Tea Party Patriot: Jenny Beth Martin

Article excerpt

Byline: Michelle Cottle

The grassroots right, spoiling for a fight.

it's barely 8 a.m. and already Jenny Beth Martin sounds both exhausted and outraged. Cofounder of Tea Party Patriots, the largest of the movement's organizations, Martin is spending an awful lot of time these days hunkered down in meetings. Strategy meetings. Messaging meetings. Meetings aimed at pushing back against what Martin sees as the political establishment's--most gallingly the Republican establishment's--"all out war" on fiscally responsible Americans like her members.

"We're not going to let either party blame us!" asserts the soft-spoken, baby-faced mother of two. "They've used us for the past three and a half years, blaming us for the nation's fiscal problems." During the debt-ceiling battle two years ago, she recalls, "the president went out and said that we were holding a gun to the American people's head!"

Since Nov. 6, the Beltway terrain has only gotten bumpier for Martin's Patriots. Stung by their losses, GOP leaders are moving to marginalize what many see as their party's more extreme elements. Most notably, earlier this month Speaker John Boehner booted three Tea-minded members from key House committees for bucking leadership on certain votes.

"There is a huge battle going on right now in the center right to determine exactly what that means," says Martin. And at this moment, even she acknowledges that her side is getting clobbered in Congress. "The leadership has done all they can to solidify power and to punish people who didn't vote the way Speaker Boehner wanted them to. …