State lawmakers are off this week and will return to Columbia on April 13. When they return, they will be the focus of attention of the Tea Party groups in the state.
The conservative arm of the Republican Party gained momentum this time last year, with large-scale rallies on tax day in the state and in Washington. There will be a couple of Tea Party rallies coming up this month, but the attention is now shifting from Congress and the White House to the Statehouse.
Harry Kibler, spokesman for the Upstate Coalition of Conservative Groups says, “I know that the number of folks who have went up recently have diminished, but I also see the number of people being actively involved in their state government and even on a county level, I see that increasing.”Kibler says he thinks Washington is paying less attention, so his Tea Party groups are taking a different approach.
“If you don’t like folks that are up there in Washington, spending all of your time trying to influence them to do something that you are not going to do is wasting your time and you could be spending that helping to recruit a candidate or get behind a candidate that could be there replacement,” Kibler says.
Jonathan Hill, organizer of the Anderson County Tea Party agrees with Kibler. He went to Washington for the health care vote in the House and came away saying, “I’m telling you, they don’t listen. The people up in Washington do not listen. They were locking their doors and that’s against House rules from what I understand.”
Hill says he is happy to turn his attention to politicians on the state and local level. Upstate Tea Party groups are planning a rally in downtown Greenville at the BI-LO Center for April 17.