Seeking wider influence, Tea Party group goes professional

Tea Party Patriots continues to wage war on the party’s moderate “establishment”. The group has, for instance, launched an online petition ( to remove Republican House Majority leader John Boehner, so far garnering nearly 95,000 signatures.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland

In early 2009, amateur conservative Tea Party activists took to the streets to protest newly-elected U.S. President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package and health reform, a ragtag army that helped win the U.S. House for Republicans in 2010, then waged internecine war with the party establishment.

There was nothing ragtag at a Feb 27 five-year celebration at the Hyatt Capitol Hill organized by Tea Party Patriots, a national umbrella group affiliated with many others in the amorphous, politically conservative movement.

Instead of huddling in the cold outside at a rally, movement heroes including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul from Kentucky showed up at the Hyatt in downtown Washington, the Capitol Building visible up the street. At the red, white and blue-decorated ballroom, they lauded the activists present for continuing to fight the establishment. Cruz told cheering fans the Tea Party was “the best thing to happen for decades.”

Five years in, the Tea Party movement is at a crossroads. The group famous for its disdain of big government and big spending is torn between becoming more professional to increase its influence on the Republican Party and win elections or remaining a primarily local, amateur grassroots movement.

Tea Party Patriots is going professional, including launching a Super PAC called Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund that raised $6.4 million in 2013, its first year. Nearly 90,000 individuals donated to the PAC in the second half of the year.


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