The Debra Medina Show: How She Unveiled Rick Perry's Fake Tea Party Persona

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Key Point: Debra Medina is a serious candidate, but the Repbulican establishment and traditional media ignored her for months. Now, she is poised to capture energy during a second televised debate, has an upcoming Moneybomb that could inject cash into her campaign, and — even if she loses — has told supporters she likely will support a third-party candidate, and not the Republican nominee, should she lose the Republican primary.

The conventional wisdom that Rick Perry has led some Tea Party movement in Texas is absolutely wrong. Rick Perry is not a real “Tea Party” candidate:

  • Perry is smug and inauthentic about his Tea Party credentials. All he really did was jump on the bandwagon on April 15, 2009, when he did his pseudo-secession hint, and has been coasting on fake Fox News populism ever since.
  • The Tea Party “movement” is split due to concerns of authenticity, and Sarah Palin is on the corporate, Republican takeover side — not the grassroots side that Debra Medina is on. Perry is bringing Palin to Houston for the Super Hair Bowl next Sunday, February 7 — after Palin is headlining a Tea Party event in Nashville, Tennessee that has prominent Republican crazies like Michelle Bachmann pulling out. Why? Because it's not a “real Tea Party” event.

    Toni Backdahl, Minnesota coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said the group behind the convention — Tea Party Nation — is not affiliated with the national movement and there are questions about the group's intent.

    “We put pressure on Bachmann, and we're glad that she didn't go,” Backdahl said. “I'm glad that she did the right thing.” 

  • Honestly — considering that there is physical evidence that Perry supported the bank bailout before it was cool not to support it, do you really think Perry is a true “Tea Party” person, or that he saw which way the weather vane was pointed and jumped out in front?

Perry jumped on a bandwagon that Ron Paul started long ago in Texas, and he got away with it because Fox News and pundits like Chris Matthews and Paul Burka told the country that the Tea Party movement was the result of GOP-led opposition to President Obama. Here in Texas, nothing could be further from the truth, and Debra Medina is perfectly positioned to continue unveiling Rick Perry's fake Tea Party persona for the next month — and potentially long after.

From Rick Perry's personal blog the Rick vs. Kay blog, we learn that Medina will not necessarily support Perry or Hutchison if she loses:

A fairly well known very very conservative Republican activist in the Austin area named Michelle Samuelson has a blog calling out Debra Medina for saying that she would not support the winner of the Republican primary in the general election (link). Excerpt follows…

I guess this really shouldn't surprise anyone. In an interview, Debra Medina told Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas that if she doesn't win the Republican primary for governor, she will support a third party candidate in November.

This is the problem with most “wing” a certain wing of the Republican Party. Instead of rallying behind the “80%” candidates, they throw stones and end up helping the Democratic Party. Liberals. Who agree with them maybe 20% of the time.

Read the original interview where Debra Medina says she will likely support a third party nominee over RIck and Kay in November.

Republicans are calling Medina a traitor to the Repbulican Party, admonishing her for not playing on the team. Well guess what folks — she never was on Team GOP. The Republican Party of Texas establishment — following the lead of Fox News and the Republican National Commitee — has tried to co-opt a grassroots movement that existed long before Perry decided to raise taxes on small businesses. It is a movement started by Ron Paul and ignored by Rick Perry because he could never figure out how to co-opt it. He thought he did in 2009 — and he sure painted himself that way. But at the end of the day, Rick Perry is still the guy who jokes about Texas being in a recession.

Debra Medina is an authentic grassroots conservative, and she's been a serious candidate for a lot longer than most news outlets have paid attention. Today, the Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News have stories entirely devoted to her impact on the race. Interesting though their pieces are, they don't get into why Medina went from someone with only $9,000 COH after June 2009 to be the star of the second (and probably final) GOP debate.

Six and a half months ago, I wrote a post titled, “Why Debra Medina is a Serious Candidate for Governor.” At the time, I wrote:

Medina is a dedicated community activist that has rallied her support by appearing at Tea Parties, local community events, and pretty much anywhere you could imagine. Her website, was launched only a few days before the June 30 filing deadline, yet it looks professional. She will only report a tiny amount of cash-on-hand ($9,000, with $35,000 raised), which means that Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and most Austin Republican insiders will completely dismiss and ignore her campaign.

To do so would be wrong.

And why was she a serious candidate? Here's what I wrote back in July:

  1. Debra Medina has huge, huge support of Ron Paul supporters, having actively worked for Paul in the past
  2. Libertarian newspapers are promoting Medina
  3. Medina is proposing a statewide ballot initiative to impose term limits
  4. Key GOP operatives (including Sarah Palin) may be trying to squash the growing Libertarian Party

Well, here we are over six months later. Looking at those four points again, we know that:

  1. Medina's support from Paul supporters has sustained her low-budget campaign and put her in position to compete;
  2. The Libertarians have promoted her from the beginning, because that's who she is and no one should be surprised she'd support a Libertarian (or an Independent) over Rick or Kay in the general;
  3. Her term limits platform is an anti-incumbent, limited government policy position — the same kind of policies she championed in the first debate, that she has championed for months, and even the conventional wisdom agrees is the primary catalyst for her success;
  4. See the discussion above about Perry's posturing on the Tea Party.

Finally, tonight's debate isn't the last major time Debra Medina will make headlines. Ever since the last debate, she has promoted — at local events, on the radio, and through grassroots e-mail communications — a Medina Momey Bomb on February 2. Remember — Debra Medina is a Ron Paul Republican. Ron Paul raised $6 million and $4.2 million in single-day money bombs during his run for President — both of which still stand as records for GOP single-day fundraising.

Will Medina duplicate Paul's success? Probably not at such a large scale, no. Ron Paul has supporters across the country, whereas Medina's supporters are limited mostly to Texas. However — she raised $100,000 in unsolicited contributions after the last TV debate. If she can raise $500,000 or more from next Tuesday's money bomb, Medina will have enough to continue making a focused GOTV effort for her campaign — which will keep her in the race. Who knows what happens if she makes enough from her money bomb to go on television.

Debra Medina is a real candidate. Too often, we determine that “viability” is the only factor that determines a real candidacy. Medina was fighting for her political views before she got in the race, and she will continue fighting for them when she loses the primary and (most likely) forces a runoff.

Anyone who thinks otherwise just hasn't been paying attention.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. Medina Dinero
    If they Ron Paul fans can raise $4.2 million in one day for him, why can't they do the same for Medina? Even a smidgen of that would help her out. Wouldn't it be fun to see a KB-Medina run off?

  2. Medina v. Paul
    I hear you, Phillip, and I'll be happy if Medina has an effect on the race. But I keep remembering that Ron Paul got less than 5% of the vote in the 2008 GOP primary in Texas. She needs more than just the Ron Paul crowd to be a factor.

    • Agreed, but…
      She's polling at 12% right now. I don't know why anyone who supports her now would ever stop supporting her between now and the primary.

      If the Palin event trumps/tricks the Tea Party crowd next Sunday, like Perry has designed it to do, then maybe she doesn't force a run-off. But that's up to how much her supporters are able to call BS on Team Perry in the final days.

      I'm ready to see what happens.

  3. Also
    My thanks to one of our readers who pointed out some terrible typos in this post originally. I apologize — I wrote this post last night and this morning, and didn't have time to edit it and still get it up before lunch.

    Always appreciate the heads up!

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