The #trumptrain came to Lake Murvaul on Saturday, and local GOP party officials are hoping it can help keep President Donald Trump in office.

Saturday’s event was also a call for action: Republican voters have to do more to ensure that local, state and national elected offices remain GOP seats.

“Guys, we have a line to hold,” Panola County GOP Chair Linda Lawless said. “I was looking out today at these boats out here, and this line right here: I want to equate it to the Alamo. I know you all know that story. It’s your history that’s being erased every day, and I encourage you to study your history and get busy keeping it. But at the Alamo, they drew a line in the sand much like you’re doing out here today. You’re going to be a line, and that line was ‘Choose whose side you’re on.’”

A flotilla of several dozen Trump merchandise-decked out boats gathered at the Lake Murvaul Marina on Saturday to rally for the President before heading out on the lake for a boat parade. The boaters, and a similarly-large sized land-lubbing crowd, spent the day supporting the Trump campaign and talking to their neighbors and party officials.

Smith County GOP Chair David Stein, in his address, told boaters their version of the “church amen” would be their boat horns. Stein said he knew he didn’t need to convince everyone to vote for Trump, but he rattled off a list of reasons: Trump’s pro-life record, the economy’s recovery, Trump’s support of Israel and his support for law enforcement.

“When they say we need to vote like our country depends on it, you’re not voting like your country depends on it. You’re voting because your country does depend on it,” he said. “If we, for some unknown crazy reason, decide to put Sleepy Joe and Comrade Harris in the White House, this country is never going to look the same again.”

Stein also reminded everyone that straight-ticket voting has been eliminated. So they’ll need to vote for every office on the ballot, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and in races for the Texas Legislature, because those current Republican majorities are not guaranteed.

“If East Texas didn’t show up in 2018 like we did, we would not have Sen. Ted Cruz. We would have Sen. Robert Francis O’Rourke. This is why your vote is so important and we’ve got to show up,” he said.

Gail and Mike Hudman, of Longbranch, were two Trump supporters out at the lake on Saturday. Trump had their vote, they said, because of his platform.

“We’re very much pro-life,” Gail Hudman said. “We’re for freedom of speech.

“He’s not a career politician. He’s out for the people. That’s us,” Mike Hudman said.

Lawless told supporters they needed to give their all volunteering their time and efforts for the GOP cause right up until Election Day.

“We have a job for you all, and guess what? On Nov. 3, when the dust settles, that line will not have been crossed,” she said. “We are going to save America with every one of you out here.”


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.