Filing Deadline Brings Out Protesters Against Big Government, Administration Policies; ‘Tsunami of Conservatism’
By Neil King Jr., Douglas Belkin, and Louise Radnofsky
Tea-party activists held rallies across the country Thursday, the deadline for filing federal tax returns, to highlight what they said were onerous taxes and a bloated federal government.
The activists protested Democratic policies and displayed varying attitudes toward prominent Republicans. Some groups invited marquee conservatives, such as former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who addressed around 500 people in Austin, Texas.
Other organizers refused to invite politicians of any stripe, reflecting the deep distrust many in the movement feel toward elected officials.
In Wisconsin, several tea-party groups protested a decision to let former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson address a rally in Madison. Saying it was “time for new voices and new faces,” Mr. Thompson used his speech to announce that he would not challenge Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in his bid for re-election.
The rallies in town squares and hotel ballrooms from Philadelphia to San Diego came a year after a similar spate of April 15 protests put the small-government, anti-tax movement on the national map.
Organizers said Thursday’s rallies were more numerous and generally larger than last year’s. But the gatherings also illustrated the conflicting aims and strategies that have sprung up within the movement, which is now made up of hundreds of local groups working under a dizzying array of names.
The Tea Party Express, a group organized by a California political-consulting company, concluded a nationwide bus tour with a rally in Washington, D.C., that prominently featured—and endorsed—an array of Republican candidates in the midterm elections. Most other groups have spurned such endorsements.
One candidate endorsed by the group was Sharron Angle, a former member of the Nevada State Assembly, who is among a dozen Republicans vying to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat. The Tea Party Express made her one of its 14 “heroes” in the November election.
“Good morning, American patriots,” Ms. Angle said in her speech to about 200 activists. “You have brought a tsunami of conservatism across this country.”