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Father of the Tea Party Movement

Did you know that the man many refer to as the “Father of the Tea Party Movement” got his political start in Reno, Nevada and now lives in Las Vegas? Here’s the scoop on the man with the plan from a recent Associated Press story:

When (tea party activists and leaders) ponder how to go from exasperated to engaged, Eric Odom stands at the ready with an e-mail or a Tweet — and an answer.

In March, Odom picked up his life in Chicago, put on hold a career as an Internet consultant and moved with his fiancée and a blogger friend into a three-bedroom apartment a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

There, in a dining space turned “war room,” the 30-year-old helps direct the assault that is feeding the nation’s antiestablishment frenzy.

Some might call him the father of the tea party. He prefers the term “organizer.”

Six years ago, Odom was a college student in Reno, Nev., studying graphic communications and quickly becoming an expert in the art of using the Internet to communicate.

He wasn’t politically involved. In fact, he said he didn’t vote.

Then Odom got his first real job and noticed how much of his paycheck went to taxes. Illegal immigration also caught his attention.

It was 2004, and George W. Bush was running for re-election. Odom decided to try to get involved by offering to revamp the website for the Washoe County Republican Party in Reno. The leaders, he said, eventually rejected his work because it wasn’t “run through their process.”

In February 2009, Odom, like so many others, was watching when CNBC reporter Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, ranting about stimulus money and the mortgage crisis and calling on capitalists to converge at Lake Michigan for a “Chicago tea party.”

In 24 hours, Odom had a website up to help organize just that, and his tea party career took off.

The culmination of all of that is the new political action committee he heads, Liberty First, and its offshoots, TaxDayTeaParty.com and The Patriot Caucus, which he describes as a coalition of tea party organizers who want to “engage the movement in electoral activism.”

Odom spends his days in front of a computer in that Las Vegas condo war room, under a banner that reads “Silent Majority No More!”, firing off Tweets, text messages, phone calls and e-mails to tens of thousands of people.

Across from Odom is Steve Foley, a 37-year-old, laid-off mortgage manager who writes the conservative blog, “The Minority Report.” On a wall is a whiteboard with a list of U.S. House and Senate races, and the many incumbents, they’re targeting.

Together, Odom and Foley sometimes make hundreds of calls in a day to draw folks out to local meetings to talk about working to get others involved. Or they’ll hold training sessions to teach grassroots activists. They’ve enlisted statewide coordinators in places like Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois and New Hampshire.

“What is our ultimate goal?” Odom said. “To make sure that we’re represented by people who are looking out for our rights and upholding the Constitution. … And, if they don’t, to make sure we have infrastructure to really take them out rather than have these thugs that are in there for 30, 40 years.”