GOP hopes tax day crowds turn into wins this fall
Associated Press Writer
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – This year, tax protesters are being asked to turn their anger into action.
At tax day protest rallies across Colorado on Thursday, Republican candidates courting tea party support turned to more traditional appeals. Instead of just saying they want a smaller government, candidate begged protesters to take up efforts to win elections this fall. Candidates weren’t talking up Twitter and Facebook, both credited for spreading the tea party movement. Instead, Republicans were passing out stickers and asking for volunteers.
At a rally of several hundred in Fort Collins, and a bigger one earlier before thousands at the state Capitol in Denver, candidates passed out bumper stickers, asked people to sign up for e-mail lists and generally worked to try to turn tea party passion into electoral success.
Protesters cheered loudly, but many interviewed showed the independent streak that has come to define many in the tea party movement. Even though Republicans running for all sorts of offices this fall – from local offices to the state Legislature and Congress – wooed crowds, many protesters out Thursday said they’re not yet sold on who to support.
“You just need to be discerning and see who tells it like it is,” said Jim Robbins, 70, a hay farmer from Fort Collins who came out to his area Tax Day protest but wasn’t ready to pick which Republican he’d support in contested primaries.
Republicans hustled to reach folks like Robbins.
In Denver, Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck told tea party protesters that anger at Democratic incumbents isn’t enough to turn elections to the GOP this fall. He was frank about the need to make sure tax day protesters stay involved in politics and are willing to work in their neighborhoods to talk up conservatives.
“Please, help us out,” Buck said in Denver. He joked that old-fashioned bumper stickers still carry weight. “Put one your car – and your neighbor will appreciate it if you put one on his car, too,” Buck joked.
Another Republican running for Senate, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, marked Tax Day by attending a protest in Colorado Springs and proposing a reduction in corporate income taxes and a temporary pause in payroll taxes.
Former Republican state Sen. John Andrews, who now runs the right-leaning Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University, said the GOP is challenged in keeping tea partiers excited through a long campaign year.
“A gathering like today is emotion,” Andrews said at the Denver rally. “We’re got to translate that emotion into motion – no ‘e’ – getting people working.”
On one of the state’s most prominent tea party activists, Lesley Hollywood, leader of the Tea Party of Northern Colorado, said that turning protests into votes is her top priority.
“The message is, ‘Get out there. Get involved by putting you money where you mouth is and voting,'” Hollywood said.
Protesters agreed the tea party rallies won’t mean much without success at the polls. They were still undecided, though, on which Republicans are best suited to rally tea partiers to vote.
“We have a ruling oligarchy from both parties,” said William Fromm, 71, a Parker retiree who attended the Denver rally. “Sometimes you have the choice between a half glass of poison or a full glass.”
Similar thoughts came from Fort Collins protester, Brian Simcoe, 42. “I’m not anybody’s fan,” he said.
A Senate candidate who was trying to appeal to tea party protesters in Denver, Republican Tom Wiens, summed up the dilemma facing candidates keeping their fingers crossed that the feisty protesters are willing to take up political grunt work and show up to polls.
“You deserve better,” he told the cheering crowd. “Will you vote for better?”
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