• WisPolitics

Sunday, August 7, 2011

 3:35 PM 

Tea Party Express rallies activists in Fond du Lac

Speakers at a Tea Party rally in Fond du Lac today blasted the recall efforts to oust Republican state senators who they said were doing their jobs and called upon attendees to go to the polls Tuesday and bring people with them to defend the targeted senators.

Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said the group normally does not get involved in state races, but noted the country is watching Wisconsin's recalls.

“This is ground zero for the 2012 campaign,” Kremer said. “And the reason this is happening ... is because we are a threat to their power. We are going to take away the power of the unions. It's not the union bosses that should control the government, it's we the people and our elected representatives.”

She said the senators were being unfairly targeted for doing their jobs and saving the state from fiscal collapse.

She said great strides were made in electing conservatives nationwide “to take us back to prosperity.”

“We cannot let these unions and the liberal left defeat us,” she said. “We have to press forward.”

About 200 people gathered for the 11 a.m. rally in Village Park in the village of North Fond du Lac. they heard from national and local speakers, who they frequently interrupted with applause and cheers. Between groups of speakers the Rivoli Revue sang politically themed songs. Former California state Rep. Howard Kaloogian emceed the event, which is part of a four-day tour around the state.

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, said he and his colleagues had to make some tough choices.

“But they were the right choices,” he said.

“We were broke, and now we have a budget that is going to turn a surplus.”

Thiesfeldt said Wisconsin will be a bellwether for the nation.

“What happens here is going to spread across the country and we need to put a stop to the liberal agenda right here in Wisconsin,” he said to cheers.

Fond du Lac Republican Party Chairman Dan Feyen said the GOP did a bad job with its messaging on the state budget.

“We balanced a budget without raising taxes,” Feyen said. “We should be singing that from the mountaintop.”

Feyen said Sen. Randy Hopper, whose district includes Fond du Lac, and Sen. Luther Olsen, who represents the adjacent district, and the other four GOP senators are being recalled for doing their jobs.

“They made tough decisions, balanced the budget without raising taxes and now they face recall,” he said. “That's ridiculous.”

He said the 14 Dem senators who “abandoned their jobs” by fleeing to Illinois to block a quorum on the controversial budget repair bill should be the only ones being recalled.

He noted that ads are not focusing on the collective bargaining changes in the budget repair bill that sparked the recalls.

“The reason is that the budget repair bill is working,” he said, pointing to job growth, an improved business outlook in the state and school districts being able to balance budgets despite cuts.

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation said he was disappointed that no protesters showed up today as they did the day before in Hudson.

“They're arguing about collective bargaining. It's not collective bargaining. It's collective bullying,” Phillips said to applause.

“I detest and despise everything the left stands for, everything,” he said to cheers.

Nonetheless, he said he respects the left's ability to turn out voters -- including the living, dead, and yet to be born, he quipped -- and encouraged rally-goers to turn out on Tuesday,

Andrea Shea King, who hosts an Internet radio show from Florida, said Tuesday's election is going to be pivotal and set the tone nationally going into the 2012 elections.

“We have got to win here in Wisconsin,” she said. “This is critical.”

Eric Odom of the Patriot Action Network in Chicago noted fiscal problems in Illinois, where the government raised taxes, and compared that to Wisconsin's improved fiscal health.

He noted that while Wisconsin is adding jobs, Illinois is losing them.

“You see the contrast between the two directions this could go,” Odom said. “That's why this is so important. That's why we are watching because we're seeing this battle unfold and you're literally giving us all something to fight for outside of this state as well.”

Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks noted that the tour had to move its event in Kenosha last night because the owner of the venue told them he had been threatened.

“This is all to silence you,” Hale said. “And you guys showing up here today tells me you are not willing to be silenced.”

Rallygoers said they enjoyed the event and expressed anger over the recalls.

Darrold Folz said the recalls are a waste of time.

“The people were elected to do a job, they did the job, they should be rewarded,” he said.

A woman who showed WisPolitics her UAW membership card said she has been harassed at work over her political views. She said she believes people should not be forced to join a union to get a job and that she is tired of seeing union dues going to support Democrats.

She expressed concern about the loss of freedom in America and the bevy of rules and regulations in place.

“I've never been so motivated and so scared about the direction the Democrats are taking our country,” she said.

Oshkosh Patriots member Mary Lynne Rasmussen, a former teacher from Oshkosh, held her tongue when asked what she felt of the recalls. “I only have things you can't say in print,” she said with a laugh.

But with the recalls coming she said she recites the prayer to Saint Michael daily.

“Saint Michael, defend us in battle,” she said.

She noted signs supporting Hopper outside of one of her properties were vandalized overnight, and pointed to other similar cases in recent days.

Matthew Strublic, who head the Oshkosh Patriots, said the recalls are “ridiculous” and the issues raised in the recall should be handled in the regular election.

Recalls, he said, should be reserved for misconduct or illegal activity and he expressed concern about entering an era of perpetual elections.

Jeanne Horn, who is also with the Oshkosh Patriots, said the Democrats should have to pay for the recalls. “They insisted we should have them,” she said.

-- By David Wise


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