Politics & Government

Texans helping pave the road to the White House

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Politicians seeking the White House next year often tout their differences as to why they are best qualified to serve as president.

But many have at least one thing in common: Texans.

Whether or not they have personal ties to the Lone Star State, nearly a dozen of those hoping to claim the presidential nomination next year are hoping that Texans will help pave the road for them to get to the White House.

“Texas is the epicenter of the new breed of Republican politics, so all the candidates want a foothold here,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, an associate political science professor at the University of Houston. “Texas conservative politics represents the prototypical Republican — Anglo, older, conservative and leaning toward Tea Party tactics, and immigration focused.

“The Republican activists … here know how to win in red states and compete in blue cities. That is a sought-after skill set that presidential campaigns need on the ground.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was the latest candidate to unveil either a Texas leadership team or a list of Texans in his national presidential campaign, following in the footsteps of other candidates ranging from Donald Trump to Ted Cruz.

But it’s not just a Republican thing.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has unveiled a Texas team as well, and Bernie Sanders is setting up a statewide office in Austin.

“Texas is the brass ring of Super Tuesday, so all the candidates are converging to make a play for it,” Rottinghaus said. “All the candidates hope to invest time and resources in the state and get a slice of the pie, probably pecan.”

Here’s a look at some of the Texans, or people with Texas ties, who have been asked to lend a helping hand to presidential campaigns.

Republicans

Jeb Bush: The son and brother of former presidents who live in Texas recently announced his “initial Texas leadership committee” that includes his son and daughter-in-law, former Fort Worth residents George P. and Amanda Bush; House Speaker Joe Straus; U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth; prominent Fort Worth Republican Juan Hernandez and his wife, Estella; Fort Worth philanthropists Anne and John Marion; Fort Worth’s Kit and Charlie Moncrief; Dallas developer Ross Perot Jr. and his wife, Sarah; and Arlington City Councilman Robert Rivera.

Ben Carson: The retired neurosurgeon earlier this year called on a number of people with Texas ties to serve on his Carson America campaign. Among them: G. Michael Brown, chief of staff to state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, as field director; Sonya Harrison, who earned a BA from Texas Lutheran University, as deputy finance director of special events; Jared Powers, who worked on the re-election campaign for state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, as New Hampshire’s field director; and Ruth Sherlock, who earned a BBA from Texas A&M University, for state director of the South Carolina campaign.

At least nine presidential candidates have tapped Texans to help in some way with their campaign.

Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor earlier this year picked a handful of Texans to serve on his national finance leadership team, including Ray Washburne of Dallas as national finance chairman and George Cramer, Steve Soloman, Ted Stone and Al Hill Jr., all of Dallas, as national finance leaders.

Ted Cruz: Texas’ junior senator and former solicitor general recently named Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as Texas chairman for the Cruz for President campaign; Texas Railroad Commissioners Ryan Sitton and David Porter are serving as Texas co-chairmen of the campaign. Cruz has other North Texas support with Hal Lambert, a Fort Worth money manager, who serves as finance co-chairman, and David Barton, an Aledo evangelical Christian conservative, who is helping lead the Keep the Promise PAC that’s raising money for Cruz’s candidacy. Cruz also named Tyler Norris, who formerly worked for state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, as a Texas state director.

Carly Fiorina: The Austin-born former Hewlett-Packard CEO recently named a Texas leadership team that includes former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs and several North Texans, including Dallas’ Susan Adzick, vice president of sales for McLane Company; Dallas’ Andi Hughes, a Republican activist; and Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne.

Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator’s father, longtime former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson, has deep Texas ties. But his biggest coup may have been luring former Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri earlier this year to serve as his senior adviser. State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, recently signed on to head Paul’s presidential campaign in Texas.

It’s not just Republicans calling on Texans. Democrat Hillary Clinton is asking Texans for help as well.

Rick Santorum: The former Pennsylvania senator has spent a fair amount of time in Texas, due to business interests, and a number of Texans are working to help his campaign. Among them: Julie McCarty of Grapevine, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, and Lisa Hendrickson of Flower Mound, who is in public relations.

Donald Trump: The New York businessman and controversial former reality TV star earlier this month named Katrina Pierson of Garland — a Tea Party actist and former congressional candidate — as his national spokeswoman. Pierson introduced Trump at his September campaign rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Earlier this year, he named Austin political consultant Corbin Casteel as his state campaign director.

Democrats

Hillary Clinton: The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady has announced support from around 90 Texas Democrats who now serve on the Hillary for Texas Leadership Council. These Texans will be among those helping recruit volunteers for the campaign. Among the Texas Democrats from Fort Worth: former state Sen. Wendy Davis, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, and state Reps. Nicole Collier and Ramon Romero Jr.

Bernie Sanders: The Independent Vermont senator is reaching out to Texans by setting up a statewide office in Austin, led by former Texas Democratic Party official Jacob Limon and a staff that includes David Sanchez as the North Texas director.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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