The Oregon Tea Party's latest project is a bus.
The anti-tax movement has been given a former city bus by a donor, and is using it to drive canvassers into contested House districts to stump for conservative candidates.
"We had a bus donated that we decorated with Tea Party memorabilia that we're using to get out the vote," says Jeff Reynolds, a member of the Oregon Tea Party leadership council. "We can drive around the district with the candidate's signs in the windows, getting out the message."
Shipping out volunteers on a bus has been a decade-long hallmark of the Bus Project, the Portland-based voter registration group founded by Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland). In recent months, Bus Project volunteers have run into organized resistance from Republicans in Clackamas County.
The Tea Party's bus, dubbed the "Freedom Bus," is a marked rejoinder to the often-liberal Bus Project—though its drivers say the echo is accidental.
Its port side reads "Limited Government, Fiscal Responsibility, Free Market Principles," and its back is stamped with a quote from Ronald Reagan's farewell address: "Man is not free unless government is limited."
The Tea Party bus made two inaugural canvassing trips last weekend. On Oct. 13, it sent about 20 volunteers to knock on doors for Scott Hansen, a Republican candidate for State Senate in East Multnomah County's District 25. It drove to Albany the next day to support Art Robinson, a Cave Junction chemist challenging U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon).