Iowa Tea Party statewide convention

Doors to the venue in Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines opened at noon today and “tea party” activists began trickling in for their state convention.  Attendance may have been dampened by the 11 o’clock kick-off of the Iowa/Northwestern game, the incredibly warm weather, the need to haul in the ’09 harvest or any other variety of Saturday activities.

Tables were arranged along three sides of the meeting hall, giving groups a chance to showcase their message to “tea party” activists.  Republican gubernatorial candidates were among those who were working the crowd.  (Later, they were given a chance to speak to the assembly.)  Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s “Huck PAC” had a table at the event.  I didn’t see any other past, potential, probable presidential candidate PACs represented, however.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recorded a video message which was played for the crowd at about 1:15 p.m.  She began by highlighting her status as an “Iowa native.” (She was born in Waterloo, Iowa, but grew up in Anoka, Minnesota.)

Drew Ivers, a long-time GOP activist who led Pat Buchanan’s 2000 Iowa campaign and led Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign, is now part of a group called “Campaign for Liberty.” I ran into him at the Campaign for Liberty table. I asked Ivers to assess the “tea party” coalition and Ivers suggested the general theme for each component group was a desire for “less government.”

“We just want less government, not more and of course we’re getting more every day and we’re saying, ‘Let’s slam on the brakes.  Don’t just veer off to the right in the fork of the road ahead. Let’s slam on the brakes, try to put it in reverse and go in the other direction,”” Ivers said, adding it’s time to shrink the size of government.

As for the message of the tea party coalition:  “We’re just telling our political system…we’re fed up.  We just want less.”

Ivers hopes to movement moves beyond a rally three or four times a year. “Let’s be connected and ready for action 365 days a year,” he said.

Michael Thompson of Council Bluffs was wearing a black t-shirt with “Tea Party” written in huge white letters (promoting a movie about a rally in Washington, D.C. on September 12, 2009).  He’s the Iowa organizer of the “9/12” group.

“I saw that they were having the statewide convention up here and I thought it would be a great place to make some new bonds with people and organize, network, kind of get some ideas, talk to people, share experiences with people,” Thompson said.  “…It’s nice to see some famliar faces and meet some new ones.”

I talked with a few more people, but they wouldn’t give me their names.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.