Commentary: Dancing the Texas two-step

Democrats learned about the "Texas two-step" in 2008.

This year, more Republicans than ever are expected to return Tuesday night for the second half of party primaries: precinct conventions.

Ron Paul libertarians already dominate some Tarrant County Republican precincts and elected a state committeewoman last year. Mix in the various flavors of Tea Parties -- from sensationalist to secessionist -- plus some Glenn Beck activists, and you have the makings of a Republican rumble.

"We have a lot of new groups in the party," said Cheryl Plunkett, president of the Hurst-based Metroplex Republican Women.

"They're very passionate. They want to make a difference. They're here because they're upset about the president and Congress. We want to see where we can all work together as Republicans."

Two years ago, the Paul revolution started at the precinct level. Dozens of activists organized by e-mail and showed up to take over precincts, passing their own resolutions reflecting Paul's campaign platform.

By the state convention, Paul's backers challenged party leadership.

They supported their own candidate for state party chairman. Paul D. Perry of Ellis County didn't win, but he did get about one-fourth of the delegates' votes.

"Everything starts at the precinct convention," Perry said by phone Friday.

"The new groups know that if they want to change the Republican Party, it starts Tuesday. Anybody can go to YouTube[.com] and learn how to run the convention. You're going to see a lot of activity from new Tea Party and liberty groups."

When religious activists took over the Republican Party in 1994, their issues were abortion and homosexuality.

This week's new generation of activists worry more about money.

To read the complete column, visit www.star-telegram.com.