It is I, your valiant Arkansas Projecteer, returned from the Arkansas Tea Party down at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Little Rock. It was OK, I guess, but I’m grading this one down because, Christ, it was just so ridiculously hot. And your Arkansas Projecteer, he does not like the heat. But it was a solid three hours of rousing “take back the government” rhetoric, heavy on the fiscal responsibility and accountability talk.
The big news out of this one was that Tom Cox, a North Little Rock businessman and one of the movement organizers in Arkansas, announced he will be running for Senate as a Republican to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln. The Tolbert Report has a video clip, but it’s only 30 seconds long and it’s so far from the stage that I’m assuming Tolbert shot it from his back porch in Saline County, so be forewarned. (Here’s a CNN report on Cox’s announcement.)
(This AP story notes that Cox’s North Little Rock business, Aloha Pontoons, was raided a year ago by federal agents for employing illegal immigrant workers. Based on the details here, it looks as if the workers had provided false documentation to secure jobs, and it sounds as if Cox had met his responsibilities in checking said documentation. Was this in the news? Why do I have absolutely no memory of this whatsoever?)
Also in the crowd were potential Senate challenger Curtis Coleman, with whom I had a friendly chat, and Conway’s David Meeks, who’s eyeing a run against Rep. Vic Snyder in the Second District.
Among the speakers were local radio man Dave Elswick and Arkansas Project contributor Rep. Dan Greenberg. (High-octane Twitterer paxlibertas offers video of Greenberg’s remarks, in which Greenberg notes his intent to run for Senate in District 22.)
This one was a little smaller than the April 15 event at the Capitol, but that was to be expected as the earlier event was part of a larger nationwide push. Tonight’s show got off to a slow start—at kick-off time (5:30 p.m.) there were probably only a couple hundred people there. But the crowd grew steadily, and I’d guesstimate about 1,000 people altogether (maybe—tough to get an authoritative count because people were coming and going throughout the three hour event).
I’ll be writing some more on this a little later in the week with more detail and color, and adding in some additional thoughts on the future of the Tea Party movement, so be on the lookout for that. Out for now.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, I’m hearing stirrings from various quarters that a not-insignificant number of Tea Party enthusiasts are not at all happy with Cox’s announcement at last night’s event, viewing it as a “bait and switch.” That’s the position of Nick Cochran at the Nick Gripes blog, where the blogger writes
When I realized this, I left my seat and found a phone number of a friend and located him on the grounds. I went to him and told him, “we’ve been duped.” This is not what we signed up for. The good news is, we still have a coalition of Tea Party Organizations in this state that are not affiliated with this mess who will continue to be active, and hopefully be “above politics as usual.”
More on this from Mark Moore at the Arkansas Watch blog, who questions the need for a centralized state leader for the movement.