In the Texas Spring of 2014 we have a number of huge Republican Primary battles. Every candidate running for public office claims to be a “conservative”!
We know this is hogwash.
The Texas tea parties and national tea party groups have been very visible in these races. Every candidate welcomes endorsements or support from tea party or conservative organizations. Proving…the tea party is NOT DEAD!
Luckily or unluckily, the voting records of incumbents in the legislature, on city councils, or on school boards reflect pretty accurately how “conservative” they really are. Many fall short of those principles. Newbie candidates, without any political record, shout about their conservative values of family, pro-life, fiscal sanity, business acumen, and reverence for our Founders. If they have no criminal record, bankruptcies, or known sex scandals….we take them and their promises at their word….with caution. Both types of candidates are suspect in today’s world and especially by watchdog groups like the tea party for we have seen so many disappointments in our elected officials who become contaminated by the “good ol’ boy” systems in Washington, DC or in Austin, Texas. It seems that faith may be a valuable commodity in the religious world, but it has little to do with the political world. Citizens require action and results and elected officials who fulfill their campaign promises.
The word “conservative” is being grossly misused and abused today, but NOT by the Tea Party. The Tea Party grew out of a shared frustration with Democrats and Republicans who failed to curb government growth, its unsustainable spending, its intrusion into our private lives and property, its oppressive regulations burdening our businesses, and the rampant corruption of self-serving government officials. Yes, we are a jaded bunch of patriots!
The Tea Party was founded in 2009 on traditional and classic “conservative principles”, e.g., Liberty, Limited Government, Lower Taxes, Rule of Law, Faith in our Constitutional Republic, Reverence for our Founding Principles and the U.S. Constitution, Vote Integrity, National Sovereignty, Private Property Rights, Fiscal Responsibility, Individual Responsibility, National Security.
Most tea parties and conservative organizations adhere to most of these values. Any officially recorded vote by our current representatives that demeans or diminishes any of these values would not be considered a “conservative” vote…. And therefore, the “voter” (i.e., elected official) would not be considered a conservative legislator or representative.
Nevertheless, even if the tea parties agree on basic conservative principles and goals, they may differ considerably on the process of reaching these goals. More specifically, WHICH candidate is more likely to a) be their ally, b) espouse most of their values, c) win in the election and d) honor those values AFTER they are elected.
Such is the case with the race for Republican Candidate for Texas Lieutenant Governor. Four seasoned and distinguished candidates ran in the Republican Primary election on March 4, 2014:
- Current Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst,
- Current Texas State Senator Dan Patrick,
- Current Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson,
- Current Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.
Dewhurst Patrick Patterson Staples
Run-off Election between the top 2 vote-getters [Patrick, Dewhurst] is scheduled for May 27, 2014 since not one of the four candidates received >50% in the March 4th Primary election:
The final March 4th Primary vote % =
Dan Patrick 41.5%
David Dewhurst 28.3%
Todd Staples 17.8%
Jerry Patterson 12.5%
So, whom did the tea parties endorse in the Lt Governor’s race?
Even though many tea party groups were prohibited from endorsing candidates due to existing IRS, tax or state ethics laws, may tea party leaders and tea party PACs were vocal about their preferred candidates in all the races. Each of the four Lt Gov candidates claimed “conservative” status ad nauseum and several sought and garnered tea party endorsements. Dan Patrick seemed to gain the most conservative tea party endorsements, but David Dewhurst had his share as well, although a few were from somewhat suspicious tea party groups late in the game.
So the Tea Party may be monolithic as to values, but they are not monolithic as to choice of candidates. Since there is no tea party overlord calling the national tea party shots…..I believe that the tea party will continue to be monolithic in its basic values but somewhat “polylithic[? If that’s a word]” in its choice of candidates. One thing is certain…the tea party is alive and well and will continue to shape and influence our politics and the outcome of every election for years to come. We will not win every time, but we will be in the fight!
Barry A. Schlech, Ph.D., VP Communications and Webmaster, Texas Patriots Tea Party, Burleson, TX