The players in this drama are the "Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation" and local Virginia Tea Parties, specifically the 99th District Tea Party and the Montross Tea Party.
According to its website, the "Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation (VTPPF) is a statewide tea party organization comprised of local, non-partisan groups established to advance and strengthen the Founding principles and God-given rights predicated in the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions."
The VTPPF held its 2017 "kick-off meeting" this weekend -- February 25, 2017 -- to lay the groundwork for electing Tea Party candidates in the November 2017 Virginia general election.
One of our local Northern Neck Tea Parties -- the Montross Tea Party -- made a big deal of the "first summit meeting of 2017" on their Twitter and Facebook pages.
Now, thanks to "The Bull Elephant" blog (TBE) -- which claims to be the per-eminent conservative blog in Virginia -- we learn that the VTPPF summit meeting was a HUGE BUST. How do we know this? Well,. according to TBE, here are the results of the summit meeting straw poll for the Tea Party's choice for Virginia governor.
Denver Riggleman 19First, let me explain. Virginia elects governor, lt. governor, and attorney general in odd-numbered years -- 2013, 2017 . . . Governors serve one four-year term while the Lt Gov and AG can run for re-election. Virginia Republicans are constantly arguing about the best way to select candidates for these offices. Rightwing dingbats want a state convention of about 2,000 people from around the state. Real Republicans want a nominating primary that allows tens of thousands of Republicans from around the state to vote on their candidates. The rightwingers want a convention because they can pack the convention with "activists" and true believers who tend to nominate people as crazy as they are. For example, in 2013, the Republican party of Virginia convention -- dominated by hardcore rightwingnutjobs -- nominated a slate of loons: Ken Cuccinelli, "Bishop" E. W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshian. The Democratic slate killed them. This gave a boost to Republicans who wanted a statewide primary election that likely would have nominated a very strong slate of candidates, not the gaggle of nutcases who appealed only to the looniest of the loony.
Ed Gillespie 13
Corey Stewart 7
Frank Wagner 0
So -- this brings us to the VTPPF "summit meeting" yesterday and its straw poll. First, note the number of votes: 19, 13, 11, 7, 0 -- total of 50 votes. That's it. This is the statewide Tea Party Patriot Foundation summit meeting and all they could muster was 50 people??????
The candidates tell us a lot, too. Riggleman owns a distillery, has no political experience, and basically is a raving Tea Bagger. Ed Gillespie is the establishment candidate -- former chairman of the Republican National Committee, no connection to Virginia except that he lives in the state. Corey Stewart is the hero of the far right who made his mark by arresting innocent "immigrants" in Prince William County -- and who was fired by Donald Trump from his position as Trump's Virginia campaign manager.
What's really telling is the tiny number of people who attended the VTPPF summit meeting -- their first meeting of 2017 is supposed to set the tone for Tea Party politics in Virginia for 2017. At a similar meeting in 2013, over 200 participated. Today, fewer than one-fourth that many showed up.
The demise of the VTPPF reflects the fate of our two local Tea Parties here on the Northern Neck.
Named after the 99th Virginia House of Delegates district, this Tea Party emerged in 2008 and at its height managed to almost elect an absolute flake and nutcase, Catherine Crabill, to the state General Assembly.
The 99DTP collapse was evident as early as late 2015 when they held a candidates' forum for local school board and supervisor candidates in Lancaster County at which 99DTP President Don Johnson shouted down questioners, would not allow questions critical of Tea Party favorites, and generally made a fool of himself. Johnson soon disappeared from the 99DTP and is now content to fire off Twitter comments that make him look dumber than Donald Trump
The avuncular 99DTP past president, Edgar Doleman, disappeared from view as did "Director of Communications" Lyn Niera.
The 99DTP attempted to reinvent itself in mid-2016 as the First District Freedom Coalition, but that attempt sputtered out when they couldn't even hold an inaugural meeting.
Now, the 99DTP website is empty and their Facebook page has not been updated since April 2015. They no longer announce their meetings in the local newspapers.
Just as the 99DTP emerged in the aftermath of Obama's election, so did the Montross Tea Party pop up. Both groups presented themselves as "grassroots" organizations when, in fact, they were nothing but "astroturf" -- supported and formed by the Koch-funded National Tea Party Federation.
The MTP is failing fast. As of late 2016: (1) only 7 - 9 people at each meeting; (2) canceled about as many meetings as they held; (3) their "patriotic events" in the town of Montross draw only a tiny handful of people; and,(4) in spite of their plea, no one from the MTP attended the VTPPF summit meeting, Feb 25, 2017.
Frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. I know several of these people personally. They are nice people who live in the past. They long for the 1950's -- when father knew best, when women stayed in the kitchen and when black people rode in the back of the bus. They are confused by global and national trends and they make no attempt to understand things, preferring instead to support candidates who want to repeal the 20th Century.
I'm glad to see them fail. Their influence will be with us for a couple of more election cycles after which we in Virginia will put Democrats back in control of the General Assembly and get on about the business of moving Virginia forward.
UPDATE: The Bull Elephant apparently is embarrassed by the fact that the Virginia Tea Party Patriot's Federation can muster only 50 people at their February 25 meeting. The article that I cited above with the actual vote count has been followed by an article that talks about the percentage of votes received, not the number of voters. Very misleading. Feb 26, 10:30 PM EST.
UPDATE: Here's a photo of the "crowd" at the VTPPF meeting, Feb 25. I count about 40 people.