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Republican woman recalls growth of party in Victoria County

By Melissa Crowe
March 5, 2014 at 4 p.m.
Updated March 4, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.

Janice Ohrt is a Republican team member with Precinct 22 in Mission Valley. Ohrt is committed to mobilizing voters and believes that voters should learn as much as possible about candidates on the local level as well as in state and national races.

In a community built by old Democrats, Victoria County has turned red.

A look at the ballot's 17 offices showed six contested races in the primary, five of which were led by Republican candidates.

When election season rolls around, Janice Ohrt, 64, of Mission Valley, looks forward to learning about the candidates and decorating her lawn with signs supporting her top picks.

"I don't really like anything about politics," Ohrt, a retired teacher and secretary-treasurer at the Victoria County Farm Bureau, said.

It's the process she enjoys.

While women have historically been outsiders in politics, according to the Texas State Historical Association, Ohrt is one of many in Victoria County changing that.

Ohrt grew up in a household of Democrats with parents who made their living in agriculture.

Following their example, she voted blue until, she said, she learned more about the other side.

It was 1976, three years after the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade on the issue of abortion.

Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter was running for election. She calls it her "turning point."

Ohrt said she went to her precinct's Democratic convention with a list of ideas, mostly on pro-life and pro-family issues.

"Everything we proposed was thrown out," Ohrt said. "This was not where I needed to be."

Since then, she has become an active member of the Republican Party, attending precinct and county conventions and, occasionally, the state Republican Party convention.

"What I like is being able to feel like when the vote is done, if my man didn't win, at least I knew who I was voting for, what he stands for, and I can sleep good," she said. "And then I have to pray."

She encourages people to get involved with their precincts and political parties.

"It is every citizen's duty to be involved with government," Ohrt said. "It's what runs our lives. It's the regulations and the laws, and all that comes down on who is in charge and who is running the government."

From knocking door to door for state-level campaigns and holding signs during elections, Ohrt has enjoyed every minute of it.

"I'm proud of what I stand for," Ohrt said.

Amy Mundy, president of the Victoria County Republican Women's Club, said she has always seen Victoria women involved in politics, whether Democratic or Republican.

"There's a very strong core group that's always been involved," Mundy said. "I don't think that will ever go away."

While the age groups are diversifying and meeting times change to avoid more professional work schedules, Mundy said, it's all positive.

For Ohrt, getting involved and educated in politics is empowering. She wants to be a delegate at a state convention but wants a few years to do more research before thinking about attending a national meeting.

"I don't want to be anybody who can be pushed around," she said.



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