Monday, January 18, 2010

Albuquerque Tea Party Flexes Muscle, Expands Capacity and Influence

In less than a year, the Albuquerque Tea Party (ATP) has grown into a large political organization with money, activist training seminars, the power to draw politicians to its events and a strategic plan for altering the landscape of New Mexico politics. The ATP greeted its second year of existence with a “meet and greet the candidates” at the In at Rio Rancho on Saturday evening, January 16, 2010. This event also served–successfully–as the grassroots group’s first fundraiser of the year. Nearly 400 people packed the ballroom. Organizers say a waiting list of nearly 200 had to be turned away. At $12 per head, the event raised for the ATP operating funds to launch its ambitious program for 2010. The ATP has never received outside funding. To pull off its great successes in 2009–the April 15 Tax Day rally that drew 7,000 people on Montgomery Boulevard and its Fourth of July rally, drawing about 4,000 along Osuna–the organizers had reached into their own pockets or accepted in-kind donations from local businesses. ATP is run solely by volunteers and has no paid staff. The ATP has now organized itself into several different operations under the same umbrella. It has a director of communications, an IT director, legislative specialists and outreach coordinators. From now until the November election, it will be holding monthly events and continuing its activist trainings. The ATP’s primary legislative target is passage of SJR2, which proposes to amend the New Mexico State Constitution to give its citizens a constitutional right to choose their own health care and prohibit restrictions in the exercise of that more

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