(Tea Party Express) – On April 15th the Tea Party Express (website: http://www.TeaPartyExpress.org) endorsed former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) for the United States Senate at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
In the days that followed there was a whirlwind of activity. Angle’s supporters throughout Nevada were elated. Our membership at the Tea Party Express/Our Country Deserves Better Committee was energized about the opportunity of supporting a true-blue, battle-tested conservative to defeat Harry Reid.
Within the Nevada tea party community there were mixed reactions. Some activists were pleased because they shared our support for Angle. Some were frustrated because they felt that local tea party groups should have been consulted before an official endorsement by the Tea Party Express was made. And some were unhappy because they as individuals, or the groups they belonged to, were supporting – or were planning to support – a different candidate.
Next week we at the Tea Party Express will launch our first round of TV and radio ads supporting Angle, and therefore I thought it was a good time to catch up on some of the feedback we’ve gotten since our endorsement of Angle.
*To Those Who Are Excited About Our Support for Angle
First off, to those who support the decision and have been enthusiastic about it, we thank you. That’s all we have to say to you right now, because as you’ve already seen, we’re “all in” for Angle, and will continue to work with you aggressively on Sharron’s behalf as we already have since the April 15th endorsement. This email is more intended for everyone else
*Why We Endorsed Sharron Angle
The answer to the question of “Why did we endorse Sharron Angle?” is rather simple for us to answer. We’ve been impressed with Angle since we first worked with her during the Our Country Deserves Better Committee’s efforts in the “Defeat Harry Reid” campaign we launched early in 2009. This is from a time that pre-dates the Tea Party Express and the tea party movement.
Sharron was immediately responsive to our outreach to help build a movement against Reid in the state. Now at this time the polls were in a gradual, but steady, descent for Reid. Political pundits at the time, however, were insistent that this was just a temporary blip on the radar. They said that Reid was a master politician who would fight back, and that to suggest he would lose was nonsense. Boy what a different world we live in today!
We did extensive research on Sharron, having known of her on a cursory basis for years before we launched our “Defeat Harry Reid” campaign, and as we did more research we liked what we saw. We respected her record. We liked how she was tenacious in fighting for her beliefs, and resilient in pressing ahead even after facing defeat. While some have said that they didn’t see Sharron as a good “team player” who could work to build coalitions and compromise, we felt differently. What we saw at this moment was that the way in which our country found itself into the mess it is was in fact based on compromises of principle and collaboration for some feel-good post-partisanship comity. Everything from the regressive and lax attitude at Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (where both political parties in Congress tolerated the environment where mortgages were knowingly handed out to people who could probably not pay them back…), to the votes on TARP (it was an absolute necessity we were told at the time, all principles had to be cast aside for the survival of the country), to auto bailouts, Cap & Trade, stimulus packages, record deficits under both Bush and Obama, prescription drug plans, and on and on…
It all began to accelerate at the end of the Bush Administration when the Republican President himself said, “I’ve abandoned Free Market principles to save the Free Market system.”
So this is the environment we’ve lived in, and this is what has guided our decision-making process when approaching candidates for office. We believe that at a time like this, the remedy should be someone who was proven and tested to say “NO” to the sweetly-scented allure of feel-good liberalism. We need those who are so loyal to their principles that others might view them as obstinate, to serve as an anchor for conservative principles in Congress. Another “YES” vote won’t do when the recent history shows a disturbing willingness to “sell out” for some perceived political gain or media adulation.
And unlike some people who view Angle’s past losses to Heller and Raggio as a sign of weakness, we see the issue of Sharron’s viability as a candidate differently. She won her State Assembly seat 4 times. And then she ran within a whisker of winning in her campaign for Congress (against Dean Heller and Dawn Gibbons) and State Senate (against the politically powerful Bill Raggio). The fact that a conservative insurgent candidate has twice challenged the powerful establishment of her own party and come within ∏% of winning in both high-profile elections demonstrates to us an impressive ability given her anti-establishment pedigree. We feel our endorsement and Independent Expenditure campaign will give her dramatically higher name recognition with voters across the state – which is all that her campaign is really lacking at this point to be competitive.
Thus, after seeing Sharron Angle in action up close and personal, we were happy to see her first considering a run (early last year) and then entering the race later in the year. We had occasional contact with Sharron over the many months since the launch of the “Defeat Harry Reid” campaign. But then we’ve also had contact and worked somewhat closely with just about every candidate for Senate who is challenging Harry Reid. And there are a lot of candidates in the race who we would be happy to support in the General Election against Harry Reid. And that is why you will notice next week that the tone of our ads supporting Sharron Angle are positive and upbeat. To give you a feel for what I mean, here is the radio ad we’ve produced and again will begin running next week: http://www.teapartyexpress.org/files/OCDB5747_Angle_Radio_REV2.mp3
*Our Feelings Towards The Other Candidates
We’re not interested in beating up other candidates and handing Harry Reid a wounded challenger for November. So you’ll see a positive tone to our ads – at least as long as those in this race retain a similar civility with us at the Tea Party Express and Sharron Angle as an individual. All the Republican and Independent American candidates for Senate share a basically similar set of views in recognizing that the government is too big and powerful, and that the path chosen by Harry Reid has been not only morally wrong, but in its effect, disastrous for this country and the state of Nevada.
There are a lot of candidates in this race, so we’ll surely hurt some feelings by not mentioning every candidate. But here were our experiences with the candidates in this race during the time we’ve organized Tea Party Express rallies in Sparks, Reno, Carson City, Winnemucca, Elko, Ely, Las Vegas, Henderson, Tonopah, Fallon, Hawthorne, oh and a little town called Searchlight.
Sue Lowden’s campaign was extraordinarily gracious and kind towards us. She attended rallies, was the ONLY candidate in the race who whipped our her checkbook and made a contribution to the Tea Party Express – unsolicited at that!, offered phone banks for our Independent Expenditure phone banking operation supporting Scott Brown’s Senate campaign in Massachusetts, offered us a big screen TV for the crowds at the Showdown in Searchlight to see what was happening on stage (an offer which we graciously rejected but appreciated given that we’d already committed to securing our own system), offered a place for a Tea Party Express reception with supporters, and so forth.
Her campaign never asked us for anything, never complained to us, never spoke ill of the other candidates in the field. So from the standpoint of our interactions with her campaign, they were a class act, and always demonstrated great sincerity in supporting the tea party movement. While it would be nice to have had bad experiences to highlight, given the fact that we have a candidate we’d like to see beat her in the primary, we can’t speak anything but the truth if we are to have integrity as an organization. So there’s the truth about our experiences with Sue Lowden and her campaign – everything they did with us helped the tea party movement, and they never asked us to put a “Sue Lowden” stamp on our efforts.
Danny Tarkanian’s campaign has a special place in our hearts, for two of his staffers are good friends with a number of members of the Tea Party Express team. Again, Danny Tarkanian’s team never asked us for anything, never pressured us, never spoke ill of another candidate in their communications with us, stuck to requested time limits on speeches, and Danny himself as well as his staff (just as was the case of Sue Lowden and her team) were gracious and courteous in their interactions with us. And Danny also showed great sincerity in his support of the tea party movement and also expressed delight to see so many people energized and fighting for their country.
Whether we agree or disagree with Sue Lowden or Danny Tarkanian on an issue or not, we saw a sincere passion towards the tea party movement. Both of these individuals obviously love Nevada and love their country and they were enthused about what has taken place with the tea party movement nationwide and in Nevada.
Bill Parson is a fantastic patriot. He is like Sharron Angle in many ways not the least in his commitment to fight for a constitutionally-based America. We saw in him the same kind of tenacity Sharron Angle had in his willingness to work hard to earn votes, support and respect. He had the 2nd highest attendance rating as a candidate at our Tea Party Express rallies, even if that meant driving long distances, getting hotel/motel rooms, waking up early or going to bed late. He also offered his support in helping put on tea party rallies. Even when it was reported that we were not allowing him to speak at the “Showdown in Searchlight” (an erroneous report based on a miscommunication between our team and a staffer who spoke to someone on Parson’s campaign), Bill remained civil and cordial, expressing that he was going to Searchlight as a tea party activist, whether he would be allowed to speak or not. Bill Parson is a good guy who loves his country and is determined to fight for what he believes in, damn the odds. That’s exactly the type of approach it’s going to take to save this country.
In the end there are some things about Sharron Angle we like better than Bill (she has a tested record as a representative of the people voting the same way as how she had campaigned) and there are some things we like about Bill better than Sharron (not the least of which is that we admire his service to this country as a United States Marine!)
In the end we backed Sharron over Bill because of her record in the State Assembly and her historic fight for taxpayers all the way to the Supreme Court, combined with her proven campaign abilities to run strong against the establishment, a strength which continues to this day given her recent announcement that her campaign receipts have now topped $1 million. These folks who have already contributed will serve as an effective “House List” Sharron can return to, asking for support to fuel her campaign’s momentum into the final 46 days before the Primary Election.
Tim Fasano has been fantastic towards the Tea Party Express. He’s done so many things to support our efforts, never waiting to be asked, always volunteering to help. He was a big help in the “Showdown in Searchlight”, and he has been a fantastic leader in the effort to challenge Scott Ashjian’s sudden declaration that he was the “Tea Party” candidate. We have no quarrel with Tim, and again, our decision to endorse Sharron Angle was in no way an endorsement against Tim (or Bill Parson), but was based on the reasons I cited above (Sharron’s record as well as her ability to mount a strong campaign to give strong a strong challenge to the establishment-backed candidates).
*Thoughts of Local Tea Party Groups & Can Angle Win?
The one thing we also want to make clear is that the Tea Party Express’s endorsement of Sharron Angle is just that – one organization’s endorsement. We do not speak for the local tea party groups through the state of Nevada. They each speak for themselves and will make their own decision on whether or not to endorse a candidate in the Senate race, and if so, who.
We have had the greatest experiences you can imagine working with the local tea party, 9/12 and other conservative/constitutional groups across the state of Nevada. We have always seen our role as being a media magnet for the tea party movement. As we’ve told local organizers before – set up a booth at our events, sign these people up and get them involved at the local level. We at the Tea Party Express cannot accomplish that function – you the local organizations that form the backbone of this tea party movement have that ability and power, and our membership wants and needs this local involvement to truly take our country back.
Our endorsement of Angle was made because we have the same right to support a candidate as any other group, based on our own perception of who the best candidate to support is. To help explain why we endorsed Sharron Angle is to reflect on what we’ve heard from tea party activists across the state for the past year.
The basis prevailing notion that we encountered time and again was that while there was a desire to see someone like Sharron Angle get the nomination for U.S. Senate, there was a perception that she couldn’t win. Some even thought she would not be strong enough to defeat Harry Reid were she to win the nomination.
It became clear to us – especially after the latest Rasmussen Poll showed Angle beating Reid by 11 points (51%-Angle to 40%-Reid) that the only issue was whether Sharron would get the support she needs to raise her name ID in the southern part of Nevada, and energize her base in the north by showing movement in the polls.
This is what we hope to accomplish for Sharron Angle.
We know that those of you who are supporting another candidate won’t find these words comforting, as you will believe we’ve made the wrong decision and should be supporting your preferred candidate for various reasons. But we wanted to nonetheless provide some background information on why we made our decision, our experiences with the other candidates and reaffirm that we can only speak for ourselves, as one organization.
When we made our decision to endorse Angle we did not go and consult any local tea party group – and we did this deliberately. Our endorsement cannot speak for your local group. You get to decide who to endorse, if anyone. Our decision to support Angle has to be supported and defended by our organization, and that is what we will do. We vouch for this woman to our Tea Party Express membership, but each of you will have to make up your own minds on who to support. Like Sarah Palin said a few months ago – primaries are great things… the debate that ensues allows us to fight it out for what we believe and who we believe can best advocate for those beliefs when in office.
We welcome the input of individuals and organizations across the state as this campaign unfolds through Election Day. And we will respect and support your right to make your own endorsements. Similarly, we’ve enjoyed the observations of Eric Odom, a national tea party activist who helped found the tea party movement, who has returned to his home state of Nevada to work on behalf of conservative causes and candidates in Nevada and Arizona. Odom pointed out that the PAC he leads, Liberty First PAC (website: http://libertyfirstpac.com/main/ ), would not be making an endorsement. But Odom was one of those many voices we’ve listened to for the past year including his articulate post from one month ago discussing the merits of Sharron Angle’s candidacy: https://nevadanewsandviews.com/2010/03/19/what-about-sharron-angle/
We’ve always valued the input and insights of Debbie Landis, who has worked hard and expended personal funds, efforts, and sweat to help grow the tea party movement in the state.
We’ve also followed closely the postings by Sheila Danish and Michele Petersen in support of Bill Parson. And there have been many! J And we must mention The Button Lady has traveled with us on every Tea Party Express and has always been kind, candid and fair with us.
Finally special appreciation and acknowledgment to Frank, Duane and Tony who have worked their butts off in Southern Nevada. They are a great source of energy to us, because when we watch how hard they work and how passionate they are about their work, then it inspires us to up our commitment and dedication to this cause. We’ve caused them heartburn at times because they move so fast and we don’t always keep up, but they always keep their chin up and press forward trying to make things work as best as they can. And they have certainly delivered.
We have many friends in this movement, and sometimes those friends don’t always like each other, or even us at times – ha! Our decision to endorse Sharron Angle might mean we have less friends. But we went with what we thought was the right thing to do, whether it ends up being the popular thing to do or not. I could go on and on, but we at the Tea Party Express just wanted you all to know we’ve been listening and appreciate the passion and energy of so many great patriots throughout Nevada. This conservative/constitutionalist/libertarian movement has grown greatly in the State of Nevada in a way that surpasses the tea party movements of many other states., We can attest to this by virtue of our travels all across America on Tea Party Express I, II and III. That’s something Nevada tea party activists should be very proud of – because you made this all happen, and have given the state (and the country) hope for change in November 2010 and beyond.