Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

February 26, 2014

Candidate takes on Obama

Katrina Pierson isn’t who most people picture when they think of the tea party.

The movement is, according to a recent poll, 83 percent white, and the 37-year-old political activist is an African-American woman who, given her multiracial background, might have been derisively described by fellow Texan Ted Nugent as a “mongrel” — just as he referred to President Barack Obama, also biracial, a month ago.

But demography aside, Pierson is all tea party. She hails from a deep-red state, favors term limits, wants to “audit” the Federal Reserve and is “a normal person,” in her words, who “just wants the federal government to leave us alone.”

Pierson was recently endorsed by Sarah Palin, who, in her uniquely alliterative style, called Pierson “a feisty fighter for freedom.” And if this were 2010, that alone might be enough to get Pierson to Washington. But she’s running against an established GOP incumbent, House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions, and as Slate has reported, tea party coattails aren’t as long as they used to be.

Pierson’s outsider status is one of the reasons FreedomWorks — one of the big national tea party groups — also is endorsing her. As its outreach director, Deneen Borelli, another prominent black conservative, says, Sessions is one of the “establishment politicians” who are “simply in office for themselves.” And FreedomWorks considers Pierson “a clear upgrade, policywise,” says Jackie Bodnar, its communications director Jackie Bodnar.

Policywise, though, Pierson’s platform is mostly tea party boilerplate: “NSA invasion of our privacy,” Obama is “completely lawless” and immigration reform will “completely destroy the black community.” When asked which part of the government social safety net she thought needed to be cut, Pierson didn’t give specifics, only offering that “they all need to be reviewed.”

But even if Pierson’s ideas don’t stand out from the pack, her story definitely does.

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