The Columbia Tea Party went from Donald Trump to jilted chump after the celebrity businessman canceled his appearance at Thursday’s State House rally, and state legislators approved tax breaks and spending that the group opposed.
Trump’s decision to not enter the GOP presidential race left local Tea Party leaders stewing about the way they had been treated. But about 30 people were on hand Thursday to thank Gov. Nikki Haley, lawmakers and activists for their work to require more on-the-record Legislative votes.
It was all part of a tough week for the state’s Tea Party movement.
On Wednesday, the S.C. House reversed course and approved a controversial sales tax break for online retailer Amazon. Thursday, the S.C. Senate voted down a proposal that would have rebated any better-than-expected state tax collections to income tax filers.
Columbia Tea Party chairman Allen Olson expected as many as 2,000 would have attended Thursday’s rally had Trump been there. But The Donald, a favorite of many who attended the group’s Tax Day rally with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., elected to not run and dropped the rally from his schedule.
“It was a kick in the gut, but it gives you a chance to regroup,” said Olson. “He’s a businessman. He showed his worth.”
Olson said the legislative losses will motivate Tea Party members, adding they will turn their focus now on a bill to cap punitive damages in lawsuits and other legislative issues.
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