What has happened to the Tea Party in Kentucky? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

What has happened to the Tea Party in Kentucky?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- What happened to the Tea Party in Kentucky?

Some argue the sun has set on what was once a popular movement. But ask members of the Louisville Tea Party and they'll tell you not to be confused: the party is more effective now than its ever been.  

In 2010, they were energized and they were angry about what they saw as out-of-control spending in Washington.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: What legislation is the local Tea Party working on?

The Tea Party splashed on the political scene and turned unrest into votes. Candidates like Rand Paul took hold of seats in Washington.

But flash forward to 2012. What happened?

U of L Professor of Political Science Dr. Laurie Rhodebeck has studied the Tea Party movement since its inception.

"It definitely has less energy than when it first began," he said. "The electorate as a whole is less conservative than it was in 2010, so there's a little less sympathy for the movement."

But to suggest the Tea Party movement has fizzled out is a point members of the Louisville Tea Party couldn't disagree with more.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: What legislation is the local Tea Party working on?

One of those members is Sarah Durand, the president of the Louisville Tea Party.

"We're much more organized and much more effective than we've ever been," Durand said. "We're just not as loud."

We attended this month's meeting in St. Matthews.

Supporters say there has not been a Democrat or a Republican meeting since before the election that would have half or even a third of this many people

Durand says over the past two years, she's gotten wiser. Instead of holding those big rallies, she's learned that to get the party's voice heard, you've got to work the system.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: What legislation is the local Tea Party working on?

"We're working on legislation," Durand said. "We're working with our elected officials a lot more, so its just not as big of grand production."

The issues that light a fire under the group are the growing national debt and Kentucky's state pension reform.

"Nashville and Indianapolis are killing us, and partly it's because of the taxes," said Larry Hausman, a Tea Party member.

But exactly what is the Tea Party? Members will tell you it's not part of the Republican Party, even though most call themselves Republicans. But Tea Party members say they believe in holding all elected officials accountable regardless of party. They say that in general, Democrats are doing more to infringe upon rights than the Republicans are.

And did the Tea Party cost Republicans the election?

"I think the biggest problem within the Republican Party right now isn't the Tea Party," Durand said. "I think that you have a lot of big government Republicans who are used to spending a lot of money, and things are changing." 

Many Tea Party Republicans say U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost the election, not because of the Tea Party, but because he didn't communicate the core values of conservatism accurately.

Dr. Rhodebeck said she believes the Tea Party could be a detriment for political candidates who wish to progress in the future.

"I think the party would find itself in trouble if it went along with the Tea Party line," said Dr. Rhodebeck.

WDRB's Lindsay Allen asked Tea Party members to tell her the first word to come to mind when she mentions certain names.

President Obama?

"Incompetent," said Tea Party member Andrew Schachtner.

John Boehner?

"Ineffective," said Durand.

Harry Reid?

"I just couldn't disagree with him more," Hausman said.

Mitch McConnell?

"Debt," Durand said.

Rand Paul? 

Schachtner smiled.


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