The Washington County TEA Party, hosted by Common Sense Citizens (a subchapter of AFP) held an event today that allowed candidates to speak, as long as they followed strict regulations (they weren’t allowed to talk about their campaigns, opponents, or themselves, endorse a candidate, etc) Basically it was an opportunity for the TEA party members to get to know the candidates outside of their usual “stump” speeches.
Because this TEA Party has not allowed candidates to speak at previous events they required that all speakers send in their speeches 10 days before the event. Strict regulations were sent out and everyone was informed that if they strayed at all from the rules their sound would be cut and they’d be removed from the stage. A schedule with the order of speakers and time alloted per speech was also sent out prior to the event.
However, the night before the event, candidate for U.S. Senate Ron Johnson and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker (both endorsed by the GOP) decided to attend, despite not confirming attendance or sending their speeches in by the deadlines.
The organizers scrambled to rearrange the schedule and shortened the speeches of the other speakers in order to fit the two surprise additions in.
Despite the rules and regulations imposed upon the rest of the speakers, Johnson gave his campaign speech and talked about his candidacy. His sound was not cut. He was not removed from the stage. Walker proceeded to go on after Johnson and pointedly talked about Johnson in his speech – also breaking the rules. His sound was not cut. He was not removed from the stage.
Walker’s primary opponent Mark Neumann and Johnson’s primary opponent Dave Westlake both confirmed attendance to the tea party weeks ago. They played by the rules… but apparently the rules don’t apply to endorsed candidates.
Johnson recently faced scrutiny for touting himself as the tea party candidate – yet not appearing at any tea party vettings or events while his opponent Westlake has continuously made himself available. Walker recently had a so-so debate with Neumann…did he show up at the last minute to rally the TEA Party for their votes because he feels threatened?
Regardless of their reasons…it’s disheartening to know that the two GOP endorsed candidates did not consider the TEA Party event a priority – and it is appalling that they were allowed to step in and break the rules instead of standing their ground…. of course I’m not sure exactly who made the call, but because Common Sense Citizens are being told what to do by the AFP, it is my guess that this was a decision made by Mark Block.