Next step for some Tea Party activists: Become candidates

Fort Worth Star-TelegramMay 2, 2010 

It began more than a year ago with "tea parties" — gatherings nationwide that multitudes of Americans attended to show growing frustration with big government and federal spending.

But now, at least locally, some in the conservative grassroots movement want to take their activism further.

So they are running for office themselves.

"We realize that in order to get 'change that we believe in' into our government, it must start with each and every one of us doing what each of us can do," said Konni Burton, a member of the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party steering committee. "Who better to run than average citizens who are fed up with a government that doesn't listen to the people?

"We are not interested in forming a third party and have absolutely no plans to do so. But we are dedicated to getting true fiscal conservatives into office at all levels of government."

While more than a handful of North Texas candidates have ties to a local Tea Party or to the Glenn Beck-inspired 912 Coalition groups, some political observers say this movement may end up the same way others have: as a footnote in the history books.

"Most social movements, grassroots political eruptions, burn out," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "For this one, much depends on the economic recovery. The stock market has recovered 80 percent of (its) losses. It's the job market that is still underperforming.

"As that comes back, the energy in the Tea Party should wane."

Others don't believe that will happen.

People d in the movement say they expect even more 912 or Tea Party candidates on the ballot in 2012.

"It takes time to build a base, gain name recognition and support," said Adrian Murray, president of 912 Project Fort Worth, which was created last year. "Many 912 candidates ran in the primaries, but there just wasn't enough infrastructure in place to dislodge the incumbents. You can't win on a shoestring budget.

"That will be our focus going forward — building the infrastructure and developing the resources that can support candidates from within the movement."

Read more of this story at Star-Telegram.com

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