Local Tea Party organizers hope their fourth "Tax Day" rally will be as big as their first, when the movement was fresh and about 1,500 people poured into John Dam Plaza to voice their frustrations with the federal government.
As an incentive toward attendance, organizers have said that a participant at the rally will announce a run against incumbent nine-term Congressman Doc Hastings of Pasco at today's rally, also in John Dam Plaza.
Organizers aren't publicizing the candidate's name ahead of the announcement, but the hope is that the announcement will generate the kind of local political buzz seen in late 2009 when former pro football player Clint Didier, now a farmer and businessman in Eltopia, announced his bid for Sen. Patty Murray's seat at a Tea Party rally.
Although Didier ultimately lost when former state senator and two-time gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi jumped into the race, he won Benton and Franklin counties by significant margins.
Leon Howard, coordinator for the Tri-Cities Tea Party, told the Herald it will be a different candidate who jumps into the Congressional race today, but someone who has a message about taxes that will resonate with Tea Party members.
Frustrations about taxes, government spending and the national debt have been cornerstones of the local Tea Party message since its inception, and the local group has been allied with members of the FairTax movement who advocate for replacement of all existing federal taxes with a national sales tax they call a "consumption tax."
The FairTax proposal will be a focal point of today's rally, along with speeches by Didier; Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland; Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland; Mary Ruth Edwards, Constitution Party candidate for state representative in the 16th Legislative District; and Jamie Wheeler, FairTax state director.
Other topics will include the economy, government over-spending, the national debt, balanced budgets, the Federal Reserve, inflation and jobs.
The roster also includes a scheduled appearance by Hastings, who formally announced his bid for re-election March 30.
So far, he is opposed by Democrat Mary Baechler, a Yakima businesswoman, community organizer and horse breeder.
The Tea Party rally is 2 to 4 p.m. in John Dam Plaza at the corner of George Washington Way and Knight Street in Richland.
Visit tricityherald.com for more on the candidate announcement.