Texas Democrats have set their sights on one of Houston’s conservative strongholds to recruit and organize local candidates through their Local Investment in the Future of Texas program. Candidates that have been endorsed by them, and even those just aligned with their interests, having taken to intimidation tactics at the polls to discourage their opposition.

As its name implies, Project LIFT is specifically aimed at winning local races. Its stated goal is to “work with local party leaders and progressive partners to recruit, train, and support candidates – with a special focus on winning local, non-partisan races.”

So far much of their efforts are centered on North Houston. In Kingwood, LIFT has started investing heavily in efforts to take over the school board of Humble ISD, which spans over 90 square miles, covering much of Humble, Atascocita, Kingwood, Fall Creek, and Eagle Springs.

Though the races are non-partisan, LIFT’s candidates are anything but.

In Humble, LIFT has endorsed former Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast fundraiser and employee Abby Whitmire. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast attracted nationwide infamy when whistleblowers exposed employees callously haggling the sale of fetal body parts that they had harvested illegally. Whitmire said she managed ten key projects with the group in support of their legislative, policy, donor, and volunteer goals.

Another candidate running for Humble ISD, but not endorsed by Project LIFT, is Bob Rehak. Although he considers himself a Republican, he’s deploying Chicago-style intimidation tactics to try to stop others from informing voters about Whitmire’s professional history with the embattled Planned Parenthood megacenter.

Rehak penned a desperate blog post on his campaign site titled, “Parents Want Information, Not Lies and Intimidation.” In it, he calls pro-life activists “extremists with fliers and cameras,” while speaking of Kingwood TEA Party’s attempt to alert voters, via their voter guide, of Whitmire’s Planned Parenthood past.

He also wrote, “Since 1993, extremists have murdered 11 employees of Planned Parenthood and similar organizations,” trying to infer that the TEA Party should be feared.

According to Rehak, Kingwood TEA Party was handing out “hate-filled literature for days” that lied by calling him an “ultra-liberal Democrat” with a “destructive liberal agenda.” Although he claims to be “a registered Republican” for over five decades, his actions, which include supporting Democrat-backed candidates and attacking the only effective conservative organization in Kingwood, scream otherwise.

Rehak also threatened to sue the TEA Party for taking pictures of their outreach efforts in the parking lot of the early voting location, something they have done for years.

If Rehak is right about one thing, it’s that parents need information ahead of voting for their HISD board of trustees. But the problem is, he’s the one delivering the lies and intimidation.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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