News Story

State 'TEA' Groups Report Rapid Growth

When Tina Dupont got her 1,000th member for the TEA Party of West Michigan, she blogged about it on Jan. 27.

Now, the founder from Rockford has seen the group swell to 1,231 as of Monday — and it appears to be growing by the hour.

"In the last four days, it has been explosive compared to what we are used to," said Dupont, who estimated they've been getting 15 new members a day since the focus on the national health care bill.

TEA Party groups from around the state are reporting that they are seeing more and more people join their cause.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved President Barack Obama's health care legislation Sunday night. Initially disappointed, the organizers are saying there could be a silver lining.

Gene Clem of Kalamazoo helped found the Southwest Michigan Tea Patriots. His group was started in May of 2009 and now has a combined 1,300 members on their Web site and e-mail list.

Clem said he's getting about five people joining a day in the last few days, a much higher pace since the health care vote.

Now, Clem is going to recommend that his group move their April 15th TEA Party rally to a bigger park in Kalamazoo. Last year's rally drew 1,000 people, Clem said. He expects twice that this year.

"Every time we think we lose people's attention, they do something stupid in Washington," Clem said. "They are our biggest recruiters."

Rose Bogaert, chairwoman of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association, said her site will soon have a clock that "counts down" to the November 2 elections to remind people about the consequences of the vote.

"You know what has amazed me?" Bogaert asked. "The people I talked to aren't depressed but invigorated by this."

Ed Tomaszewski of the Metro Detroit Freedom Coalition said three weeks ago he went to the Romeo TEA Party's second meeting and 300 people showed up.

And he said more will come after Sunday's vote.

"TEA Party groups, after this slap in the face to the public, will see their groups grow," Tomaszewski said.

In Tuscola County, Lisa Valentine of the Western Thumb TEA Party wrote in an e-mail that their TEA Party group is having their April 15 rally in an auction barn so that they have enough room if there is bad weather.

"People are hungry for news of how they can assist in defeating (now overturning) Obamacare," Valentine wrote.

Wendy Day of Common Sense in Government said she expects a fall out for the Democrats since health care has passed.

"Not only have they awakened a sleeping giant, they caused this sleeping giant to get very angry. You will hear a roar across this country," Day said.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.