A big loss for the T-SPLOST was a big win for the Georgia tea party, whose leaders didn’t shy away Tuesday night from claiming giant-slayer status.
Looking ahead, some pundits read the T-SPLOST leaves as foretelling increased tea party clout on other state and local issues; others said the loosely knit group still lacks the muscle — and the money — to achieve sustained influence.
Many agreed, though, that the tea party, more than anyone else, placed its stamp upon the effort to tear down the $7.2 billion transportation referendum. With Tuesday’s resounding victory, the group made liars of critics who had months ago written it off as as a passing fad whose power had peaked.
“It does show we have absolutely not lost clout,” Dooley said.
That lesson was not lost on national political observers, with several major news outlets spotlighting the vote as a test of tea party power with significance beyond the borders of Georgia.
“This means they’re players. It reminds everybody they’re around and they can defeat your grand plans,” said Bob Grafstein, assistant dean of the University of Georgia’s school of public and international affairs.