The Tucson Tea Party has scheduled its first big event in months with a ‘Conservative Cruze’ across the county Saturday.
The group’s trek across Pima County begins at 9:20 a.m. in Oro Valley and includes three stops throughout the day with speakers at each stop. They are inviting supporters to decorate their cars, trucks and motorcycles and join the caravan to show they are opposed to the Democratic agenda of President Barack Obama and others.
Here is the schedule:
• 9:20 a.m. — Meet-and-greet to start the caravan at Oro Valley Market Place near the Red Lobster. Here, people can pickup candidate signs and driving directions to each of the stops.
• 10:30 a.m. — Trek starts at Boston’s in Marana, 5825 W. Arizona Pavilions Drive. Speakers: Jonathan Paton, Republican candidate for Congressional District 1; Al Melvin, Republican candidate for Legislative District 11 Senate; and “Jon Justice,” of 104.1 the Truth.
• About noon — Caravan hits Sabbar Shrine Temple, 450 S. Tucson Blvd. Speaker: Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, Republican candidate for Congressional District 3.
• About 3 p.m. — Trek ends at Hotrods restaurant, 10500 E. Old Vail Road, Tucson. Speakers: Frank Antenori, Republican candidate for Legislative District 10 Senate, and James T. Harris of 104.1 the Truth.
They’ll be prizes for decorated vehicles, including most eye-catching, most patriotic and most supportive of a candidate. It’s designed to be like a political poker run, said Ralph Kayser, the organization's leader. He is expecting between 250-350 vehicles and about 500 people.
“It will be fun event and give our Tea Party people a chance to visualize our conservative values,” Kayser said.
This will not be a parade, he said, and organizers are going to make sure that they don’t tie up traffic. If more than 300 vehicles show up, they will be split up to drive in different directions, he said.
The Tucson Tea Party has been fairly quiet this election season — especially compared to its omnipresent role in the 2010 elections.
Other than a February event in Tucson headlined by then-Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the group has not done the big tent events that put them on the map two years ago.
Kayser said well-known speakers are charging premium rates during a busy political season in which they are on demand. People willing to speak for the price of an airline ticket and hotel room are now charging anywhere from $1,600-$5,000, he said. That has precluded the Tucson Tea Party from putting on big events, he said.
“It’s really difficult to nail down a speaker without having to pay a ton of money,” Kayser said. “Next year, they’ll be giving it away.”