The Spring Branch Republicans held their 2nd Annual San Jacinto Day Dinner, a celebration of Texas Independence that featured Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby. The event opened with a video presentation about the grassroots work of the Spring Branch Republicans which included a message from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) commending the group for their leadership. Other speakers included State Representative Dwayne Bohac, Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel, and Harris County Republican Party Chairman-elect Paul Simpson. The evening closed with a moving serenade by country music legend Johnny Rodriguez.
The setting for this sold-out dinner was a modest but cozy banquet room in a neighborhood restaurant. The speaker’s podium was flanked on one side by a print of the famous Siege of the Alamo painting by Lajos Markos. The original painting resides in the State Capitol. The original Markos oil portrait of Sam Houston was on the other side. Conservative and Tea Party leaders from as far away as Fort Bend County and Clear Lake attended.
Like General Houston who personally led the infantry who shouted “Remember the Alamo,” and “Remember Goliad,” the Texas and Harris County leaders all spoke of Texas pride and unity in fighting for conservative causes against Battleground Texas. State Representative Dwayne Bohac set the stage with the story of Juan Seguin who left the Alamo on his horse carrying a note from William Travis asking for reinforcements. He watched the Alamo fall but woke up the next morning as a citizen of the Republic. Bohac took this historical Texas backdrop and contrasted it with the federal government and highlighted the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 10th Amendments. Bohac said that the Leftist media was the mouthpiece and arm of the liberal federal government. He took great issue with the NSA saying it was running rough-shod on the fourth Amendment by collecting phone and email data.
Brandon Darby, the Managing Director of Breitbart Texas, took the crowd through his childhood in Pasadena, Texas, as the son of an oil refinery worker and a run-a-way, to the days of his activism as a prominent community Leftist organizer with connections to the Black Panthers. He described how his activism brought him from working with the radical left, to becoming an FBI informant against the radical left. Darby explained that his liberal center changed in 2008 after events surrounding the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Two activists from Texas had conspired to use firebombs at the political convention. Darby began to question his ties when the Left made heroes of the attempted bombers. The activists were convicted after Darby acted as an FBI informant with the Joint Terrorism Taskforce. Darby detailed how he was battered and demonized by the leftist media for his role. He explained that it is primarily a left-of-center tactic to make personal attacks on the character of those who are seen as a threat to the liberal agenda. Darby first met Andrew Breitbart when Breitbart called to thank him for his role in the convictions.
Darby honored the legacy and inspiration of Andrew Breitbart and his battles against ACORN and the liberal media. Darby told the crowd that Breitbart put a lot of energy into him and built him up. He contrasted this with “most political types who build themselves up and don’t care about others.” Darby was thankful that Andrew Breitbart got people together and empowered them, and said that both he and Breitbart shared a passion for helping people. Referring to himself, Darby said he “always assumed he was a leftist because he liked to help other people.” He told the crowd that Democrats and other liberals who voted for President Obama, did so because they thought Obama cared more about people. He explained that liberals gain power and take away liberty by engaging in a “false narrative.” Darby exhorted conservatives and Republicans to “change our conversation” and he expressed the opinion that “right of center, and small-government solutions” is the answer.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst spoke after Darby at the event and good-naturedly quipped that he “hates to follow Darby.” He made some introductory remarks, and contrasted himself and his opponent. Then the Lieutenant Governor expressed that he is “always amazed that people still do not know David Dewhurst.” Unscripted and unplanned, he called on some folks in the audience to speak. Bob Hall, retiree turned Tea Party and Republican activist, told the crowd “don’t you dare say that David Dewhurst is not a conservative. Hall said he was looking at Dewhurst’s 10-12 year conservative record. He praised the Lieutenant Governor for helping bring business to Texas, and as a True the Vote supporter, he was very grateful for Dewhurst’s role in bringing six different voter laws to Texas, including Voter ID. Hall applauded him for his part in 19 lawsuits against the federal government for over-stepping sovereign state rights, as well as his part in cutting taxes 54 times, including property tax reductions. He said the Lieutenant Governor had a record of being for reducing taxes, not increasing them.
Hall was proud of Dewhurst’s record, but he was also proud of the man. Hall met Dewhurst when the Spring Branch Republicans went block-walking. He said that the Lieutenant Governor “spoke from his heart, answered questions, was on point, and really related to people.” Dewhurst had “very good, decent answers, he was not living in the spin zone.” The four time cancer survivor said that he is “very picky about who his friends are” but that David Dewhurst “was the kind of person that I would want to have as my friend.”
Robert Gonzalez, Co-founder of the Clear Lake Tea Party, told the crowd that “he had a change of heart” after he met David Dewhurst. He received a polite call from the Dewhurst campaign asking for the Board’s consideration and endorsement. Dewhurst was reaching out to Tea Party and Grassroots activists and wanted to work with them once he was re-elected. Gonzalez said he was not enthused about the prospect, but said he would talk to his Board and then get back to the campaign. Two of his Board members, Tea Party grassroots activists Dale and Mary Hulls, were already supporting Dewhurst. Gonzalez got back with the campaign and said that he had questions about Dewhurst’s past performance and wanted a face-to-face encounter with the Lieutenant Governor. He explained that there would be no speeches or talking points, just honest questions and open dialogue.
Eleven of the twelve Board members of the Clear Lake Tea Party were present at the meeting. Dewhurst never wavered in directly answering a question. Gonzalez said he was vigilant about watching Dewhurst’s body language and eye contact. He asked Dewhurst about his faith and quoted Proverbs 29:2. Gonzalez was delighted that Dewhurst agreed that “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” He was also delighted that Dewhurst said he would seek the Lord before making any decisions. After 3 ½ hours of questioning, Gonzalez and the Board of the Clear Lake Tea Party were convinced that Dewhurst was the right man. Gonzalez said he was wrong about the man but that a change of heart is not a bad thing.
Chris Daniel, Harris County District Clerk, who rose to his position after grassroots activism, laid out a strategy for conservatives. He said that the best place to start was in your own neighborhood, taking responsibility for your own block. He said you master the block, than the section of your neighborhood, and then move on to mastering the precinct. Daniel said that if conservatives would all take responsibility for their own block, they will keep Texas Red and defeat Battleground Texas. Daniels commended State Representative Bohac for his block-walking, and political consultant Phil Owens for his grassroots work. Harris County Republican Party Chair-Elect Paul Simpson, who won the seat against a party favorite after running for this office and working with the grassroots for the last twelve years, told the crowd that he was going to apply the same community efforts against the Democrats.