Politicians shun Florida Tea Party convention
Demonstrating that the Tea Party brand has now become toxic because we are too close to national elections and primaries.
The “tea party” opens a long-planned convention Friday night in Daytona Beach, expecting 1,200 delegates, dozens of speakers — but almost no big-name politicians.
None of the leading Republican presidential candidates and only two of the five Florida candidates for the U.S. Senate agreed to speak at the three-day Florida Tea Party Convention at the Volusia County Ocean Center.
And top GOP officeholders from Florida who have previously courted tea party support — Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Allen West of Plantation — also sent regrets.
Organizers said they still expect two presidential candidates: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. But neither campaign would confirm they’re coming, and their campaign schedules don’t list the convention.
Sid VanLandingham, the convention’s communications director, blamed the busy campaign season, saying a regional event has a tough time competing for attention.
“The (politicians’) schedulers, they’re making last-minute decisions, hopping from place to place, and it’s changing constantly,” he said.
In fact, all of the politicians who responded to Orlando Sentinel inquiries cited scheduling conflicts, though the convention dates were set months ago. And their absence puzzles many observers, considering how popular tea-party events have been among most Republican candidates.