North Texans are packing their bags and heading out of town for the Nov. 8 election.
They believe the stakes are too high this year just to sit at home and wait to see what happens as early voting begins on Monday.
So they are traveling to battleground states — where many say the presidential race will be decided — to spread the word about their candidate.
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Florida, Michigan and New Hampshire are just a few of the hot spots seeing a flood of volunteers coming in from Texas and other states to knock on doors, make phone calls and do anything possible to gain support for the person they believe should be president.
“Campaigns often rely on out-of-state volunteers during the heat of a campaign to pick up slack for the local volunteer pool,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “Texas is home to some of the most active Republicans and Democrats, many of whom feel powerless on election day because Texas is not in play at the presidential level.
“Traveling to another state to volunteer gives these activists a chance to feel like they’re making a difference.”
In Texas, early voting runs from Oct. 24-Nov. 4.
A number of North Texas state lawmakers traveled to other states during the primaries, hoping to shore up support for their then-presidential choice, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Now other crews — including state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington — are heading out of town on behalf of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Tinderholt is heading to his home state of Iowa, visiting the Quad Cities region where he grew up.
He said he agreed to do some speaking engagements, but also plans to knock on doors and help with phone bank efforts, hoping to encourage voters to cast their ballot for Trump on Nov. 8.
The reason Tinderholt supports Trump, and is willing to go the extra mile for him, is simple.
“He’s our nominee,” Tinderholt said. “It’s disappointing so many people can’t understand.
“I was a Cruz endorser, but the bottom line is that Trump is our nominee now,” he said. “We need to rally behind our nominee. If people don’t get it, they need to think of what we will get for Supreme Court nominees … and Second Amendment rights … if we get Hillary Clinton as president.”
He said he believes Trump will do well in Texas and he hopes he can make a difference for him in Iowa.
“This isn’t a Texas election,” Tinderholt said. “It’s a national election. And it’s important for any of us who have any influence anywhere to go and be heard.”
GOP Strike Force
Statewide, there is a Mighty Texas Strike Force that’s sending Republicans to battleground states to help get the word out about Trump.
Ray Myers of Kauffman County is leading a team to Wisconsin later this month.
Team members will drive to the Badger State in vans, stopping along the way to wave signs promoting Trump for president.
Once they arrive, they’ll spend a week block walking, phone banking — and yes, waving more signs — to promote Trump for president.
They’ll be back in Texas in time for Election Day.
Myers said he’s involved for a very good reason.
“We are losing our country,” the 72-year-old chair of the Kauffman County Tea Party said. “It’s slipping to the left and we’ve compromised ourselves into oblivion. The Republican Party has compromised with the Democratic Party every time. But the Democrats don’t compromise.
“We are on a mission to save our country,” he said. “The Obama administration, … he told us he would fundamentally change this nation. He’s done it — bringing all the immigrants in, … making it a welfare state. We are traditional Americans. We love America. And we are fighting to save it.”
As a number of Texans are heading out of state to campaign, Cruz is among the Republican officeholders traveling around Texans, encouraging like-minded voters to turn out on Election Day.
Cruz has campaigned at a handful of North Texas events, encouraging voters to turn out and support all Republicans on the ballot. He stopped by the Tarrant County Republican Party Headquarters earlier this month to make phone calls.
“I’m doing everything I can to turn conservatives out on Election Day,” he said. “I’m doing everything humanly possible to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon and Fort Worth City Councilman Sal Espino recently returned from a trip to Nevada to help campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
They went to North Las Vegas, home of the hotly contested 4th Congressional District race. In this Democratic-leaning district, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen is taking on freshman Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy.
“It appears that however congressional district 4 goes, so will the state of Nevada,” De Leon said. “We went to the battleground of battlegrounds to campaign for Hillary. And it went well.”
De Leon and his wife, Frances, and Espino and his wife, Elizabeth, went door-to-door to campaign for Clinton and the entire slate of Democratic candidates.
“I thought we were really engaging voters who had some contact with what was going on in the state of Nevada through TV and mail, but no one had been to their doors,” De Leon said. “I was glad to let them know that Hillary and the Democrats think highly of these voters.
“We gave them reasons to support Hillary and the slate of Democrats.”
They handed out brochures about early voting and even headed to area grocery stores to register people who had yet to sign up to vote.
Rottinghaus said Republican and Democratic volunteers heading out of state can help each presidential campaign power through until Nov. 8.
“Most volunteers aren’t able to travel but those that do are often the most experienced and responsible and willing to do anything to help,” he said. “This is what a big campaign needs, people to sacrifice their time in an all-out push to win.”
Making a difference
While most of the senior citizens they met in Las Vegas were registered, Espino said they were able to help some people in their 20s and 30s register to vote.
“It felt really good,” said Espino, who was born in Mexico and moved to Fort Worth with his family when he was young. “I felt I needed to do something after the tenor of this campaign, … with Trump saying Mexico isn’t sending their best over here.
“I’m an immigrant and his words hit pretty close to home,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference in my own small way.”
In fact, Espino is considering another out-of-state trip to help Clinton, perhaps even heading back to Nevada to help transport people to and from the polls on Election Day.
Fort Worth attorney Jason Smith is planning to head to eastern Ohio in the days leading up to the election. And he plans to continue to campaign in Florida on Election Day.
He plans on block walking and making phone calls for the most part, perhaps carrying signs outside just to remind people to vote for Clinton.
“Hillary volunteers in the area really want to go some place, to battleground states,” Smith said. “The Hillary campaign has made it clear where those states are.
“And we are going.”
Election Day Information
Election Day will be here before you know it.
To ask for a ballot by mail, call the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Oct. 28.