Headed to Texas

Mike Gallagher
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Posted: Aug 24, 2007 12:00 AM
Headed to Texas

Texas Republicans will be gathering by the thousands in Ft. Worth on August 31st and September 1st to participate in the first-ever Texas GOP Straw Poll.

Please allow me to refer to this event by its proper name: The Townhall.com Texas GOP Straw Poll. Yes, this website of political punditry, opinions and interviews, not to mention a talk radio showcase of pod casts, audio files, and news and information, is the sponsor and driving force behind this historic event.

I am incredibly honored and proud to be on the Townhall.com team during times like these. Heck, I’m excited to be part of Townhall.com all the time. Because the Townhall.com Straw Poll event is precisely what Townhall.com is all about: grassroots Americans enthusiastically taking part in the process that helps define our nation by its leaders. Men and women from all walks of life, of all ages and incomes, from big cities and the tiniest of towns, standing shoulder to shoulder and boldly voicing their vote with a roar that will be heard all over the United States of America.

It’s the kind of event that sends chills up my spine.

Even before I knew anything about next week’s festivities, I had never been much of a fan of the Iowa Straw Poll. Sure, it’s a terrific fundraiser for the Iowa Republicans, which is certainly good for them. But the formula is predictable and uneventful: the candidate who decides to spend the most money by bringing in as many supporters as they can afford will win. And everyone knows well in advance which candidate that will be.

In Iowa’s case, it was Gov. Mitt Romney. Once his closest competitors saw the handwriting on the wall, for them it was: bye-bye, Iowa, on to the next campaign stop.

With the Iowa Straw Poll, there’s no political drama, no surprises, just a wonderful gathering of good-hearted Republicans who watch the candidate who spent the most money take the prize.

But in Texas, it will be quite different. Instead of delegates who are bought and paid for (and I don’t mean that in a corrupt way), the Townhall.com Texas GOP Straw Poll is open to all Republicans who have previously attended a state or national convention.

In other words, all active Texas Republicans will be able to vote for the candidate of their choice.

The absence of a bankrolled voting process is going to make the Texas Straw Poll a very, very compelling Labor Day weekend. The nation will undoubtedly be watching it very closely because it might just be the first and most accurate barometer of things to come.

Again, I’m quite proud to see this process play out. And I would think that even Democrats would have some respect for such an ambitious effort. Even though this will be a venue featuring the opposing political party, surely Democrat Party officials can appreciate the whole thing, right?

Well, some Democrats have a funny way of never letting us down with their anger, bitterness, and downright mean-spirited view of a political process that has anything to do with us evil Republicans.

In this morning’s Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, there was a half page question and answer feature about the upcoming Townhall.com Straw Poll with the local county party leaders, a guy named Art Brender who is the Democratic Party chairman and the county GOP chairwoman, Stephanie Klick.

The seven questions for the two local political figures were identical and were the typical kinds of questions about what is expected in Ft. Worth, how many people will attend, what message will the outcome send to the nation, and so on.

The contrast between the two sets of answers was simply astounding.

Ms. Klick talked about the “great opportunity for grassroots leaders across the state to come together” and how “Texas Republicans know their voices mean something on the national stage” and what a fantastic way this will spotlight Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas.

But the county Democrat chair answered every question like some hack stand-up insult comic who was the lousy warm-up act for a faded comedian from another era.

Look at the way a supposedly serious leader of one of the largest local Democratic counties in the country chose to respond to some relevant questions about the upcoming Townhall.com Texas GOP Straw poll.

What do you expect from the GOP Straw Poll?

(Art Brender, Democratic Party Chairman): I thought it was a Hot Air Balloon Rally.

How many people do you think will show up and vote?

(Brender): That depends on how many Texans support the botched occupation of Iraq (the war was over in 2003); huge budget deficits; high gas prices; no-bid government contracts; and do not believe in evolution or stem-cell research.

What message do you think the straw poll will send?

(Brender): That the GOP will not take responsibility for the botched occupation of Iraq; corrupt no-bid contracts to Halliburton; high gas prices; failing air and water qualities; skyrocketing utility rates; and corrupt and failed regulation of student loans.

Are you attending?

(Brender): No. I will miss it because I will be…visiting a grandbaby who is far more entertaining than the GOP.

I’m not really sure which part of this sarcastic diatribe is worth noting. Perhaps Mr. Brender’s assertion that the “botched occupation” of Iraq was “over” in 2003 would be a good place to begin.

Do you think Art Brender, Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman, would have the guts or ignorance to say that to a wife or son or grandfather of a soldier who is putting his or her life on the line for a cause he or she believes in, the war against terror, in a place where terrorists and enemies of the United States are being defeated?

Do you believe that this man really thinks that Republicans in his state are a bunch of “corrupt” people who aren’t capable of taking responsibility for serious matters?

What a gross, reckless, insulting thing to say.

When I read comments like Mr. Bender’s, I’m reminded of why I’m proud to be a Republican.

And I’m definitely proud of the upcoming 2007 Townhall.com Texas GOP Straw Poll.

Let the festivities begin! And let’s be grateful that Democrats like Art Brender won’t be within miles of the Ft. Worth Convention Center next week.