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Tea Parties Shift Focus to Get Out The Vote

The New York Times has written a good profile of the group FreedomWorks, the most successful organizing force in building the Tea Party movement. Like Americans For Prosperity, FreedomWorks is backed by the Koch brothers, who may be bringing more influence to bear on the 2010 election than any other private individuals.

Although the Times story covers a lot of firmly trodden ground, it makes a good point in establishing how far the group’s organizing efforts have shifted away from arranging angry protests towards laying the groundwork for a disciplined get-out-the-vote effort leading up to midterms:

The goal is to turn local Tea Party groups into a standing get-out-the-vote operation in Congressional districts across the country. Sarah Palin made community organizing a term of derision during the 2008 presidential campaign; FreedomWorks has made Tea Party conservatives the surprise community organizing force of the 2010 midterm elections, showing on-the-ground strength in races like the Republican primary for the Senate in Alaska on Tuesday, where the upstart Joe Miller was leading Senator Lisa Murkowski in a race that may take weeks to call.

“This movement, if we can turn out hundreds or thousands to the streets to protest and wave signs and yell and make an impact on public policy debate, then we can make a lot of difference,” Brendan Steinhauser, FreedomWorks’s chief organizer for the Tea Party groups, told the leaders gathered here. “But if those same people go and walk neighborhoods and do all the things we’re talking about, put up the door-hangers in the final 72 hours and make the phone calls, we may crush some of these guys.”

This weekend, FreedomWorks will be continuing its efforts in Washington, DC. Riding off the coattails of Glen Beck’s allegedly non-partisan and non-political “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial, the group will be staging a convention at which Tea Party candidates will speak to 1,600 activists. Americans for Prosperity will also be in the nation’s capital with its “Defending the American Dream” summit, making it a Tea Party trifecta in the district.

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