Tag Archives: Texas Republican Party

Battle of the Barbies heats up

A couple of Dallas Morning News writers — Mike Hashimoto and Nicole Stockdale — are tussling over the reaction to the “Barbie” moniker hung on state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Hashimoto apparently sees media reaction as being a bit hypocritical, given that former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was called “Caribou Barbie” when she was all the rage. Stockdale doesn’t see it that way.

I agree with Stockdale.


Davis was called “retard Barbie” by someone supporting Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot’s campaign for Texas governor. Davis is dropping hints all over Texas that she’s thinking about running for the Democratic Party nomination for governor. We’ll all know soon whether she’s in or out.

My sense is that the reaction to the “retard Barbie” slur has been based mostly on Abbott’s rather timid reaction to it. Instead of condemning such language with indignation and disgust, he has offered some timid disclaimers about being unable to control what people say on social media.

“Caribou Barbie” was meant, as I understand it, to call attention to (1) Palin’s attractiveness and (2) her devotion to the Alaska lifestyle.

Nicole Stockdale asks: What’s wrong with that?

I see nothing wrong with such a reference in that context.

The Davis reference — which was posted with hatred — is quite another matter.

Tweeting can be hazardous to campaigns

Tweeting, twittering, twirling … whatever you want to call it, has become the new normal in modern American political campaigning.

Isn’t that right, Greg Abbott?

The Texas Tribune reports that Twitter has become a bane as well as a boon to campaigns, as Abbott is finding out.


A fan of Abbott tweeted something quite derogatory the other day about state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who might enter the Texas governor’s race that already features Abbott, the state’s Republican attorney general. The Abbott fan called Davis “a retard Barbie.” Abbott thanked the individual for his support, was blasted by Texas Democratic officials, and then said in a follow-up tweet that he cannot control the language that supporters use on his behalf.

But the fans of every candidate of every stripe are out there en masse — by the tens of millions — tossing thoughts into cyberspace. They might be reasonable and rational, or they might be idiotic and moronic.

These candidates are having to take the good with the bad in this Social Media Age.

Meanwhile, political strategists are having to come up with ways to defend their candidates against the nonsense spewed out and the reaction to it from their opponents.

Good luck with that.

Wait until governor’s race really heats up

Well, it hasn’t taken long at all for a potential campaign for Texas governor to get, um, real nasty.

A backer of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has referred to state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth, as “retard Barbie,” which Abbott responded with a word of “thanks for your support” in a tweet.

Abbott’s lack of disgust over the description of a potential opponent for the governorship — that would be Davis — has drawn intense fire already from another Democratic leader.


Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa said this in a statement:

“That Greg Abbott would thank a supporter for calling Senator Wendy Davis a ‘Retard Barbie’ is absolutely disgusting and disturbing. This is what Republicans think about women — that a Harvard law school graduate, State Senator, and a long time fighter for Texas families deserves such inappropriate slander. Greg Abbott endorses such disrespect. The people of Texas deserves so much better than this from their public officials. And the women of Texas deserve leaders who respect them as human beings.”

Davis hasn’t yet said whether she’ll run for governor next year, although some observers think the signs suggest she’s getting ready to go for it.

Run, Wendy, run.

Talk to all Texans, Sen. Cruz

Something struck me as I looked at U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s planned series of town hall meetings across Texas.

He’s going to be speaking to groups friendly to his point of view.


Local Republican women’s groups are hosting him; same for local tea party organizations; an event in Dallas will be put on by the Heritage Foundation; he’ll be talking to a chamber of commerce audience too.

That’s all fine and good. I’m curious, though, as to whether the Republican junior senator from Texas is going to engage individuals in actual debate and discussion over differences they might have in public policy.

I’m going on out a limb here, but I’m quite sure liberal Democratic senators in, say, California or New York don’t spend much time talking to conservative audiences. So the query is posed to them as well.

Cruz was elected by a majority of Texans in 2012 to represent the entire state. I get that Texas leans hard right in its political view. All its statewide elected officials are Republicans; there’s not a Democrat to be found … or none on the horizon with a prayer of winning a statewide election. But not every Texan adheres to that world view. A few of us out here lean the other way and do not like the notion, for example, of shutting down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act – which Cruz is pushing.

Sen. Cruz also is thought to be considering a run for the presidency in 2016, a notion that was noticed by Tanene Allison, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party. “He’s not talking about the issues that matter most to Texans,” Allison told the Texas Tribune. “A movement to try to shut down the government is not on the top of the list of what most Texans want at the moment.”

A more productive town hall series would be to include constituents who aren’t particularly friendly to the fiery conservative. Maybe someone with a different point of view will sneak into one or more of these meetings and actually challenge him. Let’s hope so.

Dewhurst puts on brass knuckles

Texas’s most interesting political contest in 2014 is going to be for lieutenant governor.

Bet on it.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has announced his plans to seek re-election for a fourth term to what used to be considered the state’s most powerful office. Rick Perry’s forever-long tenure as governor took care of that, as the Pride of Paint Creek redefined the governor’s office and made it No. 1 on the state’s political pecking order.


Dewhurst, though, wants to take back that role … or so it seems. He’ll have a crowded field of Republican primary challengers to fend off. Land Commissioner Jerry “The Gun Guy” Patterson is in the field; so is Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples; and the most recent participant is state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston.

It occurs to me that three of them — Dewhurst, Patterson and Patrick — all hail from the greater Houston area. Just sayin’.

In Dewhurst’s vision of a perfect world, he wouldn’t be there. He’d be in the U.S. Senate. He ran into a right-wing attack dog in Ted Cruz in the 2012 GOP primary, who then beat Dewhurst in the runoff, spoiling the odds-on favorite’s chances to join to the Senate “club.”

Dewhurst became the victim of what’s become a newly coined verb. He was “Cruzed” in the primary. I’m betting he won’t let that happen again as he runs for re-election.

The lieutenant governor’s contest race is going to be fun to watch.

Cruz heads for trouble within GOP?

Ted Cruz might turn into my favorite U.S. senator, not because I agree with him on policy — because I disagree with virtually every policy statement that comes out of his mouth — but because he’s providing such tremendous back-story theater on Capitol Hill.


As the link here notes, Cruz did not endorse Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who’s facing a tea party challenger in next year’s GOP primary. Cruz himself is a tea party darling.

I’m wondering: What if McConnell wins re-election next year in Kentucky and returns to run the Republican caucus in 2015? What’s he got up his sleeve for Cruz, the guy who so far has shunned him and talked out loud about how the establishment Republicans might need to get their clocks cleaned by the insurgent wing of the party.

I see some back-bench committee assignments awaiting the junior senator from Texas. But not to fear for Ted Cruz. He’ll find a way to have his voice heard above the din. He’s gotten pretty good at it so far in his brief time in the Senate.

He did manage to knock Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst off in the Texas GOP primary last spring before plowing over Democrat Paul Sadler in the general election. He sees his monstrous primary upset as his mandate to act unruly in the clubby Senate environment.

The link attached here also notes that Sen. John Cornyn of Texas faces re-election next year and there are rumblings he, too, might face a tea party challenge from within the Republican Party.

I’ll be waiting to see whether Cruz endorses his pal Cornyn.  

AG picks fight with Texas

Well, that’s a big surprise. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government is suing Texas to make sure the state follows federal civil-rights law – and Texas Republicans go ballistic, saying the feds are picking on the Lone Star State.

Someone has to be singled out, yes? If not Texas, then which state feels the heat? Mississippi? Alabama? Georgia?


Holder has asked a court to require Texas to obtain “pre-clearance” before enacting any state laws governing Texans’ voting rights. It seems Texas is one of those states with some history of denying certain folks full access to voting rights based on their race or ethnicity. The U.S. Supreme Court decided earlier this year that the federal requirement is no longer necessary and has left these decisions up to the states.

The AG says that’s not good enough.

Thus, the Justice Department is taking action to ensure that Texas complies right off the top.

I applaud the attorney general for seeking to guarantee that the rights of full citizenship for all Americans – even those who live in Texas – are protected under federal law.

The Hill said this in reporting the story:

“White House spokesman Josh Earnest defended the move, saying ‘the goal of the administration… is to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.’  

‘“That includes protecting the voting rights of all Americans who are eligible to vote – that’s the goal here,’ Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. ‘I would assume that that would be a goal that would also be supported by congressional Republicans. We’ll see.’”

Members of the state’s congressional delegation, dominated of course by Republicans, see it differently.

“My belief is (the) Voting Rights Act and those laws ought to be applied equally across states, and not played for political games, which is exactly what I see happening here,” U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady said. “Eric Holder (is) just singling us out – just skipped through the alphabet and happened to land on Texas.”

Something tells me the Justice Department doesn’t really care what Texas Republicans – given their intense antipathy toward the president and his administration – think of its voting-rights policy.

Let’s debate, GOP contenders

Tom Pauken is pushing Greg Abbott hard for a debate — or a series of debates — leading up to next spring’s Texas Republican gubernatorial primary.

Abbott ought to take up the challenge.


The Texas attorney general has been deemed the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP nomination next spring and with that, the election in the fall against whomever the Democratic Party nominates.

Pauken, a Dallas lawyer and the former chairman of the state Republican Party, is having none of it.

He calls Abbott the “$25 million man,” alluding to the massive war chest the AG has accumulated. Pauken said he believes Abbott thinks of himself as having some kind of “divine right of succession” to the governorship being vacated at the end of next year by Rick Perry.

Actually, Pauken is right to press for debates. I like the idea of two serious candidates for governor arguing in public over policy differences. They can be entertaining to be sure. More than that, they can be educational and informative.

Some critics lampooned the 2012 GOP presidential primary for having too many debates. I wasn’t among them. My only concern about that series of joint appearances became the carnival atmosphere that accompanied so many of them. The candidates would prance out onto debate stages to roaring crowds, waving at audience members like game-show contestants. It detracted from the serious nature of what was at stake.

Abbott and Pauken seem like studious men to me. They both know the issues. They both have positions — I reckon — on all of them.

So let’s hear them articulate their view of where Texas ought to go in the post-Rick Perry era.


George P. gets a challenge from left and right

Well now, it looks as though George P. Bush — grandson of a former president and nephew of another one — isn’t going to be a free ride into the Texas land commissioner’s office after all.

He’s drawn two challengers. One of them is David Watts, from East Texas, a conservative Republican who’ll run against “P” in next spring’s primary. The other likely is going to be former El Paso Mayor John Cook, who’ll run as a Democrat.

“P” — which what many of us will call him, given that Uncle George W. is known around the world as “W” — comes into this race with lots of money. Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager/chief cook and bottle washer/de facto head coach Jerry Jones reportedly kicked in 25 grand to “P”s campaign.

I guess the young man has raised several million already for this race, which will be his introduction to electoral politics. He moved to Texas a few years ago to start a law practice and, I reckon, look over the landscape for a suitable place to start his public service career.

It’s been thought “P” would be able to trade on the Bush name, as it is remains golden in Texas while it has gone toxic in much of the rest of the country. His father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, likely would do well in Texas if he chooses to seek the presidency in 2016.

I’m glad, though, to see George P. having to face these challenges early in his political life. They will strengthen him if he wins.

If he loses, well, they still might give him the strength that quite often comes with humility.