Perhaps the most influential branch of the Tea Party movement, the Tea Party Patriots, has its roots solidly in Cherokee County.
Woodstock area resident Jenny Beth Martin is the co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, which she helped establish in 2009.
During those days of the Great Recession, Jenny Beth and her family were having some financial struggles, like many people were facing at the time.
She was working hard to make ends meet, and according to her bio on Wikipedia, one day was driving to a job when she heard Rick Santelli, the CNBC business editor, talking on the radio about the financial bailout and how American taxpayers were paying for their neighbors to be bailed out of their mortgage defaults.
That report galvanized her to action, and she organized her first rally for Tea Party members in Atlanta. By June 2009, the Tea Party Patriots was formed by Jenny Beth and a few others.
It did not take long for the organization’s influence to be felt nationally and in February 2010, Martin was named to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Leaders for role in politics.
She is also now a columnist for The Washington Times, and is the co-author of “Tea Party Patriots: The Second American Revolution.”
Jenny Beth has deep ties to the community and is a graduate of Reinhardt University, where she got a degree in 1990. She is also a graduate of the University of Georgia. She is the mother of teenage twins.
Under the leadership of Martin, Tea Party Patriots has grown to be the largest and most effective national umbrella group within the Tea Party movement. Jenny Beth and the Tea Party Patriots now use their network to reach millions of Americans every week with education and updates about fiscal responsibility, free market principles, and constitutionally limited government, according to the organization’s website.
I feel privileged to be able to say I knew her when. I remember Mary Beth as a caring dedicated volunteer from her years of local involvement in the Cherokee County Republican Women and the Cherokee County Republican Party.
Catching up with her recently at a Cherokee County Republican Women’s group meeting where she was the guest speaker, I found her to be the same sincere, down to earth person she always was despite her meteoric rise on the national political stage.
She spoke about her involvement in turning out the Trump vote in 2016, when her organization was called upon to pitch in the get the Republican nominee elected.
In the months leading up to the election, she noticed a phenomenon she calls First Time in Forever Voters, who were turning out in support of Trump.
So her organization jumped on board and began to work to make sure those voters made it to the polls, and others like them were found to cast their votes as well.
She shared with the group some of the strategy planned for the 2020 election to get that same vote out. She was methodical in her approach to the way to win for Trump in 2020, not playing on emotions, but relying on solid statistical calculations.
She didn’t stop with the Presidential election.
Jenny Beth gave a thorough analysis of which seats are weak in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for the 2020 election. She pointed to Sen. David Perdue’s seat as one that was not in the solid win column. And now since her talk, Georgia’s second Senate seat will be open.
One thing I don’t think Jenny Beth has to worry about is how Cherokee County will vote. In 2016, Trump took more than 71% of the votes in Cherokee County, a total of 80,490 votes. Cherokee County is solidly in the Republican column.
That has not always been the case. When I first went to work at the Cherokee Tribune in 1986, almost every elected official in Cherokee was a Democrat. Republicans rarely even bothered to run.
I remember there were only a very few elected Republicans, including Justice of the Peace Frank Gramling. I also remember Max Stancil, a school board member, was a Republican. There may have been others, but I am not sure.
Those were the days of the Southern Democrats, a conservative mostly white group, who believed in Jeffersonian principles. In those days most African-Americans in the South were Republicans. Those lines were drawn in the days of Reconstruction and the Lincoln era.
It was not until the late 1980s that Cherokee County began the turn away from the Democratic Party. Cherokee County’s first Republican sheriff and district attorney since Reconstruction more than 100 years before were elected by the voters.
Then, in 1990 the county went solid Republican, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have always been able to say that I live in one of the most conservative counties in the nation, as we have been named in the top 10 several times. So it is no surprise that Jenny Beth Martin, a national Tea Party leader, is one of our own.