Activist organizes Tea Party convention that ‘aint gonna be country club Republican’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Mark Skoda says the first Tea Party convention he was involved in was “too country club,” so he’s breaking away and helping to organize a separate convention this spring.

Like the first one that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin keynoted earlier this year, Skoda’s will be in Tennessee and will also use the name, “National Tea Party Convention.”

But Skoda, who leads the Memphis Tea Party, stresses that it’s an entirely different event. Judson Phillips, the leader of Tea Party Nation who organized the first convention, is not involved in this one. And unlike Phillips’ convention, Skoda said, the event will not be a for-profit event and guests won’t dine on seafood or steak.

“It aint gonna be country club Republican,” Skoda told The Daily Caller. He said the convention will be in Memphis, Tenn. and he’s hoping to keep tickets to event $250 or less, though organizers are still working out logistics.

Skoda, who served as a spokesman for Phillips’s event, said Phillips does not have the rights to the name “National Tea Party convention,” so he plans to using his experience at the first convention to help “get the bad taste” out of the name. The perception of it being expensive and “country club” really hurt it, he said.

“I was at a table with Sarah Palin. She didn’t even want to eat because she didn’t want people taking pictures of her,” he said.

Phillips, reached at home, is not happy that Skoda is using the same name for the convention. “It does bother me … I think he needs to call it something else,” he said.

But, Phillips said, Skoda’s “got the right to do it. Clearly he recognizes a good idea.”

Phillips also defended his convention: “We had a first-class event and people really liked it … If he wants to go serve people Happy Meals from McDonalds. That’s his call.”

As for speakers for the upcoming event, Skoda said the board overseeing the convention is still “in negotiations.”

The event will focus on the theme of “liberty through accountability,” he said, and will be chaired by Tennessee state Rep. Mark White.