Tom Perriello attended the Jefferson Area Tea Party's monthly gathering at the Forest Lake Arby's Thursday night. The 5th District congressman came face-to-face with many of the people that want him out of office.

"I respect your position, but not you," said one tea party member. "I wonder if you would agree you failed and should be fired," said another. It was a heated, but civil 60 plus minutes between a man and a fast-growing party that do not often see eye-to-eye.

Looking for a second term in Washington, Perriello went right to those who have spent many a day protesting outside his Charlottesville office.

"I have a lot more respect for those who passionately disagree with me than those who just don't care, " Perriello said.

Perriello has been a target of Republicans nationally ever since he beat long-time 5th District Representative Virgil Goode by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2008. Thursday night, he was challenged on everything from cap and trade, the economy, and healthcare, to the government being over involved.

"That's the point. Government is deciding too much," said one tea party member. "I don't want my soul owned by the federal government."

While the number of issues with differing opinions far outweighed similarities, Perriello was quick to say he heard a number of strong points brought up by members of the Jefferson Area Tea Party.

Of course, all of this back and forth came with one of the most critical congressional elections in the country just over two months away. When asked if he is concerned that tea party members may decide his political future, Perriello said, "These are good people here and we had a good time tonight [Thursday]. Again, I hope people do get engaged and I think the more facts that come out, the more it helps our cause."

Ironically, the gathering took place just hours after the Jefferson Area Tea Party agreed with Perriello on his stance that Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner should be fired. Perriello made the comment last week at a town hall meeting in Ruckersville.

Reported by Steve Rappaport
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