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.

 

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Nearly 1,500 conservative activists gathered in Minneapolis yesterday to kick off the 4th annual RightOnline conference.

RightOnline which is billed as the anti-Netroots Nation conference has held its conference in the same city and the same time as the far left Netroots conference .  And this weekend it’s even at the same hotel that many of the Netrooters are staying at making for some interesting conversation in the elevators.

Yesterday attendees spent the morning learning how to be better online activists including beginners classes to the internet, blogging and Twitter as well as hearing from individuals and organizations who have been successful in using the internet to expose government corruption by using investigative journalism skills.

The opening general session included a parade of speakers from online activist Melissa Clouthier, @melissatweets, John Hinderaker of Powerline who announced the $100,000 Powerline Prize, Ann McElhinney who wowed the crowd with her crusade against CFL light bulbs and Conservatives in Name Only, Minnesota Rep. John Kline and concluding with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) who gave an impassioned plea to keep government out of regulating technology.

The afternoon was filled with more panels on activism  including a session on How to use the Freedom of Information Act Effectively and Internet Freedom.

The dinner was highlighted by the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund entertaining the audience with his story of growing up in California and insights to conservative icon Ronald Reagan.

After dinner the attendees were treated to the thoughts and musings of Andrew Breitbart who has doggedly pursued liberals by exposing their lies and hypocrisy on the internet and who helped bring down Rep. Anthony Weiner.

The evening ended with a screening of The Undefeated a new film by Steve Bannon about Sarah Palin and her amazing rise from an obscure mayor in Wasilla, Alaska to the GOP vice-presidential nominee in 2008 and now conservative heroine to many.

As Fund said earlier in the evening he noticed during his visit to Netroots Nation that everything they were doing focused on defense.  By contrast RightOnline is all about going on offense and not being complacent about the Republican victories  across the country in 2010 because the fight is far from over.