After several well-attended rallies downtown in 2010 and 2011, the Augusta Tea Party seemed to have vanished as quickly as it appeared.
The group’s founders say the break was only temporary, as they entered a brief hiatus to build a conservative talk radio station.
They say the group found itself with little to do after the 2012 election.
“(2012) was not a huge election cycle,” said Augusta Tea Party co-founder Renee deMedici. “We just skipped one year.”
Though the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been inactive for months, local conservative talk radio host and co-founder Tony “Powers” deMedici said the group will likely swing back into action as soon as September.
In the meantime, he and his wife are purchasing WEZO-AM, a small station near Gordon Highway.
The group expects to hold a rally in April, well in advance of the 2014 midterm primaries, allowing residents the chance to meet and greet several candidates at one time, Renee deMedici said.
“You actually get an opportunity to see almost every candidate from (Georgia and South Carolina),” she said.
Past rallies have featured several prominent politicians such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Tony deMedici said her participation in a 2010 tax day rally was the direct cause of her rise in popularity.
“She wasn’t even on the radar in South Carolina until she attended our rally here in Augusta,” he said. “Suddenly, she just exploded all over the state.”
He said that highlights the importance of meeting candidates well before the primaries.
“It’s important to do these things before the primary because if you wait until after the primary, you’re stuck with whoever the candidate is,” he said.
The Augusta Tea Party was formed not long after the Obama administration implemented the economic stimulus package of 2009.Tony deMedici said he saw an opportunity for conservatives to voice their concerns about Obama’s policies.
“We decided to see if we could get some sort of grass-roots movement going here
because we were heading into the 2010 elections and the midterms,” he said. “We wanted to have an effect. The main thing, I think, that pulls all of these people together is that they want limited government. They really believe that our Constitution is being destroyed.”
He said tea party groups across the nation vary in ideology, but that there is no such thing as a “crazy tea party.”
“The tea party is more of a brand than an organization,” he said.
“It is a lie that has been perpetrated on the tea party that they are nut cases and they hate our government. They don’t hate our government. These people are just good Americans.”