Tea party groups growing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2010

There is a movement in Covington County calling for government change based on “plain ol’ common sense,” organized by two grassroots groups, also known as tea parties, in Florala and Andalusia.

According to members, the groups, while not connected to each other, share a common goal – to restore the country’s “of the people, by the people and for the people” mentality in government.

Last week, nearly 200 residents attended Florala’s meeting, organized by Ken Hicks, Kermit George and Frank Pierce. Don Gaines, organizer of Andalusia’s Tea Party Patriots of Covington County, said more than 70 attended Thursday’s meeting at the Andalusia American Legion.

“I decided that like most people, I’m just fed up with the way our government is working,” Hicks said. “I have a sign in my yard that says it, ‘Wake up America. They’re destroying our country. Let’s vote them out.’”

“Our group just wants to see a common sense approach applied to government,” he said. “We all know you have to spend money for certain things, but some of those thing they spend money is ridiculous. For us, it’s not about party lines – we think there should be term limits for Congress and for the Senate. Our forefathers didn’t set things up this way to for them to have a 40- or 50-year career. We don’t need parties – Democrat, Republic, Independent, whatever.

“We need people to do what they say they’re going to do and take care of our country,” he said.

Gaines said their next meetings set are March 11 and April 8 at 6 p.m. at the American Legion.

Pete Riehm, executive director of the Common Sense Campaign, said his Mobile-based organization has helped establish chapters in eight Alabama counties – including Covington.

“What it boils down to is that our members want to see our constitution restored,” Riehm said. “We are a great grassroots organization. We are not a political party. We are a movement to give a voice to ‘We the people.’ There are Americans who think it’s time for a change, and we’re working to change as many faces in Congress as possible – doesn’t matter if they’re a Democrat or Republican.”

Friday a similar meeting was scheduled at the Wing Volunteer Fire Department.

“It’s so exciting to see the people stand up and run with it,” Riehm said of the meeting. “This meeting was set up in the exact way a grassroots movement intends. The fire chief attended a meeting last week, heard what we’re about and said he needed for the people in his community to hear about it.

“It all comes down to demanding honest candidates that will uphold our constitution,” he said. “And more and more people are demanding it.”

Florala resident Marion Causey said when he heard about the Florala meeting, he knew he had to be there.

“The people in Washington think we owe them,” Causey said.

“They forget they work for us. The freedoms that we have are being taken away. It’s time for the American citizens to wake up and get our government back to the way it should be.”

For more information about the local tea party movement, visit teapartypatriots.org or commonsensecampaign.org.