Tea party organizers warn: ‘We are watching’

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Not deterred by their failure in November to capture the seat of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia tea party leaders say that at least one member from its various local branches will sit in the visitors gallery each day of the legislative session.

“We want to show that from all across the state of West Virginia there is somebody there, and they are listening and they are taking notes,” Ms. Armstrong said.

In Texas, Dick Armey, FreedomWorks co-founder and former House majority leader, has linked with local tea party groups to pressure state lawmakers in Austin to tap a conservative for speaker of the House.

“You name it, we are doing all the kind of grass-roots activity we can do,” saidBrendan Steinhauser, director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks. “There is a ton of activity in the states on taxes, spending, health care, property rights and school choice.”

“This movement was never just an anti-establishment, anti-incumbent movement. It was always about ideas, and that was a thing a lot of people failed to realize, especially the Democrats,” Mr. Steinhauser said. “This movement was about limited government, fiscal responsibility. So, to the extent that these guys follow through on that basic promise, they will be rewarded.”

Similar ideas are flowing in Virginia, where supporters are calling on lawmakers to eliminate the state income tax and to adopt an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would hand states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Tea party supporters also started a political action committee ahead of state General Assembly elections later this year.

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