Great Falls, Mont., February 12, 2010
Tea Party leaders from Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Big Timber and Glendive met in Great Falls to network, learn from each other and discuss the formation of the Montana Tea Party Coalition.
The Tea Party movement has strong brand identification, one of the strongest of any political organization in the United States. Along with holding freedom rallies, protests and educational events, members of the Tea Party in Montana are looking to leverage its brand and its broad support among Montanans to impact the 2010 elections and the public policy debate.
The Montana Tea Party is working on identifying candidates who support its principles of limited government, fiscal accountability, free market economy and Constitutional goverment.
The first coalition meeting, held on Friday, February 12 while the GOP hosted their kickoff event for legislative candidates, was also timed to send a specific message to the GOP and other national organizations or national personalities:
“Welcome us, get to know us, but don’t try to take us over and don’t take us for granted.”
This message was echoed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN, who addressed the GOP Kickoff by phone. Bachmann said, “All across the country in deep blue states, with the traction of Tea Party and Constitutional conservatives, we’re seeing a new energy that we’ve never seen before! I just want to encourage you to embrace this new energy and vibrancy and movement.”
Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-MT, requested a meeting with the Montana Tea Party Coalition which was also attended by state representatives affiliated with the Tea Party movement including Reps. Joel Boniek, Mike Miller and Gordy Vance. During the meeting, Rehberg reiterated that he has no desire to takeover the TeaParty but also urged us not run third party candidates which would likely assure victory for the Democrats. He pointed the example of his 1996 race against Sen. Max Baucus for the Montana Senate seat which Rehberg lost by 16,000 votes. Rehberg said that a Baucus intern ran as a Reform Party candidate and drew 25,000 votes. The Reform Party was founded by Ross Perot in 1992 and qualified to field candidates in Montana elections. Rehberg supports Audit the Fed legislation and meets weekly with Ron Paul and the Liberty Caucus. Responding to a question from Ken Champion, Bozeman Tea Party Chairman, Rehberg said he’d look into co-sponsoring HR 450, the Enumerated Powers Act, a bill that would require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws, and for other purposes.
Please stay tuned for what is next for the TEA party groups across Montana! This is a very exciting year and as the election approaches you should expect to hear from us!