National Tea Party Convention Canceled Due To Lagging Ticket Sales

Sep 24, 2010 2:19pm

ABC News' Michael Falcone reports:

So much for the party. Organizers of the planned Tea Party Nation Convention, which had already been postponed once, announced this week that the gathering was being scrapped entirely.

The reason? Slow ticket sales, according to Judson Phillips, one of the ring leaders of the event, which was to be held in Las Vegas next month. The cost of the convention, which ran as high as $399, was just too much for many of the movement’s devotees.

“This decision simply came down to a matter of economics,” Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation who is affiliated with the group FreeAmerica.org, told The Daily Caller. Phillips said the event fell victim to the “Obama economy.”

The convention, which had been modeled after an event earlier this year in Nashville, was scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Palazzo Hotel. The Tea Party stars who were slated to make appearances included Andrew Brietbart, Lou Dobbs and Nevada Senate hopeful Sharron Angle.

But the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported earlier this week that many local grassroots conservative leaders did not mind that the Tea Party Nation Convention was nixed, especially after the controversy that plagued the Nashville event, which cost as much as $500 to attend.

"They were kind of opportunistic," Frank Ricotta, the former state director of a Nevada Tea Party group and a county-level GOP leader said in an interview with the Review-Journal’s Laura Myers.

The convention’s cancellation also raises larger questions about what’s next for the Tea Party. As Phillips wrote in a recent e-mail message to supporters, many of the original Tea Party followers are concerned about what he called the “rise of Big Tea” — the growth of national organizations like Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Express and Tea Party Patriots.

Phillips wrote: “For many of the grass roots activists who started this movement eighteen months ago, myself included, may look and ask the question, "Dude, where's my movement?"  There is no question the movement has changed. The evolution of Big Tea is the logical result of where this movement must go.”

How much do you know about the Tea Party? Take the ABC News Tea Party quiz and find out if you’ve got a handle on the movement.

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