RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The largest Tea Party convention in the United States kicks off at the Richmond Convention Center.
The Virginia Tea Party Federation's first convention features national speakers like Ron Paul and Dick Morris, along with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
It's no small step for a movement that took root as independent groups in cities and rural areas since the Democratic sweep in the 2008 election.
Political experts says the Tea Party activists hope to have a big voter turnout at next month's midterm election.
Democrats like Tim Kaine spoke on the Today Show this week on how Democratic voters will react to the Tea Party and voter turnout.
"We still have work to do but - both in the generic national polls and also race-to-race polls - we are seeing our hand improving," said Kaine. "Our candidates are out there doing good work and the Republicans are nominating folks that paint a stark choice between the two parties."
No matter how voter's turnout next month at the polls, Mayor Dwight Jones is welcoming the Tea Party to Richmond this weekend.
He tells the Times-Dispatch he hopes visitors also have a chance to visit some historic places like St. John's Church, as well as spend money at Richmond's restaurants.
This convention is proving to be a big benefit for our local economy already - several hotels in the area say they are either booked, or pretty much full.
We'll have complete live coverage of the convention through the morning.