The Battle for America 2010 is being fought in homes, businesses, in block walks and phone banks and gatherings large and small from one end of America to the other. Across the country, the Tea Party phenomenon has not only made this year’s midterms fascinating, it’s made them unique. There has never been a movement quite like the Tea Party, which can attract larger and more energetic crowds than either major political party. The Tear Party movement exists and thrives outside both political parties, is angry with both political parties, but thus far has no designs to become a political party itself. The Tea Party is working within the system, to change and shape the GOP by getting its brand of candidates past the Republican primaries and into the general election to take down big-spending left-wing Democrats.
And they’re making a big difference. In Nevada, the Tea Party’s GOP candidate for Senate, Sharron Angle, told Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “man up” before she crushed him in their only debate. In Florida, the Tea Party’s preferred candidate for Senate, Marco Rubio, has a solid lead on both the Democratic candidate and the ex-Republican Rubio knocked off in the primary. After November 2, the GOP caucus in Congress will have a distinctive Tea flavor.
In Houston, the Tea Party is hoping to use the next three weeks to keep Texas in conservative hands and send a message to Washington to stop spending so much, stop taxing so much, and stop taking over everything in sight. Texas is very friendly territory to that message. In the past month, Texas has become an even deeper shade of red. Republican Gov. Rick Perry, a frequent Tea Party speaker, holds a strong lead in both the polls and the cash arms race over his liberal Democratic rival, Bill White. Rep. Chet Edwards, the Democrat with the distinction of holding the strongest GOP seat occupied by a Democrat in the entire country, is badly trailing his Republican challenger, Bill Flores. Other congressional races around the state are moving inexorably toward the Republicans. Even seats previously thought safe for the Democrats, such as Lloyd Doggett’s south of Austin, have come into play. (Doggett’s Republican challenger, Dr. Donna Campbell, is gaining ground in the polls.) Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar even launched a panicky “October surprise” mail piece against his GOP opponent, Bryan Underwood, this past week.
But Houston is the state’s largest city, and as I’ve written before, it’s under threat from the left’s voter registration groups, which have allegedly packed the city and county with thousands of fraudulent registrations. It was Tea Party groups who sniffed that scandal out and reported it to authorities. With less than three weeks left to go before Election Day and with early voting starting in Texas on Monday, October 18, the North Houston Tea Party is having their last major meeting of the year. This being Houston and things generally being bigger in Texas, the NHTP is expecting about 20,000 to show up. For perspective’s sake, that’s about 5,000 larger than the state GOP convention, which is held every two years. And the GOP convention here dwarfs the Democrats’ convention, to the point that even liberal reporters dread that funereal affair. But what can the Tea Party accomplish so close to the election?
Kevin Williams, the NHTP’s director of training, is focused on four letters.
“Our main focus is GOTV — to motivate everyone to vote themselves, and take friends with them.” For those who turn out, several big name speakers including Brigitte Gabriel and Kevin Jackson will be on hand to get them fired up, but Williams says that speeches aren’t the focus. Texans who come out to the party can expect to be put to work.
“We’ll direct them to ACTIVISM table, which gives them options so they can plug in to phone banks or volunteering with their favorite candidate — like John Faulk for example. We’ll also invite them to come and do phone banking from our Tea Party site — I-45 N in The Woodlands.”
Faulk is the Republican challenger to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Lee made headlines in 2009 for totally ignoring a town hall questioner, which she later tried to claim was her calling to get answers to voters’ questions.
From its inception, the Democrats have derided the Tea Party movement as everything from “mobs” to “Astroturf.” With the Tea Parties nationwide coming under direct White House attack that’s likely to intensify before the election, Williams says he senses denial giving way to desperation.
“Obama and the Democrats have been in denial of Tea Party Movement since day one. Now, they are realizing that it is real and their denial has changed to desperation, thus the latest attacks.”
The North Houston Tea Party’s last meeting before Texas early voting begins is Saturday, 10 to 2, in the Sam Houston Race Park.