Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Lt. Gov. Patrick in line for a job with Trump? Oh, let’s hope so

What little I know about Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune — and it’s really not all that much — I am inclined to believe he doesn’t toss rumors out there just to make a spectacle of himself.

So, when he wrote this in an analysis published by the Tribune, I kind of sat up a little straighter in my chair:

“(Lt. Gov. Dan) Patrick’s visit to Washington sparked a rumor that he might be in line for a post in the Trump administration — a rumor that prompted speculation about how the legislative session would go with senators choosing his replacement from among their own ranks. That hasn’t happened since George W. Bush became president and then-Lt. Gov. Rick Perry succeeded him as governor. Senators made Bill Ratliff the lieutenant governor until the next election.”

Then Ramsey offered this: “Scratch all that.”

Read Ramsey’s analysis here.

Patrick met the president in McAllen earlier this week and offered to help him build The Wall along our border with Mexico. He said Texas could pony some of the $5.7 billion that Trump wants to spend.

So, what would that mean if Patrick gets whisked off to D.C. to serve in the Trump administration? That would allow senators to select a new lieutenant governor. I know one of those 31 senators pretty well: Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who I believe would make an outstanding lieutenant governor.

He calls himself a “conservative,” but he sounds more, shall we say, moderate than some of the righties who populate the Texas Senate. That is fine with me. For instance, I cannot imagine a Lt. Gov. Seliger pushing a “Bathroom Bill” through the Senate to make some sort of statement to appease cultural conservatives within the Texas GOP Senate caucus.

I’ve known Seliger for nearly 25 years. He and I have developed a good relationship. I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News and he was Amarillo mayor when we first met in early 1995. He then left City Hall and was elected to the Senate in 2004 after the late Teel Bivins received an ambassadorial post from President Bush.

I have long supported Seliger’s work as a state senator.

Would he make a good lieutenant governor? Of course he would! I realize I am getting way ahead of myself. Lt. Gov. Patrick likely isn’t going anywhere.

Then again . . . my hope springs eternal.

Democratic excitement causes flashbacks

I must be hallucinating, or having some sort of flashback . . . which I assure you isn’t drug-induced.

Texas Democrats, not Republicans, are all agog over the looming struggle for attention between two rising stars. One of them came so very close to being elected to the U.S. Senate; the other is a former big-city mayor and a former housing secretary for the most recent Democratic president.

Stand tall, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro.

O’Rourke almost defeated Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the midterm election; he might run for president of the United States in 2020. Castro was mayor of San Antonio, the state’s second-largest city and served in the Cabinet of Barack H. Obama; he, too, might run for POTUS.

Of the two of them, Castro seems the surer bet to toss his Stetson into the ring, although O’Rourke keeps tantalizing many around the country with messages that suggest that he, too, is likely to join the Democratic free-for-all.

Texas once was a Democratic bastion, where only Democrats were seen and heard. Then it morphed into a Republican stronghold and the GOP snatched all the headlines, the air time and people’s political attention.

It’s now becoming more of an inter-party competition, instead of an intra-party donnybrook. I like the idea of the two parties fighting hard for the hearts and minds of Texans and other Americans.

As for O’Rourke and Castro, I am beginning to sense a rivalry in the making.

Politico reports that a Texas political strategist, Colin Strother, sees the two men’s disparate upbringing well could produce a unique situation in Texas. They won’t be fighting for the same constituency, Strother guesses. “I see them as two completely different types of candidates,” he said.

Castro sees himself as the underdog, given O’Rourke’s meteoric rise while losing his race to Cruz. He has a twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who’s been helping him raise money to try to bring down the O’Rourke colossus.

O’Rourke, you might recall, campaigned against Cruz without the help of high-powered, top-dollar political consultants and/or pollsters. He just visited every one of Texas’s 254 counties, talked to voters wherever he found them. What astounded me was the amount of time O’Rourke spent in GOP-stronghold counties in rural West Texas, from the Panhandle to the Permian Basin. Didn’t anyone tell him the Panhandle is where the John Birch Society used to give “mainstream politicians” fits?

I don’t know whether both — or either — of these young men are going to vie for the Big Prize in 2020. I’m just delighted to see the excitement they both are generating in a state that has grown quite unaccustomed to hearing noise from Democrats’ side of the fence.

Balance of power shifting in Texas delegation

Here’s a thought or two to consider, according to the Texas Tribune.

Texans who have occupied a lot of chairmanships in the U.S. House of Representatives might be set to bail on the House in the wake of the newfound status as the minority party in the lower congressional chamber.

Buried in the Tribune story analyzing that development is a mention of House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican, who might “make the upcoming term his last.”

That’s according to “many Republican operatives” on Capitol Hill, reports the Tribune.

Read the story here

Thornberry won’t be able to serve as “ranking minority member” of Armed Services; GOP rules mandate that he is term-limited out of that rank. So he’ll become just one of the gang of GOP members serving on the panel.

I have a special “bond” of sorts with Thornberry. He took office in the House in early January 1995, in the same week I reported for duty as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. I covered his congressional career regularly until I left the paper in August 2012. He and I developed a good professional relationship.

I rarely agree with his voting record while representing the sprawling 13th Congressional District, although my position at the newspaper required me to write editorials supporting him, given the paper’s longstanding conservative editorial policy.

And, to be fair, Thornberry has been pilloried unfairly over his more than two decades in office because of the term limits issue. He was elected in 1994 as part of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” team of GOP insurgents. The CWA called for term limits for members of Congress. Thornberry never pledged to limit his own service to three consecutive terms, but he did vote to approve it when the House considered it.

He took office in 1995. It’s now 2018. Twenty-three years after becoming a freshman member of the House, Mac Thornberry is about to become a former chairman of a key congressional committee. The Republican majority is set to become the GOP minority. That, according to the Texas Tribune, might be enough to send Thornberry packing and returning to the Texas Panhandle in 2021.

Yep, elections do have consequences. We’re about to see one of those consequences occur on the new day that is about to dawn over Capitol Hill.

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.