South Carolina’s Tea Parties, for the first time since the movement formed in the state, will hold a convention. It will be in Myrtle Beach while presidential candidates are there for a national TV debate. The January 15 and 16 gathering is also five days before the South Carolina GOP primary.
They are expecting at least 500 members to attend, says Joe Dugan, chairman of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party and a coordinator of the South Carolina Patriots.
“It was an opportunity that we just could not pass by,” he says.
“We have been working together with various groups in the state for a long time now. We correspond and network back and forth all the time, but it is a rare occasion where get to meet each other face-to-face,” Dugan explains.
The various Tea Party-connected groups throughout the state have been strengthening their communications and sharing more information in the past six months. This summer, they formed the South Carolina Patriots. Read previous article.
The groups are not gathering to pick a presidential favorite, though that may happen.
Dugan says, “The goal is to have all these leaders throughout the state in a single, convenient place for the candidates to let us know why they should be elected. Everyone wants to jump on board with the Tea Party because they see it in the newspapers every day, and yet we need to know specifically how our values would be carried into a new administration.”
The fundamentals they want to see shared by candidates are conservative fiscal, constitutional and cultural ideals, says Dugan. A candidate’s affiliation with the Tea Party does not make them a shoo-in endorsement.
Michelle Bachmann, for instance, helped create a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. Dugan says he admires her greatly for what she has done in Congress and he feels that she does represent a great number of Tea Party values.
But Dugan adds, ” That’s, in itself, not enough to elect the next President of the United States, who at this time of crisis in our own country and in the world, will be a leader of the world.”
The Tea Party leaders are still planning the details for the state convention, says Dugan. All of the presidential candidates have been invited. It is not open to the public.
AUDIO: Dugan describes vision for convention, issues to discuss.