The first meeting of the Tea Party Caucus of the House of Delegates was just wrapping up in the House lounge Wednesday, when they snagged their first Democrat.
The brief meeting of about 20 Republican delegates – almost half of them newly elected freshmen with Tea Party ties – had already agreed they were going to concentrate on reining in government spending.
“It’ll be easier if we focus on fiscal issues,” said Del. Michael Smigiel, R-Cecil, who organized the group. They would stick to the Tea Party core beliefs – democracy, capitalism, limited government and appreciation of constitutional principles.
Smigiel had told the full House minutes before that the new caucus was bipartisan, but they had been unable to recruit any of the Dems making their way through the House lounge.
Del. Curt Anderson, the veteran Democrat who chairs the Baltimore City delegation, came through and in no time, he said he’d join up.
Whoa! Curt Anderson, friend of the downtrodden, and delegation leader from a city that hasn’t elected a Republican to anything for decades?
“I’m not for raising taxes when gas is going up and people aren’t working,” Anderson declared. “How can you put another burden on people?”
Anderson has been known to make a joke or two in his day, and I asked him if he were kidding about joining the caucus. No, it was no joke, he said. But he did joke that he expected a call from the Speaker’s office if I actually wrote the story.
Later, as he headed to Judiciary Committee hearing, Anderson did joke that they had named him vice chairman of the Tea Party Caucus.
Anderson will likely take some ribbing from his fellow Democrats. After Smigiel’s announcement on the House floor, Del. Keith Haynes, another city Democrat, popped up and wise-cracked that he was chairman of the newly formed Coffee Caucus — and it would not meet on Thursday.
The second meeting of the caucus is scheduled for Monday night at 7:30 p.m., a half hour before session.