The theme of this election cycle put forth by the Harris County Republican Party leadership, and by that I mean Chairman Jared Woodfill, since he is all that is with the office anymore, except the much put upon assistant working there, is Taking Back America By Organizing Your Precinct. Catchy, right? Yeah, not so much. It does state the mission, though.
I attended an organizational and educational meeting Thursday evening for SD 17, as I am a new member of said state Senate District. With the hodgepodge that is the re-districting mess, my former district was redrawn and, frankly, that's ok with me, given the politician I now have representing me in Austin. Just sayin'.
Anyhoo. I went for the entertainment potential of the evening. As readers know, I support and endorse Paul F. Simpson for Harris County Republican Party chairman. As I expected, I didn't hear much new in this instructional meeting. I have heard it before at previous meetings that are arranged in election years. There were some good suggestions for house parties within precincts to allow neighbors to meet candidates and if that effort is truly being done on a widespread basis, then maybe voter participation will increase. My only concern was with the notion that the precinct chair is all-knowing about various candidates to dispense voting advice if asked by those in attendance. Maybe so but I would have concern that some precinct chairs may not look at long term benefits of some candidates and go with those figured to be "the next in line" or "entitled" to a seat.
Woodfill did encourage more people to take advantage of the county party's autodial system to invite people to house parties or neighborhood coffees with candidates. He emphasized that inviting candidates to a function increases attendance and educates voters at the same time.
It was good to hear that the county party plans to have four brick and mortar HCRP Victory Centers functioning for the November election - the main office headquarters, plus centers in the northwest, east and south locations of Harris County. If we had effective fundraising by the party during steady intervals, HCRP could have these offices as permanent outlets around the county, in my opinion. Party outreach would be so much more effective if it wasn't obvious election year pandering.
I was encouraged to hear that the party chairman is committed to taking back Tx Dist 149, as I work for one candidate for that office. Currently in Democratic control, the seat is now in a re-districted district that is 50% Republican. Republicans have a real shot to unseat the incumbent if Jack Lee is the winner in his primary race. Current statistics and research show that the other two candidates will not succeed against the incumbent in the November election. His top opponent in the race, however, is one who previously ran for this office and now feels entitled to the seat. The entitlement mentality is not what conservatives should be rewarding in elections.
Ways to do effective outreach to Independent voters and new voters to the state were discussed. Also, outreach to the senior citizen communities - who are reliable voters and in Texas are generally believed to be conservative voters - was discussed but I was disappointed that no talk was given about outreach to young voters and to the college campuses in the county with Republican student clubs. This is the population that needs to hear the Republican message and recruited as volunteers for the party.