Conservative coalition launches Texas affiliate; Dems question makeup, motives
Based in one of the politically red state's reddest areas -- Collin County -- the Coalition looks to entrench its faith-fueled ideas in a growing population.
"We are excited about the potential for Faith & Freedom Coalition in Texas," said Ralph Reed, Coalition founder and chairman. "Texans realize our nation is at a crossroads and that it's time to get engaged to restore our country's founding principles, rule of law and federalist system of government."
With more than 30 state affiliates, hundreds of active local and online chapters and an annual Faith & Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., the 501(c)4 organization is doing what it can to fulfill its mission to "influence public policy and enact legislation that strengthens families, promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, lowers the tax burden on small business and families, and requires government to tighten its belt and live within its means."
The newest affiliate launched last Friday at Rick's Chophouse in downtown McKinney, where Reed, FFC Executive Director Gary Marx, and Billy Kirkland, national field director, joined Collin County Judge Keith Self, resident Curtis Rath and Derek Baker, the affiliate's executive director, in announcing immediate goals for the area.
"When you start hanging out with like-minded individuals who believe in liberty and freedom, and especially religious liberty, you start brainstorming," said Baker, who's been involved with conservative Republican politics for 24 years. "Especially the North Texas area is a wonderful market to really mobilize voters who are like-minded."
Baker started his political career working on the presidential and senatorial campaigns for former United States Sen. Phil Gramm, who in 2008 served as economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign.
Baker later was a senior policy analyst for the Republican Study Committee, what he called "the most conservative group in Congress," and then served as Director of Congressional Affairs for the lobbyist group, Americans for Limited Government.
"I'm what you call a fiscal and social conservative, a true conservative," he said, "which is why Texas Faith & Freedom was such a great idea, because it supports all the things I believe in."
And, in light of the social and political controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy's open support for "the Biblical definition of a family," such beliefs are ever-growing as the most polarizing topics in American politics.
Founded in 2009, the Coalition has made clear its view that such traditional, faith-centric values are essential to "restoring America's greatness and founding principles," as stated on its website.
But others aren't so convinced. ProgressTexas, a multi-issue organization focused on holding elected officials accountable and empowering Texans to improve their quality of life, desires to "organize rapid response communications to the distortions and lies of conservative groups" and to "highlight failed conservative policies and any ethical failures within government," according to its website.
Matt Glazer, executive director of ProgressTexas, listed a lack of affordable health care, an under-funded public education system and a dismissal of environmental needs as major issues ProgressTexas aims to address. But most important is government transparency, which Glazer said state and federal government has lacked particularly over the past decade under primarily Republican control.
"We've seen in the past other conservative groups under the guise of promoting transparency, then they end up making it harder for people to vote," Glazer said when asked about the FFC. "So it's very suspect when groups like this arise."