The Tea Party spread to southern Maryland Saturday, April 10th, in Solomons Island Pavilion and featured speakers running for a wide range of public offices – candidates like Collins Bailey, Steve Waugh and Charles Lollar — as well as business owners and many “normal folks.” However, the focus of the protest was on transitioning the Tea Party Movement from emotion-fueled protests to a workable non-partisan political program to elect fiscal conservatives to a wide slate of local, state, and federal offices.
The event was sponsored by the Maryland chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a grassroots, non-partisan organization focused upon enhancing economic freedom. The director of Maryland’s chapter of the AFP, David Schwartz, summed it up at the beginning of the meeting with “We can’t just be anti-Obama or anti-O’Malley, or we’ll lose.” This concept was repeated many times over the course of the three-hour event which was attended by over 150 people from Southern Maryland.
The attendees echoed this sentiment, although many didn’t seem to see it as a complicated matter. 17-year-old Elizabeth Morrison said that this was her eighth Tea Party protest. She summed up her solution to America’s current political troubles in three words, “Vote them out.” “Them” being Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer — particularly Steny Hoyer, since the very mention of his name elicited boos from the audience.
Another attendee, John Petralin, 69, said that his biggest concern was not ObamaCare but the deteriorating education system. Married to a Catholic schoolteacher, he asserted that the education system needs to be one that focuses on “enlightenment instead of entitlement” and gave his solution. “People are all different. Nobody is the same, and if you treat them all as individuals – then they’ll do better.”
The keynote speaker of the event was Charles Lollar, who is challenging Majority Whip Steny Hoyer in November. He has found a silver lining with the current state of local and national politics with “Tragedy brings people together, and to that end, I am thankful for the current administration.”
Lollar told of how there has been a problem with people stealing his signs. He scoffed at the question posed by several newspapers whether he thinks that it was because he’s African-American — “We can’t be divided by race or gender because we are all part of the United States of America.”
With the political split in southern Maryland, November could swing to Republicans or stay with the Democrats, but the enthusiasm of grassroots conservatives on Saturday seems to bode well for the GOP.