Chattanooga Tea Party Leader Mark West Joins Cruz Camp

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chattanooga Tea Party leader Mark West is among those announced as the Tennessee leadership team for the presidential campaign of Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Senator Cruz has an upcoming trip to Chattanooga.

Stephen Siao joins the Cruz campaign as state director, and 24 "top grassroots and faith leaders" join chairman Kevin Kookogey on the state leadership team.

Mr. Siao previously led Heritage Action's efforts in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Before joining Heritage Action in January 2014, Siao served on the communications staff of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and completed a fellowship at the John Jay Institute.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he led was twice elected state chairman of the Tennessee College Republicans.

"I am over the moon that we have already attracted to Team Cruz the most prominent and proven conservative political activists in the state of Tennessee,” said Chairman Kookogey. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg. When Senator Cruz arrives next week, the public will begin to appreciate what we already know: Tennessee is Cruz Country."

On Monday and Tuesday, Senator Cruz will travel to several cities in Tennessee including Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Jackson, and Memphis. Event schedule may be found at

Ben Cunningham is a longtime leader of the tea party movement in Tennessee. A key organizer in the fight against the state income tax more than a decade ago, Ben started the Tennessee Tax Revolt. More recently, he founded the Nashville Tea Party. Ben has been instrumental in many fights at all levels of government.

Myra Simons most recently served as Board President of the Yes on 1 Campaign, a pro-life TN constitutional amendment campaign that culminated in victory in the November 2014 election. Myra has been involved in politics since Ronald Reagan’s first campaign, with the sanctity of human life as her foremost issue. A Tennessean most of her life, she currently resides in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband and two sons where they are active members of Franklin Road Baptist Church.

Julie West is has been one of the key conservative leaders on education in Tennessee. A mother, minister, and activist, Julie is president of Parents for Truth in Education--and has become a popular speaker and familiar voice on the radio. She has drafted, educated, and advocated on behalf of legislation. Julie has also served at-risk populations as a prison chaplain and youth minister.

Lyndon Allen is pastor of Woodmont Bible Church and host of The Total Life Victory Radio Show. Moving to Nashville in 1995, he came as a signed recording artist with Gotee Records and performed in the Dove Award-nominated Christian reggae group Christafari, and also co-wrote for the movie soundtrack Left Behind.

Mark West is president of the Chattanooga Tea Party. Mark is an entrepreneurial partner in a number of business enterprises, including healthcare management, motorsport ventures and property investment. He and his wife have two grown sons and are active in their church.

Tommy Vallejos is a retiree of the US Army, where he proudly served over 21 years and was awarded the Bronze Star. He is the Care Pastor for Faith Outreach Church in Clarksville, and he is also the first ever Latino county commissioner in our state, currently serving his second term representing Montgomery County. Tommy is a dedicated husband, father and grandfather, and he is an unapologetic advocate for Jesus Christ.

James Amundsen has served in various leadership positions within the Williamson County Young Republicans and Willamson County Republican Party since 2002. As a campaign manager, he has helped elect several other conservatives to local and state offices. James is an U.S. Air Force veteran and continues to volunteer his time as the immediate Past Commander of his local American Legion Post.

Charlie Cato is a Nashville attorney with a long history of government service and political involvement in Tennessee dating back almost 40 years. He is a former member of the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee. Charlie is also serving as a member of the Cruz For President National Finance Committee.

Bob Crigger has been a longtime advocate for conservative Republicans in Nevada and Tennessee. He is active in the Maury County Republican Party, and regularly writes political articles in the local paper. Bob recently presented arguments against a tax increase in Maury County, before the Maury County Commission.

Kim Dahlgren is the immediate past president of the Washington County Republican Party and serves as the 3rd Vice Chair of the county party. She is the happily-married mother of two boys.

Dr. Lee Douglas is the founder of 912 Project Tennessee, which began in March 2009 as 135 patriots answering the call. It is now a 2,000 member organization devoted to restoring the American culture through education, advocacy, and restoring eternal moral values. Lee is a dentist by trade.

Karen Entz moved to Franklin, TN from New York in 2000 when Hillary Clinton became its Senator. Karen formerly served as vice treasurer for the Williamson County Republican Party and treasurer of the Republican Women of Williamson County.

Hope Foulds moved back to Knoxville in 2006, after growing up in Chattanooga, and spending time in Houston. A conservative Christian wondering what she could do to turn our country around, Hope became an activist with Heritage Action in 2013, and started a Sentinel Coalition that year.

Michelle Garcia is a wife, a mother of two, and a Tennessee native who strongly supports conservative principles and who eagerly strives to serve her community. Michelle speaks fluent Spanish and is actively involved with Hispanic outreach. Professionally, Michelle has over 16 years of experience as an association manager and meeting planner, in addition to small business management and ownership experience.

Frank Gorgie has been politically active since volunteering for the Reagan campaign in 1984. He has worked for U.S. Senator Jacob "Chic" Hecht and currently teaches political science and political philosophy at Belmont University.

Grant Hubbard is vice president for national promotion at Capitol CMG. He is also a board member of the Christian Music Broadcasters.

Katherine Hudgins is a longtime conservative leader in Rutherford County. She has served as vice president of the 912 Project and is a key leader in the statewide liberty movement recruiting and vetting many candidates. Katherine has led the fight in drumming up conservative pressure on numerous issues at the state and congressional level.

Kyle Mallory served two terms as Chairman of the Stewart County Republican Party. He has chaired and volunteered on numerous county andregional campaigns going back as far as Congressman Robin Beard’s campaigns. Kyle was the 2014 6th-8th Grade Tennessee Teacher of the Year for the VFW and the 2015 Tennessee Teacher Advocate of the Year for the Professional Educators of Tennessee.

John Miles is the chairman of City Planning Commission in Union City, as well as chairman of the Obion County Tea Party. He has been a director at First State Bank for a number of years where he chaired the Subsidiary Committee and served on the Compliance Committee. John has practiced law since 1988.

Steve Osborn is the immediate past chairman of the Sevier County Tea Party, where he influenced legislators and other elected officials. He was instrumental in delivering the county to Joe Carr in last year’s primary. Steve moved to Tennessee in 1999 in part because of its conservative values.

Rob Thacker is the Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. An alumnus of Covenant College, he earned his Master's in Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married twenty-one years and are devoted parents to son, Frederick, and triplets, Eliza, Sam, and Douglas.

Jim Vesper is a longtime activist leader in Blount County, TN. He served on Newt Gingrich’s campaign as county coordinator in 2012, and is active in the Smoky Mountains Tea Party Patriots. He is married with one daughter.

Mick Wright formerly served as President of the Northeast Shelby Republican Club and as Fourth Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Shelby County. He is the digital communications coordinator at Youth Villages, a Memphis-based non-profit organization serving children and families in twelve states and Washington, D.C.. Mick is a member of the Bartlett Education Foundation board and the Bartlett Chamber Foundation board.

Michael Zinser is president of the Zinser Law Firm, P.C., and serves as general counsel to a number of different newspaper trade organizations. Michael has spent 38 years representing management of media companies in labor and employment matters. The firm represents over 250 daily newspapers and outdoor advertising companies from Hawaii to New York.

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