This story originally appeared on Texas Public Radio.
When Ted Cruz upset Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in 2012 in the GOP Senate primary, he credited his legion of volunteers.
“It is a testament to Republican women, to tea party leaders and to grassroots conservatives,” he said.
Four years later, Cruz is counting on some 27,000 volunteers statewide to help deliver a presidential primary victory in Texas where he needs to win decisively to propel his campaign forward.
“I would say 95 percent that were beneficial for Cruz in that hard fought race came back together (for his presidential campaign),” said JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots American which is based in Tyler. It’s a tea party organization that claims to reach hundreds of thousands of voters through email and social media.
As Cruz’s Texas tea party chair, Fleming has helped resurrect the network of activists that worked on his senate race.
“They are the people on the ground they are the people going neighborhood to neighborhood knocking on doors asking neighbors to vote for Sen. Cruz.”
Fleming believes the most effective get-out-the-vote technique is a personal conversation. But running a close second for Super Tuesday in Texas is a cell phone app that’s nearly made the campaign’s big phone banks obsolete.
Dee Momone with the Texas Republican Women’s group is Cruz’s phone bank coordinator in Bexar County, The phone bank as we knew it, however, is gone.
Instead of a room with rows of volunteers phoning voters, Dee sits alone at her dining room table, dials into a secure network, then calls the numbers that pop up on her cell screen. She ad libs from a scripted message
She says the iPhone 360 app makes it easier to recruit volunteers and reach voters.
“It’s very hard to run a phone bank. People have to get in their car and they have to drive to wherever you are. This is an easier way. You reach more people and you can call at your convenience,” she said.
The volunteer effort may be crucial to Cruz as he counts on a big Texas win to lift his campaign.
On the last day of early voting Charisa and Alden Bailey were among those casting their ballots for Cruz at Shavano Park City Hall.
“I think right now we’re looking for someone with character, who’s trustworthy,” Charisa Bailey said.
“I think he can show he’s done what he said he was going to do. And he’s certainly fiscally responsible,” her husband added.
Trump supporters including Wayne Metting were also weighing in.
“The only one who is not a professional politician is Donald Trump. He’ll lead the country in the right direction and forget about the politics and anybody pushing anybody around,” said Metting.
Pam Baptiste voted for Marco Rubio.
“Small business and healthcare were big issues for me. Because I work for a small business owner, I know how tough things were during these Obama years and especially with Obamacare,” she said.
Cruz’s tea party chair, Fleming, believes her candidate is strong on the issues most important to Texas Republicans
“Border security, national security, that is always the number one surveyed issue with us. And second to that would be religious liberty and second amendment issues,” said Fleming.
She says volunteers encourage voters to make the connection between key issues and their candidate, neighbor to neighbor and by phone.