Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Is it possible for a huge upset in Texas?

I’ll say it once more with feeling: I want Beto O’Rourke to win the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke is the Democratic challenger to the Republican incumbent.

There. That’s out of the way.

A new poll by Quinnipiac University suggests that this moment, O’Rourke is well within striking distance of shooting down the Cruz Missile. The poll puts Cruz a 47 percent, with O’Rourke at 44 percent; the margin is well within the poll’s 3.6-percent margin of error.

I’m not going to pop the bubbly. It’s only mid-April; the election will occur in November. That’s about a thousand lifetimes, politically speaking.

Texas remains a heavily Republican state. I get that it always remains a huge hurdle for a Democrat to win a statewide race in Texas, something that hasn’t happened since 1994.

With all this talk of a “blue wave” getting ready to sweep over Congress in this year’s midterm election, I am left to wonder if that so-called Democratic wave is going to wash over Texas this fall. If it does, and O’Rourke at least keeps this contest competitive, then it well might portend something quite significant happening around the rest of the country.

To be truthful, it concerns me that Texas has been so maddeningly non-competitive in these statewide races. It really isn’t critical that Texas flip completely from Republican to Democratic leanings. What I would prefer to see is a competitive political climate that keeps the major parties more intellectually honest.

I don’t like one-party dominance. I don’t like it now and I didn’t like it in the Golden Triangle, where Democrats once ruled supreme over the political landscape. That has changed in that corner of the state. I wish it would happen in the Texas Panhandle.

I also am hoping it can happen in at least one highly visible statewide race: Beto vs. the Cruz Missile.

But … yes, I want Beto to win.

Disappointed in GOP primary for land commissioner

I’ve already told you about my satisfaction in the Republican Party primary election finish for two key races for the Texas Legislature: State Sen. Kel Seliger and state Rep. Four Price, both of Amarillo, beat back challenges to win their party’s nomination.

In Seliger’s case, he has a token foe this fall, so he’s virtually assured of his re-election.

I suffered through my share of GOP disappointments, to be sure.

One of them involved the race for Texas land commissioner. I cast my ballot for former Land Commissioner Jerry “The Gun Guy” Patterson, who sought to win his old job back from the incumbent, George P. Bush.

Patterson had grown weary of Bush’s scaling back of General Land Office functions, notably its administering of The Alamo in San Antonio. Bush keeps harping on how “conservative” he has been in running the GLO.

I’ve long appreciated Patterson on a couple of levels.

He had a demonstrated commitment to veterans issues. The GLO administers the state’s veterans home loan program and Patterson — a former Marine Corps pilot — made the issue his own as land commissioner.

I also appreciated his self-deprecating humor, how he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Patterson once joked about how he finished “in the top 75 percent of my class at Texas A&M,” and how he managed to earn is “four-year degree in six years.”

I get that these personal traits don’t necessarily translate to public policy, but I do find them endearing.

Patterson ran for land commissioner after a Texas Senate career distinguished by his authoring the state’s concealed handgun carry bill. I opposed that legislation when he introduced in the mid-1990s; although I don’t endorse it now, I have come to accept it as the law of the state.

Bush is likely to be re-elected this fall. He’ll continue to scale back the GLO’s functions, declaring his actions to be those of a dedicated conservative. Patterson sought to make the case that the Land Office needs to step up to take care of state treasures, such as The Alamo.

He didn’t make the case to enough Republican Party primary voters.

That’s too bad.

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.

Texas may become competitive, if not yet ‘blue’

The “blue wave” that some folks thought was getting ready to wash over Texas didn’t quite build into an epic event on primary election night.

Despite some reported “surge” among Democratic early voters in 10 of the state’s largest counties, the primary election produced a Republican lead over Democrats in the number of total ballots cast.

The verdict? Texas remains a Republican state.

The Texas Tribune reports that about 1.5 million votes were cast in the Republican primary, compared to about 1 million Democrats ballots being cast.

If you’re a Democrat, that’s the bad news.

The good news? Texas might be more competitive this year than it has been for the past couple of decades. Democrats are banking much of their party’s fortunes on a young congressman from El Paso, Beto O’Rourke, who’s going to face GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the general election this November.

I won’t predict that O’Rourke will beat The Cruz Missile this fall; nor will I predict that he’ll even give Cruz a legitimate case of the nervous jerks as this campaign unfolds.

The serious uptick in Democratic Party primary votes, though, does suggest that the predicted flip from Republican to Democrat might be starting to take shape. Has it taken full form just yet? I won’t say that, at least right now.

Political analysts suggest that the state’s changing demographics, with more Latinos living in Texas, mean the state well could become much more Democrat-friendly than it has been since the 1990s. Republicans likely can lay the blame at the man in the Oval Office, whose campaign and governing rhetoric has managed to enrage many Americans with Latin American heritage.

The talk concerning a reported Democratic “surge” among early voters, though, didn’t translate to a surge among all Texans who voted this week. Maybe that will occur later this year.

Or … maybe it won’t.

Sen. Seliger beats back demagoguery

I had hoped to call it last night. I had to wait until this morning to find out that Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger is returning to the Texas Legislature.

His victory in the Texas Republican primary is a win against demagoguery. Seliger had faced a stern challenge from two far-right opponents: former Midland Mayor Mike Canon and Amarillo restauranteur Victor Leal.

Canon ran against Seliger in 2014. Leal decided to run as well this year. My first thought was that Leal might peel off some Texas Panhandle votes from Seliger, tossing the contest into a runoff. Hey, guess what happened! Seliger piled up a significant majority in this three-way race, guaranteeing his re-election, given the absence of any Democratic candidates.

This is important for Senate District 31 voters for a couple of important reasons. One is that Seliger has established a stellar reputation among voters at both ends of the sprawling district; he is as fluent in Permian Basin-speak as he is in Panhandle-speak, and tailors his remarks according to the audience that hears them. The other is that he is a mainstream Republican conservative who is not prone to talking only in cliches and platitudes.

He knows the legislative process. Seliger has risen to a position of leadership among the 31 senators in the Legislature’s upper chamber.

All of that hasn’t been good enough for Empower Texans, a political action group that opposed his re-election. Seliger, for his part, has no good will to fling at Michael Quinn Sullivan, the fellow most associated with Empower Texans. Sullivan’s favorite legislator is Lt. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate. Seliger and Patrick aren’t exactly best buds, either, even though Seliger has been able to hold on to his chairmanship of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Given the presence of West Texas A&M University and several community colleges throughout District 31, it is critical that we have one of our own handling the gavel on this committee.

I am delighted to awaken this morning to news that my pal Sen. Seliger will get to continue to serving West Texas.

He has done a good job since 2004. However,  the job of legislating is never finished.

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.

Is a GOP incumbent benefiting from split in nut-case vote?

West Texas Republicans — at this very moment — are showing that they’re a pretty smart bunch of voters.

Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo might be able to stave off a runoff against one of two men who are challenging him for his Texas Senate District 31 seat.

Mike Canon of Midland is running No. 2 with nearly half the vote counted; Victor Leal of Amarillo is running in third place.

Which brings to mind this notion: It might be that the TEA Party wing, powered by Empower Texans, has split what I call the “nut-case wing” of the Texas Republican Party, leaving Seliger to harvest what I consider to be the “reasonable wing” of the Grand Old Party.

We’re still some distance from the Texas GOP primary finish line.

But … I am hoping.

Texas set to take political center stage

It hasn’t been often of late that Texas has drawn the nation’s political attention. This big ol’ state is about to do that in just a few hours.

Texans are casting their primary votes and national pundits are looking at how the state votes not just in the Republican Party primary, but also in the Democratic primary.

Election officials report a significant surge in Democratic early voting, suggesting that Texas Democrats — for the first time since The Flood — are more energized than Texas Republicans. Democratic voting numbers are outstripping GOP early voters in places such as Dallas, Harris, Bexar and Travis counties.

Might there be a Donald Trump backlash developing in a state the president carried in 2016 by nearly 10 percentage points?

This is merely anecdotal evidence, but if the plethora of campaign signs is any indication, then I am inclined to believe the pundits are on to something with regard to voter interest in this year’s primary.

In Allen, Texas, where my wife and I have been visiting for the past few days, several corners along Bethany Road are festooned with signage proclaiming the virtues of candidates. Hey, I’ve even seen some Democratic candidates’ signs alongside the Republicans who usually dominate the discussion.

So, the first round of campaigning is about to conclude. Our mailboxes have been stuffed to the brim with campaign flyers and assorted forms of propaganda.

I am looking forward to the end of this round. I also am looking hopefully toward some outcomes I want to come true in the Texas Panhandle.

There will be plenty to say about those races once the results come in. You’ll be the first to hear from me.

Meanwhile, let’s all bite our fingernails and watch our cherished representative democracy do its work.

This gadfly is baaack!

Mary Alice Brittain once ran for public office in Amarillo, Texas. She lost the mayor’s race to Kel Seliger, who thumped her badly in that contest.

Then she disappeared from public view. I thought she’d never be heard from or seen again. Silly me. I was wrong.

She’s back, nagging her former foe. Brittain now lives in San Antonio, far from the Texas Panhandle and nowhere near the West Texas Senate District 31 seat Seliger has served since 2004.

She’s now backing Victor Leal, one of two challengers who’s trying to sling enough mud at Seliger to defeat him. Brittain has been posting material on Facebook, which I guess is her social medium of choice.

Check it out

Here’s why this brief blog post is worth my limited amount of time. It’s that Brittain knows nothing about Seliger or the job he has done for his Senate district.

What’s more, when she ran for the mayor’s office, she displayed a remarkable streak of ignorance about the office she sought. She put out a political ad that called on “good Republicans” to rally behind her candidacy.

This idiocy was remarkable for a single reason: The Amarillo City Commission (as it was called then) is a non-partisan body. Commissioners and the mayor don’t run on partisan ballots.

Brittain didn’t know that. Thus, she was unfit for that office.

And while she is entitled to weigh in on this race, I feel compelled to put this person’s political credibility — or lack thereof — into its proper context.

Conservatives are winning the labeling war

Let’s give a sort of shout-out to the conservative media and the politicians they are backing.

Those on the right wing of the spectrum are winning the war of epithets, labeling and name-calling. They have turned the term “liberal” into a four-letter word.

I see it daily as I watch the political debate swirl and churn across the land. To be called a “liberal” in Texas — which is run by Republicans at every level of government — is to be called the son of Satan himself. A candidate for the Texas Senate who is running against state Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has called him “liberal” and “corrupt” — in that order. Do you get it? The implication is that to be liberal is to be corrupt. By the way, Seliger is campaigning for re-election as a dedicated conservative, which he is.

It’s gotten so bad among liberals that they no longer are even identifying themselves with that epithet. Oh, no. The operative word now among those on the left is “progressive.”

Admission time: As one who tilts to the left, I find myself using the this new P-word when describing myself. Have I gotten, um, self-conscious about what liberalism? Oh … maybe.

Liberals, er, progressives, haven’t yet been able to turn the right wing’s labeling against them. I suppose they could shorten the word “conservative” to, oh, “con,” which of course brings up another connotation altogether. I mean, liberals are called “libs” on occasion. But I digress.

The political debate often becomes a contest of sorts. One side seeks to demonize the other with words that sound a bit jarring. Republicans back in the early to mid-1990s began using the term “Democrat” as an adjective, referring to “Democrat politicians,” which doesn’t sound quite the same as “Democratic politicians.” That word usage was part of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s strategy to label “Democrats as the enemy of normal Americans.”

If I were wearing a cap at this moment, I would tip it toward Republicans, conservatives and those in the right-wing media for the success they have enjoyed in this rhetorical battle with those on the other side.

However, as a dedicated political liberal, I offer my salute as a form of damning them with faint praise.