Saturday, April 06, 2013

Inside a Battleground Texas Organizing Meeting

Today, after a fine lunch together in the fabulous City Centre section of Houston, my friend and I took a drive over to The Heights area for a meeting. Saturday afternoon, at the local IBEW hall, Battleground Texas was holding its first organizational meeting in our city.  Traffic was particularly bad but we made it about twenty-five minutes into the announced start time.  

Why did two Republican women head over to a Democrat event?  I decided to go to check out how they do organization and I asked my friend to go for some company.  For me the reward was two-fold.  I was able to spend extra time with a woman I've been friends with since our now 23 year old children were in fourth grade together and the bonus of hearing the thoughts of a woman who is Harvard educated and current on politics while not so active.  She votes, don't get me wrong, but at the present time she isn't a member of a local club or organization. In other words, she's completely like most regular working people. 

The first thing we both noticed was that the parking lot was full.  Many car bumpers sported Obama stickers from the last election.  Going into the building, we immediately noticed the signs pointing the way to the meeting room.  As we approached the room, we saw the sign-in tables.  More than one with more than one person signing people in as they arrived and distributing name tags and material.

Walking into the meeting - remember, it had already begun - we saw that it was full of about 300 people.  That's just a rough guess.  I saw on their Facebook page that they claim about 350 were there and that may be. We stayed in the back and watched. The woman in charge of training was sitting a bit back from the young woman speaking.  She was the one charged with explaining grassroots organizing and how it has worked for the Obama organization.  One example used was that of North Carolina.  Now that North Carolina is a battleground state, the young woman said there is no reason for Texas to be any less of a success.  

She was young and had long blonde hair and was just shy of breaking into a cheer as she involved the audience in her talk.  My friend noted that she could easily picture her with pom-poms in hand.  

This leads me to noting the crowd.  The crowd was majority white and middle aged to older men and women.  Surprised? That's how they characterize Republicans, right? There were some Latinos and a few black Americans but mostly white.  There was the usual amount of elected officials at a gathering of this size and I read on Battleground Texas' site that Rep Sheila Jackson Lee was there, though she must have left before we got there.  We didn't see her.   There were lots of sixty's flower children holdovers and some twenty-somethings but not a notable amount of younger voters.  

The people there, however, were fired up and ready to go......

The speaker enjoyed mocking Governor Perry's general unpopularity in the state and how bad Republicans are, of course.  Fairly boilerplate stuff, frankly.  The crowd enjoyed and welcomed every and all zingers.

There was the opportunity to register to vote.  The sign-in people were taking everyone's info - phone numbers and email addresses.  There were prominent displays of their website and twitter account. 

I couldn't help but compare this event to the Harris County Republican Party's Outreach Committee's meeting a couple of weeks ago.  There, as I wrote at the time, some candidates and committee members were in attendance with about a dozen regular voters.  The sign-in process was experiencing difficulties and there was no noticeable press coverage. 

Battleground Texas had press there.

After the cheerleading and basic training was over, the crowd was broken into groups to brainstorm.  The questions were posed: 1. In order to turn Texas blue, I think we need to do the following in my area:  and 2.  My best advice for Battleground Texas:.

One piece of paper handed out was to provide more detailed information about yourself.  If you wanted to be a member of the Launch Team, you were asked to state if you want to get deputized to register voters, take others to get deputized to register voters, spread the word about the Summer Fellowship Program, or help create the County Resource Roadmap.

On the volunteer side, the attendee was asked if he/she will knock on doors in the community to spread the word, call supporters to spread the word, host a Battleground House Party, receive text message about upcoming events, or enter data for them.

They asked for the names and info on three people in the person's network who might want to get involved.

And, the Summer Fellowship Program was announced.  This is for educating on political organizing and the person can apply online or ask for more info.  Also, the person was asked to check which applied: Latino, African American, Woman, Student, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Native American, LGBT, Educator, Union member, Small business owner, Veteran, Spanish speaker.  See, they hit all the boxes to micro-target their coalition building.  You may call it 'outreach' but it is coalition building that wins elections.

The County Resource Roadmap is "about building a stronger democratic community", according to the information provided. " know the people, businesses, and needs of your community better than anyone else.  Tell us about them.  Tell us how we can make sure our efforts reflect your community".  See, more targeting to specifics.

Information was provided for Harris County Tax Office and Brazoria County Clerk's Office, as well as Galveston, Fort Bend, Chambers County, Liberty County, Montgomery County, and Waller County.  That's a lot of territory right here in the Houston area.

They are tapping into the pent-up frustration of Democrats who are tired of a state that is so Republican these past two decades.  There is real opportunity for them here, however, and Republicans are foolish to act as though there is not.  The last election, for instance, Barack Obama had more than 500 voters over Mitt Romney in Harris County.  Obama also beat McCain in 2008.  It is all about organization, and more importantly, get out the vote efforts.  These folks are experts at that.  They are training lots of others to be experts at that, too.

Harris County Republicans have to step up in a very real and strong way now. Otherwise, be prepared to be in the wilderness for a very long time.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see this blog in the in-box of every Republican voter in the State. We can't afford to be complacent, to rest on our laurels. The Democrats do not behave as if they won the last election--they act as if they lost it!! and as if they have something to prove. Their zeal and excited rallying is worrisome and creepy in a cult-minded fashion that we Republicans better heed before it is too late. We better WAKE UP AND SMELL THE KOOL-AID is all I can say and I will keep saying it. Thank you for bringing me to this today.

Randy said...

How about every Voter & organizer throughout the country and RNC. Where is our outreach in minority communities? That should be going full steam ahead. College campus appearances with minority messengers...yes we have to play the visual game the left has mastered. Great work by the way, and thanks for sharing!

Erica K. said...

"Get out the vote" - are terms used to describe two categories of political activity, both aimed at increasing the number of votes cast in one or more elections. In countries that do not have mandatory voting, voter turnout is usually low, often below half of eligible voter pool. Campaigns typically attempt to register voters, then get them to vote, either by absentee ballot, early voting or election day voting

"Outreach" - an activity of providing services to populations who might not otherwise have access to those services and meeting those in need of outreach services at the locations where those in need are. In addition to delivering services, outreach has an educational role, raising the awareness of existing services. Outreach is often meant to fill in the gap in the services provided by mainstream (often, governmental) services, and is often carried out by non-profit, nongovernmental organizations.[1] This is a major element differentiating outreach from public relations.

Battleground Texas is a Get Out the Vote initiative and to confuse/compare it to what we are trying to slowly build with the Harris County Republican Party is absurd. If HCRP wants to designate another group and call it GOTV, then that might not be a bad idea, as that is what will be the force to compete with the Dems Battleground Texas initiative. Additionally, the observation form this meeting is overplayed. Having personally been to numerous organizing meetings, there was nothing different in this one and there was no new class of individuals. Should we be worried, yes, but was today's meeting something to be shaken and stirred about, absolutely NOT. Not in denial, but I just may understand the Dems game plan better than most Republicans and therefore don't scare easily or get distracted from our objectives.

But the point I really wanted to make was that this meeting today was not about "outreach"; and "GOTV" and "Outreach" are two separate items.

Yvonne Larsen said...

Karen, I can go with you to these types of meetings.

Anonymous said...

I attended a very similar meeting in Killeen this past week. It could have been the same meeting ~ only with fewer attendees (but equally fired up.) All I can say is "Yes we can," "Yes we did," and "Yes we will." It appears that most Republicans have not read the "autopsy memo" published by the RNC ~ or they did ~ and have decided to "double down." Hillary 2016! Castro Brothers 2018 and 2020!

Anonymous said...

The Tea Party and Rick Perry and conservative blow hard's like him are the best campaigners for the democrats in the state of Texas. With each new evangelical prayer, and slur, and each new over reaching law, he ensures a special place in the hearts of Texans for the more free vision offered by the democrats. 2014 will be a landslide election for the Texas Democratic Party. Rick Perry will be gone and they will have two years to show their stuff around the state. The Texas GOP should invest in vans to drive the elderly out to vote.

Texas will soon be as blue as the sky above it.

Anonymous said...

The liberals have targeted Texas because they are afraid that Texas may want to secede and if they do they will take half the country with them. Governor Perry is soliciting California companies to Texas that have a history of liberalism. Is that wise? Those companies will bring liberal employees that vote. Governor Perry is basically a good leader. He had denied gambling because he knows poverty and crime follow and gambling dollars directly compete with small business.He is wise there.He has balanced the budget which is more than most states and certainly more than the federal government has been able to do. Where Governor Perry is losing his audience is at a religious level. For this reason; Christians do not have a monopoly of good morals, mores or values. Every time he makes that proclamation he insults every other person that may not be of the same faith but have the same morals; I mean the morals of life. If he would not refer to God or Christian values and include all people that share in the values he would unite them instead of divide. Love is the ...well Ayn Rand says it best
Ayn Rand

"Love is the expression of one's values, the greatest reward you can earn for the moral qualities you have achieved in your character and person, the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another." - Atlas Shrugged

Instead of claiming that these are God's virtues remember some people have actually read the Bible. Claiming that one is a Christian does not make them any different than any other man from any other walk of life. What differs man from man is those the demonstrate these morals and those that don't. The only god I believe in is the god that manifests himself through man; this goes along the lines that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. Most educated people are way beyond religion and are into the sciences and technology. Does this exclude god from their life? No it doesn't but their idea of god is different than yours or his or hers.People are looking for reality. Give that to them - it is more truthful. For an example: immigration? truth is this country was built on the immigration mentality and this country in order to sustain itself must have an constant influx of immigration workers especially with the increase of elderly. The truth is; they want illegal immigrants to ensure voters to keep them in office. The truth is; you can have the immigration issue work for us by insisting that amnesty can be purchased and that money will immediately be used to pay the national/state debt down. With approximately eleven million illegal immigrants; let's say 25% can afford to pay for their citizenship; that is approximately 2.75 million times X = Y. Do the math of how much you can raise towards the national/state debt and the people tell the government what they want instead of waiting for the goverment to tell you what they are to do. These politicains want to get re-elected; get your people together and get the petitions, get your represenatives im meetings and tell them do it or get voted out of office. Tell Governor Perry if the illegals want to stay - make em pay. By the way - Mexico is doing better now and some immigrants are going back so the ones in an amnesty will be the ones Mexico doesn't want and the ones that will pay to stay will be the ones we want. If Governor Perry would do it first and keep the money for Texas every state follow.