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COMMUNITY VOICE

Indiana proved tea party is still a powerful force

Movement paved way for Mourdock's win over Lugar

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 12:01 am

It was a chilly Saturday in January 2011 in Tipton County, and a group of about 200 tea party people met in a church building at the request of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate to decide if they could come together on selecting a candidate to run against Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary.

It would prove to be one of many meetings that would lead to the victory of their chosen candidate: Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

In the audience was “a lone black man,” according to the media, which made it seem like the tea party groups were somehow excluding minorities.

This would turn out to be an historic event, as the groups decided to move forward, organize and place their support behind one candidate. The meeting resulted in many weeks and months of hard work for the tea party movement in Indiana, working with each other and the Republican voters and party.

The name that came to the forefront during this time was that of Mourdock. A few months later, the groups would meet again in Greenfield for a straw poll to choose between him and Lugar as the dominate candidate. Mourdock won. A rally was held after the event and I was one of the speakers.

A year or so earlier, I had the pleasure of meeting Mourdock and appearing on several stages with him. I also had the pleasure of sitting down with him for a luncheon and spending time with him at his office in the Indiana State office Building.

During this time, most people in northern Indiana were not familiar with Mr. Mourdock. I decided that it was time for them to meet him and for me to actively work to help spread the word that in Richard Mourdock we had a man who would make a great senator. So I began to speak about him wherever I went and asked local tea party groups to invite him as a guest. Some accepted the invitation, but many were skeptical.

A short time later Mourdock began to investigate his options and finally came to the decision that he would run for the seat currently held by Mr. Lugar. The battle began, and it was now time to introduce Mr. Mourdock to Indiana. Mourdock then spent countless hours marching in parades and meeting people at county fairs and events. I had the pleasure of attending several with him, and over the course of the next 18 months or so Hoosiers worked together and worked hard to show support for our candidate -- even though the media and most county Republican headquarters said the odds were against Mr. Mourdock.

I became very active and began seeking to convince a few national groups that we could win and was able to convince our Fort Wayne 912 Group to host Mr. Mourdock as a speaker and to rally behind him so that other groups would do the same. Our efforts paid off.

On April 29 I was able to convince The Tea Party Express to come to Fort Wayne to rally for Richard Mourdock. This turned out to be the largest rally in our state.

The end result of our hard work was a victory by our chosen candidate.

Indiana had shown the nation that the tea party movement is not dead, and that this victory was an effort by all Hoosiers. We have led the way for other states to follow.

Emery McClendon is a local tea party activist