At the dining room table of Bill and Dona Shue, at left, the Tea Party Patriots of Northwest Colorado meet together for the second time. The other three are, from left, Rob Schmitzer, Patrick Germond and Rick Barnes. The group plans to host a public meeting June 5 at a location to be determined. Dona said she plans to start a Web site for the group at <a href="http://www.nwcoloteapartypatriots.org">www.nwcoloteapartypatriots.org</a>.

Photo by Collin Smith

At the dining room table of Bill and Dona Shue, at left, the Tea Party Patriots of Northwest Colorado meet together for the second time. The other three are, from left, Rob Schmitzer, Patrick Germond and Rick Barnes. The group plans to host a public meeting June 5 at a location to be determined. Dona said she plans to start a Web site for the group at <a href="http://www.nwcoloteapartypatriots.org">www.nwcoloteapartypatriots.org</a>.

Residents plan meeting to find new political candidates

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Moffat County is a rural, loosely-populated stretch of land known for its ranching and coal.

Some residents, however, see no reason why it can't be in the vanguard of a national political movement.

Everything starts somewhere, even if the birthplace is as inauspicious as a medium-size ranch house on a gravel road, where organizers of the Tea Party Patriots of Northwest Colorado gathered Friday morning around a dining room table.

"This has become a King George kind of government," said Rob Schmitzer, who worked for the federal government for 31 years before retiring. "What we've seen with Obama is the acceleration of the last 40 years of Democrat and Republican control."

The Tea Party Patriots want only two things from their state and national politicians: to shrink government and to let local communities control their destiny.

They plan to put their beliefs into action.

The group expects to host its first public meeting June 5 at a location to be determined. The entire community is invited. Some concerned citizens could come out of that group interested in running for public office, they said.

The best way to change the system is from the inside out, said Rick Barnes, one of the group's six members.

Barnes, a coalminer with Trapper Mining, organized the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party in front of the Moffat County Courthouse with his wife, Tami.

"The wheeling and dealing by lawyers is just outrageous," Barnes said, referring to powerful politicians who "play the politics game" rather than represent their constituents.

Although state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, is not an attorney, Barnes included him in that group, too.

Although White said he was obligated to vote for parts of the budget he didn't like - and the FASTER bill that raised vehicle registration fees - Barnes said the senator was wrong to go against his principles.

"There are people in power who have been there too long, who do not know or do not remember what it's like to live in places in like this," Barnes said. "They don't remember what the real world looks like."

The dining table the Tea Party Patriots sat at was in the house of Bill and Dona Shue. Bill is an Army veteran and a retired schoolteacher.

Dona, president of the High Plains Mustang Club, a horse appreciation group, said her father's family traces its roots back to the American Revolution. At least one family member has fought in every war in America's history, she said proudly.

On her dining room wall rests an assortment of 60 collector's spoons. Some were brought to her by her children, who now all serve in the military, from the faraway places they've been deployed. Outside the Shue's house is a group of six flags - one each of the American, Colorado, Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force standards.

The Shues want to protect this country from what the group described as its "imminent collapse."

"I hear a lot of people say, 'Where were you the first time Bush did a bailout?'" Dona said. "At that time, I don't think most people thought it would keep going like it has. Something has to be done, because things are getting out of control in a bad way."

The only thing that can save the country, the group said, is a return to its founding principles.

"The rule of the federal government is limited, very limited, and they've gone way over their bounds," Schmitzer said.

The reach for federal authority has tied up the country in debates that will never be solved, the group said, such as abortion, gun rights, gay marriage and environmental protections.

Every county and state should have the right to decide its own policies, they said.

"No way can Congress make a sweeping decision like that and have it be right for everybody," said Patrick Germond, a Craig resident who was active at the Tea Party Protest last month. "I don't care if I'm in the majority. If Denver wants to have a parade for the Sierra Club and legalize marijuana, go ahead and let them.

"If we want to drill for oil and natural gas here, we have clean air and clean water, but we don't have any oil field jobs."

The American public has been led to believe they have to root for one of two teams, either Republican or Democrat, Germond said. People need to realize neither party represents the whole country and start taking their power back.

"If it's a king we like, we're good with it," he said. "We have to get past rooting for one side or the other. If we had it to do over again, we wouldn't vote for Bush. We're done with all of the politics across the board. We support the politicians that not only support the people of Moffat County to do what we will, but the people of Denver to do what they want to."

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