In case you were unaware, I went to the first annual CPAC Texas this past weekend; these are my takeaways:
1) Tea Party 2.0 -- The 2012 version of the Tea Party might not have the street presence of the 2009/10 version, but it's much better organized, much better focused, and it has a much more realistic picture of how to win elections. There are more establishment GOPers getting primary challenges across Texas than any point since the GOP became the undisputed majority party with Dubya's election as Governor in 1994. It's difficult to predict how many will win in 2012, but I can confidently say that by 2014 and 2016 Tea Party 3.0 and 4.0 will control the Republican nominating process in Texas.
2) Ted Cruz -- I had a ten minute conversation with him; Ted gets it. Ted understands that, no matter what happens at the Presidential level, Congress can drive the agenda so long as the Jim DeMint's et. al. of the U.S. Senate get another 6-7 re-enforcements. Ted is actually a step ahead of me in terms of understanding how dangerous Obama's czars and commissions really are and the steps needed to unwind and abolish them (defunding and legislative repeal).
3) San Antonio -- This is really a subcategory of Tea Party 2.0, but San Antonio is where you will see the Texas Tea Party flex our muscles in the coming months. The speaker of the Texas State House, a man named Joe Straus, is an epic level RINO. Straus is being challenged in the primary by a man named Matt Beebe. I had a long conversation with Matt on Friday night (at least 45 mins). Matt's everything we're looking for in a representative. I personally pleged to Matt that I would knock on at least 200 doors for him before election day. On the other hand, Straus has never had to run in a contested election, let alone a primary. The tea party will end Straus' political career.
Where this gets interesting, however, is that Straus' Texas House district has substantial overlap with U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith's district. Obviously, final U.S. house district lines haven't yet been resolved, but this is an obvious opportunity to take out two birds with one stone. Lamar Smith, in case you didn't know, voted FOR TARP, voted FOR Obama's debt ceiling increase, and he's the author of SOPA.
4) 2010 election shenanigans in Travis County -- Lloyd Doggett DIDN'T win his last election. In a normal midterm year, Travis County precincts average 46% turnout. In 2010, a heavy turnout midterm, they averaged 51%. Doggett got over the top via 60 precincts in the most heavily Democrat parts of Travis County. The precinct in which I live allegedly had 95% turnout; since I live there, I can promise you that didn't happen.
5) The utter collapse of the Texas Democrat Party -- There are 150 seats in the Texas State House. 62 didn't have Democrats even FILE. Ouch.
I hope this helps.