Last October, the Indy ran a feature story on the growing conservative movement in the Bitterroot Valley and the rise of the citizen group Celebrating Conservatism. We've since revisited the group's members in a number of briefs, tracking their first attempts at influencing county and state policy.
National mainstream media outlets finally weighed in on the emergence of these mixed-bag groups of disgruntled Tea Partiers, Christian Patriots and militia movements holdovers yesterday. Lee Banville at the Christian Science Monitor's Patchwork Nation blog wrote on Celebrating Conservatism's sister group in Ronan, Calling All Conservatives. New York Times writer David Barstow used the Tea Party Patriots of Sandpoint, Idaho, as a window into the rise of similar groups across the nation. Both stories hit on the same trends we found at Celebrating Conservatism, most notably the designation of far-right speaker and former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack as the new rock star of the conservative circuit. Mack spoke at two Celebrating Conservatism meetings in Hamilton in 2009—once in July and again in November. Our coverage continues tomorrow, with a brief on the latest proposed constitutional initiative from Celebrating Conservatism's ranks.