Galveston County has been blue since the time of Reconstruction and has now turned solidly red. In fact, Galveston County is said to be one of the most solidly red counties in the State. The hard work of the county’s Republicans was helped along by the anger towards the policies of President Barack Obama. Breitbart Texas previously reported on another blue Texas county that also became red.
The Reconstruction Era is the period of time that followed the Civil War. It ended in 1865. Democrats in Galveston County have dominated political offices since that time. The first Republican Constable was elected in the 1980’s but he was the lone Republican in the county.
In the late 1990’s, Ken Clark, won a Commissioner seat but the vote on Commissioner’s Court was 4-1 for years. Although Republicans won a district court bench, and the County Treasurer seat in 2002, the first big GOP sweep was in 2010. Republicans who ran in 2006 lost by a margin of 48 to 50 percent. One of those Republicans was Barbara Meeks who ran for County Clerk. Meeks now serves as the Galveston County GOP Chair. Meeks was appointed to that position in 2011 when there was a vacancy.
Breitbart Texas talked to Meeks about her work in Galveston County and the history of the county, and the recent victories there.
In 2010, the Galveston County GOP ran a candidate in every race with the exception of two district court seats. One of those benches was held by the County Democratic Party’s daughter, Susan Criss. Because of the efforts of Republicans in the county, even Criss would have lost that year if she had been opposed. The Galveston County GOP had victories in the District Attorney, County Judge, District and County Clerk, and the judge races.
Meeks told Breitbart Texas that “Obama helped in 2010 because people were disgusted nationally and in Galveston County.” The GOP in the County had more money to spend on billboards and mailings and the demographics had changed since Hurricane Ike and September 2008. She attributes people’s “anger with Obama and the terrific Republican candidates the GOP had in the County that year.”
In 2010, Commissioner Ken Clark paid for one hundred 4’ X 8’ signs made of yellow plastic sporting red font. If the plastic and color selection were not attention-grabbing enough, they were hung portrait style and were 8’ feet tall by 4’ wide. The caption – “Stop Obama. Vote the R”.
Meeks said the candidates in 2010 “ran as a Pack” and block-walked and did meet-and-greets every weekend starting in August. She said Galveston is a “bedroom community” and people do not have a lot of extra time on their hands. The GOP “took it where they are” onto people’s porches and driveways.
Meeks “wanted to keep the momentum” in 2012. She said they continued to do meet-and-greets and to block walk, and this time they had money for three mailings for independents and “weaker” Republicans. A Republican Sheriff was elected and Commissioner’s Court became a 4-1 GOP voting bloc. In less than six years, the Court had a complete 4-1 flip. Ken Clark had been the lone Republican Commissioner on Commissioner’s Court for six years. The County GOP also picked up three district court benches, and all constables and justice of the peace races. Incumbent Congressman Nick Lampson was defeated by Randy Weber.
Although Galveston County is only populated by 300,000 people, it has 8 constables and 9 justices of the peace. When asked about these numbers, Meeks says “this is symptomatic of what Democrats do.” She contrasted Republicans in Galveston County who are “doing exactly what they were elected to do.” She told Breitbart Texas that County Judge Mark Henry, and the Republicans on Commissioners Court, are “reducing the size of government, eliminating waste, and cutting the tax rate while increasing county services.” Meeks told Breitbart Texas that there was a Tai-Chi instructor and a golf cart driver on the county payroll prior to Republicans taking control. Although it has not been without controversy, the number of justices of the peace and constables will be reduced by 50 percent after next year.
Republicans in Galveston County have done what they promised to do, and they swept county-wide in 2014. The County GOP reminded voters what they had done, and they contrasted it to the Obama administration. They urged voters to vote straight-ticket Republican.
The County Party put out signs and billboards with slogans of “Save America, Vote Republican,” and “Defend Freedom, Vote Republican.” Their sign “Stop Socialism, Vote Straight Republican” is what caused this writer to call the County Chair. She said “Government is invading in our daily lives and is expanding, everything that goes against Republican principles. This was a pretty strong message.”
The biggest contest in the county in November was the HD23 race between Wayne Faircloth and Susan Criss of the Democrat Criss dynasty. Meeks told Breitbart Texas “Faircloth ran in 2012 and he knew what he needed.” The political breakdown in that district is close to 49.5 and 50.5, and Faircloth knew he needed 47 percent in the county. Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican Party of Texas, and others came out strong to support Faircloth. Faircloth carried Republican Chambers County in the upper 80 percent range and this helped him win by almost 3,000 votes.
Commissioner Clark, whose district runs 72% Republican, won with almost 77% of the vote. Clark told Breitbart Texas “It has been rewarding what we have accomplished [in Galveston County], and it has been a fulfillment of a long-time dream.” The Commissioner said it was difficult to find the words to really describe the feeling of accomplishment.
The Galveston County Chair said she and other Republicans in Galveston County “are not going to rest on our laurels.” She said they are already thinking about 2016. They know they will engage in many of the same strategies, including block-walking.
Meeks made sure to mention those before her who had worked against all odds to turn the Blue county Red. She talked about Kris Anne Vogelpohl.
Vogelpohl put up a lemonade and ice tea stand on the seawall promoting George Herbert Walker Bush in the 1960s. Meeks said Vogelpohl is probably the only resident in Galveston County who can say that a former President slept on her couch. Meeks said Vogelpohl had phone banks in her home when it was “dangerous to do so.”
Meeks said it “took stalwart Republicans, and wonderful role models like Kris Anne Vogelpohl, and that kind of strength and determination to keep going.” Meeks asked “how do you keep that spirit going when you keep losing?”
Mrs. Vogelpohl, Republicans in Galveston County and elsewhere would like to say thank you.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follower her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.