Taxed Enough Already was the theme at the TEA Party held from 2-7 p.m. Thursday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. It was one of the hundreds of TEA Parties taking place across the country on April 15 tax day to protest government spending, targeting President Obama and the new health bill.
Police estimate that the Pleasanton TEA Party drew about 10,000 people from throughout the Bay Area, many of whom waved American flags and held "Taxed Enough Already" signs. Some carried homemade placards with messages such as "The White House is now a red house" and "Time for real change."
Despite the passionate written rhetoric, the mood was mellow in the warm afternoon sun as folks visited booths representing Republican candidates, the Tri-Valley Patriots, KSFO and the Contra Costa GOP among others. A Kids Jump Zone was set up to one side although the crowd was mostly mature and predominantly white.
Speakers were scheduled every 15 minutes interspersed with band performances to rally the faithful. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, spoke at 3 p.m., blasting U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has been representing California for 28 years.
"The truth is people like Barbara Boxer don't have a clue where jobs come from, they don't know who create jobs," Fiorina said to cheers. "The federal government does not create the American dream although the federal government can surely destroy the American dream."
Other candidates included San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, who is running for Assembly District 15 against Joan Buchanan (D., Alamo), and David Harmer of San Ramon, who is vying for the Republican nomination to oppose U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., 11th) in November.
There was at least one person in attendance with a different message. Steve Martinez from Livermore wore an Obama T-shirt and carried a sign that read, "You think the wars you endorse are free? Your fear is harmful AND expensive" on one side and "Just say 'NO' to the party of 'NO' – Start by turning off Faux News" on the other.
"I'm not really anti-TEA Party," he said. "I'm anti-war and anti-made-up news."
He said that a man asked him to go, then found a policeman to tell him that it was a private party and he'd have to leave.
"The cop was really cool about it," said Martinez.
At least one neighbor objected to the TEA Party. Cheryl Hunter, a 20-year Pleasanton resident, said she was unhappy to see a huge sign on the corner of Bernal Avenue and Valley reading, "Fire McNerney."
"He's our representative and I don't know why they are allowed to be there and put that sign up," she said. "I hate all the hateful stuff."
Last year's April 15 tax day rally was held at Amador Valley Community Park in Pleasanton and drew about 2,000-3,000.