A Tea Party convention and straw poll scheduled for late September in Kansas has been called off amid sluggish enrollment and allegations of infighting. On the event’s website, Freedom Jamboree chair William Temple accused local groups of a “preoccupation with prospering their own organizations at the expense of the ‘grassroots’ movement as a whole” and said “the spirit intrinsic in 2009 has diminished nationwide, and some lethargy and weariness persists.”
The Kansas City event was expected to feature a straw poll and appearances by Republican presidential candidates Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Temple wrote that he hoped to draw at least 350 tea party groups. As of July 1, however, only 62 organizations had pledged to attend.
“If anyone in the our movement has a plan or direction that can unite the movement again, and reverse the nation’s headlong march toward the economic abyss, please take the reins!” Temple wrote on the website. “It appears the Tea Party horse is riderless, and riding off in all directions at once!”
The Freedom Jamboree is the second major Tea Party gathering to be canceled in as many years. Organizers blamed high temperatures and conflicts with summer vacation schedules when plans for a 2010 Las Vegas event fell apart.