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On conference call, Texas tea partiers plot against GOP incumbents

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/07/MahurinPolitics_Thumb1.jpgDuring a post-legislative session conference call hosted by The Grassroots Texans Network, conservative activists took sharp aim at the Republican majority in both the Texas House and Senate for a perceived passivity in effectively tackling the conservative agenda, and they prepared to lay the groundwork for a statewide campaign to replace GOP incumbents with candidates they consider more conservative. Likely to aid in the attempt is the American Majority-led New Leaders Project, a national effort started in conjunction with local tea party leaders across the country to identify and help train candidates for 2012.

Seeking to oust incumbents, the New Leaders Project challenged 1,000 tea party groups to find 10 people in their community to become candidates for local elections, including school board, city council and state representative seats; 500 groups have signed up so far, said Drew Ryun of American Majority. According to the online pledge, 12 Texas tea party organizations have signed up for American Majority activist training, including the North East Tarrant Tea Party, Dallas Tea Party and Houston-based King Street Patriots.

“After this session you may have to throw some of these folks out and start from scratch,” Ryun said on the conference call Wednesday night. “You’ll have to find folks that agree with you and hold them accountable. We can catch a lot of incumbents by surprise. Elected officials have not been responsive. The quickest way to shake things up is to say we are going to reload. We are going to support those that are actually like us.”

Leading the charge to renew a battle against House Speaker Joe Straus — a figure viewed by some hardline conservatives as too moderate — Grassroots Texans urged tea partiers to sign an open letter to House members advocating against the use of pledge cards, as the Texas Independent previously reported. Echoing the chorus of anti-Straus sentiments lodged before the session began, Maria Martinez, executive director of the Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas (IRCOT), railed against Republican leadership in both the House and Senate, taking aim at Straus, state Reps. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), whom she deemed a “villain,” and Charlie Geren (R-Forth Worth), whom she described as “the most arrogant legislator I have ever dealt with.”

“We found the Republican majority is not prepared or organized and haven’t been able to defend their own bills,” said Martinez, pointing to the failure to pass more than 60 mainly immigration-related bills, including e-verify legislation. “I can honestly say the Republicans were a non-entity this Legislative session.”

Despite Republican majorities in both chambers and the passage of many GOP-backed bills, Martinez said the conservative agenda’s priorities were largely not met due to poor leadership, lack of will and unqualified officials. The House, she said, acted more like a ‘fraternity’ than a governing body and leaders must be replaced with ‘real conservatives.’

The group plans to host a rally at the Capitol this Saturday in support of Gov. Rick Perry’s addition of the so-called sanctuary cities bill to the special session agenda.

JoAnn Fleming, chair of the Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee, called for a return to “core constitutional functions” of state government spending, such as investment in transportation and the criminal justice system, and a move away from relying on federal dollars, as well as curbing Medicaid costs and leaving it in the hands of the state, a key tea party issue.

Videos created by Women on the Wall critical of the pledge card system, GOP leadership and Straus, were said to start airing in 30-second timeslots for two weeks in Austin, Houston and San Antonio starting Monday. The videos, featuring conservative activists, urge state representatives not to pledge to “liberal-leaning” Straus and make connections between gambling legislation and Straus’ family ties to gambling.

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