Tea party groups rally with fewer numbers but equal enthusiasm to last year
A few hundred activists affiliated with Virginia Tea Party groups rallied in Richmond on Monday as part of a day-long series of events by advocacy groups timed to coincide with the Martin Luther King Day Jr. holiday.
The groups drew a noticeably smaller crowd than last year, when more than 1,000 tea party activists attended a rally intended to urge support for a new state law targeting federal health-care reform by saying it is illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance in Virginia.
The tea party groups last year joined forces, however, with other organizations that urge gun rights. This year, the enthusiasts for the two causes held separate events. A somewhat larger crowd attended a rally for the pro-gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League on Monday morning.
Leaders of the tea party organizations, which collectively go by the Virginia 10th Amendment Revolution, said that their efforts have not waned, even after they accomplished their top goal last year and got the state health-care law passed, and then helped knock off three incumbent Virginia Democrats in November's congressional election.
"Virginia's here to let everyone know that we're not going away," Angie Parker, who works with the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, told the crowd. "We're continuing to grow, organize, engage.
And they made clear that, in a state election year, they'll be watching not just Democrats. Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R), the event's keynote speaker, got loud applause when he told the groups that the GOP shares blame for moving the country away from strict interpretation of the Constitution.
"This isn't just pointing at Democrats," he said. "Republicans have to own this problem, too. They own this problem, too. We all have to return to fidelity to the Constitution."
Virginia Institute of Public Policy President John Taylor was also warmly greeted when he criticized those who would praise Virginia for ending the year with a surplus, when that surplus only came about because the state borrowed from the employee pension fund to fill the gap. Though he did not name him, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has been the most vocal one crowing about Virginia's surplus.
The groups' major priority this year is a bill that would put Virginia on record as endorsing a federal convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and add a mechanism for any federal law or regulation to be repealed if two thirds of state legislatures agree.
They are also pushing a bill that would forbid the federal government from using its power to regulate interstate commerce to regulate goods that are manufactured and sold within state limits.
And they promised to fight state and federal environmental regulations that they believe will hurt economic development and limit the rights of property owners.
Cuccinelli updated the crowd on his lawsuits targeting the federal health-care law and the Environmental Protection Agency -- "the Employment Prevention Agency," he called it, to laughs from the crowd.
"For all those who think that CO2 is a grievous threat to the environment, I believe those people have a moral obligation to stop emitting it," he said to cheers.
Rosalind S. Helderman
| January 17, 2011; 4:29 PM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman
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