Hoping to recapture the grassroots energy of last month’s “tea parties,” Republican Govs. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Rick Perry of Texas will host a tele-town hall Thursday that’s being dubbed “Tea Party 2.0.”
The Republican Governors Association said it is expecting 30,000 people to participate in the town hall, which will take place roughly one month after the much-publicized anti-tax tea party rallies held in hundreds of locations across the country on April 15, the tax filing deadline.
Sanford and Perry will each speak for several minutes before opening up the town hall to up to an hour-long question and answer session.
RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers said that while the effort Thursday will be on a smaller scale than the April tea party rallies, it still represents “a great opportunity to mobilize that support.”
Both Perry and Sanford are favorites among the tax-averse tea party attendees.
Sanford, who attended a tea party in Charleston, gained national notice for his high-profile battle with the White House over his resistance to federal stimulus funds designated for his state. The fate of those funds remains undecided as Sanford continues to battle with state lawmakers over how much of the $350 million in funds allocated for South Carolina his state will accept.
Perry spoke at three tea parties across Texas and helped promote the rallies during numerous radio and television interviews prior to the events.
The Texas governor generated widespread publicity after endorsing a state House resolution reaffirming the state’s sovereignty, a veiled shot at the president’s stimulus package.
“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Perry said at the time.
Perry drew praise from the conservative media for the move, but was widely derided by the left for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the union in protest of the stimulus.
Ayers said both governors “heard the frustration” of the tea party attendees and “understand that our Republican governors are the best positioned to lead on these issues."
The RGA, Ayers said, is hoping to use the town hall as a springboard for organizing support and fundraising for key gubernatorial races this year in Virginia and New Jersey.
“We don’t have to wait until 2010 to send a message to Democrats in Washington that they are spending too much and borrowing too much,” he said. “We’ll have an opportunity to do that this year.”