In yet another sign the conservative grass-roots movement is moving further into the political arena, a coalition of tea party-type organizations called The Common Sense Texans Network is planning a "virtual debate" among Democrats and Republicans vying to become the Lone Star state's next governor.
"We're clearly looking to affect legislative action by determining who gets to make the decisions in state and federal positions," Greg Holloway, co-founder of Common Sense Texans Network, tells Newsmax. "What we're all about is trying to get conservatives elected … [and] the best way to do that is to meet with the candidates and see who has those values within their own belief systems."
The virtual debate poses videotaped responses to 10 questions submitted by members of the Texas grassroots-conservative movement. The questions touch on tax policy, border-control efforts, trimming the state's budget, and the privatizing of activities currently managed by the state bureaucracy.
Holloway, who also serves as a director for Austin Tea Party Patriots, says that over the next three days the video responses of each candidate will be posted on YouTube. The "virtual debate" will also air on the group's Web site, CommonSenseTexans.net. The Common Sense Texans Network is a coalition of tea party activists and grass-roots conservatives from throughout Texas.
The Texas primary will be held on Tuesday, March 2. Leading Republican candidates include incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Debra Medina, a Wharton County GOP chairperson and business executive who has mounted a surprisingly effective upstart candidacy.
A recent Rasmussen poll showed Perry leading Hutchison 44 percent to 29 percent, with Medina at 16 percent.
Medina, who stubbed her toe on the Glenn Beck show by suggesting she might believe in 9/11 conspiracy theories, could grab enough votes to keep Perry from winning 50 percent of the vote. That would trigger a run-off election.
The main Democratic challengers are former Houston Mayor Bill White and Palestinian-American Farouk Shami, a prominent Houston-area business executive. White is thought to be the clear front-runner.
"We've gotten some really interesting answers," Holloway tells Newsmax. "And I think they've been honest answers by the candidates. The candidates show themselves to be real people, and very interested in making people's lives better in Texas. It just so happens they have different ways of trying to do it."
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