August 14, 2010 11:58 PM

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts. See Monday’s Daily Press for a look at how Tea Partiers could impact elections.

Brandon Wood says enough is enough.

He used to enjoy riding off-road motor vehicles with his kids — until Hesperia passed an ordinance prohibiting it. He’s also been caught on one of Victorville’s unpopular red light cameras, facing a hefty $450 fine.

“Who wanted it?” Wood asked about such government regulations. “No one around me. The government is now working for itself, not for us.”

Wood recently learned about the High Desert Patriots, a local Tea Party chapter, through a friend and attended a meeting at the Legendary Cocky Bull restaurant on Highway 395 and Palmdale Road. There he discovered a group where hundreds of residents boo and hiss at the mention of tax hikes and “Obamacare,” and then chant “hear, hear” in support of Arizona immigration law and easing regulations on small businesses.

Wood said he left the meeting feeling “fired up.”

The Tea Party phenomenon isn’t exactly a fledging political party, but a loosely united movement of grassroots efforts across the nation. Frustrated by a government they say doesn’t listen to its citizens anymore, Tea Partiers are driven by a mission to “take back the country” and reclaim the vision and principles of the founding fathers.

They organize rallies at local community centers, bars and parks, and march along streets or outside government buildings waving signs reading “Taxed enough” and “Don’t tread on me.”

The High Desert is home to at least five Tea Party groups meeting regularly, including ones in Apple Valley, Barstow, Hesperia, Phelan and Victorville.

High Desert Patriots is the largest local Tea Party group, with at least 1,000 members signed up and 150 to 500 attending weekly meetings, according to Bill Jensen, the group’s co-founder and former mayor of Hesperia. Their mission statement, which is read aloud every meeting, encompasses core values shared among Tea Partiers nationwide: Limited government, fiscal responsibility, free market and strict adherence to the Constitution.

For the full story, read Sunday’s Press Dispatch. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.