The first Columbus Tea Party convention was held this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio and if it is any indication of the state of the Tea Party movement in Ohio the Republican Party should be worried.

Organizers who had expected thousands of Tea Party activists and promised as much to vendors barely cracked the 300 mark leading some to wonder about the state of the movement and their potential effect on the 2012 elections.

The convention was oddly organized with a short opening welcome session which was then followed by nearly three hours of workshops.  A lunch with Tea Party co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots was the main event of the day.  After lunch it was more workshops followed by a separately ticketed dinner with Dick Morris who bowed out at the last minute and had to be replaced.

The second day wasn’t much different with workshops, a lunch with John Fund sponsored by Americans for Prosperity and RightOnline  followed by more workshops.  The convention concluded with another separately ticketed dinner with presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

While the organizers wouldn’t publicly express their disappointment the vendors had no qualms about doing so.  They were charged $500 per table and another $200 for extra booth personnel above two to pitch their wares to a tiny crowd.  The event organizers claimed that they had over 1,000 in attendance but that was only due to their creative accounting which treated the convention and each dinner as separate events thus allowing for double and triple counting to boost the total figure.

With the exception of the luncheon and dinner speakers the convention didn’t attract or maybe they didn’t bother to invite any big name speakers locally or nationally and the convention and as a result the convention lacked any buzz or enthusiasm.

The convention also lacked attention from the media but that was probably largely due to the fact that a majority of the agenda was just plain boring.

What the organizers failed to realize is that while a Tea Party convention seems like a good idea on paper, it is much harder to execute when their is no one central governing body and dealing with the differing factions takes a lot of skill and talent.

It’s possible that attendees might want to return next year for another convention but many of the vendors won’t after this fiasco and without their financial support it will make holding another meeting very difficult.

Hopefully the poor turnout and general lack of enthusiasm is not reflective of the general mood of Tea Partiers in Ohio because if it is the Republicans may well lose much of what they gained last year in 2012.

 

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