'Farthest right' defeats the far right

Bob Deuell might be the face of the changing Texas Republican Party.

He is a soon-to-be former state senator from East Texas. Deuell got beat by someone described by Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow who is “a virtual newcomer to Texas and politics.” The man who’s about to represent the east Dallas legislative district did it be “branding Deuell a liberal,” according to Blow.

What little I know about Deuell, a family physician, he is anything but the liberal that Sen..-elect Bob Hall described in his successful campaign.

Therein might get right to the core of what’s happened to the Texas Republican Party. It has become something that mainstream, establishment conservatives — such as Bob Deuell — no longer recognize.

“To call me a liberal? It’s just ridiculous,” Deuell told Blow, who described the lawmaker as “my senator.” Blow said he had a “front-row seat on this crazy battle between the far and farthest right.”

Blow said he laughed when he received “mailers at home with freaky colorized photos of Deuell and Barack Obama pasted together. ‘Stop Bob Deuell’s liberal agenda,’ they said,” Blow writes.

How did this novice defeat a reliably conservative 12-year veteran of the Texas Senate? Blow said “Hall’s TEA party base was simply more energized and engaged.”

Bingo!

According to Blow, Hall managed to cobble together a campaign of lies about Deuell’s support for needle exchanges for drug addicts. Deuell bucked his Republican colleagues in supporting the exchanges because of “clear medical evidence” that the exchanges decrease incidents of hepatitis and HIVA. “And 20 percent of the addicts who participated got into rehab programs. To me, it’s the fiscally conservative thing to do.”

Blow rights that Deuell couldn’t get other legislators to support the exchanges out of fear they would be “sound-bited on the issue.”

“Predictably,” Blow writes, “Hall did exactly that against Deuell, characterizing it as ‘free needles for drug addicts.'”

Deuell predicts a long and arduous legislative session.

After all, the state Senate will be led by a lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who’s an expert at demagoguery and glib sound bites.

Welcome to the new Texas Republican Party.

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