February 2002 Issue #83
Election EditionRepublicans and Democrats will hold primaries Tuesday, March 12 to decide their parties' nominees for county, state, and national offices in the November election. Early voting is February 23 through March 8.
For information about early voting:
“Freedom of Faith Referendum”
on Republican Primary Ballot
The Texas Republican primary ballot will have a “Freedom of Faith Referendum” that reads:
“Legislation should be passed that protects both individual and corporate public religious speech, on or off school property, and protects any person from being required to join in prayer or religious activities."
Voters can mark “agree” or “disagree.” The vote is nonbinding and no legislation is required to be enacted as a result.
The State Republican Executive Committee voted to place the referendum on the ballot “to provide Texans with the opportunity to voice their opinion on this important issue.” The party states, “In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, our nation has found great solace by joining together in public and private prayer, public religious ceremonies and patriotic displays. Unfortunately, many misguided individuals and organizations have attempted to restrict forms of religious expression which the Supreme Court has found constitutional. Since there is disagreement over what types of religious speech are protected by the law, legislation may be required to further clarify the intent of the law and fully protect constitutional forms of public religious speech.” The party says further, “Our nation has a long and rich heritage of seeking God in times of trouble. … Liberal groups are attempting to limit forms of religious speech that are protected by the Constitution. …The question before Texans is: will we allow liberal activists to take away our freedoms in the name of modern day political correctness?” (emphasis included in original text)
The party’s answers to questions and talking points on the referendum are at harriscountygop.com/sections/elections/2002elec.asp#Ballot.
Attend Precinct Convention
You can counter extremists’ views by attending your precinct convention. At the convention, voters elect delegates to each party’s senatorial district convention, where delegates will be elected to the state conventions, and consider resolutions that, if passed, can ultimately form the basis for the state party’s platform. The religious right dominates the local and state GOP in part because they attend these conventions more than their opponents.
Republican and Democrats will hold precinct conventions on election night after the polls close at 7:00 p.m. They usually take place where the voting occurred. Anyone who voted in a primary, even if early or absentee, can go to that party’s convention. Any voter is eligible to be a delegate and can offer a resolution on any subject and suggest revisions to proposed resolutions. You must take at least three copies of any resolution you offer.
The Republicans’ and Democrats’ senatorial district conventions will be held April 6. The Republican state convention will be June 7-8 in Dallas. The Democrats’ will be June 13-15 in El Paso. Harris County’s Green Party will hold a nominating convention March 16 at 11 am at 818 W. 31st Street, a district nominating convention on March 23 and a state convention June 8.
How You Can Learn More About CandidatesVoters' Guides:
Many groups (or their PACs) make endorsements based on interviews of or positions taken by candidates on issues important to that group. Some groups' endorsements are on their web sites. Some will send you a copy of theirs.The Internet:
Web sites of some Republican candidates are found on the site of the Harris County Republican Party at harriscountygop.com/sections/elections/2002elec.asp. Other candidates may have sites that are not listed.
What You Should Look For
It's not always easy to spot the religious right candidate but here are some things to look for:
The religious right is vying to take over the Montgomery County GOP. The Republican Leadership Council, which wants to “encourage godly men to seek office,” is leading the effort. Its president, Jim Jenkins, is running against long-time party chair Walter Wilkerson and its is fielding candidates for chair of most of the county’s precincts. The council is unhappy that Wilkerson has not actively supported the state platform.
Three members of the State Board of Education’s religious right faction (Richard B. Neill, Richard Watson and Judy Strickland) are not seeking reelection and two others (David Bradley and Don McLeroy) have challengers in the Republican primary. Dan Montgomery, who beat religious right member Bob Offutt in the Republican primary two years ago, has drawn a religious right opponent.
Harris County Candidates With
Ties To Religious Right
Some Harris County candidates in contested races who have known or apparent ties to the religious right are listed below. The listed candidates are all Republicans. This list is not necessarily complete or definitive. Due to the religious right's strong influence on the local and state GOP, many Republican candidates have ties to the religious right or support the religious right's legislative agenda, although they may not agree with the religious right's philosophy or methods. Many candidates feature their religious beliefs or practices in their campaign literature. You can take this with you when you vote. Please share it with other concerned voters.
U.S. Senate Douglas G. Deffenbaugh - the first issue on his campaign web site is “Dedicate the U.S. to Jesus Christ” -- “It would be a grave error to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in His power. If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ.”
U.S. House of Representatives 22nd Congressional District, Tom Delay - one of religious right's staunchest allies in Congress. 31st Congressional District, John Carter - from his web site: “knows what he believes and supports the strong faith based Central Texas values. John believes that life starts prior to birth and will defend the unborn. John and his family are devout Christians, and John was recently blessed to participate in a Billy Graham Crusade. John fully supports voluntary prayer in school and will work to promote our family values.”
Court of Criminal Appeals Place 1, Tom Taft - campaign web site has section called “Faith,” at which he states the “most important thing in Tim's life is his personal relationship with God” and describes religion’s impact on his personal and professional lives; lists “Devout faith in God” as qualification for office.
State Board of Education District 6, Terri Leo - former legislative liaison for Concerned Women for America of Texas; endorsed by current religious right Board members and other religious right leaders. District 7, David Bradley - incumbent member of religious right faction on State Board of Education.
State Representative District 15, Sam Texas - member of American Family Association, supporter of Promise Keepers and Focus On The Family; his web site calls him “pro-life campaigner, advocate for Christian lifestyles, pro-family.” District 17, Gary Polland - while Harris County GOP Chairman, worked closely with local and national religious right groups; web site lists endorsements by many religious right figures, including Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, Christian Coalition’s Billy Wayne Moore, Al Clements, Vision America’s pastor Rick Scarborough and Rev. Laurence White, Kelly Shackleford of Free Market Foundation, Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation and Gary Bauer. District 130, Corbin Van Arsdale - one of his 4 goals for the next legislative session is to pass “pro-family” legislation, including supporting “prayer in schools” and protecting traditional marriages; was endorsed by Paul Weyrich in his 2000 campaign. District 134, Mark Cole - is member of Council for National Policy, a selective and secretive group whose members include all major religious leaders, including Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women for America, Pat Robertson, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Jerry Falwell, and Paul Weyrich. District 138, Dave Wilson - leader of “Houstonians for Family Values@ PAC, whose petition drive got referendum on prohibiting City of Houston from offering same-sex partners benefits to its employees on the 2001 municipal ballot; was backed by local religious right leader Steven Hotze when he ran for City Council in 1997. District 150, Debbie Riddle - her religious right endorsers include Betty Lou Martin of Concerned Women for America of Texas, long-time local religious right figure Paul Pressler, and Peggy Hensley.
Judge 246TH District Court, Donna Detamore - endorsers include religious right supporters Pressler, the Meinkes, Al Clements, and Sheryl Berg. 263rd District Court, Jim Wallace—supported by Hotze in past races.
Harris County Attorney, John Devine - as judge, refused to remove depiction of 10 Commandments and other religious artwork from his courtroom and touted that refusal in political ad; 1992 campaign for judge focused on "Christianity in American Law" and literature had Biblical and religious references. Republican Party Chairman, Jared Woodfill - law partner of Paul Pressler; endorsed by Steve Stockman, Cathy McConn, Frank Harmon, Betty Lou Martin, Corbin Van Arsdale, Sheryl Berg, and Deany Meinke.
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