I have been writing a lot about the power of a big-choice election in November.
This week, Texas Republicans won a special election for a state Senate seat in a district along the Mexican border. Every Republican campaign in the country should study this race carefully.
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You may not have read about this GOP victory, because the liberal national media is not exactly excited to report that Republicans reclaimed a seat they had not held in 139 years. The liberal media is especially shy about reporting on a Republican victory in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by nearly 12 points in the 2016 presidential election.
From the left’s standpoint, this victory is even more frightening because the district is 73 percent African-American and Hispanic.
Furthermore, at a time when people are touting gigantic Democratic voter turnout and lagging Republican participation, this special election runoff had twice as many voters as the last Texas state Senate special election runoff in February 2015.
In fact, the turnout for this race went up from 26,207 in the first round of the election to 44,487 in the runoff, according to Sam Taylor with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. The Republican candidate received 23,576 votes to the Democrat’s 20,911.
Pete Flores, the Republican victor, spent 27 years as a game warden. As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told me: “Flores was tireless as a campaigner. He put 7,000 miles on his car during the last five weeks of the campaign.”
In many ways, the Flores all-out, personal campaigning resembled President Trump in the last weeks of the 2016 campaign. This is a good reminder to Republicans that campaigns matter, and you can’t predict who will win six weeks out from an election.
Flores had run four years earlier and lost by 20 points. Now he is the first Hispanic Republican state senator in Texas (yet another reason the liberal media is avoiding talking about the race). Since Flores defeated former Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, his victory has some extra punch to it.
Patrick said this race was a classic example of a big-choice campaign. He had read my recent paper, The Republican Choice for 2018: Win or Lose, which outlines the importance of big- choice campaigns over small-choice campaigns and said this was a perfect example of the potential for a big-choice campaign to overwhelm the media bias (a point Brooke Rollins had also made to me).
The big choices in this 17-county border district were:
- Right to life versus tax-paid abortion. As Catholics, many Hispanic voters simply won’t vote for liberals who are for tax-paid abortions. Of course, every Democrat who is campaigning for free government-run health care is campaigning for tax-paid abortion.
- Safe borders versus dangerous gangs. As Patrick explained, “most law-abiding Hispanics support controlling the border, stopping criminals and keeping their community safe from gangs like MS-13.” He pointed out that he campaigned four years ago on repealing the sanctuary city law in Texas and got about 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. Flores’s own campaign website clearly states: “Our borders must be secure, and our communities must be safe. … We will make Texas borders secure and a bad place to be for criminals and gangs. We are and must remain a state where the rule of law reigns.”
- Gun rights versus gun control. Many Hispanic voters strongly support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. They distrust and oppose liberals who want to have government control their guns.
- Local rule versus centralized bureaucracy. Most Hispanic voters favor smaller government, lower taxes, and more community rather than Washington controls (or Austin controls in this case).
- Work versus welfare. There is a strong work ethic in the Hispanic community, and the job-creating power of the Trump system is being admired and applauded. Currently having the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate in history is a real asset for Republicans in the 2018 campaign.
Matt Walter, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, noted that this was the 38th Republican special election victory this year – more than the Democrats have won. This makes you wonder how big the supposed blue wave is going to be if the Democrats keep losing actual elections – when the people, rather than the media, have a voice.
So every Republican candidate, campaign, professional and activist should look carefully at this Republican victory in Texas. They should realize that election night on Nov. 6 could be an even bigger upset – with even more shocking and decisive Republican victories – than election night 2016 was.
This upset can take place:
If we have the courage to make the November midterm a big-choice election.
If we have the courage to campaign on issues that the American people support – even if the liberal media hates them and despises us for raising them.
If we are willing to go into every neighborhood and every precinct and appeal to every American of every background.
If we are willing to challenge liberal lies and distortions head-on and force the left to admit they are not true.
If we do this at the national level, in the media, and at the local level in each campaign.
If we pick up the big-choice themes that President Trump is beginning to lay out (note his recent rally speech in Montana).
These are the lessons of the great victory in the Texas State Senate District 19 special election. It is not based on a theory. It is based on real victories, in real elections.
Now, we must believe act and fight. Victory in November is there for the earning.
Newt Gingrich is a former Speaker of the House. He is also a contributor to Fox News and the author of several books.