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‘Campbell’s Calvary,’ Secessionists and Other True Believers Pack the Capitol Hallways

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'Campbell's Calvary'
Patrick Michels
Bill and Georgia Thomas drove in from Copperas Cove to present Sen. Donna Campbell with the last of the campaign signs they made for her.

After an exhausting multi-state campaign tour to support Donna Campbell, Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney last fall, Bill Thomas put on his American flag tie, parked his American flag-bedecked Jeep and walked into the Texas Capitol to savor the fruits of his hard work: the swearing-in of Campbell as a state Senator from San Antonio.

Campbell, perhaps the most conservative of the Senate’s new members, relied on grassroots supporters like Thomas and his wife Georgia to spread her message. Thomas carried a campaign sign—one he paid to print himself, he stressed—that said it all, with but one forgivable typo: “Campbell’s Calvary.”

The 83rd Texas Legislature began on a wet day in Austin, and the various rallies planned outside—for Latino needs, for Texas secession—were crunched inside the building. (Correction: The ralliers for Texas independence braved the rain to hold theirs outside, before heading in.) A particularly motley bunch of activists, looky-loos, road-weary elected officials and well-tanned lobbyists passed each other in the hallways of the Capitol, often at as polite a distance as space would allow.

Bill and Georgia’s signatures were already written on the campaign sign Thomas carried. He said they planned to present it to Campbell after her first day on the Senate floor.

“I was extremely hesitant to get involved with her campaign,” Thomas said. “She had no chance of winning.” But over time, Thomas and his wife, who live well outside Campbell’s district in Copperas Cove, became convinced she was that rare outsider candidate with a shot, and he supported her run against incumbent Jeff Wentworth.

Thomas said he compares Campbell to Genuine Risk, the 1967 Kentucky Derby champion. The horse, Thomas said, was just the second filly to claim the title, with a balance of power and grace that made her a rarity among female horses. “Those few fillies who compete with the guys are always big, huge Amazons who can rough it up,” explained Thomas, whose son operates a horse ranch near Gatesville. “When the gate flew open, she would show her pretty posterior and never look back.”

“I think she’s gonna be a senator of icon status,” Thomas said.

Upstairs outside the House and Senate chambers, demonstrators in wheelchairs silently handed out flyers for ADAPT of Texas, which advocates for accessible communities, welcoming “The Member$ of the 83rd Texa$ Legi$lature.” Beside them outside the House chamber, a serious-faced 60-something woman stood, not handing out anything, holding a hand-lettered sign reading simply, “I’m crazy please help.”

A crowd of secessionists, all of uniform skin and T-shirt color, gathered on the ground floor for their rally for Texas independence, which had been moved inside due to rain.

Next to them in the rotunda, another rained-out rally gathered steam indoors, this one for Hispanics Organized for Political Education, MALDEF and just under 10 other Latino groups.

Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa fired up the mostly young Latino crowd of about 100. “Let’s stand up and fight. Let’s let them know there are more of us than there are of them.” By cutting education funding, Hinojosa said, “they’re taking away our freedom.”

“We’re just a bunch of crazy Mexicans who want education,” one supporter said. “It’s a pipe dream. Perry will probably never let it happen.”

Other speakers covered issues like immigration, private prisons and healthcare, but the impassioned speeches—which drew curious onlookers from outside the House and Senate chambers—often returned to education.

“The word ‘voucher’ is going to be a big word this year,” yelled Ken Zarifis from Education Austin. He was confident school vouchers wouldn’t pass this session, he said, but “what we have to watch is the cover the voucher gives to corporate charter chains.”

As that rally continued, a young blond guy sped through the rotunda, holding a green sign and looking for his group. “Texas secessionists!” he yelled. “Any more Texas secessionists?”

“They left,” someone shouted above the crowd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alamogeorge George Contreras

    Were you actually at the capitol? I was there and virtually none of this is true.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dave.bayouphoto Dave Mundy

      I was there with you George, and I haven’t found any of the 500 or so of us who spoke with either of these clowns. Read their bios. They’re plants.

  • onceproudamerican

    The author seems to be a bigot as he is focused on ‘race’, while ignoring the fact that there were ‘people of color’ in the group of around 500 Texans who showed-up in the rain today, and he also ignores the VERY ‘black’ man who was on of the first speakers and who performed our invocation. The author might want to talk to the Lt. Governor as TNM’s President schooled he and several Senators today as to what the Texas Constitution actually says. It was like a revelation, as they appeared to be unaware of what the Texas Constitution actually says even though they all took an oath to honor and protect it. Education is a powerful tool against ignorance, the author might like to work to secure one…

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.jordan.927 Roger Jordan

    As a Native Born Texan, I am ashamed that today was my first visit to the Capitol. The cause was right though. A REQUEST to file a bill allowing Texans to place a NON-BINDING REFERENDUM to the VOTERS regarding Texas once again Declaring herself a Nation.. Thats it. No crazies on horses with guns a flyin etc. Just a vote. Going to the Capitol and seek action regarding a topic on MOST Texans minds, although you wouldnt know it by reading this.** This isnt “reporting”.** I am here to tell you it is a one-sided biggotted opinion, thats it. The folks that braved the weather stayed untill the marked time to come in, we werent “moved” in. I have heard of “Elitist”. I’ve read about them. Today though I met a few working in our State Capitol. Folks, we have some work to do, nobody sits around and watches thier Country (Texas) be overrun do they///Oh yea, that. As far as this article is concerned, the folks who wrote this want to TELL YOU what happed. NOT WHAT HAPPENED. You would have been proud. It doesnt take much, now its YOUR turn.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ron.montgomery.106 Ron Montgomery

    The reference to same skin color and T-Shirts was a clear racist remark and inappropriate. Also with 500 or more there you panned the whole effort. The last comment about Texas Secessionist having left shows clear negative sentiments for a serious movement.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Davis/1109907684 Sam Davis

      If the sheet and hood fit, wear them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dave.bayouphoto Dave Mundy

        You really believe that all Texas Nationalists are white?

        http://www.gonzalescannon.com/node/12387

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Davis/1109907684 Sam Davis

          I really think the vast majority are bigots who are upset a black man won the presidency again.

          • http://www.facebook.com/alamogeorge George Contreras

            Including this Hispanic who held office in a black man’s campaign and voted for a black man in 2000? Sam Davis, you eat the crud they feed you. Obama is exactly who he says he is. I’m not mad at him. I’m mad at you and the other socialists who are tearing this country down right by right and voting for politicians who will help you do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.bayouphoto Dave Mundy

    “A crowd of secessionists, all of uniform skin and T-shirt color,”
    Liar. Our group had white, Tejano and black members. Would you like some pictures? Of course not — since your piece isn’t journalism, it’s just another bigoted attack on anyone whose ideas you disagree with.

  • Patrick

    Since it’s been raised here in the comments, I want to clarify that the group we saw in the hallway was all white, and that’s who we’ve described in the post. No doubt there were people from many backgrounds joining in the rally or walking around the Capitol.

    • http://www.facebook.com/roger.jordan.927 Roger Jordan

      It leaves one to wonder why you felt the need to point our the whiteness. It begs to show bias or insinuates one.

      • Patrick

        Sure, but it wasn’t meant to be a statement about who makes up the secessionist movement generally. The point of mentioning race there was to describe the scene with two very different groups—TNM and HOPE/MALDEF—holding their rallies side by side.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alamogeorge George Contreras

          Yeah, why was I left out. Many great Tejanos died at the Alamo and many great Tejanos stand tall in TNM. Articles like yours tear down all ethnicities by inferring that brown and black folk aren’t interested in Texas Independence because YOU didn’t see them in the corner of the hallway you were camped out in. Soy Espanol, soy Tejano, & soy Texian!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Davis/1109907684 Sam Davis

      This movement started when Obama got reelected. When George Bush was raping the economy and getting innocents killed in two wars you sat with your thumb in your mouth. There’s no coincidence about this.

      I plan on living in a Texas where gun control is enforced, women have reproductive rights, and people of all color have equal rights and opportunities. You want to live in the 1860s.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dave.bayouphoto Dave Mundy

        Sam, I’ve been a member of this movement since 2002, when Obama was still organizing communists in Chicago. I joined BECAUSE I was scared of what Bush was doing.
        You might want to move to California for that gun control. We INCLUDE and welcome people of all colors, national origins, orientations. Our cause is limited, sensible government. You lefties need to update your talking points.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Davis/1109907684 Sam Davis

          Save your conspiracy theories and lies for your friends Alex Jones and Glann Beck. You’re not going to secede not now, not ever. You’ll just keep on garnering the ridicule and pity you deserve.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alamogeorge George Contreras

        Someone had better tell the long time members about this. They seem to think they have been involved much longer. Sam Davis says it is so and it is so. Gun control? You mean like when it was illegal to carry a gun at the Luby’s in Killeen? You want to keep Hispanics and anyone of color down by keeping them dependent on the socialist government that you have put in place. Thankfully, more and more of us are seeing through the new slave trade known as the democratic party.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Davis/1109907684 Sam Davis

    There’s little doubt that the secessionist movement is just another mostly white group of bigots. It’s always easy to find tokens who are willing to sell their ideals for power (Allen West, Ted Cruz), but denying the racist nature of this TEA Party like group is just ludicrous. The whiteness is incredibly important, of course, as it shows this group (which is well represented by the trolls posting here) doesn’t represent the majority of Texans of any color.

    If you misguided citizens want secession then quit paying your taxes. Write a threatening letter to someone in Washington informing them of your true intentions. Bunch of pansies.