Taxpayers won a big political victory this year. Thanks to tens of thousands of Texans, the chief advocate for irresponsible transportation policy in the Texas House was forced to go silent this election season on her own plan to hike taxes and fees — despite her claim last year to make it a centerpiece of her re-election. (Update at end of piece.)

That’s the power of an election. And it’s the power of conservative principles in action.

You’ll recall that State Rep. Vicki Truitt said repeatedly a year ago that she would “fall on my sword” to push for the “local option” gas tax hike and fee menu. She pledged to keep fighting in 2011 for this boondoggle funding plan.

But a funny thing happened on her way to raising your taxes: you showed up.

Thanks to you, Empower Texans let voters in her district know about what she was trying to do. Through mail, e-mail and phone calls, we demonstrated that she wasn’t in Austin who she claimed to be in her district. The result? Three people opposed her for re-election. We didn’t endorse in that race, and stayed out of it, precisely because there were too many good candidates from which to choose. (If there is a run-off, we’ll likely participate.)

All three candidates taking on Truitt focused on a variety of issues – no race is ever about a single issue – but all took her to task for her work in raising gas taxes.

The result? The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports she went “mum” on the issue. In less than a year she went from shrill advocate to utter silence. If she manages a win tonight, she won’t have a mandate to pursue a tax hike agenda. She took it off the table herself in the face of a fierce firestorm of political opposition and public outrage.

Elections obviously matter, but more important is the vigilant engagement of citizens like you. We aren’t necessarily called to “win” elections (though it helps!), but rather to enact important policy reforms. Elections help make that happen, part only as a part of the process, not the whole. We cannot walk away after an election; the price of liberty is consistent involvement in all levels of government.

A hundred years from now, very few of us will be remembered in history texts, but the policies enacted as a result of our activism will determine just how brightly the Lone Star State shines in 2110.

UPDATE FROM ELECTION NIGHT
The gas tax hike forces lost big last night. Not only was Truitt forced into silence on the issue, as noted above, she only garnered 53% of the vote against three challengers who all talked about the issue.

Consider the beating the Truitt gas tax and fee option took…

Take House District 91, where incumbent taxpayer champion Kelly Hancock easily dismissed pro-taxer Charles Scoma. The taxers cannot be happy, because Scoma made the issue a loud one in that race.

In Dallas County, Stefani Carter (HD102) easily dispatched Geoff Bailey. You might recall that it was Bailey who said raising taxes would be a mature option for Texas. The grown-ups sent him to his room, 75-25.

Meanwhile, Cindy Burkett (HD101) made loud and clear her opposition to the gas tax schemes, while her main opponent muddied the waters with a variety of answers.

Up in Collin County, the County Judge (Keith Self) was the lead opponent to the tax hike scams. He got a well-funded opponent by the taxers… And Self won with 58%!

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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