Op-Ed: Woodshed Moments for the Texas GOP Establishment

Op-Ed: Woodshed Moments for the Texas GOP Establishment

The Texas Liberty Movement’s corrective “woodshed moments” for the Austin political class began with the May 2012 GOP Primary Election when a dozen new constitutional conservative Texas House candidates and five Texas Senate candidates defeated moneyed special interests–and moved the GOP-dominated legislature to the right. In the July 2012 runoff election for the US Senate, conventional wisdom was shattered when a coalition of “fed up” voters came together to continue the good old-fashioned thrashing of the GOP establishment. The result? Constitutional conservative firebrand and principled orator Ted Cruz handily defeated sitting Lt. Governor David Dewhurst with a 14-point margin to become the Republican nominee to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Cruz easily defeated his Democrat opponent in the November 2012 General Election. 

Fast-forward to the March 2014 GOP Primary and just-ended runoff elections – the woodshed corrections for the Austin GOP elites continued with five TEA party-supported candidates defeating establishment GOP house incumbents. In a stunning blow to the Austin political establishment, voters fired two of their most liberal Republican state senators (Carona of Dallas and Deuell of Greenville) and hired TEA party candidates Don Huffines and Bob Hall.  

Austin establishment-funded candidates challenged three taxpayer champions (Jonathan Stickland of  Bedford, Matt Schaefer of Tyler, and Charles Perry of Lubbock), but with strong TEA party support, they held their seats by garnering huge vote margins, winning with 61 – 73% of the vote. Finally, the runoff elections added two more constitutional conservatives to the Texas House and saw the strongest TEA party supported candidates for Lieutenant Governor (Dan Patrick) and Attorney General (Ken Paxton) defeat establishment candidates Dewhurst and Branch with 30-point and 28-point spreads, respectively.

In the last two primary cycles, Texas Republican Primary voters took a limited-government right-turn at the ballot box. Why? Much of the credit belongs to the five-year-old coalition called the Texas Liberty Movement – a coalition of TEA party and grassroots conservatives weary of legislative sessions where limited government reforms, spending limits, and taxpayer protections are buried in committees dominated by moderate/liberal Republicans or Democrats.

What the GOP Establishment Should Know about the Texas Liberty Movement

We aren’t done yet. We’re here to unravel the “all is well because the GOP is in charge” Austin fairy tale. We’re here to keep mushy moderate Republicans and their special interest cronies from turning Texas into California. ICYMI, here’s why.

We are comprised of organizations with varying names (not all are called “TEA party”, but all share the limited government, “taxed enough already” mindset). There is no single leader of the movement. We don’t need one. 

We are united to send as many constitutional conservatives to Austin as possible. After the last two legislative sessions, we are more informed and highly motivated.  What happens in Austin, no longer stays in Austin.

For politicians planning to “trade up” the political food chain or keep their seats in 2016, here is a short list of items motivating us:

  • We are sick of crony capitalism – tax dollars handed out to big businesses and special interests addicted to OPM (other people’s money). We believe in free markets – not central planning of the economy by a select few.
  • We are tired of excuses from state officials when it comes to the high cost of illegal aliens. We cannot afford social services and welfare for those here illegally. We want the legislature to end this raid on taxpayers.  The social safety net should be reserved for citizens and legal residents, period.
  • A porous border and the lax interior enforcement of the rule of law represent serious threats to the safety and security of citizens and legal residents. We’re tired of state officials who give lip service to law enforcement, but ignore their warnings about the drug and human trafficking cartels that now reach all across Texas. Don’t believe it? See the Department of Public Safety’s unclassified Threat Assessment Overview for 2013 and the 2014 Gang Assessment.
  • We are tired of the security risk of sanctuary city hideouts for drug and human traffickers.
  • We are tired of the “smoke and mirrors” gimmicks used to help balance the state budget. 
  • We are tired a GOP-controlled legislature that cannot find a way to pass “American Laws for American Courts” to ban the use of foreign law in Texas courts.
  • We are tired of hearing the solution to state transportation problems is raising the gas tax, raising registration fees, or making all new roads toll roads. 
  • We are tired of the long-running rampant fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicaid and food stamp programs in Texas.
  • We are tired of overregulation and the overlapping, duplicative state government agencies, departments, and programs.
  • We are fed up with politicians who constantly focus on finding new revenue sources instead of working to get state government back into a constitution-sized box and cutting wasteful spending.
  • We are tired of the House Speaker and Lt. Governor appointing committee chairs and stacking committees with moderate to liberal members of both parties in order to roadblock much-needed progress on issues 1 – 10.

Because we desperately love Texas, and we believe she should lead the United States of America as the brightest shining star of constitutional limited government and liberty, we will not stop this march forward. The future of our children and grandchildren depend upon our success.  

We will keep up this fight – whatever the cost may be – because in this dark hour in our nation, we are determined Texas will rise to her full stature. Texas will be the Shining City on a Hill…where Liberty advances and Texans live free.

JoAnn Fleming is the Executive Director of Grassroots America – We the People, and a two-term Chairman, Advisory Committee to the TEA Party Caucus of the TX Legislature.


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