Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Speaker Straus to Lt. Gov. Patrick: Listen more, talk less

Joe Straus is now officially the lamest of ducks in Texas politics and government. The midterm election is over. The speaker of the Texas House didn’t run for re-election and voters in his San Antonio House district have selected a successor.

That doesn’t mean he is keeping quiet. He has offered Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the garrulous politician from Houston, some cogent advice: Patrick should “listen more and talk less” during next year’s Texas legislative session.

Patrick, not surprisingly, is having none of it. He responded in an interview with the Texas Tribune: “(Straus) decided he wanted to continue to poke a finger in the eye of Greg Abbott, the president, myself and conservatives as he goes out the door and I find that disappointing. I wish him the best and I thank him for his public service, but at the end of the day, it’s clear he’s not much of a conservative — and it’s beginning to look like he’s not much of a Republican.”

Read Texas Tribune story.

I suppose if Patrick’s view of a true Republican rests with some of the harsh, nutty notions that came out of the Texas Senate this past year, then perhaps he’s right about Straus. It sounds to me that Patrick is still miffed that Straus killed the Bathroom Bill that the Senate — over which Patrick presides — sent to the House. The Bathroom Bill required individuals to use public restrooms that comported with the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate. .

It clearly was a discriminatory measure aimed at transgender individuals. Straus called it a non-starter, along with police chiefs and other law enforcement officials across Texas.

Straus made sure the bill would die in a special legislative session during the summer of 2017. He said it was virtually unenforceable; he said it would harm businesses in Texas. He wanted no part of it.

The soon-to-be-former speaker is a reasonable man. He is as much of a Republican as Patrick, without the stridency that Patrick brings to his high-profile position.

To be candid, I’ll miss Straus’s leadership as the Man of the Texas House. As for Patrick, he ought to take Straus’s advice and listen more and talk less … a lot less.

Early votes keeping piling up

Texas well might be on the verge of shucking a title I am quite certain Texans don’t want their state to hold.

The Texas Tribune reports that in several of the state’s most-populated counties, the 2018 early vote totals have surpassed the entire number of ballots cast during the entire early voting period during the 2014 midterm election.

Texas, sadly, is known to be one of the country’s most underperforming states in terms of voter turnout, particularly during these off-year elections. Is that going to change?

There appears to be no letup in store during this year’s early voting season leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6.

Democratic partisans suggest the huge spike in this balloting bodes well for their candidates. Republican partisans counter that their folks are energized, too, which will benefit the GOP slate of candidates.

I’m out of the loop. I haven’t spoken to party officials on either side in Collin County, one of the state’s larger counties. Collin County is known to be a heavily Republican bastion, although it’s not nearly as dependably Republican as Randall County, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before moving to the Metroplex earlier this year.

The question facing congressional candidates in places like Collin County rests with how “suburban women” are going to vote. We live in a suburban county populated by many thousands of such women who well might be turned off by the rhetoric that comes from those on the right and far right. The Senate hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh brought many of their concerns to the fore, given the accusation leveled against Kavanaugh by a woman who alleges he assaulted her sexually in the early 1980s.

Does this represent a groundswell against Republican candidates for Congress — for the House and Senate? Democratic senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke’s supporters certainly hope so.

Oh, one more thing: I hope so, too.

Bathroom Bill looms over Patrick candidacy

I cannot forget or forgive the effort to legislate a patently discriminatory policy regarding the use of public restrooms.

And I put the responsibility for that effort right at the feet of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is running for re-election against Mike Collier.

Spoiler alert: I plan to vote for Collier.

Patrick managed to engineer a Texas Senate approval of a bill that would have required people to use public restrooms in accordance with the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate. It’s known now as the Bathroom Bill.

The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and is arguably the state’s most powerful elected official. The Senate approved the Bathroom Bill at Patrick’s insistence. Then it ran into House Speaker Joe Straus, another Republican, but one with common sense and the belief that Texas should not discriminate against transgender individuals, which is what the Bathroom Bill would have allowed.

Straus, who isn’t seeking re-election, blocked the Bathroom Bill, much to his credit. The House never approved it in its special session in the summer of 2017.

The Bathroom Bill remains an indelible scar on Lt. Gov. Patrick’s tenure as the Man of the Senate.

Collier is a former Republican who switched to the Democratic Party. The Houston Chronicle, which has endorsed Collier’s candidacy, likens him to another former lieutenant governor, Republican Bill Ratliff, one of the state’s great statesmen.

The Chronicle’s endorsement notes that Collier doesn’t look for simple solutions to complex problems.

Patrick, meanwhile, is quick with the quip — owing to his days as a radio broadcaster — and simplistic demagoguery.

The Bathroom Bill died the death it deserved in 2017. I don’t know what’ll happen when the 2019 Legislature convenes. My hope is that the next Texas Senate will be run by someone who won’t seek to demonize transgender individuals by resurrecting this patently hideous legislation.

Where did this ‘open borders’ nonsense originate?

I have taken a look at Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s campaign website. I looked high and low for anything in there that suggests that O’Rourke favors “open borders.” I cannot find it.

Which makes me wonder: Where is this nonsense coming from, other than from the pie holes of demagogues intent on distorting the young man’s record.

https://betofortexas.com/issue/immigration/

You can look for yourself on the link attached directly above this sentence.

Sen. Ted Cruz, O’Rourke’s Republican opponent, accuses O’Rourke of favoring “open borders,” suggesting that he wants to let anyone walk into this country without any kind of documentation. I don’t see anything approaching that kind of policy on Beto’s policy profile.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another Texas GOP demagogue, accuses Democrats of “favoring open borders.”

Oh, and then we have the Republicans’ Demagogue in Chief, Donald John Trump, saying the same thing on campaign stumps across the country as he seeks to bolster the campaigns of GOP candidates.

O’Rourke and other Democrats keep talking about “reforming immigration policy.” They want a policy that doesn’t result in erecting a wall along our southern border. They want to allow the so-called “Dreamers” — immigrants who were brought here illegally as children by their parents — to remain in the United States, the only country they know; they want to grant the Dreamers a “fast track” to obtaining U.S. citizenship. O’Rourke wants to “modernize the visa system” to enable employers to fill jobs that Americans won’t do.

This is reasonable stuff, man. It doesn’t call for an opening up of our borders. It doesn’t suggest that we allow anyone — including known criminals — free and unfettered access to the United States of America.

This kind of perversion of stated public policy is nothing new. It’s been going on since The Flood. However, I still detest its effectiveness when pitched to a gullible audience.

Abbott vs. Valdez: Texas campaign snoozer

Oh, man. With all the hype and hoopla being delivered on the race for Texas’s U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Ted Cruz, I was hoping the state’s race for governor might generate some energy, too, among voters.

Silly me. The race between Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez has been an all-American snoozer.

The Cruz Missile is in the fight of his political life against Democrat Beto O’Rourke. I remain hopeful — but not entirely confident — that O’Rourke will defeat Cruz in this year’s election.

Abbott, though, is looking like a shoo-in against Valdez, the former Dallas County sheriff. In at least a couple of aspects, though, Valdez has made Texas political history already.

She is the first Latina in Texas history to be nominated for governor; she also is the first openly gay candidate to run for the state’s highest office. Neither aspect, though, has become an issue in this contest.

It’s not that I think Abbott has been a terrible governor. It’s just that I was hoping Valdez would have made it more of a race. Polling data I’ve seen suggest that Abbott will win handily, maybe by 20-plus percentage points.

Abbott and Valdez have engaged in their only political debate. It didn’t change anyone’s minds. Or, as they say, it didn’t “move the needle.”

Oh well. Maybe in 2022 we can get a truly competitive race for governor. I was hoping we’d have one this time.

Those polls are all over the place

Beto O’Rourke leads Ted Cruz by 2 points in one poll.

Oh, but in another one Cruz leads O’Rourke by 9 points.

Who do you believe? Who do you want to believe? Me? I’ll go with the first one, because that’s what I want to happen on Election Day. I want O’Rourke, the Democrat who’s challenging the Republican Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat that Cruz now occupies.

The Ipsos poll done for Reuters puts O’Rourke ahead by a margin that makes the race a dead heat. It was an online poll of “likely voters.” The Quinnipiac poll was done over the phone; it shows Cruz with a fairly comfortable margin as the campaign heads toward its conclusion.

I know this much — which, admittedly isn’t all that much: O’Rourke making this race such a tight contest is news in and of itself.

Cruz represents Texas in the U.S. Senate. Texas is one of the most Republican states in America. He isn’t exactly a warm-and-fuzzy kind of guy. Cruz is a darling of the TEA Party wing of the GOP, the one that opposed Barack Obama’s presidential agenda every step of the way. He once led a phony filibuster in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The idea that O’Rourke would make this a close contest boggles the mind of a lot of observers.

I believe O’Rourke still has a steep hill to climb if he hopes to knock Cruz off his Senate seat. The state still loves its Republican officeholders. No … matter … what!

However, just as Donald Trump proved every political “expert” wrong by being elected president in 2016, there remains a good bit of hope that Beto O’Rourke can upset the political gods yet again in Texas. That’s my hope anyway.

GOP seeks to bolster Sen. Cruz

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a first-term Republican, was expected to — um — cruise to re-election in a heavily Republican state such as Texas.

Then something happened. Democratic voters nominated a young man named Beto O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso. O’Rourke has visited all 254 Texas counties. He has appeared before small gatherings and large crowds. He tries to carry a positive message forward.

Then those polls started showing some movement toward O’Rourke. The race between them is now too close to call. O’Rourke has the momentum, or so many observers believe.

Republicans now reportedly are looking for ways to salvage Cruz’s re-election campaign. In Texas? Are you serious?

I guess so.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick went to Washington to ask Donald Trump to campaign for Cruz. The president agreed. He’s now planning a blow-out rally sometime next month in the “biggest stadium we can find.”

As Politico reports: Trump’s rally is just the most public display of a Republican cavalry rushing to the senator’s aid. Cruz remains a favorite to win another term, and some senior GOP figures insist the concern is overblown. Yet the party — which has had a fraught relationship with the anti-establishment Texas senator over the years — is suddenly leaving little to chance. Behind the scenes, the White House, party leaders and a collection of conservative outside groups have begun plotting out a full-fledged effort to bolster Cruz.

The battle has been joined. Democrats think they have the momentum on their side. O’Rourke has become a high-demand “get” for TV talk shows. He’s raising a more money than Cruz, although I remain dubious as to whether more cash translates to more votes. I hope it does, but one cannot always equate the the factors.

Yep. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Memo to Beto: Money doesn’t win elections

All these news stories I read about the Beto O’Rourke-Ted Cruz fight for Cruz’s U.S. Senate seat keep harping on the same theme: O’Rourke is raising more money than Cruz.

To borrow a phrase: Big … fu***** … deal.

O’Rourke is the Democrat challenging the Republican incumbent, Cruz. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. Texas Democrats are feeling it this year, man. Maybe it’s for real. Then again, we are talking about Texas, where Republicans generally have both legs up merely by being Republican.

Make no mistake: I want O’Rourke to shoot down the Cruz Missile. The Washington Post story accompanying this post tells of O’Rourke’s meet-the-people strategy and how well he is performing in places one might not expect a progressive Democrat to do so well.

Such as the Texas Panhandle, where we used to live.

See the Post story here.

But money alone won’t win this election. Andrew Gillum got outspent by a factor of about 20 in Florida, but he still managed to win that state’s Democratic primary for governor this past week. The same can be said of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won a New York congressional Democratic primary a few weeks ago against a powerful incumbent despite being outspent by 40 or 50 times.

It is with that I offer Beto O’Rourke and his avid followers a word of caution.

I want him to win. I will use this blog to advance his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. His opponent, Cruz, isn’t concerned with the state nearly as much as he with his own image, reputation and political ambition.

Do not try to tell me that O’Rourke is some flaming “socialist” or extremist who is going to vote to disarm our armed forces, open our borders to criminals and confiscate everyone’s firearms.

He is a reasonable young man who deserves a chance to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

Sure, he’s raising a lot of money. However, the pile of campaign cash doesn’t always equate to more votes than the other guy.

Keep working and hustling, Beto.

Many of us in Texas will have your back.

Beto over The Cruz Missile? Here’s why

OK, so what if I haven’t come up with a pejorative nickname for the guy I want Texans to send to the U.S. Senate. Maybe he’ll earn it if he gets the chance to represent Texas beginning in 2019.

I do know this: I want Beto O’Rourke to defeat Ted Cruz in the race for the Senate. Some recent polling suggests a tight race. Texas Lyceum has it at 2 percent for Cruz, which makes the contest a statistical dead heat.

Yes, I often refer to the Republican incumbent as The Cruz Missile. I do so because I do not think he places Texas’s interests over his own ambition. He was elected in 2012 and immediately could be seen on TV screens, blathering about this or that. The media glommed onto him, much as they have done with other senatorial newcomers, such as Democrats Kamala Harris and Corey Booker.

A senator who doesn’t earn his or her place on the front row of the political chorus automatically makes me suspicious as to his or her motivation.

Thus, Cruz has become The Missile.

I am going to turn my attention to Beto O’Rourke.

The young man’s issues pronouncements do not seem overly radical, which many on the right are likely to characterize them.

He speaks with compassion about immigration, wanting to preserve the Differed Action on Childhood Arrivals provision, giving so-called “Dreamers” a chance to achieve U.S. citizenship rather than rounding them up and deporting them. He wants to fix the Affordable Care Act, not trash it merely because it was authored by President Obama. O’Rourke wants to be true to our veterans; and this veteran thanks him for that. He believes Earth’s climate is changing and wants to invest more — not less — in alternative energy production to protect the atmosphere against carbon-induced warming.

I am acutely aware of the steep hill that towers in front of O’Rourke. He is campaigning as a Democrat in a state that tends to elect Republicans just because they, well, are Republicans. We live in a conservative state populated by conservatives. O’Rourke will need to tell us what he intends to do for Texans if he gets elected to represent us — and our interests.

As I have watched Sen. Cruz for the past six years, I do not yet know whether he understands yet that he works for us and that he must keep his personal ambition under wraps.

My head tells me a lot of things have to go right for O’Rourke for him to win. My heart wishes they do … and believes they will.

***

Take a look at O’Rourke’s platform. You’ll find it here.

Debates do matter, Lt. Gov. Patrick

The word is out: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t want to debate his opponent before Election Day.

That’s too bad. Actually, it’s a shame. Hey, I’ll even say it’s a disgrace to the cause of learning all we can about the individuals who want to represent us at the highest levels of state government.

Patrick, the Republican, is running against Democratic challenger Mike Collier, who has been needling Patrick for weeks about debating.

I cannot quite fathom why Patrick is so reticent. He comes from a media background; he was a radio talk-show host before entering politics as a state senator from Houston.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s no secret Lt. Governor Patrick relishes debates, but since his opponent shows no sign of grasping even the most basic rudiments of state government, our campaign has no plans to debate him,” Patrick strategist Allen Blakemore said in a statement to the Tribune. “There isn’t anyone in the Lone Star State who isn’t absolutely clear about where Dan Patrick stands on the issues. He told us what he was going to do, then he did it. That’s why Dan Patrick has the overwhelming support of the conservative majority in Texas.”

OK, I’ll come clean: He doesn’t have my support. He has sought to yank the state into far-right territory that makes me uncomfortable. The Bathroom Bill he sought in 2017 is the example of what I’m talking about. He sought to make it illegal for transgendered individuals to use public restrooms in accordance with their current gender; he intended to make the use restrooms that matched their birth certificate gender. The bill died in a special session.

That’s out of the way.

He should debate Collier. GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez are likely to debate each other, even though Abbott is going to be the prohibitive favorite to win re-election.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican, will likely debate his Democratic foe, Beto O’Rourke. That contest figures to be a whole lot closer.

So, the lieutenant governor isn’t likely afraid to meet his challenger head to head. Why not just quit playing games, Lt. Gov. Patrick?

Step onto the stage and have it out with your challenger and make the case on why you should be re-elected.

And, yes, if that’s what happens on Election Day, it will be in spite of the ballot I will cast.