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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: tea party

For Labrador, tea party means ‘not beholden to special interest groups’

Musing about what his “tea party” identification means, Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador said today, “I always used to joke around that I was tea party before tea party was cool.” But he noted that he never joined the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House. “I think any time you try to formalize a movement like that, you actually take away some of its legitimacy,” he told reporters. “The tea party is kind of an amorphous group that has a bunch of different definitions.”

He said in his view, “It’s about being somebody who’s not necessarily beholden to the special interest groups. That’s why I sometimes identify with the tea party, sometimes identify with the libertarian side, I sometimes identify with the so-called conservatives. … What you have is a bunch of people … that are frustrated with business as usual.” He defined that business-as-usual as, “In order to talk to a politician, have a politician pay attention to you, you actually have to just donate money to their campaign.”

Longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby called Labrador’s definition “pretty broad and amorphous – it would apply to a lot of populist groups.” But he noted, “There certainly is a lot of populism within the tea party movement.”

Tea party activist lands government job

AP reporter John Miller reports today that a tea party activist interviewed by late-night TV’s David Letterman last year has a new title: Government employee. Pam Stout is Bonner County's new $25,000-a-year, 19-hour-a-week head of the “Bonner County Property Rights Council,” a new arm of local government aimed at slashing county spending and seeking free-market alternatives to regulations. You can read Miller's full report here.

Labrador: ‘Tea Party is a good movement’

“I believe the Tea Party is a good movement,” Congressman Raul Labrador told the City Club in response to a question. “Because people are being vilified so much by the media, they're not calling themselves 'tea party' any more, they're saying 'conservative Republicans.' … The message of the Tea Party is a message that I've always advocated.” He added, “I don't consider myself a 'Tea Party freshman,'” even though that's how the national media always refers to him. “I consider myself a conservative Republican representative from the state of Idaho. … If you don't think that borrowing 40 cents of every dollar … is too much, you are in the minority and not in the majority.”

Labrador said of the tea party movement, “The movement believes in conservative fiscal discipline. … I was a fiscal conservative before the movement started.”

Tea party rally features music, exhortations

More than 200 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol for a tea party rally on this Martin Luther King/Idaho Human Rights Day holiday today, while a knot of protesters waving a drawing of Martin Luther King Jr. and signs saying “No Tea for Me” protested from across the street. Wayne Hoffman, head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, exhorted the crowd to push lawmakers to, among other things, do away with Idaho's state employee retirement system.

“Let's get out of these lifetime pensions that are siphoning the taxpayers' dollars,” he declared to cheers, adding that school teachers also should be ejected from the system. “It's time to pull the plug on the state teachers' union being a part of the private-public state employees retirement system,” Hoffman said.

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, told the crowd, “I'm so proud of you, because you've given me hope. Prior to the tea parties being organized, the majority was clearly silent.” He also urged the group to avoid demonizing its enemies. “Their fruits will identify them. We need our fruits to identify us,” Nielsen told the crowd. At the side of the steps, a charcoal portrait of President Barack Obama with swastikas in each of his eyeballs was leaned against the concrete wall on display.

The rally included music; two Nampa High School students sang the national anthem, and David Westmoreland performed an upbeat, country-style rendition of “Take Our Country Back” that had members of a uniformed mariachi band, on their way into the capitol to participate in today's official state MLK/Human Rights Day observance, clapping along.

More on tea parties…

Here’s a shot of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter speaking at the Tea Party of Spokane rally today in Spokane, where he was the headliner. Otter drew standing ovation for his speech that focused in large part on the importance of states’ rights; he also stressed that folks wishing to change the direction of government do so legally and peacefully. “If we disregard the rule of law, we’re going backwards in a big way,” he said. You can read our full story on the rally here.

Meanwhile, GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward, who’s seeking a chance to challenge Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, had this statement on Minnick’s endorsement today by the Tea Party Express, the only Democrat to win the national group’s nod: “This endorsement does not change the fact that Walt Minnick’s first vote in Congress was for Nancy Pelosi and her liberal agenda of higher taxes, more spending, and a more intrusive federal government that has done nothing to get Idaho families back to work,” Ward said. “When Walt had the chance to step up to the plate for Idaho families, he voted against permanently ending the financial bailouts and voted for a permanent extension of the death tax. Walt Minnick and Nancy Pelosi’s tax and spend policies continue to cripple our economy. We are proud of the Idaho endorsements we have received as our momentum continues to build.  Our campaign began as a grassroots effort and is driven by the people.  This is their seat and Kirsten and I are humbled by the thousands of people who have given so much to the campaign.”

Minnick, for his part, will appear on CNN American Morning tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. Mountain time to discuss the Tea Party Express endorsement. For more on the tea party movement, why people became involved and the movement’s possible role in this year’s elections, tonight’s “Dialogue” program on Idaho Public TV features members of Tea Party groups from around the state, along with a member of the new “Coffee Party.” The show, with host Marcia Franklin, airs live at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time, 7:30 p.m. Pacific, and you can call in toll-free with questions at (800) 973-9800 during the show, or email questions before the show to

Sending a message…

Here’s another shot of today’s Boise Tea Party rally on the Idaho Capitol steps. The crowd was pretty mixed, with people of all ages, from young parents with toddlers to older people in lawn chairs to teens. There were a few campaign signs smattered among the crowd; I saw signs for Vaughn Ward, Rex Rammell, and Merrilyn Rohner for Ada County Clerk. A small group of counter-protesters stood on a nearby corner, near a man dressed as Uncle Sam who was holding a sign proclaiming, “Uncle Sam needs Democracy, not Socialism! 

Tea Party rally draws crowd to Capitol

There’s a big crowd today for the Boise Tea Party rally on the Capitol steps, with speakers including costumed re-enactors representing such historical figures as Patrick Henry. Here’s a sampling of the signs people are carrying: “King George didn’t listen to us either” “Socialism=Slavery” “Legalize the Constitution” “Even God only asks for 10%” “Stop Water Fluoridation” “Where’s the birth certificate?” “Obama-Pelosi-Reid - The axis of taxes” “Proud to be American, not Socialist” and “November 2010: We take our country back.” There were some spontaneous chants of “Vote them out,” and, with encouragement from speakers, “USA.”

Tea Party: Otter was ‘happy as a clam’ to speak in Spokane

Here’s a link to my full story in today’s Spokesman-Review on Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s top billing at the Tea Party of Spokane first-anniversary celebration and rally this Thursday. “He was happy as a clam – he was just absolutely stoked,” said Kirk Smith, vice president and spokesman for Tea Party of Spokane, on Otter’s reaction to the invite.

Otter’s primary election opponents had varying responses. Rex Rammell, who’s been on national TV twice in the last three weeks talking about his support for the militia movement, accused Otter of trying to steal his platform. “Now that he’s up for re-election, he’s Mr. States’ Rights,” Rammell said. Sharon Ullman, an Ada County commissioner, said, “He’s certainly welcome to go do whatever he wants,” adding with a laugh that the speaking gig means Otter won’t be campaigning in Idaho that afternoon.

Fischer leaving Idaho

Christian activist Bryan Fischer announced today that he’s leaving Idaho to move to Tupelo, Miss. to host a talk show for the American Family Association. His Idaho Values Alliance, as a result, will “go into whisper mode on July 1,” Fischer said. Fischer, former pastor of Community Church of the Valley and a former Idaho State Senate chaplain (2001 session), has been a frequent sight at the Statehouse in recent years, in his alliance’s quest to make “Idaho the friendliest place in the world to raise a family.” The organization first backed the successful anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment; this year, he testified against day care licensing legislation, which passed; and in favor of a new conscience law for pharmacists to allow them to refuse to dispense prescriptions; that bill passed the House but died in the Senate. In his farewell message on his Web site, Fischer claims credit for defeating Gov. Butch Otter’s proposed gas tax increase, through helping organize “tea party” rallies in April and May that “helped to stave off a tax increase which would have harmed Idaho families.”

His move to Mississippi, he said, “represents a remarkable and unanticipated opportunity for me, an opportunity to do what I have done with the IVA on a larger scale.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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