Should a Democratic Delegate Have Attended the Virginia Tea Party Convention?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

(UPDATE: Mark Keam Has a bunch of thoughts on all this at his blog. I think he makes a few good points, but overall, we're just gonna have to "agree to disagree" (strongly) on this one. - promoted by lowkell)

Over at his Facebook page, Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna) writes, "Spoke on a bipartisan panel on 'transparency in government' at VA Tea Party in Richmond. I'll write up my thoughts on my website tonight." To my knowledge, Del. Keam is the only elected Virginia Democrat to attend the Virginia "Tea Party" convention, along with numerous Republican elected officials - Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Ken Cuccinelli, several others.  The question is, should a Democratic elected official, or Democratic candidate, be attending a "Tea Party" event?I checked with a few Democratic activists and long-time Democratic Virginia political operatives, and have their comments after the "flip." But first, for an "official" view, here's DPVA Chairman Dickie Cranwell:
State Democratic Party Chairman Richard Cranwell of Vinton said the GOP leaders' embrace of hard-line tea party activists raises questions about whether they can be consensus-building political leaders."What my basic instincts are telling me is that what you're seeing is the real Bob McDonnell, the real Bill Bolling, the real Ken Cuccinelli and the real George Allen, not the people who run around in campaigns and say, 'We're moderates,' " Cranwell said.
I strongly agree with Dickie Cranwell about the Republican elected officials. But what about Democratic electeds attending this event?  Let's see what some long-time Virginia Democratic activists and operatives think, after the "fold."UPDATE: I received an on-the-record statement from Gerry Connolly for Congress campaign manager James Walkinshaw (bolding added by me for emphasis). I couldn't agree more.
Democrats attending the Tea Party convention are merely allowing themselves to be used as props to create a false patina of legitimacy for what is in reality a radical right-wing organization dedicated to turning back the clock on progress.  Tea Party values are not Northern Virginia values, and moderate Northern Virginia voters do not want to see their leaders associated with it in any way, shape, or form.
UPDATE #2: Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot stated on the record that he completely agreed with the Connolly campaign's statement. Rousselot added that the Tea Party does not represent Virginia values anywhere in the state.
UPDATE #3: I received the following statement from the Jeff Barnett for Congress campaign.
I cannot speak to Delegate Keam's motivations for attending the tea party convention. I can say that he is a strong Democrat and a great public servant. Having spoken to a tea party group myself, I admire any Democratic politician who is willing to stand up for Democratic ideals and values in front of any group of Americans. The tea party platform is wrong for America. We lose ground to the tea party movement when we refuse to engage them instead of standing up for our values.