Back late 2015, when I had been home from Europe about a year, my uncle told me he was running against Tea Party incumbent Paul Perry for Ellis County Commissioner. My uncle, who spent his entire life working in construction, was very angry that he was riding on roads riddled with pot holes while Perry was waging a publicity campaign on federal issues over which he had ZERO jurisdiction.
Perry’s main issues included tough border control with hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric, defunding Planned Parenthood and against any restrictions on open carry. In December 2015, in fact, Perry made huge news headlines attacking plans by a local church camp to welcome immigrant children, suggesting these children were a safety risk. NBCDFW.com: 800 Unaccompanied Central American Migrants Headed to North Texas
Meanwhile… the potholes….
The main job of the County Commissioner in Ellis County is to keep the roads and bridges in good repair. Other jobs include the county budget. But instead of doing his job, Perry waged a war on the County Judge (a Republican but not Tea Party) over the budget and spent his time campaigning for higher office on these national issues. (I’ve heard he is likely to challenge Joe Barton from the right in the Republican party primary.)
My uncle, like 75% of the voters in Ellis County, is a Republican. But he’s a rational person who just wanted to fix the roads. He’s obviously not anti-immigrant, being the son of a man who came here without papers from Mexico in 1912. He’s a well-respected member of the community, having grown up here.
Having lived almost 20 years abroad, I had been very unengaged with politics since my mid- and late-twenties when I was a political fundraiser in California raising millions for Democratic statewide and local candidates. Over the years I gave money to Democratic presidential candidates and to friends who ran for office, but other than voting and ranting against Bush and then Trump on Facebook, I was mostly uninvolved.
I obviously jumped in to help my uncle when I realized he needed help. My uncle is the patriarch of our family and has always been my hero. He also helped fund my education at Rice. I was very proud of him for standing up for good governance, although I understood the odds of unseating an incumbent were very low. I helped him with writing campaign mailers, his state finance filings, and with organizing volunteers to walk precincts. I wrote letters to the editor on his behalf: WaxahachieTX.com Daily Light. I posted about the campaign, posts which are still on Facebook – I’m proud of our campaign.
My uncle’s campaign upset a lot of people – including the sheriff, who was closely allied with Perry and a slate of Tea Party extremists. A moderate (non-Tea Party) candidate was challenging the sheriff, and my uncle was aligned with that candidate. The sheriff’s deputies reportedly went around taking up my uncle’s signs across the county (at $4 a piece this was expensive!). The sheriff himself went to several supporters of my uncle who had put up his signs and reportedly told them to take down the signs asking questions with character attacks such as “Do you know what kind of a man you are supporting?” My uncle is an elder in his church and is a tireless volunteer for the community, and his supporters stood up for him and reported the bullying tactics to my uncle.
Perry has a loyal army of Tea Party trolls, who go around Facebook attacking people. I earned their hatred. I received screen shots of them attacking my uncle for “hiring” a “campaign manager” who was an “ADMITTED Democrat”. Not only was I not hired, I was not a campaign manager. But I am and always have been a proud Democrat and will do anything for my uncle and for my family.
The campaign got increasingly ugly with Perry issuing campaign mailers full of lies, and his supporters were posting the same lies online. They found things online that were not actually my uncle – Sanchez is a very common name.
I’m writing about this for several reasons. One, I’m still angry. These people who have controlled Ellis County politics for decades and of which Joe Barton is one, are still firmly in power, and I stand against everything they are and believe in. Two, I am being called a Republican by my primary opponents because I voted in the Republican primary. And three, I want you to understand that I will fight for you without regard to how it might appear to others. I fight for what I believe in, and I will not back down.