A Weatherford businessman caused a stir on Election Day with a self-described “shrine” he’s been towing around North Texas for nearly a week in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Jim Webster, a former county commissioner and owner of the retail warehouse center Frontier Park, parked a “jail” he built and filled with effigies of Democratic politicians outside the Aledo Community Center on Tuesday.
The mock jail was mounted on a trailer behind Webster’s pickup and enclosed upright figures of Bill and Hillary Clinton in jail stripes on one side and Barack Obama on the other. On the bottom of the display was written “Deep State Demon Rats” and below that were several Ted Cruz campaign signs.
Ten patriotic songs, including “God Bless America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Merle Haggard’s “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” played through a loudspeaker mounted on the display.
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Webster, in a Donald Trump mask and wearing a dark suit, stood outside the display Tuesday giving two thumbs up and rallying passers-by.
Sharon Wayland, an election clerk at the community center, said workers objected to the display and called the Aledo Police Department.
“They came out and they stood around for a long time, but they never did anything about it,” she said. She said there was a police car stationed nearby to monitor the situation.
“I don’t know whether it’s illegal or not,” Wayland said. “It just seems to be highly unethical to be parking something that offensive right outside a polling place. Even if it is outside the 100-foot marker.”
The Texas Election Code bars electioneering within 100 feet of polling places during an election.
“He’s gotten a really good reception here,” said another election worker who asked not to be named.
It hasn’t been so great elsewhere, Webster said.
“I went to Palo Pinto County and the reception was very cool,” he said. “The political difference between Parker and Palo Pinto counties is night and day.”
Webster said it took him and a friend four hours a night for five nights to finish the display. He did a simpler version in 2016 — a wooden pallet with a chicken-wire cage, a figure of Hillary Clinton and signs reading “Crooked Hillary” and “Lock Her Up.”
“It’s like a shrine,” Webster said. “It expresses a lot of people’s feelings.”
When he drove the mock jail to a strip shopping center, people came out of businesses to take photos, selfies with Webster and to encourage him.
“This is the most fun I’ve had since I was 8 years old and I rode my first horse,” he said. “And the reason it’s fun is because the people love it.”
Webster said Trump is his favorite president and he thinks Trump will likely go down as one of the best presidents in U.S. history.
“The first time I heard him speak, I said, ‘That man is speaking for me,’” Webster said.