The Tea Party Express buses rolled into Ohio Saturday drawing hundreds of supporters days before the voters head to the polls. The rally in Upper Arlington, a residential community just outside of Columbus, drew supporters from across the state.
"I just believe in what the Tea Party stands for," said Paula Sauer of Westerville. She's backing GOP candidates in this election. "Smaller government, a lot less control over us and lower taxes and just standing by the Constitution."
While Tea Party groups in Ohio make up a loose conglomeration of factions, not necessarily endorsing candidates, they have brought fiscal issues to the forefront in a state where unemployment stands at 10 percent and has consistently stood in the double digits.
Steven Carr, President of the Columbus Tea Party, says volunteers are working hard to connect with local communities and put down roots in neighborhoods, becoming a "snake with 1000 heads." He says many group members are working toward long-term goals that won't reach a finish line on November second, like fighting to repeal federal health care reforms.
Meanwhile, to the south, the Cincinnati Tea Party is hosting its own rally, urging voters to get to the polls. Chris Littleton, the organization's president, is also a co-founder of the Ohio Liberty Council, an umbrella organization linking local Tea Party groups and like-minded organizations statewide.
Littleton says the groups are not loyal to the Republican Party but see many of the GOP candidates, especially those running for the U.S. House, as necessary to shift the direction the country is moving.
"I understand the strategic value in knocking out Nancy Pelosi," said Littleton.
Many involved in the Ohio Liberty Council movement are backing the proposed Ohio Health Care Freedom Amendment which aims to "protect Ohioans from the financial burdens of complying with new federal mandates and from the fines or penalties resulting from non-compliance" according to the Ohio Project, an activist backed petition drive to have the amendment placed on the November 2011 ballot.
Carol Husenitza, who describes herself as a grassroots activist, spent the morning gathering signatures at the Upper Arlington Tea Party rally.
"We've met our halfway goal, over our halfway mark and we're going to continue it on until we get the job done," said Husenitza who sees the amendment as a firewall.
"It's going to give Ohioans the right to preserve their choice of health care rather than having it mandated. Government mandates that would involve penalties and even jail time if they don't have government approved health care," said Husenitza.
A Fox News survey released on Tuesday showed 64 percent of the Ohio voters polled favor repealing all or parts of President Obama's national health insurance law. 32 percent want to keep or expand it.