Grand Ole Grassroots: Might the GOP and the Tea Party finally hook up?

Yesterday I attended a training seminar hosted by Chuck Efstration, Chairman of the Gwinnett GOP and his team. They assembled a group of campaign and communication experts who presented an extremely informative seminar covering off on topics ranging from effective canvassing and how to write a press release to using social media effectively for your candidate.

Chuck and his team really did an outstanding job organizing, moderating, and conducting the event. Speaking as someone who got up and walked out of at least one panel session at CPAC due to boredom, the Gwinnett GOP “Grassroots Training Academy” was engaging and packed with actionable bits of advice and strategies the attendees could implement right away to the benefit of their candidates and causes.

The cost for the seminar was $15 (this included coffee, Dunkin Donuts, and Chik Fil A catered lunch) and drew visits from Senator Johnny Isakson and US Congressional Candidate Liz Carter.* Several candidates for state and local offices attended, but the training was focused on coaching the grassroots: concerned citizens who have found themselves involved in politics and/or political campaigns, many for the first time. I met a lot of informed, energetic and motivated folks.

Since joining the Liz Carter for Congress Campaign, I’ve attended several GOP events. What I am beginning to see and what the Gwinnett event illustrated very clearly, was that the Grand Ole Party is looking to help empower and train us grassroots folks. Not coopt the movement, not receive endorsements or speaking engagements, but actually assist the grassroots in achieving their goals.

One of the speakers, Mark Rountree, CEO of Landmark Communications likened the grassroots volunteers and efforts to a “ground war: a means of attack Republicans have been lacking traditionally.” What Rountree meant is that there are more Dems involved in politics at every level including the grassroots/volunteer base. Republicans (or as I prefer to be called: Conservatives) tend to want to work, take care of their families and be left alone –not exactly a perfect profile for someone willing to stand on the street with a protest sign in one hand and a bullhorn in the other.

Jared Thomas, a former Campaign Manager for Congressman Tom Price and CEO of Concentric Direct, addressed the group and did something I didn’t expect: he asked us what we felt the GOP needed to do to join forces with this new, willing army of Tea Partiers. Then he did something else I hadn’t anticipated, he listened.

Perhaps this doesn’t strike you as significant, it should. Contrary to what the MSM would like you to believe, the Tea Party contingent does not hold the current administration as the sole focus of its frustration – it has been very aggravated by many Republican leaderss and the RNC. This is evidenced by yesterday’s article in Politico that Tea Partiers rank John McCain at the top of their list of least favorite Republicans.

The Tea Party is suspect of the GOP – they have seen attempts by the GOP/RNC and individual candidates to use the movement to their own advantage. These attempts have been largely unsuccessful, leaving many Republicans mystified as to why they were unwelcome. So what Thomas asked, what this day of  grassroots training hosted by the GOP demonstrated to me, is an important departure from: “How do we get the Tea Party to work for us?” to “How can we help the Tea Party be more effective?” Finally.

I am encouraged by what I see happening at the local level at the Gwinnett GOP, but it’s going to take time and more of this attitude of giving rather than leveraging for the GOP to earn the trust of the Tea Party. The sting of NY-23 is still fresh. Crist and McCain are still receiving support and endorsements from Republican leaders and politicians. RINO/Cap and Traitor Mark Kirk was the NRSC’s pick in Illinois over the Tea Party favorite Patrick Hughes. All these examples prove that the GOP and the Tea Party still aren’t singing from the same sheet of music, but if this new trend continues, they may soon be sitting in the same pew.

The sooner the Republican Party shows us more Michele Bachmanns, Jim DeMints and Paul Ryans, when we see them embracing the Marco Rubios and Adam Andrzejewskis, the sooner they will prove to the Tea Party at Large that they are American Conservatives and Constitutionalists first, and Republicans a distant second. Then we can and will work together to trounce our common enemy and take our country back.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I am retained by Liz Carter for Congress as acting Chief of Staff.


5 Responses to “Grand Ole Grassroots: Might the GOP and the Tea Party finally hook up?”

  1. March 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Hey Cheryl!
    When I saw the title of your post, my gut reaction was DO NOT WANT!! Meaning I don’t believe the tea party movement is a Party per se, and should not ‘merge’ with anyone. The beauty of their power is their independence, their so called ‘lack’ of leadership, which I count as a positive thing. Do I want the Rep Party to start PAYING ATTENTION, yes! If that is what is happening, then great!! If it is mere lip service in order to win a couple of votes for ‘their’ rino candidate, then no thank you. I plan on giving all of my campaign donations to individual campaigns across the country anyway: no middle man, no waste. I guess I am a cynic, but I have been burned by my own party for the last time.

  2. 2 cprater
    March 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Annie: I understand and come at this from the same perspective as you do. I would recommend you have your local GOP contact the GOP of Gwinnett Georgia and take a cue from their example. No harm in trying.

  3. March 14, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    We need more efforts like this nationwide. How did you hear about it?

  4. 4 cprater
    March 15, 2010 at 6:08 am

    Yes, nicedeb, we do. I heard about it through the campaign I’m working on but am on their mailing list now.

  5. 5 Linda
    March 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm


    First of all, let’s get the brown-nosing out of the way. LOVE your items on IOTW, glad you’re working on Liz Carter’s campaign (know someone who knows someone…) and really appreciate your thoughts. Here’s a question for you, though — in the Ga. Gov. race, who do you see as being the opposition to King Roy? I’m leaning toward Handel because of her accomplishments as FC Chair. I understand if you haven’t/can’t publically give an opinion, just wondering. Keep up the good work!

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Cheryl Prater

Managing Director

Another Disclosure

The views expressed on this site are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my clients. Please don't hold them responsible. Momma tried.
Copyright © Applecross Media 2010. The content on this blog are the sole property of the author unless otherwise noted and may not be used or reproduced in any manner unless expressly permitted by owner at cprater.applecross@gmail.com. All Rights Reserved.

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