Kentucky's Tea Party is a Force to be Reckoned With

Democratic Vice President Joe Biden faces Republican Congressman Paul Ryan in their only televised debate October 11 in the state of Kentucky.  While the debates will focus partly on foreign policy, Kentucky’s conservative Tea Party voters - who represent a growing number of politically active voters in the state - are more concerned about domestic issues, such as how to create jobs, curb federal spending, and shrink government.

Kentucky voter Eric Wilson is concerned about his children’s future.

Kentucky Facts

Population            4,369,356
White Residents        89%
Black Residents        8%
Asian Residents        1.2%
Residents of Hispanic or Latino Origin    3.2%
Unemployment Rate        8.5%
Median Household Income      $41,576        
Residents below poverty level    17.7%

Source: US Census, BLS
"I have to do now what is right, to give them the lifestyle that they need," Wilson said.

He is so passionate that he leads the Kentucky 9/12 Project, a loosely affiliated group of  voters who want to re-capture the predominant mood of Americans in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks.

"It’s the day after September 11th, when we weren’t red states or blue states, we were the United States," he explained.

Kentucky red

But despite the non-partisan mantra, Wilson’s home state of Kentucky is a so-called red state, which currently favors conservative Republican candidates for public office.  Groups like Wilson's are among the most conservative. Their popularity is partly a result of the growing strength of the Tea Party movement. They share the same values and concerns.

“I like the fact that the Tea party is kind of this nebulous thing that’s a little hard to define, but essentially when it comes down to it, smaller government, balanced budgets, less debt, a simpler tax code, and dismantling this political class," said Tea Party activist David Adams. Those were key points, he said, that helped elect Tea party favorite Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate.

Adams was Rand Paul’s campaign manager and says the Tea Party is a force to reckon with. "It has really shaken up the Republican Party in my view," he said.


Democratic voter Liz Cook, who lives in Danville, Kentucky -- site of the vice presidential  debate -- is concerned about the rise of groups like 9/12. She also worries about the Tea Party's desire to slash government programs. 

"It’s a little scary because I view them as an extreme part of the Republican Party.  And I think that any extremist groups make it a challenge for other more moderate reasonable discussions to surface," she said.


But 9/12 Director Eric Wilson says groups affiliated with the Tea Party are not extremist. 

“The Tea Party is really the sentiment of the people," he said. The sentiment of the people is still of frustration, still wanting their power, wanting their liberties back, still shouting at their TV, still shouting at their elected officials saying “hey, give me a voice.'”

It's no secret that Mitt Romney will most likely win Kentucky in November. Beyond that, Tea Party activists aim to elect candidates to Kentucky's legislature who will support the conservative agenda:  a rollback of abortion rights, support of the coal industry and cuts to medical care for the poor.  To achieve that, Republicans will have to control the state's House of Representatives, something that has eluded them for almost a century.

Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: John from: Colorado USA
October 11, 2012 8:19 PM
VOA is wrong stating the Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with. The tea party is just a splash in the pan the only thing they have done is divide the republican party. After this coming election when Obama is reelected and the democrats have a majority in both the house and senate the tea party will not exist.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 11, 2012 12:04 PM
Having to hear from somebody say something about the family and future of children is essentially gratifying. That means all hope is not lost. Thank God for little mercies. And it says also Americans can bear their children instead of condemn through abortion or kidnap them in condoms. Wonderful! I feel like an American. That piece about jobs creation and limiting of government spending is fantastic. Is there really someone out there to drive this? America may be restored after all. God bless America.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs