Frary falsely attacks book on Gov. LePage and Tea Party without reading it

2010 Tea Party rally in Old Town - John Clarke Russ | BDN

2010 Tea Party rally in Old Town – John Clarke Russ | BDN

It seems John Frary has ignored that age-old adage: never judge a book by its Kickstarter.

In a column in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel today, former Republican Second District congressional candidate John Frary accuses me of being a “hack political journalist” and writes that he assumes my book As Maine Went is a “a standard hymn of hate.” He also implies that I never interviewed actual members of the Tea Party.

It’s ironic that Frary would accuse me of not having done my research when he so clearly hasn’t done his. I spoke extensively to a number of tea party activists and leaders for the book and their views are well represented. In fact, an entire 4,000-word chapter is dedicated to detailing the background and activities of one Tea Party volunteer.

While I do discuss the excesses of the movement, I certainly don’t lampoon it. In fact, I deeply respect aspects of Tea Party activists efforts to organize and involve new people in democratic processes.

As I told blogger Alex Steed in a recent interview:

“What I hoped to do in the book, and what I think I’ve done, is to show those people as regular folks that cared about these issues and wanted to get involved in politics. You may disagree with some of their policy positions and ideology, but it was a grassroots movement, a populist movement.”

I would also note that I have likely spent more time studying the opinions and demographic backgrounds of Tea Party supporters than anyone else in Maine, through my public opinion research work for MPRC. That analysis has also informed the book.

At the end of his piece, Frary, rather randomly, also asserts that current Second Congressional District Republican nominee Bruce Poliquin has never attended a Tea Party event. This is as wrong as the rest of his column, as a three-second YouTube search easily reveals.

Thank you to everyone who has backed the Kickstarter campaign and pre-ordered the book so far. Thanks to the generosity of Tilbury House Publishers, we’ve just announced a new stretch goal for the project. If pledges hit $10,000, all backers will also receive an e-book copy of Ed Muskie: Made in Maine by James Witherell. I’m sure reading the two books back-to-back will highlight some interesting contrasts in governing styles.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike writes about Maine politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center, writes a political column for the Portland Press Herald