The Shreveport-Bossier Tea Party is in the midst of some puzzling changes. They have changed their name to Red River Tea Party and put up a new website. The new website has a forum linked, but it is not the old SB Tea Party forum. The old forum was on a Ning format, which is very user-friendly; the new forum is awkward to say the least.
The SB Tea Party site is still up, but I don’t know for how long.
In the past I have offered some praise to Rob Gaudet for keeping the local tea party non-partisan. I wrote in July “My concern was that the local movement not turn into a cheering squad for one party over the other, that it truly remain non-partisan, and that it not turn into a forum for local politicians to gain votes. Gaudet has done a great job of keeping it party-neutral and has a policy of not inviting elected officials to speak. A lot of local Tea Party organizations have marginalized themselves by having politicians speak at their events. Gaudet has not made this mistake, and that is to his credit.’
Unfortunately, Gaudet seems to be removed from the new organization and from what I can tell, although nothing is posted yet, Royal Alexander seems to be stepping to the forefront. The Times noted today that “A health care forum sponsored by the conservative Red River Tea Party organization Thursday night in Bossier City served more as a platform for reaffirming the group's views than a discussion of reform proposals.” The forum was emceed by Royal Alexander.
Alexander, a Republican, ran against current Attorney General “Buddy” Caldwell last year and lost. He is an attorney and was a congressional staffer for Rodney Alexander.
SB Tea Party is one of the only local organizations in the state that has taken a non-partisan stance. Other groups in the state have seriously limited themselves by having elected Republican officials speak at their events. Apparently they just don’t get it.
Statements like this on the new website don’t sound non-partisan: “If we are to meet the aggressive, forward momentum of this Administration, we must have in place a bold plan that will allow room for growth as we begin work to shape the outcome of the 2010 election.”
In Louisiana there are 1,513,644 registered Democrats, 742,032 registered Republicans and 647,670 people are registered as ‘other party’ (read independent). Although Louisiana has voted Republican in the last three national elections, that is only because they saw the Republican Party, rightly or wrongly, as the more conservative.
I hope the tea party people keep in mind that a full three-quarters of the voting population deliberately did not register as Republican, and will be turned away if the local events become a pep rally for the Republican Party.
Gaudet, a Republican himself, got it. I just hope Alexander and company do the same.