Tea Party takes over Fayette GOP
In a milestone for local politics, Tea Party-affiliated delegates took about two-thirds of the county officers’ slots when the Fayette County Republican Party held its convention Saturday in Fayetteville.
Though not an exact science in terms of affiliations and cross-affiliations, a majority of the 17 new party officers came from a combination of the Tea Party and 9/12 movement and from the Fayette County Local Issues Tea Party.
“We have an influx of new people and we’re very pleased,” party Chair Lane Watts said at the meeting.
Seats in the meeting room at Harvest Baptist Church in Fayetteville, former home of the old movie theater, were largely filled for the convention. And though some left as the afternoon wore on, there were plenty remaining to elect the 17 officers, 52 district convention delegates and alternates and the 40 state convention delegates and alternates who will travel to Macon on May 13.
The election of the 17 officers to the various positions showed that approximately one-third were affiliated with the original tea party movement, approximately one-third affiliated with the more recent local issues tea party group and the remaining third coming from the long-standing local Republican ranks.
Accounting for the influence of the Tea Party and 9/12 movement and the more recent Fayette County Local Issues Tea Party is far from an exact science.
The Tea Party movement, both locally and nationwide, began two years ago with the local, state and national 9/12 groups springing up almost immediately thereafter. The efforts of both groups were easily visible beginning with the initial rally on April 15, 2009 at Peachtree City Hall and at numerous meetings and events held since then.
The impetus that came to be known as the Fayette County Local Issues Tea Party originated in September 2008 with the Fayette Citizens for Local Government (FayCOG), an organization initiated by former Fayette County Commission Chairman Harold Bost and others. FayCOG held regular meetings, with attendance and membership totaling up to 40 participants.
It was at a FayCOG meeting in March 2010, one billed as addressing local tea party issues, that Bost at the meeting’s outset noted that his organization had incorporated the “tea party” slogan into that meeting because the model had resulted in public interest in topics of concern and was working well locally and across the nation. That meeting was attended by nearly 140, with many of those coming from the ranks of the local tea party and 9/12 movement.
“The tea party groups have been very effective. This meeting is not officially connected with them but we felt the model was working well,” Bost said at the March 2010 meeting, adding that the phrase “tea party” carried no trademark. “We’ve tried to identify issues that we have information on to back up what we say is true. We’ve spent hundreds of hours evaluating what we’ve found. This is not a meeting to bash Republicans or Democrats, so this is not a partisan issue.”