Mailboxes all across the Texas Panhandle are filling up with campaign flyers.
They promote candidates endorsed by some outfit out of Austin called Empower Texans. This PAC represents the far right wing of the Republican Party and it might not surprise anyone reading this blog that it is unloading its heavy fire on three Panhandle legislative incumbents who — and this is so very rich — aren’t conservative enough to suit Empower Texas.
My buddy Jon Mark Beilue has written a fabulous essay for the Amarillo Globe-News that peels the hide off of Empower Texas.
Read it here.
This group baffles me. It has targeted state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican who’s been in the Senate since 2004. Why try to take down the former Amarillo mayor? He isn’t fond of Michael Quinn Sullivan, the brains and the bankroll behind Empower Texans. He also is a strong proponent of local control which, according to Beilue, runs counter to Empower Texans’ desire to draw power to Austin.
Seliger also isn’t nuts about Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, even though he supports much of Patrick’s legislative agenda.
Empower Texans has endorsed former Midland Mayor Mike Canon, the TEA Party golden boy who speaks in right wing talking points and cliches. Much of the PAC’s money comes from Midland-area oil and natural gas interests.
This group also dislikes state Rep. Four Price, another Amarillo Republican. By almost anyone’s estimation — whether they’re Republican and Democrat — Price has emerged as one of the House’s rising stars. He might become the next speaker of the House when the 2019 Legislature convenes. Empower Texans has tagged Price as a legislator who allegedly “favors” late-term abortions — despite his rock-solid pro-life voting position.
Empower Texans has endorsed Fritch City Manager Drew Brassfield over Price. Here’s a tip for Empower Texans to ponder: Take a look at the Texas Constitution and find the passage that prohibits officials from holding two public offices at the same time. Then it ought to ask Brassfield if he intends to keep his job at Fritch City Hall in the longest-shot chance he gets elected to the House. Brassfield is playing coy on that matter, declining to say whether he’ll quit his day job to go to the Legislature next January.
The Panhandle is being invaded by interests with no particular interest in this region’s representation. Empower Texans seeks to call the legislative shots from somewhere else and is looking for stooges to do its bidding.
Panhandle Republican primary voters need to take heed if they intend to vote for their interests or the interests of a PAC whose leadership doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about this part of Texas.
Beilue quotes someone with extensive knowledge of Panhandle politics:
“It’s intellectually dishonest,” said Sylvia Nugent, a veteran Republican campaign manager and strategist. “I don’t mind a bloody race when you stick to the issues, but they throw a lot of money into intimidating and discrediting a person. They don’t want independent effective members of the legislature. They want sheep.
“I think eventually people will figure them out. They want Neville Chamberlains, people who will appease them. We need to have more Winston Churchills.”
The “Winston Churchills” are in office already, standing for the Texas Panhandle.