Democrats, the media and even some Republicans have already written our political obituary in Harris County and across the state of Texas. The last time I checked, however, every statewide office was held by a Republican, both U.PS. senators from Texas were Republicans, we had a Republican majority in the state legislature, and every countywide office in Harris County was held by a Republican. I also seem to remember a Republican from Texas occupying a big house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Texas is a state rich in natural resources and breath-taking beauty. It is also a state rich in culture, history and, of course politics. Texas has been the birthplace and/or home to many great political figures including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, John Tower, Col. Oliver North and many more. Texans have always been conservative, though not always Republicans. It has only been in the last two decades that the Republican Party has achieved dominance in Texas. But we are now a proud Republican state and a key to Republican success in 2008.
Given our past successes, we must ask ourselves why some observers are so confident the Democrats will be successful and what we as Republicans can do to make sure we are successful in November.
As a party, we have achieved many of our goals. We control every statewide office and have a majority in the state legislature. Many times when we reach a goal, people and parties have a tendency to contract something I have heard called “destination disease.”
Symptoms of destination disease include getting comfortable where you are, failing to grow, forgetting what steps you took to achieve your goals, and an unwillingness to stretch yourself and try new things. If we as a party do not want to contract “destination disease”, we are going to have to continue to grow in communities that have not traditionally voted Republican. We are going to have to implement innovative campaign strategies. We must focus on the blocking and tackling of politics, i.e., voter registration and GOTV (get out the vote). We must fashion creative, conservative solutions for the challenges we face.
From the beaches of Padre Island to the mountains of Big Bend over to the forests of the Piney Woods and right here in Houston, Republicans across this great state are all focused on November. Texas Republicans know that 2008 is a critical year, but they have many questions: Is this election important? Can we win? How do we win?
For most of us, 2008 is probably the most important election in our adult lives. The votes we cast in November will, of course, have implications for our federal candidates. It goes without saying that we must elect Sen. John McCain as our next President for many reasons: Our next President will have a minimum of three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and dozens of appointments to federal courts; will heavily influence the state of our economy including the price of energy, which greatly affects the prices of goods and services, and he will determine the state of freedom and security here at home and across the globe.
We must also elect and/or re-elect good Republicans to Congress, including Sen. John Cornyn who faces a serious opponent and Pete Olson who can unseat Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson, taking back Tom Delay’s seat. Also at stake this cycle are our seats in the Texas house and senate, which are critical to building on the successes of the last session of the legislature that included: elimination of the TAKS test, implementation of background checks for teachers, strengthening of private property rights, property tax rate reductions and passage of the Castle Doctrine. With the re-election of our conservative Republicans and election of strong challengers, such as Greg Meyers who challenges Hubert Vo, we can continue our agenda including passage of voter photo I.D. legislation, property tax reform, and curbing state spending.
Finally, let us not forget our local candidates such as our county judges, commissioners tax assessors, district and county clerks and district judges. They control our roads, parks, vehicle registrations, court records and preside over justice in Texas. They also control millions of dollars a year and have the authority to raise or lower our taxes. These down-ballot elected officials have as much impact on our daily lives as those in Washington or Austin and we should work just as hard for them as we do for the top of the ticket.
Rally Around Sen. McCain
A recent Texas poll showed that Sen. McCain is 16 points ahead of Sen. Obama in Texas. This reflects McCain’s ability to unify Republicans. Why are Texas Republicans unifying behind the maverick? First, McCain has a strong record of restraint when it comes to government spending. He aggressively opposes earmarks and is working to control runaway spending. Second, he has a strong pro-life record. Third, he will appoint conservative jurists who will not legislate from the bench. Sen. Obama will give us runaway spending, liberal judges and anti-life legislation. Too much is at stake to not unify around Sen. McCain.
Have a Plan and Execute on it
So the question remains; can we win in November? To that I say—of course we can win. We have a track record in Harris County of winning hard-fought elections, and it is a model that can be duplicated across the state. It is not a complicated formula. To win, we must register new Republicans, identify Republicans and turn them out to vote on Election Day.
Registering new voters in strong Republican precincts, particularly in growth areas, is critical. We proved that it is effective and can be done when we registered 55,000 new or lapsed voters leading up to the 2002 general election, in which we swept all countywide offices in Harris County.
Another key component of our victory plan is to identify independent voters and newly registered voters in Republican areas who plan to vote for our Republican candidates. In Harris County, we are identifying these voters through volunteer phone banks and block walks. Once these voters have been identified, their names are added to our Republican database to be turned out on Election Day.
The final piece of the plan obviously is to turn out the Republican voters we have identified leading up to November, which will be accomplished using volunteer phone banks, automated calls, door hangers, direct mail and block walking.
Of course, there are many more elements to our victory plan—too many to be included here—which include advocacy to undecided voters and an intense grass-roots organization to capitalize on the high-touch achieved through neighbor-to-neighbor contact. But this should offer an overview of how simple our plan should be to combat the real enemy in 2008.
Never Give Up and Agree to Disagree
There may be candidates, positions or legislation that you are not fond of. In fact, you will probably never find another Republican who agrees with your on every single issue or candidate. I believe the heated debate that occurs within our own ranks is one of our greatest strengths. In fact, there is nothing wrong with a good primary fight. I subscribe to the proverbial theory that iron sharpens iron…. However, once the primary is over it is time to lock arms with your Republican brothers and sisters and have a unified vision and a oneness of purpose: Elect the Republican. You may disagree with the nominee on one or two issues out of ten, but I assure you the Democrat on the other side of the tickets has a different world view and probably disagrees with you on nine or ten out of ten issues. We must never let our differences get in the way of victory in November.
What we must remember is that our enemy this cycle is not the vacuous and tired Democrat mantra of change which they spout because they have nothing else to offer. Nor is it the demographics of our state—Texas is a Republican state and we have the votes to win in November. No, my fellow Texans, apathy is our enemy; if we are to win in November, we must inspire and turn out the Republican voters.
The Democrats would like nothing better than to see our party adopt a defeatist mentality. The Republican Party is preparing for victory, not defeat. Texans have always been fighters and we are still fighters. The freedom-loving Texans at the Alamo chose to fight and die for principle, rather to run away and live. Now it is our time to fight for those principles in which we believe. We must fight, fight, fight. If we do, we will win in November. Will you join us?