Organizing Tea Party groups 'like herding cats'

The OlympianMay 10, 2010 

Tea party groups in Washington can assemble thousands of people for anti-tax rallies, but their work once cameras are gone may be more important to their mission.

Members of the fledgling groups aren't just protesting. They might show up at your door as volunteers for their favorite candidates – or as the candidates themselves. They are joining their local Republican Party organizations and making plans to be at June's party convention.

Add that old-school grass-roots organizing to ongoing online efforts to recruit members and improve communication between groups, and Washington tea partiers say they will be a decisive voice in the fall elections.

"There's going to be huge turnover come November," said Rick Bauer, who organized the Olympia Tea Party. "It’s just a matter of keeping the fire going."

That could be the hard part, even before the election. Though state and national organizations have tried to harness their energy, tea party groups initially formed to protest President Barack Obama’s agenda for economic recovery, not to sway elections.

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