Schenectady County

Tea Party set to make picks

The Albany Tea Party will celebrate its one-year anniversary Saturday at the Corning Preserve along

The Albany Tea Party will celebrate its one-year anniversary Saturday at the Corning Preserve along the Hudson River.

Organizers of the “America Rising” event plan to unveil candidates the Tea Party supports for local, state and other offices during the event, which will run noon to 2 p.m. Former local talk radio personality Al Roney will be master of ceremonies with music provided by The Ameros Band.

One candidate for office is Deborah Busch, who plans to challenge Democrat incumbent John J. McEneny in the 104th Assembly District. The district comprises most of the city of Albany and the towns of Guilderland, Berne, New Scotland, Westerlo and Rensselaerville in Albany County.

Busch is seeking the Republican and Conservative lines and is a member of the Albany Tea Party, Glenn Beck’s 912 group, the Homefront Patriots, the Sons of Liberty and We the People. She ran unsuccessfully for Albany County coroner on the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines last year against 20-year incumbent Democrat Paul Marra.

Busch’s platform mirrors that of the Albany Tea Party’s. She wants to restrict the power of government and make it smaller and more transparent. “We want to allow people to be in charge of government and not the other way around. This is basically what the movement is about,” Busch said.

To Busch, the Tea Party, is “not anti-government or anti-country. We love this country. We want to see this country be successful and be thankful of the freedoms we have.”

She wants to dispel the notion the Tea Party caters only to disaffected Republicans and Conservatives. “We are finding that this is not a movement that sponsors Republican and Conservative candidates,” she said. “Every citizen can benefit from smaller government, a more transparent government, a deregulated government.”

Tom Chambler of Guilderland said he is a Democrat who supports the Tea Party. He will speak Saturday on the value of campaign volunteers. He has been active in the Tea Party for more than a year.

No trust

“Like most of the people I am in the movement with, about this time last year we noticed our representatives were passing legislation without reading it and that there were parts of the legislation they did not know about,” he said. “When we tried to hold them accountable at town hall meetings, we were basically told they did not want to talk about issues of the past or about the stuff they did wrong.”

Chambler said elected representatives treated him and others who asked questions with disrespect. “They felt comfortable lying to us and lying about us,” he said, saying there were attempts to paint members of the Tea Party as Nazis and other extremists.

For him, the Tea Party is a mechanism to replace elected representatives who aren’t doing their jobs, who have violated what he terms an employer [the people] and employee [elected representatives] relationship. “We want to fire them,” he said.

Chambler said the demonstrations, the protests, the town hall meetings all serve to bring people together.

“The next step is to train people to run campaigns,” he said. These people can then put together a “functional political process to replace candidates who ignore us or do not respect us.”

Chambler cut his teeth on political campaigns by helping the No New Tax Party get on the ballot in Schenectady County last year. The No New Tax Party formed in August to field candidates for Rotterdam seats and for a seat in District 4 of the county Legislature, which comprises Rotterdam, Duanesburg and Princetown.

The party’s candidates pledged to vote against any new taxes. Members were particularly vocal against a proposal by Rotterdam Republicans to form a special taxing district to assist the Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services.

Town Republicans later decided to put the matter to public referendum, helping to deflect the new party’s platform.

No date has been set for the referendum.

While none of the No New Tax Party candidates won in November, they attracted more than 17 percent of the vote in local Rotterdam races and Democrats swept into control.

Chambler said members of his team assisted Doug Hoffman in his unsuccessful run for the 23rd Congressional District last year and assisted Scott Brown in his successful bid to win Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.


Cliff Brown, a Union College professor of political science, called the Tea Party a populist movement as opposed to a progressive movement. “It is an obvious protest against both political parties,” he said.

A populist movement is broad-based, centered on average citizens who want to be heard. George Wallace and Huey Long led populist movements in their days. Progressives seek to effect change from within and are generally people for the upper strata of society, people like Franklin Roosevelt, Brown said.

“Historically, populists tend to be less effective than progressives. They play their role in calling attention to problems,” Brown said. “My instincts are that the Tea Party will be more effective in calling attention to concerns than in seizing power.”

Brown said for the Tea Party to become permanently effective it will have to establish a political party and contest for office. “Their biggest problem is they are terribly decentric. They have a wide range of opinions,” making it hard to concentrate on a specific platform all could accept.

“It knows what it is against, but it does not know what it is for,” Brown said.

Mark Galasso, owner of Lancaster Development Inc. in Schoharie County, sees the Tea Party as Brown does.

He is allowing the Schoharie County Tea Party to hold its organizational meeting at his facility.

Mimi Scolaro is organizing the Schoharie County Tea Party. It will meet Wednesday.

Galasso, a Republican, is a village of Cobleskill trustee who was re-elected last year to a second four-year term with 80 percent of the vote.

He ran on a single issue: develop the village of Cobleskill to help reduce property taxes.

“I do not view the Tea Party as a political affiliation. I view it as a body of like-minded people who are frustrated by both parties. They believe in not spending more than you have, in limiting the size of government and in leaving us alone, letting us live our lives,” Galasso.

The Tea Party is a vehicle to voice frustration, Galasso said. “They hope to affect politics by electing people to positions to make government responsible to the people once again. I am not sure it is really that organized, but it is an opportunity for working people to do the right thing.”

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