Gary Polland's Texas Conservative Review
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Volume 1 Number 1 - April 30, 2002

The 2002 Election - A Much Bigger Challenge Than Anyone Thought

First, I want to thank you for your overwhelming outpouring support and encouragement to start a new version of The Chairman's Report!! Since 1996, I wrote over 130 issues of our newsletters and it seems many of you were reading them.

Now that our primary and run off elections are behind us, it is time to look with clear vision at the difficult challenges we face in November.

I just returned from Washington D.C. where I attended high level meetings with key people at the Republican National Committee, with the Administration and in Congress and they are all very concerned about GOP prospects in Texas.

Let's first outline the problem. The Democrats got their Rainbow dream team: Sanchez, Sharp and Kirk. All three have significant assets they regularly bring to the table. All three say they are pro-business and part of the mainstream, in other words they are not very scary. If you listen to some of the things they say it sounds like they support President Bush as much as we do! They say they do not want to raise taxes, and that they want to make government more efficient. It sounds like they are conservatives. It seems clear the group of candidates have learned how to frame issues at the Bill Clinton school of politics.

At the top of our ticket are Governor Perry, Attorney General Cornyn and Land Commissioner David Dewhurst. All three good Anglo-men. It appears at this point at least some of our key leadership is complacent. I've heard about the polls and how the Hispanic and African-American vote won't do it for the Democrats in sufficient numbers. Polls mean nothing if the turnout model they are based on are off. We learned that last year in the Orlando Sanchez vs. Lee Brown runoff. Orlando got enough votes by a historical turnout records to win. The only problem was that Mayor Brown broke the records with an historic Presidential election level turnout among African-Americans. At the same time Orlando Sanchez got an historic Mexican-American turnout but it wasn't enough. Applied to this fall: combine an historic Mexican-American turnout for the other Sanchez with an historic African-American turnout for Kirk with yellow dog Democrat and business support for Sharp all funded by the Tony Sanchez fortune and add the statewide version of the Lee Brown turnout machine and the Democrats have a real opportunity much to our chagrin.

From our side the telltale signs of trouble are out there: a disinterested Republican base evidenced by lower primary turnout and dismal Senatorial Convention turnout. This signals a problem in the fall. Is the die cast? Not yet, but the clock is ticking.

What do we do? From a national prospective the Senate race is critical – this could be the seat that determines who runs the Senate. This is probably the first and best reason why we need John Cornyn; Ron Kirk will vote for the Democratic obstructionist leaders to run the Senate and John Cornyn will vote for the Republicans to lead it.

As for the rest of the ticket, we need to get out of what columnist William Murchison says is “our slumber.” To do so is quite simple – lay out a forward thinking conservative agenda for our public schools, transportation, general government spending and tax policy. Our answers should be based on our philosophy of free markets, decentralized government and lower taxes. We can do this on four or five issues that will "tell" our base it matters who gets elected.

Along with the right message we have to have an extraordinary turnout machine to register, identify and turnout "our" voters for the fall.

The challenge is daunting, our base is asleep and disinterested and the Democrats are hungry – a possible prescription for disaster.

Please let me know if you are ready to roll up your sleeves and help prevent our worst nightmares.

About Your Editor

Gary Polland is a long time Republican spokesman, fund raiser, leader who just completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events. For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has continued due to requests from many Republican activists.

The Texas Conservative Review is published as a public service by Gary Polland
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