If you are like most conscientious voters, you experienced a tinge of frustration in the recent primary. Your ballot contained a long list of lower-profile races for which you had little information about the candidates. Did you find yourself skipping a race or just settling for the candidate with the most familiar-sounding name? Leaving the decision to your next door neighbor or using the Las Vegas approach are not very responsible methods for electing officials who can dramatically impact your family, freedom and finances.

When facing an election with numerous races and candidates, where can you obtain reliable information based on in-depth scrutiny rather than succumbing to the influence of pithy sound bites, skewed campaign collateral, or telegenic faces and names?

TFR is equipping Texas voters to make well-reasoned decisions by providing resources and guidance for vetting office-seekers. Dozens of candidates across Texas contacted TFR requesting an endorsement in the recent primary election. An additional round of candidates who made the upcoming May 24th run-off are now seeking TFR’s endorsement.

[side_text]Don Stroud, of Austin, TX, submitted this commentary for EmpowerTexans.com and Texas Scorecard.[/side_text]

Candidates are first required to complete an extensive questionnaire which must then be validated by a regional vetting committee comprised of TFR staff or affiliates. Each Regional TFR Vetting Committee schedules face-to-face private meetings with candidates from that region and recommends to TFR leadership those candidates believed to be worthy of endorsement. Committee recommendations are then compared with other data points and inputs before TFR leadership makes the final endorsement decision.

Competent, knowledgeable candidates who understand and have demonstrated commitment to the high priority faith, family, fiscal and freedom issues will receive consideration. There must be sufficient confidence a candidate will do what is right, even when no one is looking, and stand for truth, even when all others remain seated on the throne of compromise.

Self-labeling requires definition. If a candidate claims to be a Christian, pro-life, evangelical, fiscally conservative, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-10th Amendment, a social conservative, a strict constructionist, a parental rights advocate or any other campaign-season label, it is fair game to ask the candidate to elaborate. The veneer often quickly peels away to reveal the lexicon of a moral relativist gripped by the modernist impasse.

During the interview, a committee will go deep into any combination of categories of questions, including:

  • biographical – including marriage, family, personal financial management, career
  • faith, worldview and foundational principles
  • character
  • competency, tenacity and skill
  • knowledge – especially the dynamics of office sought
  • goals and priorities if elected
  • resources and campaign contributions – received/given and by/to whom
  • economics and business philosophy
  • judicial philosophy
  • strategy – for conducting a successful campaign, criteria for hiring staff, communicating with constituents
  • positions on current issues related to office sought

Committee members give greater consideration to candidates who provide clear, concise and honest responses supported by examples and specifics. Fortunately, candidates and office holders who have trampled on conscience for so long that they have gotten over shame are unlikely to seek an endorsement from TFR. But for those who do, a discerning vetting committee provides an extra filter.

Vetting candidates and voting wisely are essential duties in preserving the constitutional republic entrusted to you and your family. In Part 2, we will explore ways you, your family, and friends can interact with and vet candidates in your community in preparation for the upcoming May 7th local elections and May 24th primary run-off.

In the meantime, remember why we are Texans, cross over the line in the sand, and do your part to keep freedom alive by joining Empower Texans’ 1836 Campaign.


A version of this article was previously published by Texas Homeschool Foundation at THSC.org.

Don Stroud

Don Stroud is a 7th generation Texan who has served as a city councilman, election judge, and regional education leader.


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