June 09, 2008
Those grumpy Republicans

Now that the Democratic convention is over, it's the other guys' turn.

After a decade of political dominance, the Texas GOP is opening its party convention in Houston this week with a troubling prospect: Grumpy Republicans may not turn out to vote this fall.

Many of the grass-roots Texas Republicans see presumptive presidential nominee John McCain as not conservative enough. Others still support presidential candidate Ron Paul. Some are unhappy over immigration, high federal spending, a sagging national economy and rising gasoline prices.

"A lot of them, and rightly so in many cases, are mad. They're concerned," said Roger Williams, chairman of the Texas GOP's voter turnout efforts this year. "What we've got to do is alleviate those concerns and get them to vote."

"We're the underdogs, and anybody who tells you we're not hasn't been out and about," Williams said.

Williams has been sounding that theme for awhile now. I don't know if he actually believes it or if it's just a motivational device, but it's kind of cute.

Delegates on Friday will hear from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former presidential contenders Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Romney is McCain's designated surrogate speaker at the convention.

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, said McCain is not building bridges with the grass roots by sending Romney to speak to the Texas convention in his place.

"It would have been better if he had come himself," Adams said.

Adams said many delegates to the convention will want to be reassured about McCain on immigration. She said many are upset that he supports a process of granting citizenship to those who entered the country illegally.

Adams said McCain cannot win just by telling voters the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is bad.

"Everyone I know is unhappy with the prospects of Obama," Adams said. "But they'll stay home rather than just go out and vote against someone."

Well, that answers that question about whether or not we'll hear about the Republicans' unity problems. I tend to think this sort of thing is as overrated for them as it is for the Dems, but it's not nothing, and it's nice to see it not get overlooked.

Similarly, some of Paul's supporters are upset with McCain and how the state convention is run. Some sued the Texas GOP last week in an effort to block the seating of some non-Paul delegates.

Don Zimmerman, a Paul activist and candidate for Travis County tax assessor-collector, is vying to be a national delegate, even though that means supporting McCain, whom he does not like.

Zimmerman said many new delegates to the convention this year will be Paul supporters. He said he wants to get them focused on winning local races.

"Get over the McCain thing and work for your local Republican who you like," Zimmerman said.

It sure would be easier for them to do that if Paul gave as classy and rousing a speech endorsing McCain as Hillary Clinton gave Barack Obama, wouldn't it? Good luck with that.

Republican leadership is less worried about the elections of McCain and Cornyn than they are about the effect party disgruntlement may have on congressional and legislative races.

Republican pollster Mike Baselice said half the Republican voters in Texas say the state and nation are on the "wrong track." He calls them "grumpy Republicans" who cannot be counted on to turn out to vote against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

"I'm concerned about the wrong-track Republicans opting not to vote," Baselice said.

Baselice said Republicans in 2002 had a 6 percentage point advantage in Dallas County voting and an 8 percentage point advantage in Harris County. He said neither party now has an advantage in Dallas, and the GOP holds an advantage of about 1.5 percentage points in Harris County.

He said that partisan shift could give Democrats a great boost if a large percentage of Republicans don't vote.

That's an interesting perspective, given the Democrats' sweep of Dallas County in 2006, and the average judicial race performance of over 48% for Democrats in Harris that same year. But if that's how he sees it, that would at least explain his atypical poll results.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 09, 2008 to Show Business for Ugly People