WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump may have stepped back for now from the idea of creating a new political party, but that hasn’t stopped diehard Trump fans disillusioned with the Republican Party from creating “Patriot Parties” of their own all across the country.
Onetime Trump voters in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and other states have all made attempts at forming their own iterations of a Patriot Party in recent weeks.
A couple have run into problems when they tried to file documents with the Federal Election Commission, and the Trump campaign has had to disavow connections with them.
Although the parties seem to have been formed separately and without coordination, what many of these novice politicos share, they said in interviews, is a deep frustration with the GOP and a desire to create an alternative to the two-party system — with or without Trump’s help or participation.
Last week, the American Patriot Party of the United States – or TAPPUS, for short — formed as a political party committee with an address in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The group’s statement of organization filed with federal campaign finance regulators lists it as the brainchild of St. Petersburg health insurance broker Brian Dow, Denver-area information technology worker Joe Faletra and Larry Glenn of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who has a background as a treasurer.
They’ve also enlisted Wendy Robbins, a Tampa-area public affairs professional, to handle press requests.
In an interview, Dow said he and Glenn served in the Marines together and Faletra is an old high school buddy he recently reconnected with online, but they all found themselves thinking similarly about starting a new political venture.
Dow ticked off a list of party platform planks that sound much like what the GOP offers — lowering taxes, balancing the budget, restricting undocumented immigration — but said unlike the GOP, this party will deliver.
“I’ve had an awful lot of people jumping up and down yelling at us, ‘Don’t you know you’re going to take votes away from the Republican Party?’ And my answer to that is, in the words of Trump, ‘What have we got to lose?’” Dow said.
“The Patriot Party is a repudiation of the GOP for the central fact that they weren’t very supportive of the president, they had the majority once upon a time over the last four years, and they failed to do the things that need to be done for the American people.”
Still, though Dow said he voted for Trump twice and likes the policies the former president pursued, the idea to start this political party came before Trump mused he might start such a party. Dow doesn’t want Trump to be the party’s head honcho anyway because he’s too personally divisive.
The party hopes to start small by recruiting candidates to run for a few local positions, and then hopefully branch into a meaningful political player, he said.
Although these kinds of nascent efforts are unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of the leaders of the Republican Party, the fact that several former GOP voters are exhibiting parallel thinking in starting similarly named splinter parties does appear to indicate a broader dissatisfaction in the wake of Trump’s exit from the White House.
That was reflected in a recent CBS/YouGov poll, which found that 70 percent of Republicans would at least consider joining a Trump party.
GOP leaders do have potentially more serious worries at the center-right of their party, however, as dozens of former officials, including people who have served as White House and congressional staff, met recently to discuss starting a breakaway political party to distance themselves from the Trump wing of the party, according to Reuters.
In the meantime, TAPPUS has some competition just an hour-and-a-half drive south along Florida’s Gulf Coast. There, in Punta Gorda, another former Marine, Jim Davis, founded the MAGA Patriot Party late last month, although he listed the group’s headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.
Davis, a local government employee, said he founded the party to “get the attention of the Republican Party that really we felt they weren’t representing us anymore.”
“Everybody had a lot of anger and we were trying to focus that anger into something more positive,” he said in an interview. “We were kind of listening for what Trump potentially would do, so when he mentioned he was considering the Patriot Party, a lot of us are already considering it.”
Davis got a rude awakening though: When he filed with the Federal Election Commission to form his version of the party, he didn’t really know what he was doing and accidentally formed a political action committee affiliated with Donald J. Trump For President, the president’s official campaign arm.
The Trump campaign filed a statement with the FEC disavowing the Davis’ group not long after.
“At first, we were disappointed,” Davis conceded. “But I think in the end, it was like, ‘Well, you know, this is not about Trump anymore, this is about the people.’ And so we don’t really care what Trump does, as far as what his plans are, we’re going to continue with ours, because we can’t put all of our hope on one person.”
Despite the hiccup, Davis said he’s retracted the political action committee and plans to refile properly soon as the Constitutional Patriot Party. He said he’s working with cohorts from Georgia all the way out to Colorado
Georgia, North Carolina patriots
Unfortunately for Davis, he isn’t even the only Patriot Party to have made that exact same filing error.
One state north, in Grovetown, Ga., Army veteran and firefighter Michael Gaul tried to create a political party, but accidentally formed a political action committee he claimed to be affiliated with Trump.
He said in an interview that happened because he simply didn’t know how to work the FEC website. A disavowal letter from Trump’s presidential campaign came soon after.
No matter, though. Gaul has filed to run for president himself, as a standard bearer of the Patriot Party.
And that’s not where the run on Patriot Parties ends. In the Mt. Gilead, N.C., the Patriots Party was created in January by a man named Joseph Valenti whose other claim to fame is owning a once-popular live action role playing game. According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections website, Valenti is an unaffilitated voter who first registered in 2015, but who has voted only once — in the November 2016 election.
In Illinois, the group du jour is the Patriots Party for USA.
That’s not to mention Donald Magyar, who held the patent for “Patriot Party” from 2007 to 2017 and tried to renew it in January 2020 — only to be followed by several other attempts to trademark the phrase or something similar for use as a political party early this year.
The Patriot Party frenzy mostly began after Trump mused in January about starting a new party, and suggesting it could be called the Patriot Party, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Still, it may have been much ado about nothing. Later that month, Trump met at his Mar-a-Lago resort with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the two men said in statements after the huddle that they discussed Trump helping Republicans win back seats in Congress in 2022.
Daniel Newhauser covers Washington for the States Newsroom network, of which Policy Watch is a member.