While Montgomery County is solidly Republican, Democrats are taking advantage of a low turnout, supposedly non-partisan local election in an attempt to gain a foothold. They have set their sights on a seat on The Woodlands township board currently occupied by conservative Laura Fillault, and have recruited local realtor Carol Stromatt, an ultra-liberal progressive activist, to be their standard-bearer and run against Fillault.
Montgomery County is one of the reddest in the state, handing Donald Trump 73 percent of the vote in 2016, and Greg Abbott a whopping 80 percent in 2014. The county has not had a Democrat elected to a partisan office since 1995 when Democrat Precinct 2 Commissioner Malcolm Purvis, along with his right-hand man Craig Doyal, switched parties, announcing that it was “either Republican or retire.”
While demographic trends strongly suggest that Montgomery County will continue to elect Republicans in all partisan elections, Democrats are starting to contest local non-partisan elections as part of the Battleground Texas movement and the broader resistance against President Donald Trump.
Liberal Democrats like Stromatt are hiding behind the non-partisan label to get elected in overwhelmingly Republican strongholds in order to implement their progressive agenda at the local level.
Stromatt and her supporters claim she is “non-partisan,” but in fact, she has been a progressive liberal activist for years. Stromatt has been a longtime Democrat precinct chair, and is the former president of the local Lone Star Democratic Club. Her candidacy has been endorsed by the Democrats and Progressives of Montgomery County.
Stromatt most recently traveled to Austin during the 85th legislative session to register her opposition to SB 4, the anti-sanctuary cities bill, and the women’s privacy bill. Stromatt supports sanctuary cities and allowing men in women’s restrooms.
She has donated money to Hillary Clinton, the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee, Act Blue, and Progressive Turnout Project.
Stromatt also openly supports Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, and is militantly pro-abortion.
On the other hand, the incumbent, Fillault, is a longtime Republican activist, and has a proven conservative record on the board. During her first term, Fillault was often working to cut the budget and keep taxes low. She is strongly pro-life, and has the endorsement of Texas Right to Life.
While Fillault’s positions are much more aligned with the conservative values of The Woodlands, Democrats see the race as a real opening. Turnout for early voting has been lethargic, and the Democrat base, though only a tiny and marginal minority in the community, is motivated and energized.
During the 2016 general election, Democrat Linda Good defeated Republican Ron Trowbridge, a former Reagan administration official, in a non-partisan race for the Lone Star College Board. Republicans took the race for granted, assuming that Trowbridge was a shoo-in in the heavily Republican county, while Democrats invested a ton of time and energy into Good’s campaign. Now they are looking for a repeat in The Woodlands.
While Trowbridge’s defeat has served to galvanize the Democratic base, it should serve as a grim reminder to conservatives of what happens when they become complacent about non-partisan elections. In the race for The Woodlands township, the contrast between the values and ideologies of Fillault and Stromatt could not be more straightforward. Voters will have a clear choice on November 7.