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December 15, 2009 / J. Shaw

Tea Party Movement Evolves Into Political Force With Eye Toward 2010

What started as a conservative protest klatch has evolved into a political force with enough muscle to potentially alter the course of the 2010 mid-term elections. 

The “tea party” movement that gained steam shortly after President Obama took office is seeing a surge in popularity, with a string of candidates and officials willing to take up its cause and a political infrastructure that’s starting to mirror that of an actual political party. 

The tea party activists rallied for smaller government and lower taxes again on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon — among the headliners were Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and former Texas Rep. Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks group has acted as somewhat of an umbrella organization.

That’s just the latest affirmation of tea party momentum: 

— Various tea party groups and supporters, including FreedomWorks, are launching political action committees to back candidates financially in the 2010 elections. 

— A Rasmussen poll last week showed that more voters would rather elect a “Tea Party” congressional candidate than a Republican one. 

— A documentary film was recently released tracking the evolution of the movement. 

— And several groups are pulling together the National Tea Party Convention in early February in Nashville, where former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is set to headline. 

Sherry Phillips, vice president of convention organizer Tea Party Nation, said the event will be a chance for hundreds of delegates to figure out the future of the movement. 

“It needs to move past just the rallies,” Phillips told “We can’t just stand around holding signs.” 

Prominent Republicans including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn plan to speak at the convention. Phillips said the overarching goal of the tea partiers is to affect the 2010 elections and support candidates who reflect their values.



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