Tag Archives: GOP primary

‘Lies and deception’? Really, Mr. President?

I cannot believe I just heard the president of the United States utter these words.

Donald Trump today opened a White House ceremony welcoming newly minted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with an apology. He sought to apologize to the justice’s wife and daughters for what he called a campaign of “lies and deception” that led up to Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.

I promised I wouldn’t talk about the Kavanaugh confirmation process. So, I won’t go there.

I do want to call attention to the campaign of “lies and deception” that Donald Trump himself waged against his Republican primary foes and against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton while winning the presidency in 2016. The utter gall, the brass, the absolute absence of self-awareness from the president is simply breathtaking.

He sought to implicate Sen. Ted Cruz’s father in President Kennedy’s assassination; he denigrated the service of his GOP foes; he hung hideous “nicknames” on many of them; then he went after Hillary Clinton, leading campaign-rally chants to “lock her up!” even in the absence of any evidence of criminality.

And I haven’t mentioned, until right now, the hideous and unfounded denigration he tossed at all those who oppose him.

To hear, therefore, the president talk about “lies and deception” is laughable on its face.

Except that it’s not funny.

Now the governor calls for GOP ‘unity’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is trying to recover from some of the political wounds he suffered this week in the state’s Republican Party primary.

You see, the governor took a most unusual step in endorsing three challengers to Republican legislative incumbents. It’s highly strange for politicians to take sides within their own party. Abbott sought to get rid of three legislators who oppose many of his policies.

Oops! It didn’t work … mostly. State Reps. Sarah Davis and Lyle Larson won their primary races. Rep. Wayne Faircloth lost his primary contest.

So now the governor wants the party to “unify” behind its slate of candidates running against Democrats this fall.

As the Texas Tribune reports: “Now that the primary’s over, I think it’s very important that the Republican Party come together as one and work together all the way through the November to make sure that we win the elections in November,” Abbott said.

We live in politically contentious times. The Republican Party is being redefined at the very top of the food chain, by the president of the United States. Donald Trump has imposed protectionist trade tariffs that run totally counter to traditional GOP orthodoxy.

That tumult has splashed over state politics as well. Consider the intraparty battles that occurred throughout Texas during this primary season. Popular incumbents received GOP primary challenges in all corners of the state, including in rock-solid Republican Texas Panhandle legislative districts.

This tells me that the “unity” that Gov. Abbott seeks might be a bit more difficult to obtain that it might be in a “normal political climate.”

Ain’t nothing “normal” about what we’re watching transpire within this once-great political party.

Seliger stays on high road in this fight

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger wants to be re-elected so badly that he’s staying totally positive in his campaign.

That is how the Amarillo Republican is casting his campaign. You know what? I am all for his approach.

Now he’ll get to find out whether the strategy works or whether Texas Senate District 31 Republican primary voters are drawn instead to mud-slinging and innuendo.

Seliger’s recent TV ad push highlights how he has stayed positive. All he says about his foes is that they have gone intensely negative with “false” accusations about his voting record, which Seliger insists is a conservative one.

Indeed, Seliger — who has served in the Senate since 2004 — has followed what I would call a “traditional conservative” track in the Texas Senate. He doesn’t align with the TEA party wing of his party and some of the principal elected officials elected on TEA party platforms; I think of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as one example.

He has drawn the wrath of Patrick’s major political benefactor, PAC boss Michael Quinn Sullivan, whose latest incarnation is something called Empower Texans, which has been savaging Seliger with baseless attacks.

Meanwhile, Seliger campaigns on his conservative record; he touts his record standing up for rural interests against urban power centers; he talks about his strong pro-life stance and his endorsement by gun-rights advocates.

Seliger also has earned standing among his state Senate colleagues and has chaired the Senate Higher Education Committee through two legislative sessions.

I, too, want him to be re-elected. I detest the campaign that has been launched against him.

My hope for Sen. Seliger is that his high-road track plays better with West Texas Republican primary voters than the low road his foes have taken against him.

The primary is just a few days off. We’ll know quite soon a lot about the character of the Texas GOP primary voter.

Candidates don’t deserve free ‘ad space’

I get that the Amarillo Globe-News has endorsed state Sen. Kel Seliger’s bid for re-election to the Texas Senate. That’s their call and, frankly, it was the wise decision.

Now, though, the newspaper has crossed a line it shouldn’t have crossed. One of Seliger’s Republican primary opponents, Amarillo businessman Victor Leal, has been allowed to write a letter to the editor excoriating Seliger’s voting record. The newspaper published it!

Leal’s letter makes no mention of the editorial. It doesn’t challenge the G-N editorial board rationale for its decision to back Seliger.

Read Leal’s letter here.

Instead, it challenges Seliger’s statements touting his voting record on a variety of issues.

Why does this set a slippery-slope precedent? Because political candidates should have to pay for their political advertisements. Newspapers and other media offer candidates space and air time to espouse their own real or perceived virtues, but they don’t usually give it to them for free.

I worked for a couple of newspapers that didn’t even allow people to speak on behalf of candidates during election season for that very reason. The idea was to reserve the free space for issues and discussions that steered away from political campaigns. As a former boss of mine used to say, “We aren’t going to give away political ad space with letters to the editor that endorse a candidate’s virtues.”

I moved away from that policy years later. The candidates themselves, though, did not get that space to speak for free to speak on behalf of themselves or against their foes. If they wanted the space, they had to pay for it.

We now can await Seliger’s response to Leal and quite possibly Mike Canon — the third GOP candidate in this contest — will get to boast about his own virtues.

Sheesh!

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.

Evangelical infatuation with Trump still confuses

Someone has to explain something to me in simple language.

My question goes like this: How does Donald J. Trump continue to hold tightly onto support from the evangelical Christian community?

I ask because of a blog posted by R.G. Ratcliffe in Texas Monthly. Ratcliffe writes about a potential Republican challenger for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz next year from an evangelical TV network executive who is angry that Cruz didn’t endorse Trump at the 2016 Republican presidential nominating convention.

The challenge might come from Bruce K. Jacobson Jr., vice president for LIFE Outreach International and an aide to James Robison, a noted televangelist.

I do not get this! Honest! It confuses me in the extreme!

Christians line up behind Trump

The president of the United States would seem to be totally anathema to the evangelical movement, given the president’s past. He has bragged about his marital infidelity; he has admitted to groping women; he never has been associated with faith-based causes or associated openly with religious organizations.

Sen. Cruz has been much friendlier to evangelical causes than Trump ever had been prior to his becoming president. Jacobson, though, holds Cruz’s non-endorsement at the RNC in 2016 against him.

As Ratcliffe writes: Cruz had signed a pledge to support the party’s nominee, Jacobson said, but then didn’t follow through at the convention. “I’m concerned about anybody who doesn’t keep their word. I’ve very concerned about that. In Texas, when we give our word, it’s our word,” Jacobson said.

If memory serves, Cruz made that pledge early in the GOP presidential primary campaign, only to be humiliated personally by Trump’s insults and lies. Trump disparaged Cruz’s wife with a cruel tweet and then suggested the senator’s father was linked somehow to the assassination of President Kennedy. Cruz called Trump an “amoral” liar, which I also happen to believe he is.

Did the eventual Republican nominee conduct himself as a “good Christian” with that kind of behavior?

I don’t know about you, but I am not at all surprised — nor displeased — that Ted Cruz chose not to “endorse” Trump at the 2016 Republican convention.

So here we are. Cruz stood on a principle of fair treatment and for that he might get a Republican Party primary challenge from an evangelical Christian leader?

Explain it to me. Please.

President continues his insult tirade

One of the many promises Donald J. Trump made when he became president was that he would “act like a president.” He would talk like one, too.

He was elected to the highest office in America after burying his Republican primary foes in a mudslide of insults. Then he turned his insult machine loose on Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Low Energy Jeb Bush, Little Marco Rubio all ran against Trump in the GOP primary. Trump also told an interviewer that Sen. John McCain was a Vietnam War hero “only because he was captured; I like people who aren’t captured, OK?”

Then he turned his guns loose on Crooked Hillary Clinton. He urged on campaign rally crowds to yell “Lock her up!”

His core of supporters didn’t mind. Trump merely was “telling it like it is,” they said. He’s not a politician, they insisted. He talks like the rest of us, they added.

Has he stopped hurling insults now that he’s president?

Nope. Not a chance. Now we hear — from the “fake news” mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times — that he fired FBI Director James Comey because he’s a “nut job,” that he’s “crazy.”

Ah, yes. That’s how the president refers to the nation’s top federal cop, America’s top law enforcement officer. A nut job. He’s crazy.

Who heard the president offer this bit of presidential dignity? The Russian foreign minister and Russia’s ambassador to the United States. They were invited into the Oval Office on a suggestion from Russian President/dictator/killer Vladimir  Putin, who asked Trump to have these fellows stop by for a visit.

Oh, and then there’s this: Trump banned American journalists from the meeting. The Russian news agency, Tass, was present. Tass photographers took pictures of the meeting.

If you’ll forgive me for borrowing a term that Trump himself used in one of his endless string of tweets: This man’s behavior is so “unpresidented.”

‘Tag team’ gangs up against Trump

cruz and kasich

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio have formed a tag team.

The want to stop Donald J. Trump’s march to the Republican Party’s presidential nomination so badly they’re willing to forget the mean things they’ve said about each other.

Will it work? I am not holding my breath for this strategy to cause the sky to crash down on Trump’s campaign.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/04/ted-cruz-john-kasich-team-up-222377

It is an interesting alliance and an interesting strategy.

Kasich is going to bow out of campaigning actively for the Indiana GOP primary in two weeks, intending to leave the field more open to Cruz. Meanwhile, Cruz said he’s going to cede the anti-Trump vote in Oregon and New Mexico to Kasich.

What does this to — or for — Trump? It gives him some ammo to fire in his effort to suggest the GOP primary nomination selection process is “rigged” against him.

Yep, it’s going to fire up those devoted Trumpsters — or should I call them Trumpkins? — who are standing by their man through thick and thin.

My nagging question, though, is this: Suppose this strategy works. Who between the tag-team partners is going to emerge as the top dog in this fight for the party’s presidential nomination?

 

Gov. Kasich faces a bitter irony

kasich

John Kasich must feel like the unluckiest politician in America.

He’s caught in perhaps the most bitter irony in recent political history.

The Ohio governor is running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He’s one of three men still standing in what began as a 17-candidate GOP primary free-for-all.

Given that we’ve been talking — a lot! — about public opinion polling in this presidential campaign, it’s good to mention this: Kasich stands alone among the three men still running as the only candidate who can defeat probable Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton. Donald Trump loses big to Clinton; so does Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Why, then, does Gov. Kasich still struggle as the longest shot of all the GOP candidates who will become the party’s presidential nominee this summer?

The Republican base has endorsed Trump and Cruz in all those primaries and caucuses. Kasich has won exactly one contest: in Ohio, the state he governs. Hey, man, he had to win that one, right?

I’ve heard pundit after pundit, voter after voter say the same thing: Gov. Kasich is the last grown-up in this race.

Trump and Cruz are despised by the Republican establishment for varying reasons. Trump lacks a governing philosophy; Cruz seems to have virtually no friends in the U.S. Senate, where he has served since January 2013.

It appears, though, that one of those two individuals is going to carry the GOP banner into the fall against Clinton. Those polls? They keep showing they’ll lose. Maybe by a lot.

Kasich continues to poll far better vs. Clinton than either of them.

He also continues to lag far behind in the Republican Party polls of primary voters.

Poor guy. I feel sorry for Gov. Kasich.

 

Game changer in Wisconsin?

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt,  and his wave Jane acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 2, 2016.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Bernie Sanders has scored the victory he was expected to get in Wisconsin.

Does that change the Democratic Party presidential primary game? Not just yet. The U.S. senator from Vermont has another big test ahead of him: New York. More on that in a bit.

The game now does appear to have changed in the other primary, the Republican one, where U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz drubbed Donald J. Trump in the GOP primary.

Cruz has cruised — pun intended — to a 20-point-plus victory in Wisconsin.

This sets up a longer-range battle as the GOP field slogs its way to the national convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Trump’s insults, his inattention to detail, his innuendo and his inability to articulate a detailed policy platform on any issue under the sun finally — finally! — seems to have caught up with him.

Is the Texan, Cruz, any better? To my way of thinking, well, no. He’s not.

There well might be a situation setting up whereby Trump arrives in Cleveland a good bit short of the delegates he’ll need to win the nomination on the first ballot. After that? All bets are off. Let the chaos reign!

As for Sanders’ victory in Wisconsin, he’s now heading into the belly of the beast. New York ain’t Wisconsin.

My concern about Sanders is that he is singing a one-note aria. Income inequality? The shrinking middle-class? Big banks? Wall Street hedge fund manager? What in the heck does Sanders intend to do about any of it?

The more I think about it, Sanders is sounding almost as demagogic on his pet issues as Trump is sounding on his.

Is Hillary Rodham Clinton the perfect candidate? Far from it. She’s flawed, too. But she’s been pounded and pilloried by her enemies for more than two decades. She’s still standing, still fighting back.

The way I see it, that speaks to this woman’s political courage.

Moreover, she did represent New York in the Senate for eight years and by all accounts — even from her Republican colleagues — became an effective senator for the Empire State.

I will await the next primary round to commence in New York. We’ll see if the game has changed for the Democrats as much as it appears to have changed for the Republicans.