Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Tea Party Express Coming to Southern Indiana

The Tea Party Express will be in southern Indiana Saturday to host two rallies as part of the group’s “Restoring the American Dream” tour.

Based in California, the political action committee’s tour is focused on battleground states in this year’s congressional and presidential elections where tea party candidates are vying for office.

Across the country, the group has gained the reputation for aggressive campaigning and has raised millions of dollars to support candidates who are in favor of shrinking the federal government and reducing the national debt. In 2010, however, the Tea Party Express was embroiled in controversy when its leader wrote a blog praising the slave trade. He quickly resigned.

Sal Russo is chief strategist for the Tea Party Express. He told WFPL the movement remains successful because voters are tired of Washington’s ineffectiveness, which is often tied to perpetual incumbents.

“The zeitgeists of the times are clearly people are concerned about the increasing size, cost and intrusiveness of the federal government with an unsustainable and skyrocketing national debt. I think that’s what people are concerned about. So I think to the extent that candidates address that they’re going to do well,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Tea Party President Challenges Meeks in Democratic Primary

Louisville Tea Party President and founder Wendy Caswell is set to challenge state Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, in the May primary.

Though the Tea Party is known to have had conservative views on fiscal and social issues, the 27-year-old waitress has been a registered Democrat her entire life and political observers are eager to see how she will run a campaign as a Tea Party Democrat.

Caswell says the Tea Party movement can’t be defined by party affiliation and is about following the U.S. Constitution.

“The Tea Party isn’t really about Republican or Democrat, it’s about fiscal responsibility and getting common sense back into our government. And that’s where I really think I’ll take the race. There are parts of me that are socially liberal that make me a Democrat. I think I can maybe put a new perspective out there that won’t necessarily come with the stigma that the Tea Party comes with,” she says.

Polling numbers have shown that 15 percent of tea partyers were Democrats who were either disaffected or moved to the GOP in the last decade.

But few Tea Party Democrats have sought or won public office and it has been difficult to measure their impact since the movement began.

Meeks says he is also interested to see how his opponent will craft a message that appeals to Democratic voters while being the head of the local Tea Party.

“I think the community is going to be very interested to know what she’s got to say as a Democrat Tea Party person. So, we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Adams: Ditch Williams Message Not Personal

A prominent Tea Party leader who called on the Republican Party of Kentucky to ditch gubernatorial nominee David Williams says the recommendation wasn’t personal, but Williams’s inner circle is spotlighting some disparaging comments he made about the GOP nominee.

Kentucky Knows Best Executive Director David Adams is the former campaign manager for Republican Phil Moffett, who lost to Williams in the GOP primary earlier this year. Adams sent an e-mail through his political action committee Thursday telling the GOP to cut Williams loose in order to salvage the rest of the ticket.

In a recent poll, Williams has just 51 percent of GOP voters supporting his candidacy and trails Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear by 31 points, but he dismissed Adams’s criticism as insignificant after calling him a marginalized figure in the party.

Adams says the message to dump Williams isn’t personal and it is more about the health of the Republican Party this November.

“None of my comments have been personal about David Williams. He has tried desperately to make this a personal issue between me and him. And you notice that in his attacks against me he never addresses the points that I actually made and nor will he because he can’t. And that’s ashame,” he says.

But Adams has made questionable remarks about the state Senate President in the past, such as a Facebook comment comparing Williams to a “dead deer carcass”.

Since the primary, political observers have questioned whether Williams would receive Tea Party support in the general election. Williams told WFPL Thursday he has Tea Party backing and polling shows 54 percent of voters who are affiliated with the group do support his bid for governor.

For the full interview with Adams, listen below.

Audio MP3


Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul Joins Tea Party Pile On of McCain

After mocking the Tea Party while discussing the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations Wednesday,  Sen. John McCain, R-Az., is being pummeled by freshman members of Congress and activists for the remarks.

The former Republican presidential candidate called activists associated with the movement “tea-party hobbits” while dismissing the possibility of a Balanced Budget Amendment passing the Senate.

It’s a wisecrack that didn’t set well with Tea Party favorites, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who told Politico: “I’d rather be a hobbit than a troll.” (h/t FatLip)


“I think in reading the books, the hobbits were the heroes. They overcame great obstacles, and I think I’d rather be a hobbit than a troll,” Paul continued.

Other freshman GOP lawmakers have added their criticism, such as Congressman Joe Walsh, R-Ill., who said McCain represents the old guard of the GOP and that the Vietnam POW has “no clue” what the average American thinks.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Williams Replaces Campaign Manager With Rubio Staffer

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams has hired a new campaign manager with ties to the Tea Party to run his statewide bid in the fall election.

The campaign will be run by Luke B. Marchant, who currently serves as a special assistant to U.S. Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fl., after working as the political director on the freshman Senator’s 2010 race.

Marchant will replace Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and public relations consultant in Louisville. Jennings will remain with the campaign in an advisory role.

For weeks it had been rumored that Jennings was leaving the Williams campaign and after the the poor showing in the GOP primary last week, observers believe this is a step by Williams to court Tea Party voters.

From cn|2 Pure Politics:

Republican leaders have downplayed the significance of Williams garnering less than 50% of support against two candidates with far less resources. One of Williams’ rivals, Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, defeated Williams in the most populous areas of the state largely because of strong support from the tea party.

Jennings said Marchant brings experience from a campaign that successfully harnessed tea party activism last year.

“We’re bringing in someone from Marco Rubio’s world, who is obviously a tea party favorite. That shows that this is a guy who has the ability to deal with tea party volunteers and activists,” Jennings said.

But bringing in someone from “Rubio’s world” to “Rand’s country” could exacerbate an ongoing rivalry between Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who are jousting over the Tea Party mantle nationally.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Weekly Standard Profiles Paul’s Balancing Act

Standing somewhere between the “fringe and GOP establishment,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is (potentially) the most important conservative statesman in the country, according to the Weekly Standard.

At least that’s what a profile in an upcoming issue of the opinion magazine submits for public consideration. The balancing act for Paul over the past four months has been interesting to watch, particularly as his Tea Party idealism collides with his frustration with the slow pace of the U.S. Senate.

From the Weekly Standard:

While the substance of his positions is barely distinguishable from his father’s, and his goal of “constitutional government” is entirely in accord with the Tea Party, Paul avoids the fiery jeremiads and utopian demands of his allies. He’s willing to talk to and work with people who disagree with him. (Ron Paul’s office did not respond to my requests for an interview.) He realizes that tearing the federal government apart is impracticable. “I’m for incremental change,” he told me.


The genius of Rand Paul is that, by picking his battles and finessing his message, he earns mainstream credibility without jettisoning his small-government and non-interventionist bonafides. “I think he’s been great,” Brian Doherty told me. Doherty’s an editor at Reason magazine and the author of Radicals for Capitalism, a history of American libertarianism. “He’s been surprisingly excellent as a rhetorician for the ideas.” Doherty’s boss at Reason, editor in chief Matt Welch, has a cover story in the June issue on Paul. “He has done more to inject libertarian ideas into the Washington debate than any senator I can remember,” writes Welch, “all within his first three months in office.”

It’s also interesting that Paul wants state Tea Party activists to unite, but they want to remain local and independent from one another. The lack of a statewide Tea Party could have an effect on the 2011 gubernatorial race as each group decides who to support in the general election.

“I want them to coalesce and be the Kentucky Tea Party so they can have more influence and they sort of resist and do things by city,” Paul says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

UPDATE: Donnelly Expected to Announce U.S. Senate Bid

The race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by veteran Republican incumbent Richard Lugar is getting more interesting with the rumored entrance of U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., who will reportedly announce his candidacy Monday.

From the Associated Press:

Two Democrats with firsthand knowledge of Donnelly’s plans told The Associated Press that the congressman is entering the race because he believes that Lugar will lose a Republican primary offering him a path to the Senate. Lugar is facing a strong challenge from his right, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.


By entering the race, Donnelly – who also weighed a run for governor – gives national Democrats a recruiting victory. No other Democrats have entered the race. Donnelly’s supporters believe he can clear the Democratic primary field.

Facing his first primary challenge since 1976, Lugar has been hammered by Indiana Tea Party groups for his so-called moderate GOP record and being a mentor to President Barack Obama while he was in the Senate.

UPDATE: It’s official.

In an announcement video, Donnelly focuses on jobs and the economy, saying that he will advocate for hardworking Hoosiers in Washington.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul and Rubio Downplay Rivalry Over Tea Party Mantle

Among the freshman class of Tea Party candidates, few carry the star power of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., but Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl., is certainly being billed as a chief rival to the Bowling Green ophthalmologist.

From Politico:

At times, it seems Rubio has tried to marginalize Paul.

Rubio once casually referred to Paul’s tea party caucus as a “little club.” And Rubio circulated his Israel letter earlier this month knowing that Paul opposed all foreign aid and likely would not sign. The Florida senator also limited it to a small group — the 13 Republican freshmen — a decision that painted Paul as out of touch on the issue.

However, the two downplayed any talk of a rivalry, saying they get along well personally and that the GOP provides plenty of room for diverse approaches and opinions.

“We’re a big party, man. There’s a variety of views in our party on a bunch of issues. The Republican Party’s a big tent,” Rubio told POLITICO in an interview at the Capitol. “There’s gonna be divergence of opinion on different issues — that’s normal but not by design. It’s just what we believe in.”

Paul said he wasn’t bothered by Rubio passing on the tea party caucus, describing their relationship as “cordial.”

Aside from the Senate 90210 speculation, what’s interesting about the piece is how Paul and Rubio have taken different paths in marking out their territory.

Rubio is jockeying to be the insider whereas Paul—like his father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx.—remains an outsider who the activists adore but the mainstream GOP still keeps at a distance. At times, one could argue Paul’s behavior flirts with a caricature of Tea Party stereotypes.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Congress Won’t See Third Paul

Ending all speculation, the son of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx., and brother of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ruled out a run for a soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat.

Texas physician Robert Paul told students at the University of North Texas last week that he isn’t interested in running for public office—yet.

From Politico:

“I think the biggest thing I have that’s similar to my dad is that I’m honest,” he said. “I’m never going to say I won’t ever run for office, but I think running for Senate probably is not going to happen this time.” He added: “I think about it all the time. That doesn’t mean I have plans to do it.”

Last week, though, Paul was singing a slightly different tune, telling the Star-Telegram that he was “very happy as a physician” but has “a lot of interest in the debt” and suggesting that he might run.

There already are more than half a dozen Republicans who have declared that they’re running for Hutchison’s seat. Some already have raised substantial amounts of money and, unlike Paul, have held other elected offices.


My hopes for a reality television program featuring the Paul family’s adventures in Washington  still has a chance though. Cross your fingers.

Local News

Activists Hold Another 'Tea Party' In Louisville

Activists gathered in Louisville’s Central Park Saturday for a rally in favor of smaller government.

The event coincided with a stop from the Tea Party Express bus tour. The national campaign grew out of the so-called tea parties held on April 15th to protest government spending.

The rally featured conservative speakers and calls to change the plan for overhauling healthcare. Marilyn Parker helped organize the event. She says members of all parties were invited to speak.

“They’re not just unhappy with this administration; they were unhappy with the last administration as well. They didn’t feel like the last administration controlled spending.”

Parker recently resigned her position with the Louisville tea party group and formally announced Saturday that she’ll seek the Republican nomination for the congressional seat currently held by Democrat John Yarmuth.

The Tea Party Express tour started last month in California and will conclude on September 12th in Washington D.C,