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Republican Candidates Rushing to Tout 'Christian' Values

Republican Candidates Rushing to Tout 'Christian' Values

So what's the deal with the TV and radio ads for Republican candidates for statewide office?  It frequently sounds like they're running for 'Preacher in Chief' instead of State Comptroller or Lieutenant Governor.

 

  "A man of faith" is how one candidate is described in his radio ad.  Another promises to 'fight to defend our religious liberty.'

 

  Cal Jillson, a political analyst at Southern Methodist University, says it shows how conservative and how evangelical the Texas GOP has gotten in the last six years, and what candidates have to do to attract the activist Republican and Tea Party voters who cast ballots in off year primaries.

 

  "They're saying 'I'm like you, I have steady, stable, recognizable values, vote for me'," Jillson says.

 

  Of all of the Republicans running, probably the one who most freely touts his Christian values is State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), and Patrick is expected to make the runoff in next month's Lieutenant Governor primary, proof that a healthy Christian background is a valuable commodity.

 

  "I'm a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third," Patrick says in one ad.  "That's why I placed 'In God we Trust' in the Senate and 'Under God' in our pledge.  I honor God first, not government."

 

  Jillson says the key to winning elections is to talk the language of the people, and the people who vote in Republican primaries in Texas are overwhelmingly evangelical Christians.

 

  "If you drive around San Antonio, you'll see a lot of big churches," Jillson said.  "That is an older, whiter, wealthier group. They are well advised to stress their religious commitments."

 

  But what happens when the runoff is over and we move into the general election.  Will these tactics still be front and center?  Jillson doesn't think so.

 

  And Jillson says much of this may bring short term gain, but also long term pain.  He says the overtly Christian message is a turn off to many of the very people the GOP needs to attract to remain the dominant party in Texas politics.

 

  "What the Republicans are trying to do is win the Republican primary," he said.  "When you get to the general election, it's still the case that woman, minorities, and young people have been leaning to the Democratic Party, and that is a great danger to the Republicans, and they are aware of it, and will try to deal with it in the general election."

 

 

 

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