Tag Archives: Four Price

Will this young man enter the speaker’s race?

The Texas Tribune has listed five state legislators who either have announced plans to run for Texas House speaker or are interested in joining the fray.

I looked the list over and was expecting to see a name from Amarillo. He wasn’t among the five of them.

So, with that I’ll offer this on-the-record request for state Rep. Four Price, the Republican representative from House District 87: Go for it, young man! Join the field of legislators who want to be the next Man of the House!

Price will see this blog post. He already knows that I have great personal regard for him. I am acknowledging my bias, OK?

Rep. Price brings some political muscle to this contest, were he to run for speaker.

First of all, Texas Monthly rated him among the state’s “Ten Best Legislators” in 2017. TM’s editors like his commitment to mental health issues.

Second of all, Price beat back a challenge from a guy who had some serious financial backing from Empower Texans, the far-right-wing political action group that had targeted a number of incumbent legislators. Price rolled up 79 percent of the vote in the March 6 Republican Party primary race. The way I see it, a victory margin of that size has purchased Price a good bit of political capital that he can spend while campaigning for speaker.

Third of all, Price would give the Texas Panhandle an important — and loud — voice in the Legislature at a time when it is experiencing a diminishing level of clout in Austin. It’s part of the state’s shifting population trend, with Central and North Texas growing at a much more rapid rate than the vast reaches of West Texas.

Price told me some months ago that he was part of current Speaker Joe Straus’s legislative team in the House. He endorsed the leadership that Speaker Straus brought to the lower legislative chamber. It follows, then, that a Speaker Price would follow the lead established by Straus, who’s not running for re-election.

I say all this knowing that this decision rests exclusively with Four Price and his family. Were he to run for speaker and then be selected by his House colleagues, he would be elevated immediately from a part-time citizen-legislator to a full-time political leader — even though the job won’t pay him accordingly.

It’s a sacrifice to run for speaker and to subject oneself to the abuse that goes with the territory.

Still, I hope Four Price goes for it.

Speaker candidates are lining up

Tan Parker has become the third Texas House of Representatives member to file for the race to become the next speaker of the state House.

He hails from Flower Mound; the other two are Phil King of Weatheford and John Zerwas of Richmond. They’re all Republicans.

OK. That’s all fine.

I’m wondering if we’re going to hear an announcement from another up-and-comer in the Texas House. He hails from Amarillo. He’s also a Republican, who also delivered a serious pounding to a candidate favored by Empower Texans, a far right wing political organization that sought to topple this fellow in the GOP primary this week.

Rep. Four Price? Are you listening?

Here’s what I have to say to this young man, who happens to be a friend of mine and who also has done a stellar job representing House District 87 since 2011.

Becoming speaker of the House essentially turns the office into a full-time endeavor. Price will have to come to grips with the idea that he no longer would be a part-time “citizen legislator.” He also has been a strong ally of the current speaker, Joe Straus of San Antonio, who isn’t running for re-election to the House.

Straus distinguished himself mightily by ensuring the death of the infamous Bathroom Bill that passed the Texas Senate in 2017. The Bathroom Bill would have required transgender individuals to use public restrooms in accordance to the gender assigned on their birth certificate.

It is discriminatory on its face. It had no business becoming Texas law. Straus saw it for what it was.

So, would a Speaker Four Price follow that lead? I would hope so.

I also believe that Rep. Price would make an excellent speaker candidate, giving the Texas Panhandle a strong voice in legislative matters, as it did when Democrat Pete Laney of Hale Center ran the House of Representatives.

Hey, I’m just a single voice here in the wilderness.

Still, my desire is to see my friend go for it.

Empower Texans had its head handed to it

Empower Texans had a bad week.

The result of the rest of us is that Texas voters — primarily Republican primary voters — had a good week. That means Texas had a good week.

Empower Texans is a right-wing advocacy group that lowered its sights on a number of incumbents around the state. State Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo was one of them. Seliger managed to fend off a GOP primary challenge and skate to virtual re-election to another term; he does face a Libertarian challenger in the fall, but don’t bet the mortgage on Seliger losing that one.

Empower Texans — led by Michael Quinn Sullivan (pictured) — believes Republicans and other conservatives need to toe a strictly drawn line. It is based downstate, yet it poured lots of money into the far reaches of the vast state. The Panhandle got its taste of Empower Texans’ penchant for distortion and outright lies.

Seliger survived. So did state Rep. Four Price, another Amarillo Republican, who thumped challenger Drew Brassfield by about a thousand percentage points in the race for House District 87, which Price has represented well since 2011.

The Texas Tribune reports: “The forces of extremism, like Empower Texans … overplayed their hand, turned voters off and experienced significant losses in the March primaries,” said GOP consultant Eric Bearse, who helped (state Rep. Sarah) Davis and three other candidates win amid an onslaught from Empower and other critics. “It started to become clear in some of these races that it really was a choice between our local representative and someone who is wholly owned by outside groups and outside money.”

I love the irony of that assessment.

Conservatives are supposed relish local control over the interests of others. Isn’t that what they say?

Yet we have Empower Texans tossing that dogma out the window with its strong-arming of political discussion with money and power that derives from some centrally located source.

Seliger and Price — along with a host of other Texas incumbents — were able to persuade sufficient numbers of Texans to see through this sham.

It’s bad for Empower Texans. Good for the rest of us.

Empower Texans: It’s hitting the fan

Price cruising to re-election … good deal!

Take that, Empower Texans!

The far-right political action hack, er, group has decided that state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, wasn’t their kind of legislator. So it backed a fellow named Drew Brassfield, the Fritch city manager, to challenge the up-and-coming lawmaker.

Price appears headed for a smashing victory against Brassfield, dashing the hopes of Empower Texans, which has been stalking a number of incumbents — many of them Republicans — throughout the state.

This victory means that GOP voters in Texas House District 87 don’t like being dictated to by political interests who (a) are based far away from the Texas Panhandle and (b) have no interest and/or knowledge of the issues that are unique to this region.

Instead, Empower Texans had funded a campaign that distorted and lied about Price’s voting record in the House.

My hope was that Rep. Price would squash Brassfield’s bid. With a healthy chunk of precincts reporting, Price is leading by about 50 percentage points.

I consider that to be a serious squashing.

Price vs. Brassfield: test of GOP sanity

I have drawn a conclusion about the state of the Texas Republican Party, which is that if state Rep. Four Price of Amarillo is taken to anything approaching a close finish in his primary contest against a challenger from Fritch, then I believe the Texas GOP has gone around the bend.

What does the rising Republican legislative star need to do to vanquish Drew Brassfield? I’m thinking he needs to win the GOP primary by something like 25 to 30 percentage points.

Brassfield, the Fritch city manager, is challenging Price for reasons I don’t quite grasp. He is campaigning as some sort of “conservative option” to the lawmaker who has represented House District 87 since 2011.

As if Price isn’t a conservative. Is that what Brassfield — and his Empower Texans benefactors — are suggesting? I guess they believe he isn’t conservative enough.

Actually, the Amarillo lawyer who’s done a bang-up job representing his legislative district, is tailor-made for this political post. He has been re-elected every two years with token opposition since he first won election to the seat held by David Swinford of Dumas from 1991 until 2010.

The Texas Republican Party’s internal strife mirrors much of what is going on around the country, with mainstream GOP officeholders being “primaried” by challengers from the far-right fringe of the party. So it is with Price, who under normal circumstances would breeze to re-election.

My hope is that he does so again this year, even with a well-funded challenge from a young man who is getting a lot of campaign money from political activists based way downstate.

If Price is forced to sweat his re-election out a couple of days from now, if Brassfield makes this a contest, then I fear the Texas GOP has flipped its wig.

Empower Texans needs a comeuppance

COLLIN COUNTY, Texas — Empower Texans has done it. This far-right political action group has p****d me off royally.

It has spent lots of PAC money on races all across the state, trying to influence voters’ decision on these local legislative races. Empower Texans has managed, through its lies and distortions, managed to do the impossible. It has fielded candidates to challenge legislative incumbents on the basis that these rock-ribbed Republican lawmakers just aren’t conservative enough to suit the tastes of those seeking to centralize power in Austin.

My wife and I have traveled to this North Texas community, where I’ve been struck by the deluge of campaign signs. They all tout candidates’ “conservative” values. I’ve seen mailers delivered to our granddaughter’s house that make me laugh to keep me from puking.

One flyer from Philip Huffines, who’s running for the Texas Senate against Angela Paxton, calls Paxton a closet liberal. I don’t know much about Paxton, other than she is the wife of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is, um, hardly a liberal. I’d be willing to be real American money that Huffines is getting bankrolled by Empower Texans, or some arm of this GOP extremist group. Paxton’s campaign signs refer to her as a “constitutional conservative.”

Back home in the Texas Panhandle, Empower Texans has rolled out the heavy artillery to fire at two veteran legislators: state Sen. Kel Seliger and state Rep. Four Price, both of whom are Amarillo Republicans.

Price drew a GOP primary challenge from Fritch City Manager Drew Brassfield, whose candidacy has crossed at least a couple of ethical lines by virtue of his publicly funded job and the conflict of interest he faces if he were to be elected to the state House. Empower Texans has lied about Price’s legislative record, suggesting he supported legislation that doesn’t exist and has somehow become “pro-choice” on abortion, despite his fervently pro-life voting record in his four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.

And then there’s the hatchet job being done on Sen. Seliger, who’s drawn two GOP foes — TEA Party golden boy Mike Canon of Midland and Amarillo businessman Victor Leal.

Leal has launched an egregious attack on Seliger, calling him “liberal” and “corrupt.” Leal’s use of the “corrupt” label is rich, given the questions that arose when he ran for the Texas House in 2010 about whether he actually was a resident of the House district he sought to represent.

For his part, Seliger has vowed to remain positive, citing his long-held conservative voting record and his effort to protect rural West Texas from well-heeled urban interests.

My strong sense that Seliger’s biggest “sin” is that he hasn’t endorsed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s re-election effort. Why? Because Patrick is in the hip pocket of Empower Texans and its No. 1 brainiac, Michael Quinn Sullivan — who also has crossed swords with Seliger on several occasions during his 14 years in the Texas Senate.

OK, with all that on the record, here is my hope: Price drubs Brassfield, who has shamed himself with his dishonest campaign against a hard-working incumbent; I also want Seliger to win the GOP primary outright, without a runoff against whoever finishes second.

Both men’s records have been distorted to the point of defamation. They have done what they were elected to do: represent West Texas.

As for Empower Texans, it needs to go away. Far, far away.

‘Double-dipping’ not allowed in Texas

I likely shouldn’t even concern myself with this matter, but given the amount of money being poured into some Texas Panhandle legislative races, I think I’ll weigh in on a potential complication facing a candidate for the Texas Legislature.

Drew Brassfield is challenging state Rep. Four Price of Amarillo in the Republican primary for the House District 87 seat that Price has filled since 2011.

But … as they might say: Austin, we’ve got a problem.

Brassfield is the Fritch city manager. The Texas Constitution has some provisions in it that appear to make him ineligible to serve in the Legislature if he decides to keep his day job in Hutchinson County.

There’s more to this as well. Brassfield, who has been endorsed by the far-right group Empower Texans, isn’t divulging what his plans are until after election — presuming he wins the GOP primary, which remains the longest of long shots against a rising star in Rep. Price. He won’t tell voters if he intends to quit his city manager’s job and go to work as a legislator for $600 per month, plus a per diem expense total while the Legislature is in session.

Three clauses in the Constitution prohibit legislators from also drawing a salary from another public entity. One clause is quite specific, banning double-dipping if one of his jobs allows him to handle public money; as city manager, Brassfield certainly handles public funds.

Yet another clause says clearly that a legislator cannot hold another public office at the same time. Period. End of discussion.

These quite obvious conflict of interests are precisely why I said early on that Brassfield’s candidacy just didn’t pass the smell test.

It’s not that he is ineligible to run for the Legislature. It’s just that he would have to surrender his primary job — which also involves a public trust — if he gets elected to the Legislature.

The young man, furthermore, should tell voters up front before the primary election what he plans to do if hell freezes over and he defeats Price in the GOP primary.

What is fundamentally disgusting about Brassfield’s candidacy is that he is being used as a tool by a powerful political interest group that is misrepresenting Price’s voting records on issues such as elder care and abortion. Brassfield is not disavowing any of it.

So, young man, why not come clean before primary election day and tell House District 87 Republican voters what you intend to do if you manage to win this contest?

Empower Texans: It’s hitting the fan

The media are beginning to peel back the mystery surrounding a political action group that calls itself Empower Texans.

What are we seeing now? It ain’t pretty, folks.

Empower Texans is pouring lots of money into campaigns around the state. It has targeted a couple of seats in the Panhandle with a reprehensible smear campaign.

The group’s actions have been noticed by the media, which are reporting on them with the kind of gusto one saw during other hot political disputes. Watergate comes to mind. So does the Lewinsky scandal.

Let’s take a gander at Michael Quinn Sullivan, the guy who detests state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and is backing former Midland Mayor Mike Canon’s bid to unseat Seliger.

Sen. Seliger has not hidden his dislike of Sullivan, who runs the ultra-right-wing organization. Sullivan has returned the favor by pouring lots of money into Canon’s campaign. Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe takes particular note of an essay that Amarillo Globe-News columnist Jon Mark Beilue wrote in which he compared Empower Texans to Netflix’s “House of Cards.”

Read Ratcliffe’s essay here. Ratcliffe contends that Empower Texans is subverting democracy by falsifying incumbents’ records, as it has done with Seliger.

Empower Texans also has glommed onto something called the Granny Tax in its effort to unseat state Rep. Four Price, another Amarillo Republican.

Price’s challenger, Fritch City Manager Drew Brassfield, has campaign contributions from wealthy downstate interests that comprise 61 percent of his total campaign intake. Empower Texans has its mitts on that race, too, having endorsed Brassfield over Price.

Empower Texans has fabricated an issue, contending that Texas House members intended to raise taxes on nursing homes, thus penalizing elderly residents of those facilities. Thus, the “Granny Tax” was born.

It didn’t exist.

Scott Braddock of the Houston Chronicle lays out Empower Texans’ deception here.

We are witnessing a despicable display of demagoguery perpetrated by interests who have zero interest in the Texas Panhandle or in West Texas. They are seeking to unseat individuals who don’t grovel at the feet of powerful interests.

Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. Four Price must not fall victim to this kind of defamation.

As Beilue noted in his column: “They (Empower Texans) are using their typical campaign playbook—paint their guy as the conservative choice, and the other guy as basically a Democrat by distorting and taking facts out of context to make them seem soft on abortion and a patsy for big government. Their hope is enough voters are gullible and naïve to believe it all.”

Man, I certainly hope West Texas Republican primary voters are smarter than that.

I tip my hat, moreover, to the Texas political media for revealing this lie to a voting public that needs to see it.

Declaring intentions ahead of primary

I am not usually one to declare how I intend to vote before I actually do it, given that we do cast our votes in secret.

This year presents some serious concern for me. It’s enough to make me declare my intention to do something I usually keep semi-secret.

My intention is to vote in the Republican Party primary. Not only that, I am going to vote early; as much as I detest early voting, my wife and I will be unable to vote on primary election day, as we’ll be out of town celebrating our granddaughter’s birthday. Hey, we have our priorities, you know?

I have a particular concern, and it involves Texas Senate District 31. I want Kel Seliger to win the GOP primary. He faces two challengers, Victor Leal of Amarillo and Mike Canon of Midland. Both of those individuals are trying to outflank Seliger on the right wing of the GOP electorate. They contend he’s one of those damn liberals. What they don’t say, of course, is that they are being backed by interests from far outside the Texas Panhandle.

Seliger is a mainstream conservative. His only “sin,” in the eyes of Leal and Canon, is that he is not a crazy right-wing extremist.

I’ll stipulate once again that I believe Seliger, a former Amarillo mayor, has done a fine job representing West Texas in the Legislature. He needs to stay on the job.

I wish I could throw my support behind state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, too. I cannot. I am registered to vote in Randall County; Price represents Potter County and other rural counties in his House district.

I have known Price and Seliger for as long as we have lived in Amarillo. I like and admire them both and I want them both to win their party’s primary.

Given as well that Price has garnered the attention of Texas Monthly, which considers him one of the state’s best legislators, I believe the Panhandle is well-served to keep Price on the job right along with Seliger.

Not only that, there’s considerable chatter around the state that Price might ascend to the speakership of the Texas House of Representatives. Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio is not running for re-election and Price — shall I say — is not discouraging talk of him succeeding Straus. I consider that a form of code that Price is quite interested in becoming speaker.

Think of the potential that could await the Panhandle if one of our own takes the House gavel and directs the flow of legislation in that chamber.

I won’t surrender my own progressive political leanings by voting in this year’s GOP primary. We do have a general election coming up this fall and my intention is to back candidates up and down the state ballot who adhere to my own world view.

When you live as we do in Ground Zero of Texas Republican Land, you have to cast your vote where it will do the most good for the region where you live.

That’s my intention. So there.

Empower Texans, or empower the powerful?

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.