Tea Party activists announce plan to recruit ‘credible’ candidates

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Only two weeks have gone by since the midterm elections, but one coalition of Tea Party activists is already taking steps to recruit “credible” candidates for office in 2012.

During a press conference in Washington D.C. at the National Press Club, 12 leaders of local Tea Party groups joined the group American Majority in announcing the “New Leader Project,” which will focus on recruiting and training candidates for office at the state and local level. This project will not be involved in getting behind candidates in the 2012 presidential election.

“New leaders must be found, starting now, who have the ability to effectively communicate the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, fiscal responsibility and individual freedom while at the same time running sound campaigns,” said Ned Ryun, a former presidential writer for former President George W. Bush who is president of American Majority.

Ryun’s twin brother, Drew Ryun, who leads American Majority Action, said the organization will devote 7 figures to the effort.

Is this effort a response to the Senate campaigns this year in Delaware and Nevada, where conservative candidates, viewed by many as unelectable, were nominated in Republican primaries?  And does this mean they could support someone less conservative, but more electable?

One local Tea Party activist says no.

“I think we’re gonna look at people with principles, conservative principles, first and foremost, and then the job will be to actually groom them to become electable,” said Ana Puig, the co-chair of the Pennsylvania based Kitchen Table Patriots.

But that doesn’t mean the activists didn’t see problems with the candidates in 2010.

One of the local Tea Party activists, Lesley Hollywood, of the Northern Colorado Tea Party, used the tumultuous gubernatorial race this year in her state as an example of why a systematic effort is needed to recruit candidates, and help them run effective campaigns. In that Colorado race, many supporters of the Republican nominee left to support former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s third-party bid, and the Democrat won.

“Definitely one thing I learned in this past election in November was that although we saw many victories, we saw quite a few disappointments, and one of our biggest disappointments was in our governor’s race where we had two choices that were very, very bad,” she said. “And the reason that happened was because we did not get involved soon enough.”

Hollywood added: “I’m very excited about the idea of recruiting candidates.”