VA Att. General Cucinelli "Virginia Tea Party Number 30,000"
Here are some of AG Ken Cuccinelli's brief thoughts on the Virginia Tea Party Patriots' convention this weekend.
-Any politician who doesn't take this movement seriously after the kind of organized demonstration of political power (3,000 Tea Party delegates) this weekend, ignores it at their own peril. This includes incumbents of both parties and would-be challengers.
-For every activist that showed up this weekend, there are 10 more
out there... and that's just the activists!
-These folks are willing to learn, both tactics and philosophical details, and they are willing to work (and some of them will run for office themselves). A critical question will be: "for how long? Through 2010? 2011? 2012? Or longer?"
-The willingness to learn is going to make these folks more and more politically effective. One note, their legislative priority during the 2010 Va. General Assembly session was the Va. Healthcare Freedom Act, and look how that turned out!
-Unlike in some other states (e.g., Nevada, Delaware, Alaska), so far, Virginia Tea Party activists have not worked through how to unify behind a single candidate in a race, but I think 2010 will have taught them that lesson - and the price of not learning it. The convention this weekend could be a major element in overcoming this organizational challenge... time will tell. Btw, this is probably one of the toughest organizational challenges for a movement with no formal organization. Solving this problem is (normally) one of the things that a party structure does for you.
-One question is what role these folks will play in state legislative races in Virginia in 2011. Many of them were critical to our grassroots efforts in 2009 in my campaign for AG, but will they continue to work their way down the political ladder? I hope so, as the potential to have a decisive impact is even greater in smaller races (a state senate seat has less than 1/3 the voters as a congressional seat, and a smaller proportion of voters will show up, so you can win a pure grassroots campaign despite enormous spending disadvantages). 2011 will also present some planning challenges (for everyone) because of redistricting.