Has the Texas Nationalist Movement become a political force to reckon with in the Lone Star State?
Using one social media as a guide, the answer just might be "yes."
The Texas Nationalist Movement's organizational page on Facebook on Tuesday topped 33,500 "likes" — people accessing the information on the page.
That's more than either of the two major parties' statewide organization Facebook pages: the Texas Democratic Party had 31,700 "likes" on Tuesday morning, while the Republican Party of Texas had just over 20,000. The state's third-largest organized party, the Libertarians, had 3,571 "likes."
TNM president Daniel Miller called attention to the interesting numbers on the TNM Facebook page with a post: "Was working on something this morning and came across this post on the Texas Democratic Party Facebook page. "Texas Dems, The Secessionists are claiming to have more likes than you and that they are the voice of Texas... are you going to take that? Texans for America!""
"We realize that yes, it's just Facebook, and there's no way to really equate that to votes," Miller said. "But I think it's indicative of the growing interest in who we are and what we're doing. We've brought the issue of Texas independence into the mainstream."
Miller and several other prominent TNM members ran for state offices in last spring's primary elections as Republicans, and drew about one-third of the vote despite being out-spent 10-1 by some entrenched incumbents. The organization has seen an explosion in membership and interest in the weeks following the November general elections, and recently formed its own Political Action Committee "for the purpose of supporting and endorsing candidates at all levels that are in-line with the mission, vision and values of the Texas Nationalist Movement."
Spokesmen for the organization have been interviewed numerous times by both local and national news organizations, further spurring interest.
Last week, Miller debated the topic of Texas independence with Republican Party of Texas chairman Steve Munisteri and two liberal newsmen on National Public Radio's On-Point with Tom Ashbrook, and there was a wide divergence of opinion between Miller and Munisteri, in particular.
Could the TNM be considering mounting a "third-party" run at state offices in 2014? Miller said it may be premature to forecast.
"We're going to continue to work with our elected officials at the local and state level," he said. "There are a lot of issues in addition to independence that we can weigh in on. It would do little good to win Texas independence if we have the same old people in charge, all we'd be doing is trading one bad system for another."