Tag Archives: Texas Democrats

More money: Does it equal more votes?

Beto O’Rourke is raising more campaign money than Ted Cruz.

Yes, that is correct, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Democratic challenger for the U.S. Senate is outraising the Republican incumbent … in heavily Republican Texas!

I know what many Texans are thinking about now: This means Beto is going to win the election this fall; Cruz is toast; he’s a goner; he’s done.

Not so fast, dear reader.

I’ll stipulate that I am no fan of The Cruz Missile. He has p***** me off plenty during his six years in the United States Senate. Cruz is the latest version of former Sen. Phil Gramm, of whom it used to be said that “the most dangerous place in Washington is between Gramm and a TV camera.” Replace “Gramm” with “Cruz” and you get the same punchline.

As the Tribune has reported: Over the first 45 days of 2018, O’Rourke raised $2.3 million — almost three times more than Cruz’s $800,000. 

Hurray for O’Rourke, right?

The Tribune also notes: While this is a sign of momentum for O’Rourke, it’s worth considering that this race, in a state as big and expensive as Texas, could cost into the tens of millions. Moreover, Cruz is likely to have a deep well of super PAC money to help him in the fall, while O’Rourke early on in his campaign pledged to not accept corporate political action committee money.

Hey, I want O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso, to win this fall as much the next guy.

It’s good to remember that Texas Republicans are a dedicated bunch. They go to the mat for their candidates no matter what.

It is true that O’Rourke has spent a lot of time at town halls, talking to folks at plant gates, grange halls, saddle and tack shops, shopping malls — you name it — he still is campaigning in a state that hasn’t elected any Democrat to statewide office for two decades. He also has familiarized himself with the expansive landscape of the Texas Panhandle, which is Ground Zero of the Texas Republican political movement.

Now that I think about it, this might be the year for that lengthy streak to come to an end.

Maybe. Perhaps.

Is hell about to freeze over?

Hell is going to have to freeze over if Greg Abbott is going to lose his bid for re-election next year as Texas governor.

This is not a statement of preference, mind you. I’m merely stating what I believe is a stark reality facing any challenger who might square off against him.

A Texas Tribune analysis points out that eight Democrats are lining up to run in the state’s primary next spring. Ross Ramsey believes the early Democratic favorite is likely Lupe Valdez, the recently resigned Dallas County sheriff. Another key Democratic challenger could be Andrew White, son of the late Gov. Mark White.

Read Ramsey’s article here.

Valdez has won election and re-election several times in the state’s second-most populous county, Ramsey points out.

But if she wins the Democratic primary — which is a huge first test —  get a load of the hurdle she faces. She is going to seek to become the first governor on a couple of important levels … and Texas has not been known in recent years as a place prone to establish significant political precedent.

First, Valdez is a Latina. She wants to become the first Latina ever elected governor. Indeed, the state never has elected anyone of Latin American descent. That’s one hurdle.

Here’s the big one: Valdez is openly gay.

She wants, therefore, to become the first openly gay, Latina candidate ever elected governor.

I feel the need to point out that Texas voters a few years ago approved an amendment to the Texas Constitution that outlawed same-sex marriage, even though there already was a statute on the books that prohibited it. That didn’t matter. The state’s voters said not just “no,” but “hell no!” to gay marriage.

Do you believe Valdez can win the governor’s race in a state that has enacted a double-whammy prohibition against same-sex marriage?

As the Tribune piece illustrates, whoever wins the Democratic primary is going to face an enormous task as he or she seeks to topple a Republican incumbent governor.

As Ramsey describes Abbott: He’s a well-financed, popular figurehead for a political party that hasn’t lost a statewide election in Texas in almost three decades.

But … you never know. Hell could get mighty cold.

A&M chancellor takes on a huge new rebuilding task

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation along the Texas Gulf Coast has delivered an important political metaphor.

It is that human misery crosses party lines. To that end — and this appointment likely isn’t being done to illustrate that point expressly — Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has tapped a leading Texas Democrat to lead the Gulf Coast rebuilding effort.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who’s got a most-demanding full-time job already, is going to lead that rebuilding.

Indeed, Chancellor Sharp has serious skin in this game. He served in the Texas Legislature — in the House and then the Senate — while living in Victoria, a community that was rocked by Harvey’s first landfall on the Texas coast. So, he feels the pain of the folks suffering the ongoing misery that Harvey left behind.

Sharp also is the latest Democrat elected to statewide office in Texas. He served as comptroller of public accounts from 1991 until 1999. I have no particular reason for mentioning that, other than to note that Sharp’s partisan affiliation is well-known; it speaks well, too, of Abbott’s willingness to reach across the political aisle to find someone to lead this massive effort.

I join the rest of the state in wishing the chancellor well and Godspeed as he takes on this huge task. He surely knows what awaits him as he takes charge of the governor’s new task force.

It’s big, John Sharp. Real big.

Castro clears the decks for Beto O’Rourke

I swear I thought I could hear the faint chants way off in the distance.

“BE-TO, BE-TO, BE-TO … “

And on it goes.

They could be coming from breathless Texas Democrats who have worked themselves into a tizzy over news that U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has decided to forgo a challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in next year’s mid-term election.

Thus, the way is cleared among Democratic Party loyalists to rally behind the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s been barnstorming our massive state of late, acquainting himself with Democrats who want little better than to oust Cruz, the fiery Republican senator who I’ve dubbed — in not-so-friendly terms — the Cruz Missile.

O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, stopped in Amarillo over the weekend for a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant. From what I have heard, the crowd to meet him was enormous, meaning that O’Rourke’s advance team — with a lot of social media help from a group called Indivisible Amarillo — did a good job of filling the room.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s heed a dose of sobering reality — if you’re a loyal Democrat we used to refer to in this state as “Yellow Dogs,” meaning they’d rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican.

Texas flips from D to R.

Texas is a seriously Republican state. It has flipped just in the span of a few years from being reliably Democratic. The Cruz Missile represents the colossal strength of the state GOP. He is one of a complete slate of statewide elected officials who wear the Republican label.

Cruz will be difficult to beat, so let’s not believe that just because there might be an attractive and articulate challenger from the other party that it guarantees a neck-and-neck race. Do you remember another Democrat who was thought to be a serious challenger to the GOP vise grip in Texas? Her name is Wendy Davis, the former state senator from Fort Worth. She was supposed to present a serious challenge to then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in the 2014 race for governor; she lost by 20 points.

I am not crazy about one-party control at any level. I prefer a competitive two-party system. A healthy minority party puts the majority party on notice to defend its positions; a competitive environment makes incumbents accountable for the statements and the decisions they make on our behalf.

Maybe we can restore some level of competitiveness to the Texas political battleground. For the sake of those anxious Democrats around the state — and in the Texas Panhandle — I hope it’s O’Rourke who can make Cruz answer for his grandstanding and his transparent self-centeredness.

U.S. Sen. O’Rourke? Let’s wait and see about that one

Beto O’Rourke wants to succeed Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

To be honest, few things political would make me happier than to see the Cruz Missile brought back to Earth by a loss to a up-and-comer such as O’Rourke.

Will it happen?

I refer you to “Gov.” Wendy Davis, the former Democratic state senator who once was thought to have an actual chance at defeating Greg Abbott in the race for Texas governor in 2014. She lost by more than 20 percentage points.

O’Rourke represents an El Paso congressional district. He’s seen as one of the next generation of Texas Democratic stars, along with, oh, Julian and Joaquin Castro, the twins from San Antonio; Julian served as San Antonio mayor and then went to work in Barack Obama’s Cabinet as housing secretary. Joaquin serves in the House along with O’Rourke.

Cruz became a serious pain in the patoot almost immediately after being elected to the Senate in 2012. He took no time at all before inheriting the role once occupied by another Texas U.S. senator, fellow Republican Phil Gramm, of whom it used to be said that “The most dangerous place in American was between Gramm and a TV camera.” Cruz loves the limelight and he hogged it relentlessly almost from the moment he took office.

Sen. Cruz repulses me, as if that’s not already clear. Cruz once actually questioned the commitment of two Vietnam War combat veterans — Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel — to the nation’s military strength; Cruz never wore a military uniform.

But is he vulnerable to a challenge from Beto O’Rourke? There’s no need to count the ways why I don’t think O’Rourke is going to beat him. There’s really only a single factor to consider: O’Rourke is a Democrat and Cruz is a Republican and as near as I can tell, a semi-trained monkey can get elected to damn near any office in Texas — as long as he runs as a Republican.

I say this understanding that a year from now a lot of factors can change. Will any of them turn O’Rourke from prohibitive underdog to overwhelming favorite?

Texas remains a deeply red state and is likely to remain so for, oh, the foreseeable future — if not beyond.

My most realistic hope is that Rep. O’Rourke —  if he wins his party’s U.S. Senate primary next year — makes this enough of a contest to force Sen. Cruz to think of Texans’ needs before he thinks of his own political interests.

A rigged election? Yes, but not the way Trump calls it

Texas house of reps

Donald J. Trump likes issuing dire warnings about a “rigged election” on the horizon.

He means, of course, that the presidential election will be rigged and that the Republican nominee will lose only because of “crooked” politicians seeking to grease it for Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s election to the presidency.

Trump is mistaken, but only partially so.

Yes, the election at another level will be “rigged.” The rigging occurs in the election of members of Congress.

The culprit is the tried-and-tested method of gerrymandering, which the Republicans in charge of Congress and in many state legislatures around the country have fine-tuned to an art form.

David Daley writes in a blog for BillMoyers.com that the rigging will allow the GOP to maintain control of the House of Representatives, even as the Senate could flip to Democratic control — and as Clinton is swept into the White House in a landslide.


Yep. The GOP has done well with this totally legal process of apportioning House congressional districts. It’s done every 10 years after the census is taken and ratified.

They have gerrymandered the dickens out of the House districts, drawing lines in cockamamie fashion to include Republican-leaning neighborhoods and to shut out Democrats.

Now, to be totally fair and above-board, this isn’t a uniquely Republican idea. Democrats sought to do it, for example, in Texas when they ran the Legislature. As recently as 1991, the Democratic-controlled Texas Legislature monkeyed around with congressional districts, seeking to protect Democratic incumbents in the U.S. House.

Amarillo became something of a testing ground for that experiment. The Legislature divided the city into halves, with the Potter County portion of the city included in the 13th Congressional District, while the Randall County portion was peeled off into the 19th District. Potter County contained more Democratic voters and the idea was to protect then-U.S. Rep. Bill Sarpalius of Amarillo, a true-blue Democrat, from any GOP challenge.

Randall County, meanwhile, is arguably ground zero of the West Texas Republican movement and its residents ain’t voting for a Democrat to any public office.

The tactic worked through the 1992 election, when Sarpalius was re-elected. Then came the 1994 Republican wipeout, led by that firebrand Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Sarpalius got swept out by the GOP tsunami that elected a young Clarendon rancher and self-proclaimed “recovering lawyer” named Mac Thornberry.

The Republicans would wrest control of the Legislature from the Democrats after that and they have perfected the art of gerrymandering. Sure, the Democrats tried to gerrymander themselves into permanent power.

Republicans, however, have proved to be better at it.

You want a “rigged” election? There it is.

The GOP presidential nominee, quite naturally, isn’t about to call attention to the real rigging of the U.S. electoral system. Instead, he’s going to fabricate suspicion in a scenario that will not occur.

Rep. Castro gets Dems’ hearts to flutter


That pitter-patter you might be hearing belongs to the hearts of Texas Democrats who might seem to be excited at the prospect of an actual serious challenger to run against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

The cause of the racing heartbeat is U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, who has let it be known that he might run in 2018 against the man I’ve enjoyed referring to as the Cruz Missile.

Cruz is a Republican lawmaker who was the last man standing in the fight to deny Donald J. Trump the GOP presidential nomination. He made a heck of splash at last week’s Republican national convention by declining to endorse the man who beat him to the finish line.

He got booed off the Cleveland stage.

Will this damage him in Texas? My gut tells me he might face a stronger challenge from within his own party than he might face from a Democrat, even one as attractive, articulate and polished as Joaquin Castro.


I remain fervent in my belief that Texas is better served with a vibrant two-party system. We do not have a Democratic Party that is yet able to challenge Republicans at the statewide level. Republicans win big — every time. They’ve held every statewide office in Texas since 1998. I don’t see any sign of weakness in the GOP vise grip.

Will it present itself in 2018 when Ted Cruz runs for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Rep. Castro seems to think it might.

I hope he’s correct. Cruz simply is not my kind of senator.

However, I’m not yet ready to presume that the Cruz Missile will fizzle out.

Clinton, Trump: party unifiers


Texas Democrats are meeting in San Antonio this weekend.

They appear to be downright giddy about their chances in this election year. Then again, they proclaim their giddiness at every election cycle, only to be disappointed when the ballots are counted.

Do you remember when former state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth ran for governor in 2014 and how Democrats said that was the year? It wasn’t. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott thumped Davis by more than 20 percentage points.

That was then, Democrats are saying now.

They’re squaring off against a Republican Party being led by one Donald J. Trump as their party’s presidential nominee.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston asked convention attendees: “Can you really believe that they nominated Donald Trump?” Why, the delegates couldn’t get enough of the “good news.”

Trump is going to be the unifier the Democrats need to help them carry Texas this fall with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their ticket.


But here comes the wet blanket.

Hillary Clinton is going to unify the Republicans, too.

There are differing dynamics, as I see it, working against both parties’ presumed nominees.

Democrats cannot believe that Trump — the huckster, reality TV celebrity, hotel and real estate mogul, thrice-married media star — is actually running for president of the United States of America. They dare not take him too lightly, and delegates are being warned of the risks inherent if they do.

Republicans, meanwhile, detest Clinton. They’ve been looking high and low for something that rises to the level of an indictment. They can’t find anything. They’ve hated her since her husband was president from 1993 to 2001.

I’m not going to project which emotion — the Democrats’ perverse joy or the Republicans’ loathing — is going to be the greater partisan unifying effect.

The major concern facing Republicans in Texas might not be the Democrats. It might be that their own party is showing signs of splitting apart because of their nominee’s own trouble within the party he wants to lead.

That, all by itself, might be enough to put Texas in play for Democrats, giving them a real honest-to-goodness reason for optimism.

Mauro: Texas is ‘no battleground’

Garry Mauro knows Texas perhaps as well as any politician who calls Texas “home.”

So, when the former state land commissioner says that Texas isn’t a “battleground state” in the upcoming presidential election, it’s time to throw in the towel and ceded the state to Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.

Or is it?


Mauro has signed on to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency. He’s as loyal a Democrat as you’ll find.

I used to know Mauro pretty well. He’d call on us at the Beaumont Enterprise back when he served as land commissioner. He had placed coastal erosion and protection as a top priority of his office, an initiative we appreciated way down yonder on the Gulf Coast.

The last time I saw him was in 1998 as he ran for Texas governor against incumbent George W. Bush. Mauro lost big.

Then he left elected public service.

Even though Mauro believes Texas is still a red state, he is offering a glimmer of hope for Democrats in the form of the man who’s going to lead the GOP ticket this fall.

As he told the San Antonio Express-News: “The prospect of a Clinton race against billionaire Donald Trump — who has offended a variety of groups including Latinos and women with his intemperate comments — will make it easier to get out the Democratic vote, Mauro agreed.

“’With Donald Trump on the ticket, we now have a way to get our voters out,’ he said.”

Therein lies the chance upon which Clinton will depend if she hopes to turn Texas from Republican red to possibly Democratic blue.

The key might lie in the Latino vote. Let’s face it, Trump has managed to deliberately offend that demographic group. He’s called illegal immigrants criminals; he’s declared that an American judge cannot adjudicate a Trump University lawsuit solely because of his Mexican heritage. Trump is going to “build a wall” along our southern border.

Will that bloc of voters turn out? Mauro hopes so, as does Clinton … obviously.

The flicker of cynicism in me makes me wonder if Mauro isn’t low-balling expectations with the hope of pulling a major surprise on Nov. 8.

Hey, he’s a politician, right?

Texas Democrats … wherefore art thou?

AUSTIN, TX -  FEBRUARY 18:  Texas Governor Greg Abbott (2nd L) speaks alongside U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (L), Attorney General Ken Paxton (2nd R), Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) hold a joint press conference February 18, 2015 in Austin, Texas.  The press conference addressed the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas' decision on the lawsuit filed by a Texas-led coalition of 26 states challenging President Obama's executive action on immigration.  (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Ross Ramsey is as smart a Texas political analyst as they come.

Thus, his analysis of the moribund state of the Texas Democratic Party is worth your time to read.

Democrats nowhere to be found.

The Texas Tribune editor hits out of the park.

His thesis basically is this: If Texas had a viable two-party political system, the big mistakes being made by two statewide Republican officials would become immediate fodder for the opposing party.

He references Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Paxton’s been indicted for securities fraud by a grand jury in his home county … that would be Collin County.

Miller — who Ramsey refers to as “Yosemite Sid” — has come out for cupcakes in classrooms and said he want to return deep fryers to public school kitchens. Ramsey also reports: “His campaign Facebook page shared a post featuring a picture of an atomic bomb blast and the words ‘Japan has been at peace with the US since August 9, 1945. It’s time we made peace with the Muslim world.’ His political staff removed it, said one of his workers had posted it and stopped short of an apology.”

What’s been the fallout of all this? Nothing. As Ramsey reports: “You can argue about what Democratic voters might think about Paxton and Miller. But those Democratic sentiments, whatever they are, apparently don’t matter to the Republicans. If they were worried about the reaction from the other party’s voters — or concerned that GOP officeholders were creating opportunities for candidates from the other side, they’d be doing something about it.”

When you’re the king of the mountain, by golly, you can say and do almost anything in a one-party state.