidates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who appears with Dugan in a number of photos in the Tea Party activist’s study.
“The Tea Party movement is more organized, more focused and more potent,” said Rep. Scott, who talks regularly to Dugan. “What happened in 2010 was not the end. It was just the beginning.”
Tea Party supporters now hold fewer sign-waving rallies, a hallmark of their early opposition to bank bailouts and President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform in 2009. But the movement isn’t losing steam.
Interviews with activists across 20 U.S. states indicate that Tea Party groups, far from fading, have evolved into an increasingly sophisticated and effective network of activists. They are working to unseat establishment Republicans who they believe have betrayed the principles of lower taxes, limited government, and free markets.