Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Jenny Beth Martin

Every revolution needs icons. The Tea Party movement may have mushroomed because of its reluctance to anoint a leader, but leaders have emerged nonetheless. In February 2009, Jenny Beth Martin was one of about 20 people who took part in the original conference call (convened via Twitter hashtag) in response to Rick Santelli's now famous rant. Her commitment to building the burgeoning movement has made her one of its breakout stars. Martin, 39, is a co-founder and the national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, an umbrella organization that claims 1,800 local affiliates with some 15 million members. She serves as co-chair of her hometown Tea Party in Atlanta, and she helped lead the 9/12 movement's march on Washington in September. It was only as she watched protesters trickle down Pennsylvania Avenue to promote Tea Party principles, she says, that "the enormity of the movement hit me." The former Republican consultant is an unlikely beacon — a mother of young twins, she blogs about clipping coupons, her household menu plans and her family's battle with bankruptcy, which had Martin cleaning houses to make ends meet when the Tea Party began brewing. "I have a tendency to raise my hand to volunteer too often," she says of the decision to launch the Tea Party Patriots. Her peers are glad she did.

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