Assessment of the Impact of the Local Tea Party

24 Feb

The Jefferson County Tea Party is going through a leadership transition, as Ken Horton has stepped down to run for Jefferson County Treasurer. Steve Farmer will take the reins. At this time, I think it is worthwhile to take a look at the impact JCTP has had locally.

It is hard to separate the impact of JCTP from the impact of the national political climate. In 2010, the GOP had an historic election in the county, seizing the county executive seat and 6/7 of the county council (the only Democrat to win a seat ran unopposed). In addition, Ed Martin beat Russ Carnahan handily in the county voting for the 3rd Congressional District, although Carnahan squeaked out a win overall. But how much of this vote was due to Tea Party efforts? They had a rally in Arnold that was well-attended, and it’s possible that the movement helped recruit some council candidates, but I think it’s hard to say the JCTP had a major impact.

I think a place the organization could have had a big impact, but didn’t, was in the 2011 Arnold city council elections. Prior to that election, the council was divided between two common-sense councilmen, Bob Lindsley and Jason Connell, and six big government cronies. Connell did not run for re-election. The Tea Party put forth two candidates, Michelle Hohmeier and Stan Willis (I’d argue that Doris Borgelt, while connected to the Tea Party, came to the race on her own). The former was not a good candidate. She was rather new to the area, and ran a campaign heavy on vague Constitution talk that, while noble, is not really suited for nuts-and-bolts local races. In the end, she still only lost by 20 votes to her flawed, incumbent opponent, Bill Moritz. A better candidate would have won that race.

As for Willis, he foolishly (in my mind) ran more or less as a 3rd-party candidate, drawing votes from Lindsley, who may be a Democrat but was a force against foolishness on the council. This allowed self-aggrandizer and crony extraordinaire Phil Amato to swoop in and take the seat. So a bad 6-2 situation turned into a worse 7-1 situation.

To make matters worse, here in 2012, only 2 of the 4 incumbents have challengers. One of the challengers, alas, is Hohmeier. The other is Mike Evans, who dropped out of a legislature race in order to hand the nomination to Jeff Roorda. This suggests he likely won’t rock the boat much if elected (he would, however, remove the council’s thinnest-skinned whiner, Paul Freese). It is especially lamentable that no candidate was found to take on the execrable, in-over-her-head Cricky Lang. She could have been, and should have been, defeated.

You could argue that the 2011 election results in Arnold suggest people there don’t mind the group of miscreants they elected in Arnold. But considering that, as I recall, Horton stood up at a council meeting once and vowed to fight to remove incumbent council members from office, not enough effort was made to change the makeup of the council.

This election season will tell if 2010 was an anomaly or a harbinger of a shift in county political leanings. It will also tell if JCTP can have a demonstrable effect on local elections. If it wants to, it will have to step up its game.

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3 Responses to “Assessment of the Impact of the Local Tea Party”

  1. Kevin February 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Little impact in 2010? Obviously you were not aware of the Tea Party’s full page voter guide in the Leader and Current newspapers. Over 20,000 visits to the website in the eight days leading up to the election. Lay their voter guide over the results of the election and what do you see? With the exception of a Constitution Party Candidate that graded better than Wieland or Roorda, the Tea Party batted 1,000.

    If Jeff County results were just part of the wave, how come other County Councils throughout Missouri did not see anything like what happened with the Jefferson County Council? Your assessment comes without knowing much history of Jefferson County.

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    • jcpenknife February 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

      The thing is, I also endorsed pretty much everyone the Tea Party did. That doesn’t mean I am responsible for what happened. I think Jefferson County is hard to compare to other counties in 2010 because it was our first election under the charter. We don’t know what the party breakdown of a 7-man council would have been in, say, 2008.

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