Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

Tea Party in Kansas a loose, intentionally unorganized group

April 5, 2010


— Don't call Chris Tawney or Chuck Henderson leaders of the Flint Hills Tea Party.

Yes, they're active members, ready to send out e-mails, participate in rallies and town hall meetings and come to Topeka to monitor the Legislature. But their Manhattan-based group has no leaders — on purpose.

So far, Kansas' tea party is a loose coalition of groups without a statewide hierarchy. The lack of a formal statewide structure appeals to some members, who say it shows the movement's grass-roots character.

The tea party has become a visible part of Kansas politics, a group to be wooed by candidates, particularly conservative Republicans. Its frustration with the federal health care overhaul appears to have translated into legislative proposals to assert a right for Kansas to opt out.

But it's not clear yet what impact the tea parties may have on the 2010 midterm race, the first major electoral test since the movement rose up last year among disgruntled conservatives to protest big government and other issues. Around the nation, members are debating whether to participate directly in political campaigns in an effort to make their influence felt. However, in Kansas and many other places, most groups maintain they can make a difference while remaining leaderless, loosely organized and outside the process.

"There is nobody to tell me to go there and do that," said Tawney, a Manhattan nurse. "All of us have our own commitments and our own lives."

Leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties are still trying to assess the tea party's strength in Kansas and get some sense of its goals. Tea party participants acknowledge that they're still trying to set plans themselves.

Kansas Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates says he believes the movement will burn out because conservatives already dominate the state GOP. Others aren't sure how long the movement will last, seeing it largely as a reaction to President Barack Obama.

"It's oftentimes a lot of anger, venting about the federal government," said state Sen. Kelly Kultala, a Kansas City Democrat. "It's hard to figure out what they want to accomplish, just besides saying no."

The new federal health care law is a big issue for tea party members because of its mandate for most Americans to buy health insurance, starting in 2014. With the tea parties' support, the Kansas Legislature recently adopted a nonbinding resolution asserting its sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says all powers not delegated to the federal government are left for the states. Legislators are considering a tea party-backed proposal to prohibit the state from forcing any individual or business to buy health insurance.

It's difficult to say how many Kansans are part of the movement because of the lack of a single, statewide organization.

The Flint Hills Tea Party has an e-mail list for about 300 people, with alerts handled by Henderson, an engineering designer from Manhattan. In Wichita, Lynda Tyler, the organizer of Kansans for Liberty said various groups — her Web site includes the John Birch Society on the list — share an e-mail list of about 9,000 names.

Greg Ward, a Tonganoxie real estate agent who leads the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, suggested the movement could have between 25,000 and 30,000 members, based on attendance at rallies last April.

"The tea party movement is just kind of the bigger movement. Within the movement, there are more focused groups," Ward said.

Tea party participants said they're not planning to start a new political party in Kansas. Instead, tea party members hope to influence the major parties, particularly the GOP.

Ward said the Sovereignty Coalition plans to watch candidates and campaign for or against them. Its biggest targets are so-called RINOs — "Republicans In Name Only."

Tyler said her group has launched a "precinct project" to win precinct committee spots within the GOP. She said it also plans to advise voters about candidates.

"The groups are doing all kinds of different things," Tyler said. "It's like herding cats. We've got to keep everybody going in the same direction."

Such efforts are in their early stages.

The Sovereignty Coalition is registered in Kansas as a political action committee but reported less than $500 in contributions in 2009, none more than $50. Tyler said her group has raised about $14,000 since last fall, using it to stage rallies and events. She said all donations are $250 are less — and most commonly, under $100.

Tawney attended a recent town hall meeting on health care sponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who's wooing tea party members as he runs for the U.S. Senate. "We're watching you," she said, greeting him with a smile. "Stay conservative."

Tiahrt said the Kansas tea party movement's loose organization has helped it grow quickly. "The only inconvenient part of it is, who do I contact?" he said, smiling. "I want to consult with them."


Paul R Getto 8 years, 1 month ago

Dropped by to see their party in Topeka last week. A rather sullen, damp and interesting collection of a few dozen people. Some of their ideas, properly delivered, are worth a discussion. If we grow up and quit calling each other names, we will realize there is a way out of the swamp, but it will cause pain for all of us in a small sense (cut all benefits, take the cap off social security so you pay on all your income, means test benefits for those who can afford a cut; raise all taxes and fees across the board; get everyone into the boat paying their share of tax and suck it up.) We are still the beacon of hope for the world, and because of our immigrants and educational systems, are the place where others want to live. If we become Americans again and not just petty screamers from the left and the right, there is a solution.

yankeevet 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes; that sounds logical.......I'll drink too that.........

Darrell Lea 8 years, 1 month ago

From the article:

"But their Manhattan-based group has no leaders — on purpose. So far, Kansas' tea party is a loose coalition of groups without a statewide hierarchy...It's difficult to say how many Kansans are part of the movement because of the lack of a single, statewide organization."

From the dictionary:

anarchism (noun)

belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion. • anarchists as a political force or movement : "socialism and anarchism emerged to offer organized protest against the injustices of Spanish society."

There are those who see the political spectrum of thought as a circle. At some point on a circle left meets right. Are we there yet?

Steve Bunch 8 years, 1 month ago

Morons. Perhaps well meaning, more likely just mean.

Clark Coan 8 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, sure. It's funded by the billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita who want tor remove all taxes and regulations on corporations. They own Koch Industries which has and oil and gas and is the second largest private corporation in the US. They are funneling tens of millions of dollars into think-thanks and organizations that wage "research" and propaganda campaigns claiming there isn't global warming.

tpatt 8 years, 1 month ago

imagine that, they're from manhattan. rednecks.

jaywalker 8 years, 1 month ago

Heard on the radio that a recent poll showed tea party protesters to be 58% Republican, 42% Democrat and Independent. Railing against printing money like we're playing Monopoly ain't so party specific after all.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

I notice that the actual poll questions are seldom published. I had someone try to poll me once, but the first question asked was, "Do you think the country is headed in the right direction", which presumes that the polling outfit and I agree on which direction the country is headed. Take all poll numbers witha block of salt.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

Jaywalker, The Gallup poll finds that 49% are Republican, and 43% are Independent, and 8% are Democrats. Lumping independents and Democrats together to make a larger number is disingenuous.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 1 month ago

It isn't in this story, but as I recall some of the major organizers of the Kansas Tea Party are former members of the Minuteman Civil Defense group.

Apparently that group had been tainted, so now they have the safety of the Tea Party label to hide behind.

saywhhhat 8 years, 1 month ago


Last I checked 51% (43% indep + 8% dem as quoted by you) is LARGER than 42% (indep & dem as quoted by jaywalker.)

Looks like he wasn't inflating any numbers.

gatekeeper 8 years, 1 month ago

To see the intelligence of those in the Tea Party movement, just read their signs. they appear to have their own language now - teabonics. How can anyone trust them with anything when they can't read and write? Elementary school students are smarter.

Gaul 8 years, 1 month ago

Freedom of speech and public expression of opinion is one of the dwindling number of personal liberties left in the growing totalitarian system a la George Orwell that we find ourselves engulfed in. I am glad that the two-party system finds itself challenged.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

TomShewmon, that's not all you need to know. 43% of tea partiers self identifying as independent to a Gallup poll does not necessarily translate to 43% of independents self identifying as tea partiers. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

The Tea Party came about for the medical insurance discussion. The insurance industry urged employees and shareholders to hit the road in Koch financed bus travel.

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

Tom, even if someone is unhappy with Obama today, that hardly means that person thus wishes McCain / Palin had won the election instead, or that they would vote for whomever becomes the Republican candidate in 2012. It most likely means their expectations for Obama were higher than than the reality. It does not mean they would be more happy or happier with just any alternative.

jaywalker might be our perfect subject to ask. He begrudgingly or with reservations (from what I can tell) voted for Obama, and has written against many of his actions since Obama took office. However, I have a strong feeling that despite his unhappiness with Obama performance he still doesn't wish that McCain and Palin were in office instead. However, he is just one person and I can't speak for his feelings on this, but it could be of interest to hear his take. Jay, care to jump in on this?

whatupdown 8 years, 1 month ago

I hear these tea parties are always real real white; whites against our Pres Obama type stuff. I hope not but if so then they can totally FO!

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago



"imagine that, they're from manhattan. rednecks."

I bet the significance of the word "redneck" in American culture would surprise you. If you are a true left winger and an honest man, you would appreciate the word. I'm no left winger, but I do appreciate what it means. Protip: it has to do with bandanas that coal miners wore.

Yes, *, you can quote that.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

"I hear these tea parties are always real real white"

Probably beige.

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

wow, unorganized, really? gee, militias stay unorganized so that no one has any culpability for their statements of platforms. They just want to hide their CRAZY views under the radar so that they don't have to answer for what they obviously don't know about. It reminds me of all of the times I saw Margaret Tutweiller and Ari Fleischer BS their way through real questions that no dumblican could answer beyond energy exploitation, labor exploitation, free market exploitation, or guns, god, and abortion. They really don't have to know anything other than the limited items their followers buy into. Know Nothing Party anyone?

Hey Barry Penders, posercare is better than Bob Dole care. At least with posercare I can afford to get sick. (Laughter).

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

when mr. gibbs is talking to a bunch of dumblicans in "Gotcha" mode who have no concept of empirical questions who think they can blast questions like those well-mannered teawhatevers what do you expect? it's just like dealing with you.

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

btw, shewmon, take Mr. Nicholson off of your postings. You're doing him a disservice. Here's Johnny, you aren't.

Moderateguy 8 years, 1 month ago

How typical that liberals get all up in a huff when they are labeled as "socialists," but have no compunction of calling Tea Party members "rednecks" or "racists" or "inbred morons."

Keep it up. Only makes them more determined and increases their numbers. For every 10 that showed up, there are probably 1,000 who were at work. And they vote!

When the economy comes crashing down due to an out of control government, it's going to be the "rednecks" that can take care of themselves. All you statist, liberals will still get your gubm't check, it just won't be worth anything. You'll starve to death. Printing money without collateral or an end equals inflation. At the current rate it equals hyperinflation. It's really too late to stop it now. A correction will happen.

Jack Hope III 8 years, 1 month ago

Saw a political cartoon I liked -- two guys: one a dude in a suit, the other a young punk with spiky hair. Caption read: Libertarianism is just Anarchism for the rich.

Meanwhile, should we expect private industry to start paying for the repaving the roads? Should we just trust UPS and FedEx to build bridges that we can use -- for a fee? Do you want your tap water to be based on a profit margin? Should we dump the food inspectors? If socialism means I don't need to worry about what's in a hot dog, maybe it's not such a bad thing.

Okay, maybe the hot dog isn't a good example. ;-)

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

So is this their way of explaining why so few showed up for their Topeka rally, when the save our schools rally drew in over a thousand? They get way more publicity than they deserve.

pace 8 years, 1 month ago

One reason they prefer no formal organization is they don't have to take group responsibility for racist behavior of their group members. I notice when the GOP was asked to denounce the the attacks during the Health care bill coverage, they fobbed the racists remarks off as a few loonies. I think the teabaggers should speak up about their group's remarks, if they do tolerate such behavior or if they condone it, they should at least own it.

Mike Ford 8 years, 1 month ago

let's see, the people who rubberstamped the dumblicans for YEARS think that socialist is a slur. I have a musician friend from this area who has been a recording musician in Scandanavia for fifteen years. In Norway where she lives, I imagine the tax rate is 50 percent. However. She can tour large areas of that part of Europe by train as she does playing 150 gigs a year. Her child that was just born was taken care of by National insurance. She has six months of paid maternity leave. Is this really that bad? She and her husband have paid taxes for fifteen years and they get returns on their tax payments. Here, we have a bunch of overamped conspiracy theorists who scream the sky is falling until the rest of the dimwits believe them. The old GOP mantra, repeat it enough times and the dimwits will believe you.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

The only thing that scares me about the TP movement is the potential violence that often accompanies frustrated ignorance.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

Gallup poll finds that 45% of Tea Party supporters lack the necessary bits to perform tea-bagging.

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

Black Panthers? Really? Tom, you do know that there haven't been Black Panthers since the mid 1970s, don't you? What next, gonna start complaining about the northerners and their war of aggression?

If your defense of "potential violence that often accompanies frustrated ignorance" coming from the teabaggers is that other groups have resorted to violence, too, then that is just weak. Nobody here is condoning violence, but you are making excuses for it. Since when do two wrongs make a right?

jaywalker 8 years, 1 month ago


Just relaying the info I heard the way I heard it. If they broke down the percentages of dems and indies and I'd heard it, I would have included it.
But thanks for approaching me with all the rationality of a porch person. Here's to hoping you rise above that level. (Don't worry though, it ain't a long climb.)

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

"Libertarianism is just Anarchism for the rich."

small "L" libertarians that aren't hyphenated with "anarcho" support small government. Most libertarians in America fall into that category because they realize underlying law of our country calls for a government. I think you will find that libertarians dislike anarchists as much as they dislike liberals, which is a lot.

"Meanwhile, should we expect private industry to start paying for the repaving the roads?"

They already pay their fair share, just like everyone else that buys fuel. The government only acts as a middleman.

"Should we just trust UPS and FedEx to build bridges that we can use -- for a fee?"

There are private contractors that build the bridges, paid for with our tax dollars. As for using privately-owned roads for a fee, that's pretty commonplace.

"Do you want your tap water to be based on a profit margin?" That wouldn't bother me as long as there was no monopoly. In fact, it could drive prices down.

"The only thing that scares me about the TP movement is the potential violence that often accompanies frustrated ignorance. "

You don't need a teaparty for that. Go to a G12 meeting. Except the violence is never potential, it is always real.

"YEARS think that socialist is a slur."

I think it's a label, much like marxist, capitalist or anarchist.


LOL, the counterpart for the DIMocrat. Hilarity ensures!

"Is this really that bad? "

I'd rather work and own a vette, a boat and a house.

"they don't have to take group responsibility for racist behavior of their group members"

Why would being racist stop people from forming into a hierarchical group. There are thousands of them in America today. Vaious versions of the klan still exist.

"Gallup poll finds that 45% of Tea Party supporters lack the necessary bits to perform tea-bagging."

45% are female?

"Its you rednecks that will use vigilante force to get your way and you will probably team up with the Christian Militia. And how can you call yourself "moderate" moderateman?"

I'm a redneck, a well educated hick and a cracker. OTOH, I'm an atheist. My vigilante force is the dots I fill in on election ballots.

"yet the right-wingers don't think they are fascists" They aren't. Most conservatives want government and business to be well separated.. Fascism is the opposite of that.

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

"you do know that there haven't been Black Panthers since the mid 1970s"

LoveThsLife 8 years, 1 month ago

"Railing against printing money like we're playing Monopoly ain't so party specific after all."

I love this comment Jaywalker! So true!

Moderateguy 8 years, 1 month ago

Actually Ed, I do know what a fascist is. Not really my thing. I despise the way the religious "right" has hijacked a party that once stood for limited government, fiscal restraint and personal responsibility. I'm pro-choice and think marijuana should be legalized (not that I've ever tried it..) I used to think I was a moderate due to those stances, but the Democratic party has taken control of the airliner and pointed it towards the ground. I guess that makes me more of a Libertarian than anything. (Not a newly "fashionable" Libertarian mind you. I was a registered Libertarian during the Bush years as well.)

The last thing I condone or look forward to is violence in our society. I work hard and have a family. Real violence is going to happen when people used to 'entitlements" stop receiving them because our nation is bankrupt. They are still going to feel entitled. They will just start taking what they want from the people who still have something. I spend every day trying to enjoy my life, our society, and basic rule of law before that happens. Everybody should.

straightforward 8 years, 1 month ago

Tomato Grower - If I recall, wasn't the Save our Schools Rally on a weekday during spring break? I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of that 1,000+ were teachers who had the day off or stay at home moms with their kids. I'm not saying these people don't deserve a voice but the strength of a movement can't necessarily be measured by the number that show up at a rally.

The Tea Party event was also on a week day and I would imagine most its supporters were at work. Many of those that did show up were probably older retired people. I think you're wrong to say that the Tea Party movement gets more attention than it deserves. This is the silent majority finally finding its voice. Many people who have never paid attention to government or politics are finally becoming involved in the process and it's a very good thing.

P.S. - Anyone remember those peaceful protesters at the 1999 WTO Conference in Seattle?

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

Judging by the signs that were in the slide show in a previous post, I would say that many of the tea party people don't have the education to have jobs with benefits, like leave days, vacation days, etc. I was at the pro-education rally. Many people, including myself, were not teachers. We cared enough about education to take off work, vacation days, leave days, etc. I am my own boss, so I could give myself a day off. Many of the tea party supporters are believing any lie that they get in an email. They aren't smart enough to check out the validity on snopes. I received another email from one of my relatives, who is uneducated complaining about the death panel that is in the health bill. Lies to scare people, and people who aren't educated fall for the lies. The only smart people in the party are those who are soliciting donations and putting on conferences. Why work for a living when you can scare some poor uneducated person into giving you money to stop the big bad wolf. Smart, but no morals.

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Straight F, I do remember the protesters in Seattle. Not at all peaceful. Bunch of hooligans, mostly children of white urban yuppies. Interesting that you would use them as a comparison to the Tea Party.

Same with Tom and Liberty275 talking about the Black Panthers, and this basically non-existant New Black Panthers Party (note the word "New" in their title - they aren't really "the" Black Panthers, which is a thing of the past. You can call yourself a New Centurian, but that doesn't exactly make you a Roman, now does it?)

Difference is, the protestors in Seattle and the Black Panthers are not part of the Democrat Party's mainstream. You will never EVER find a Democratic candidate for Vice President talking at their conventions, let alone being their keynote speaker the way Palin was for the Baggers.

No, big difference between the extremists groups is that the Republicans embrace and invite the lunatic fringe of the right to be part of their party, while Democrats don't consider the left fringe part of their party. Palin, standing next to John McCain, told a gathering of Republicans "We are all Tea Party members," and nobody objected. See the difference now?

Any other examples you care to make?

Moderateguy 8 years, 1 month ago

Oh, and Bea. Sarah Palin is an idiot in my opinion. There was a parade going down the street, and she stepped out front thinking she was leading it. She's not. The parade was started by folks from all around fed up with an out of control government. Having the media and the left marginalizing the real meaning behind the movement isn't going to make it go away. Nothing to see here. Go back to watching the in-flight movie.

straightforward 8 years, 1 month ago

Beatrice, the difference is the Tea Party protesters are largely peaceful. Of course the liberals want to claim they were spitting and yelling profanities at congressional representatives but there has never been any evidence. I bring up the WTO protesters because they're really is no comparison. The liberal WTO protesters were violent and very destructive. Democrats may not want to claim them because it's bad PR but the truth is the ideology is one in the same: big corporations are evil (note those in these postings who want to demonize the Koch family, those evil rich people who employ Kansans).

Liberals are all speaking from the same talking points: Diminish Tea Party supporters by labeling all of them as ignorant racists. Call them tea baggers and rednecks who are fanning the flames of anarchy, hoping that if you say it often enough, people will start to believe it.

Some may be misinformed but for the most part, they are Americans who are rightly concerned about over-reaching government and an exploding debt (even on top of the debt Bush left us with). Democrats seem to think money grows on trees. It's gotten to the point that a couple hundred billion dollars seems like pocket change. Conservatives know the difference between limited government and no government and they understand the intent of our constitution.

Tomato - maybe the ignorant rednecks should unionize right? Then they could get days off and go stand with you and all the intellectually elite.

straightforward 8 years, 1 month ago

I agree that our voices were too quiet during Bush's presidency but in all fairness, the economy seemed like it was doing pretty well. Regardless of whether we were silent then, our current concerns are real and our still increasing debt is going to weigh down on us for years and years to come.

gccs14r 8 years, 1 month ago

" I'm surprised they just don't come out and use the "n" word."

That's a hallmark of the TPers.

independant1 8 years, 1 month ago

This country is not where it is today on account of any one man. It is here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority. (Will Rogers)

Jay Keffer 8 years, 1 month ago

"Why do I say "teabaggers?" Certainly not because I'm sexually-obsessed like none2 is. In my mind, "teabagger" has nothing at all to do with that."

Some may believe the term means something else, but it is intended as a vile smear against those who don't agree with the current state of affairs. The term has one meaning when used in the context of the Tea Party, past meanings notwithstanding.

Using it is still vile, no matter how you try to spin it. You know what it references. Sick.

pace 8 years, 1 month ago

Nice imaginary conversion of point. A lot of muslims have spoken up against terrorism, many risking and losing their life. Are you implying that the tea bagger movement should be afraid to denounce racism expressed through their ranks? Your point seems to be based on a need to justify their lack of taking responsibility. I understand the anger of the tea baggers, I just reject their remedy. Yelling the n word and blaming everything on Obama will solve diddly. It is people taking responsibility and acting responsibly that will change things for the better. If not the current political situation at least their personal situations.

Jay Keffer 8 years, 1 month ago

Yes Porch, I knew they used it first. It had a historical meaning, but it has turned into a perverted one. Most decent folks, and I include those on this board, did not know what the 'street' version was. Now that the Tea Party and its detractors know the coarse version, there is no excuse for using it. Sick.

I'm glad you find it obscene too. Intelligent people can have a civil discourse and disagree, and don't have to lie down in the gutter in the process.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

straightforward (anonymous) says… "Tomato - maybe the ignorant rednecks should unionize right? Then they could get days off and go stand with you and all the intellectually elite."

Good grief, first you guys accuse me of being jealous of the elite corporate CEO's, then I'm accused of being an elitist. Ho hum. People who can't read for understanding, who are not educated enough to know that not everything you get in an email is true, who can't spell when they make a rally sign, cannot expect people to take them seriously.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

edjayhawk (anonymous) says… Liberty275 (anonymous) says… They aren't. Most conservatives want government and business to be well separated.. Fascism is the opposite of that.

Incorrect. Corporate America wants the government to fund them when they lose money. They also don't want to pay their fair share of taxes and don't. The government doesn't enforce that. Lobbyists represent corporations and give money to the politicians so corporations can get their way even if unethical. Even Republicans like President Eisenhower warned us of the Government-Military-Industrial Complex and was right.

Oh no, now the rightwing will label Eisenhower a socialist in the history books. They'll definitely leave out that speech.

puddleglum 8 years, 1 month ago

tea baggers, great white hopes and birthers.


Jay Keffer 8 years, 1 month ago


My comments were not an evaluation of the Tea Party movement either way. Just the continued display of a vulgar term when the initial use had been dropped after the street definition was widely circulated. The use of the term now is meant to slam the movement, no other reason. You are to put together an intelligent opinion on why you don' like them, so the use of the crude phrase should be beneath you.

Still sick.

geekyhost 8 years, 1 month ago

@jaywalker - it was a fairly dry post that did not assign blame to you. Lumping the two groups together is disingenuous, whether it's on your part or that of the radio speaker. If anything, pollsters ought to not rely so much on asking party affiliation when doing these things. People don't answer accurately on this question. They're not lying. They're just answering with what they self-define at the moment they're asked, and their voting record will often tell a different story.

lounger 8 years, 1 month ago

Oh so sorry they are giving tea a bad name...

SLOPOKE 8 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who believes that the Nat'l Guard is the people's Militia, has been sleep walking, for who knows how long. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AROUND YOU, SHOULD TRY READING SOME, This may be helpfull...

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