Virginia’s tea party is becoming an all-you-can-eat political buffet and — fresh off recent successes — its members have a big appetite.
A factor in Republican takeovers of three congressional seats in Southside, Southwest Virginia and South Hampton Roads, tea-party activists — all conservative, many outspoken — now plan to press their agenda of lower taxes and less government at the state and legislative levels.
They are finishing up a General Assembly wish list, signing lawmakers to carry bills in January, mobilizing grass-roots lobbyists and raising money to recruit, train and finance candidates for state, legislative and local office — perhaps even challengers to moderate incumbent Republicans in the 2011 primaries and conventions.
“We were all kind of focused on federal issues, but there are things at the state level that can be improved,” said Angie Parker of Hanover County, a physical therapist who heads a legislative committee made up of tea party and related groups.
These activities signal the continuing growth of Virginia’s tea party — a sign that its members, despite early divisions, are focusing on building a sustained, expanded presence in politics, particularly at the courthouse and statehouse.
“Going forward, the challenge for the tea-party movement is to get together and present a unified front to conventional Republicans,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political analyst at George Mason University.