Thursday, February 4, 2010

Newsweek On Tea Party: Party Time

For Bill Hennessy, the biggest political upset in recent history began when some of his tea-party compatriots started talking about what they were doing for Christmas. It was late December 2009, and Hennessy, a volunteer organizer from the St. Louis tea-party group, was on what he describes as "an ad-hoc conference call" with activists from the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, a group that emerged after the first antigovernment protests last February. As the tea-party organizers discussed their holiday plans, Boston-based activist Brad Marston floated the idea that a certain Republican Senate challenger in Massachusetts might be worth some of their attention. "He just kind of threw him out there," says Hennessy, a business-marketing professional from the St. Louis suburbs. "He asked only that we make people aware of the race ... I don't remember his asking for any specific support for Brown." Within days, that conference call catalyzed the kind of chain reaction among plugged-in activists that would replicate itself across the country, ultimately helping to propel Scott Brown into office. By December 28, Hennessy had blogged about the race, and within 24 hours, Brown's campaign manager e-mailed him about more ways to get involved—information that Hennessy then passed on to some 2,800 tea partiers in the St. Louis area, a significant number of whom joined the grassroots army that fundraised, phone-banked, and tweeted the unlikely senator to more

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