Northeast Tarrant Tea Party leader Julie White McCarty posted on Facebook this week that neither she nor NETTP would be helping with any state lawmakers’ re-election campaigns because of the performance of the Texas Legislature this session.
In the post, McCarty wrote: “There will be no Shark Tank. I will not personally campaign nor lead NETTP to campaign for any re-election. Not worth my time when the returns yield nothing. Open to new candidates but I’ll be pretty picky.”
Shark Tank, as described by McCarty, is a one-day event that has been held the past couple of election cycles for the sole purpose of finding new candidates for the Texas House who would represent and fight for the grassroots. In its first year, McCarty said Shark Tank raised $200,000 for new candidates and over half a million in its second year. But this upcoming election, nothing will be raised.
In an exclusive interview with Texas Scorecard, McCarty discussed the meaning behind her comments, saying the results of this session make the Shark Tank event not worth the effort.
“I don’t want to put my name, or the tea party’s name, behind a bunch of candidates … and then when they get to Austin, they’re like, ‘Okay, sit down and shut up, because we know better than you,’” McCarty said.
When asked how she would describe this session, McCarty used three words: “We got nothing.” She listed election reform and property taxes as her top two disappointments.
“This was probably our last chance to have a strong Republican head count, and we blew it. We twiddled it away, and next session will be even harder because our numbers will be even lower.”
“The writing’s on the wall,” she added. “We’re going to lose Texas.”
McCarty emphasized that she had nothing personal against any elected representatives, but that her issue was with the results of the session so far and the strategy behind it: for the grassroots not to make any noise, and for everyone to “go along to get along.”
“Anybody could have told you from the get-go that was not going to work,” she said, “because the only way the grassroots has any influence is to be loud. We are never going to match the big-dollar donors.”
“We had no voice in Austin [this session],” added McCarty.
When asked which specific representatives she was disappointed with, McCarty pointed to Freedom Caucus members, who she claimed also pushed this strategy, asking the grassroots not to make any noise or stir the pot.
“But every one of them was like, ‘No, this is a different day, and we have to get along with these people. If we went in there just blasting people left and right like we’ve been able to do in the past, then we wouldn’t even have a seat at the table.’”
McCarty also said the Freedom Caucus told grassroots leaders the rationale for this plan was because of all of the “backroom deals” being made behind the scenes. Yet as promises to eventually deliver what the grassroots wanted failed to materialize, the strategy remained the same.
“They still were telling us to sit down and be quiet,” McCarty said. “I can’t keep supporting candidates who are going to do that.” She went on to say that the only time anyone in the Freedom Caucus acknowledged to her that they were wrong and the strategy wasn’t working was when State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) left the caucus.
McCarty is open to supporting new candidates but says her standards are going to be much higher to ensure the candidates will definitely be fighters and not forget who they represent after they get to Austin. “I just am not sure what that’s going to look like at this point. How am I going to know who I can trust to actually go in and fight? So, somehow they’re going to have to prove to me: ‘I have a track record.’”
What would McCarty say to the Republicans in Austin? “You were supposed to fight.”
For the grassroots, she offered bold words of encouragement and said perhaps what is needed is a new strategy. “As tempting as it is, this is not the time to give up.”
When asked her thoughts on the recent announcement from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen proposing a compromise that increases property tax relief to $5 billion, McCarty replied, “I haven’t seen the details yet, but from what I’ve heard, it’s too little too late.”