HOUSTON – Early voting for the 2010 midterm elections starts in Houston on Monday, October 18th. It is in the final days of the election cycle that local Tea Party groups intend to flex their muscles in a get out the vote effort.
Saturday, October 16th, the North Houston Tea Party hosted a kick off rally that local media stated was “attended by thousands” at the Sam Houston Race Park. The rally was about less on supporting candidates and more on motivating voters.
Bryan Preston, writing in Pajamas Media, suggests that the goals of the Houston Tea Party protesters are ambitious indeed.
“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.”
A good get out the vote effort (GOTV) has often been the difference between victory and defeat for hard fought elections. A GOTV effort is very labor intensive, involving thousands of volunteers calling voters on the phone or visiting them personally. Lists of likely voters are complied for this purpose with the idea of motivating those most likely to vote for favored candidates to go to the polls.
Houston Tea Partiers will also volunteer as poll watchers. Several weeks ago, a warehouse filled with voting machines in Houston burned to the ground. There has also been at least one major voter registration scandal, unearthed by volunteer investigators and handed over to election authorities. Houston is a large, diverse city, so the possibility of voter fraud is present and needs watching.
The Tea Party movement was born during the early days of the Obama administration and has featured mass protest rallies. But a measure of the strength of the Tea Party, both in Houston and nationwide, will be in how many elections it will be able to influence. The Tea Party has been disdained quite a bit by the Washington political elite. If it can elect more conservatives to public office, it will also come to be feared.
THOUSANDS TURNOUT FOR TEA PARTY RALLY AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK, John G. Winder, Cypress Times, October 17th, 2010
The Battle for America 2010: In Houston, Saturday Is Time for Tea, Bryan Preston, Pajamas Media, October 16th, 2010
Warehouse Fire Destroyed Houston Ballot Machines, Raising the Possibility of Voter Fraud, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 8th, 2010
‘True the Vote’ Uncovers Voter Registration Fraud in Houston, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, October 1st, 2010