The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party Movement

For George Allen

Last week, I was listed on a list of Tea Party activists and supporters who endorsed George Allen in his race for the Republican Senate nomination in Virginia.

While I don’t necessarily feel compelled to “explain” my endorsement, I’m going to…if for no other reason than people should hear from me-and not from people who I rarely speak to or, worse, don’t know me at all-how I came to the conclusions I did. So, here’s the why, and the “what’s gonna happen from here”.

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Written by Coby Dillard

November 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

Setting the Record Straight

I’m writing this because I don’t think many of these individuals have gotten the recognition they deserve., and because no one has, in my opinion, written an accurate  history of the Tea Party movement in Virginia. This is mine.

I’m pulling this from not just my memory of events, but from the emails that I’ve dug up (bless the multi-GB storage capacity of Gmail!!). Everything takes place between March 1, 2009 and May  2009-when I began work on Gov. McDonnell’s campaign (and where, it’s said, I “left” the movement).

My involvement in Virginia’s Tea Party movement is pretty well known. What isn’t as well known is how the organization that everyone now recognizes as the Virginia Tea Party Patriots really got started.

I don’t remember exactly how I came across Karen Hurd’s page on Facebook, but somehow I did and sent her a message asking her if there was going to be a tea party rally in the Hampton Roads area. She had already done a lot of the legwork to get a group started, and I told her I’d help out in any way I could. Since I wasn’t working at the time, I was able to devote a good bit of time into helping out.

On March 7, I got an email from Eric Odom’s group (then called Don’tGo, now called something else) asking for individuals to help coordinate the tea party rallies in their states. The email:

As of the time of writing this post, we have 49 Tea Party Revolts being tracked across this site (, and we’re adding about another 20 or so in the next few days.

The effort required in organizing a 50 state network of events such as this can be quite a challenge, and proper communication is key.

With this in mind, we’re going to start looking for a “coordinator” for each state who can be the bridge between the local organizers and us here at

If you can volunteer some of your time, don’t mind dealing with a sizable amount of email, can help coordinate conference calls, and can work to ensure that organizers are able to get event and contact details to us here at the national level, we want to hear from you!

Didn’t sound like it require much, and it seemed something similar to things I had done for other groups while I was living in DC…so I offered to help. As I would soon find out, offers to “help” were essentially “tag, you’re it.” My name popped up on the TaxDayTeaParty website, and that was that.

At the time, I knew of the Hampton Roads event, as well as one in Richmond (at the time, Sara James was heading up the Richmond Tea Party, and had a pretty good group helping her out). On March 11, I was informed of another event being planned in Charlottesville by Bill Hay (his organization would come to be known as the Jefferson Area Tea Party) by the national coordinators.  On March 13, I got an email from Ted Dingler, who was setting up an event in Abingdon.  That same day, I got an email from Sharon Nicely about holding a rally in Roanoke. As rallies were springing up everywhere, and wanting to give everyone a chance to talk with each other, I arranged for a conference call with all the known organizers that following Tuesday.

Our first press release-announcing the rallies in Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Charlottlesville-went out on March 18. The next day, I was aware of the following rallies being planned (listed with their coordinators):

Richmond -Sara James
Hampton Roads (Tidewater area)-Karen Hurd
Charlottlesville-William Hay
Abingdon-Ted Dingler
Roanoke-Sharon Nicely
Lynchburg Raymond Coble and Brendan McIntyre
Williamsburg-Robert Warren, Thomas Chappell, and Kristin Coyner
Hampton-Jo Whistler

On March 30, we invited bloggers from across Virginia on a conference call to speak with us about our rallies and what we felt the movement was about. Don’t remember how many we actually had on the call, but we did get a nice writeup from Norman Leahy at Tertium Quids:

They aren’t paid to do any of this. Many of them aren’t otherwise politically active. And for some, this is this will be their first foray into organized, political action of any sort.

But they are learning quickly — networking with each other and with people across the state. They are fast-learning the old-media ropes, appearing in print, on the radio and even dipping their toes into television. They have blogs, naturally, and they want other bloggers to join the conversation.

As events became springing up across Virginia (and the national websites became slow to update all our events), we established a state webpage on March 29.

Our first major bump in the road occured around April 1. The City of Abingdon denied our organizers there a permit to hold their event in the city. As another rally was being planned in Bristol, the organizers there combined their efforts with Ted’s to hold a single event. Our small organization-now called the Virginia Tea Party Coalition-held our final coordination call on April 6.

Our first rally was held April 11 on the campus of William and Mary, with the remainder held on April 15th.  The rest, for the most part, is history.

I had my first interview with the McDonnell campaign in December of 2008. I didn’t begin working with them until May (for several reasons; the final-and most important-being the birth of my daughter). My vision for the group of organizers we had at the time was to evolve into a state organization where groups could coordinate, and new groups would have a ready resource for lessons learned. However, I knew that remaining as the state coordinator for Virginia’s Tea Party movement and working on a campaign staff would be damaging to one of those entities, if not both. On May 12, I sent off my final email as state coordinator:

The good thing is that I know that VTPP is in good hands with you all running the show, so I have no worries about our future. Of all the groups I’ve worked with in the past, this group has had none of the infighting and other things that generally splinter movements like ours. Going forward, the best way to keep the momentum growing will be to keep the same spirit of cooperation we’ve built over the last few months. For those of you who don’t know, there’s already been some degree of splintering at the national level…we can’t let anything like that happen here.

Later that year, the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots was formed.

I credit the following people with the ideas and motivation that led to the establishment of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, as they are the ones who laid the foundation on which the organization stands today. While there were many others who helped along the way (each organizer had several others assisting them, the majority of whom I never had contact with), this is the core group that I worked with from March through May 2009. Many of them, like myself, have moved on to other endeavors-some by choice and some due to organizational infighting and other conflicts-but their roles in establishing the movement here in Virginia should not be forgotten:

Richmond-Sara James, Mickey White, Eric McGrane, Joe Cacciotti, Lisa Everington, and Jim Smyers
Hampton Roads-Karen Hurd, Marshall Smith, Jo Whistler, and myself
Charlottlesville-William Hay
Abingdon-Ted Dingler
Roanoke-Sharon Nicely and Rita Grace
Lynchburg-Raymond Coble and Brendan McIntyre
Williamsburg-Robert Warren, Thomas Chappell, and Kristin Coyner

It’s my hope that one day these individuals, who I was honored to work with, will receive the recognition they deserve for which so many people stand in support of today.

Written by Coby Dillard

July 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

A Crimson Tide Moment

I use the description “Crimson Tide moment” to describe something-an action, statement, etc-that, on its face, is completely incorrect…and that, after some introspection and digging, has some truth or rightness about it.

Today’s comes from Herman Cain:

Asked why more African Americans haven’t joined him at tea party rallies and conservative conventions like the Faith And Family Conference in DC this weekend, the millionaire ex-CEO has a different explanation. African Americans, Cain told TPM, are too poor to tea party.

Dead wrong. That is, until you look at it a little closer.

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Fiscal Responsibility 101

Beginning this fall, the State of Virginia will require all high school students to take a course in personal finance.

The General Assembly recently voted to require every public high school student to pass a personal finance class before being eligible for graduation.

The above article goes on to discuss how local-to-Charlottesville schools are debating over 1) whether the government should mandate such a class, and 2) how it can be taught when, apparently, there was no funding in the state budget for it.

I’ll get to those…but first, an additional perspective.

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Written by Coby Dillard

May 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

From Protest to Praticality, Revisited

After the first Tea Parties last year, I shared my thoughts on what the Tea Party movement should do going forward…and, perhaps more importantly, what we should NOT do:

The Tea Party movement must not become a tool of a political party or ideology. Everyone already thinks that the movement was funded and pushed by some vast group of right wing puppeteers. Yes, cutting taxes and government spending/interference are conservative principles…but not necessarily Republican ones. The Tea Party movement must remain on message, and welcome everyone to the table who believes in that message…including Blue Dog Democrats.

People must check their egos and ambitions at the door. It would be a shame to watch the Tea Party movement become what, to some degree, the pro-mission movement has become: a collection of various small groups that share the same members and resources, but are rarely able to come to consensus on overall messaging and strategy. Unfortunately, that’s already beginning.  Tea Partiers must realize that movements such as ours are easily killed by individual ambition-especially at their outset. We are one group, united under a common mission and purpose. Building spinoff groups could well prove fatal to that mission.

Since the fact that the movement has gravitated to conservative/Republican candidates is fairly obvious (and may well have been a foregone conclusion), I’m going to concentrate on my second point from both a national standpoint and a Virginia one…because, of the two, it’s got the bigger potential to spell disaster for the movement.

Nationally, there’s never been one true leader of the Tea Party movement (a fact that continuously confuses our detractors). Most of us who were there at the beginning (read: February to around May 2009) fell under the coordination of the group that would become Tea Party Patriots (though not necessarily their leadership). From there, Tea Party Express (a wholly owned subsidiary of Our Country Deserves Better PAC) popped up. Then Tea Party Nation, another for-profit enterprise. And the list goes on.

Multiplicity has turned out to be a blessing and a curse. All the various groups have been able to coordinate under the umbrella of the National Tea Party Federation with a minimum of infighting-the blessing.

The curse? Instances like Mark Williams’ “letter”-which was trotted out as an example of the entire movement’s “racism.”

Heading into our second year, we’d do well to remember that the actions of one-be they one individual or one organization-can be miscast in a negative light for all of us.

About ego and ambition:

When we were planning the first Tea Party in Hampton Roads, I asked for a speaking spot, thinking that-for someone who was remotely considering a run for office-it would be a good springboard. I backed off that idea, for two reasons: first, my role in planning the local event diminished when I began coordinating the rallies across VA, and second, I just didn’t think it was appropriate to “use” the movement to build recognition for myself. While the pictures of me speaking at the rally look impressive to some, all I really did was thank people for coming. That’s it. And while the recognition came, it was because of the results of the individual organizers…and the vast majority of it, for me, was negative.

There’s been a lot of noise made about Jamie Radkte, the chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, running for office somewhere-possibly against Sen. Webb in 2012. Jamie stepped in to fill a leadership void that came up after I joined the McDonnell campaign staff, and her work has been impressive and admirable.

However, a word of caution is warranted.

Putting on my Tea Party hat: making the leap from activist to candidate is, at best, difficult…more so the higher you go up the chain. I would hate to see VTTP suffer from a lack of strong leadership, or-worse-the infighting that will ultimately arise from Jamie’s detractors within VTTP (there’s already a “Jamie Radtke Doesn’t Speak For Me!” group on Facebook).

Second, under my Republican hat-and I have some experience with this one-the “Tea Party candidate” label doesn’t exactly go over too well in some areas of the Commonwealth. In many, it’s a bigger detriment than it is a help. If the objective is to beat Webb (or a more progressive candidate) in 2012, nominating someone who is the face of the Tea Party in Virginia may not be the best way to accomplish that. Especially not with Obama back on the ballot.

Ken Cuccinelli-probably the closest thing to a true Tea Party candidate VA’s had-ran successfully statewide. But by ’12, that campaign will be (recent) history.

(and I’m not going to even ask how, should she choose to run, Jamie would take her message to the black community. Been there, done that…and it’s not fun. And it will be MUCH harder for her than it was for me)

I’m the last person on earth that would encourage someone not to run for office…I had enough of that advice myself (and listened to none of it), so I know how that feels.

At the same time, I don’t want to see an organization that I am very proud of implode because of an unchecked ego, or because someone else thinks something like this would be a good idea.

Because everything I’m looking at says it’s not.



Written by Coby Dillard

December 6, 2010 at 8:00 am

Letter to the NAACP

July 15, 2010

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

National Headquarters

4805 Mt. Hope Drive

Baltimore MD 21215

After voting to pass a resolution condemning the Tea Party Movement at your annual convention, your organization launched a page on your website asking people to “repudiate racism within the Tea Party.” The page asks people to sign a pledge to stop hate, and to identify as an “NAACP American.”

As a member of my local Tea Party organization, I have signed your pledge, and will attempt to outline how what we believe parallels with your pledge. I do this from no official capacity, and at no one’s request. These are my own personal reflections on what I see from our movement, based on my involvement.

I believe all Americans have equal rights and equal value.

The Tea Party Movement prides itself as an organization built on the preservation of equality. We believe, as you do, that all Americans have equal rights and equal value. This, in part, explains our opposition to policies that seek to place one segment of American society in superiority to another, or to denigrate any group for political expediency or favor.

I cherish the diverse cultures, beliefs, and values of America.

We in the Tea Party acknowledge, appreciate, and cherish the diversity that marks the exceptionalism of the American experiment. Our ranks are open to all Americans, regardless of color, national origin, religious preference (or lack thereof), or any other factor. Our only litmus test, if such exists, is a respect for and desire to return America to the principles that our nation was founded under, and that have held us together.

I believe we can disagree without being disagreeable.

The NAACP may not find much common ground with our movement. There are few segments of American society that completely agree with one another, and our dynamic is no different. However, we are able and willing to work with you in those interests that we do share, though they may be few. On everything else, we are able to move forward with our agenda without seeking to cast you as our enemy. We hold to the principle stated in Ephesians 6:12 – that our struggle is not one of flesh and blood, but of ideas.

I repudiate all acts of racism and hate, both in words and action.

The Tea Party Movement has consistently rejected all instances of racism and hate that are brought to our attention. We recognize that there are some who claim our mantle to advance their own bigotry, just as there are some who have used your mantle to forward an agenda not in keeping with your principles. Our purpose is not to sow division, but to bring Americans together. We expect that you will hold us to that standard, and you can expect that we will hold you to it.

I have faith in the promise of America – a promise built on mutual respect, common civility, and hope for a better tomorrow.

We have faith that, through God’s guidance, we can renew this promise. Our movement stands on its respect and civility-even in our disagreements with others. We know that God will restore our nation as one indivisible by the shifting winds of partisan opinion, and that He will guide us to a future greater than our expectations.

I commit to building that better America by participating actively and peacefully in the democratic process.

Like you, we are committed to activism and change through the nonviolent political process. We know that the weapons of physical violence will not solve our nation’s troubles, and we denounce their use to bring about political change. We will make use of our prayers and our votes to advance the agenda we feel is best for our nation and our future.

I hope my words provide insight to the true motivation behind the movement with which I choose to associate. While we will have differences of political opinion, I am an NAACP American…and a Tea Party Patriot.


Coby W. Dillard

Written by Coby Dillard

July 15, 2010 at 7:00 am

Posted in Editorials

Tagged with ,

Virginia’s Black Conservative Leaders Reject Political Stunt of NAACP

Leaders of Virginia’s black conservative community who are strong supporters of the tea party movement issued the following statements today denouncing the NAACP for adopting a resolution condemning the Tea Party movement:

Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr., President of STAND, Chesapeake VA

“While I have great admiration for the historic contribution the NAACP once made toward equality and justice for black Americans, they have lost their way. Instead of seeking justice, they play racial politics and march lockstep with the far left. They were once independent. Now liberals say jump, and the NAACP says, ‘How high?’

“The NAACP was silent during the hateful, racist, anti-Semitic rants of Jeremiah Wright and the New Black Panther Party. Instead of defending Kenneth Gladney’s right to freely express his political views as a black American, they were silent when he was viciously attacked at a Tea Party rally and called the “N” word by SEIU thugs. It seems that the NAACP is only for the advancement of liberal “colored” people. Therefore it has lost credibility as a true civil rights organization.”

Sonnie Johnson, President of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Virginia, Woodbridge VA

“Here comes the Talented Tenth to the racial rescue! As an organization claiming to represent the black community, the NAACP would serve that community well by focusing on the critical issues of unemployment, education, and financial literacy. But instead they are playing politics with a racial resolution against the Tea Party—a non-partisan organization that represents Black, White, Brown, and all colors in between.

“From the Jackson Ward Area of Richmond to the Vinger Hill area of Charlottesville, I understand how the NAACP’s politics damages the black community. After forty years of advancing a big government agenda, trading political favors, and rewarding the children of former civil rights leaders for the courage shown by their parents, they continue to destroy productive communities that could otherwise flourish under the freedom that comes with small government.”

Gilbert Wilkerson, Richmond Tea Party Board of Directors, Richmond VA

“As an African American, I expect the NAACP to condemn the violent crimes in our neighborhoods, the genocide of millions of unborn black babies, and the high dropout rate among our black youth. Instead, the NAACP steps over the weightier matters to condemn the Tea Party for unproven racial slurs and a few offensive posters about the president (which the Tea Party itself has condemned). Is this how the many black supporters of the NAACP want their money used?”

Coby W. Dillard, Co-Founder of the Hampton Roads Tea Party, Norfolk VA

“With 15% of blacks unemployed and 13% in fair or poor health nationwide, one would expect the NAACP to focus on problems that truly damage the black community. Instead, they choose to sow more racial divisiveness against the Tea Party—a movement that seeks to restore those founding principles that unite Americans of all colors as one nation, indivisible.

“Sadly, this continues the NAACP’s recent history of division among the very lines they claim to work to eliminate. How unfortunate that this organization, with its proud history during the civil rights era, chooses to denigrate the Tea Party movement instead of seeking common ground.

“When the NAACP is truly ready to work towards its goal of ‘One Nation, One Dream,’ they are welcome to unite with us as we work towards that same end.”