Tag Archives: Barry Smitherman

Perry builds wind energy in Texas

Let it never be said that I am such a blind partisan that I fail to recognize the good things that politicians of the “other party” have accomplished.

Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry is about to leave office and the Texas Tribune is doing a great job of looking back at the governor’s huge legacy.

All those wind turbines one sees turning along the High Plains or along the South Plains and the Rolling Plains down yonder? They’re a big part of the Perry legacy, to which I will provide high praise.


The Tribune notes that most of the turbines didn’t exist when Perry took his initial oath of office in December 2000. They do now, in a big way.

As the Tribune notes: “In 2000, wind farms composed just 116 megawatts of capacity on the state’s main electric grid. That number has since soared to more than 11,000 megawatts, while wind fuels about 10 percent of all generation. (On average, one megawatt-hour of wind energy can power 260 typical Texas homes for an hour.)

“’His legacy on the fossil side of things is very sound, but on the wind side, he’s done tremendous things to move the state forward,’ said Jeff Clark, executive director of the Austin-based Wind Coalition, an advocacy group. ‘Under Rick Perry, wind in Texas has moved from alternative energy to being a mainstream component of our power supply.’”

Think of how vast this supply of energy is in Texas, particularly along the Caprock, where the wind blows incessantly — and where it will blow for as long as Planet Earth exists. I reckon that’ll be a good while, agreed?

Texas has become the nation’s No. 1 wind-energy-producing state, supplanting California at the top of the heap.

Perry’s predecessor as governor, George W. Bush, signed a bill in 1999 that deregulated the electric sector, opening the door for the development of wind energy. Perry would later sign legislation mandating an increase in wind energy production. The state has delivered in a big way.

Here’s the Tribune: “’That we were able to build thousands of miles of high-capacity transmission from West Texas to the Panhandle without landowners marching on the Capitol with pitchforks, it’s pretty remarkable,’ said Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, whom Perry appointed to the Public Utility Commission in 2004 and reappointed in 2007. ‘And the governor had our back on that.’”

Rick Perry isn’t known as an environmentalist, but the wind energy that has developed on his watch has gone a long way toward conserving fossil fuels. It’s also producing arguably the cleanest energy possible.

Well done, governor.


Texas AG candidates misrepresent their role

Texas has a long history of tough-talking macho men running for state attorney general.

They make all kinds of vows: to crack down on border security, to be tough on crime, to fight the federal government.

That’s all fine, except that the office requires little of what they individuals are trying to sell.

This year’s Republican primary for attorney general is no different. It’s getting tiresome, to be honest, listening to these individuals try out to out-tough each other.


The attorney general essentially is the state’s in-house lawyer. He or she represents the state primarily in civil matters. Crime-fighting? They leave that job to the district attorneys elected to serve the state’s 254 counties.

The closest the AG comes to fighting crime is chasing down dead-beat parents who are delinquent on their child-support payments.

Barry Smitherman touts his experience as a prosecutor; Ken Paxton boasts that he has tea party U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s support; Dan Branch declares his devotion to the sanctity of human life. They’re all spending a lot of money to promote themselves.

None of it matters as much as how well they’ll perform as a civil litigator representing Texas.


My favorite attorney general candidate of all time, though, was the late Democrat Jim Mattox, who used to brag about how tough he was crime and how he loved a good political battle.

The late great liberal newspaper columnist Molly Ivins once said of Mattox that if he spotted an ice cream stand and a crowd of folks fighting on opposites sides of a street, he’d go for the fight.

Did that make him a good attorney general? No. It did make for a good punch line.

Mattox’s political descendants — who represent the other party — nonetheless are following his lead in their quest for the office he once held.

Elect a ‘prosecutor’ for Texas AG?

“I have sued Obama 7X and am the only candidate 4 attorney general who’s a proven prosecutor! Help me secure our Texas border.”

That is a tweet from Barry Smitherman, one of the Republican candidates for Texas attorney general who’s seeking to succeed Greg Abbott, the presumptive GOP favorite for the party’s gubernatorial nomination.

I have been awaiting this kind of chest-thumping, which if you consider the nature of the office, is quite irrelevant.

Smitherman is a smart guy who happens to serve on the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates the state’s oil-and-natural-gas industry. He also appears to be running for attorney general in the Jim Mattox mold of Texas grandstander.

The attorney general essentially is the state’s top lawyer, representing the state’s interest in litigation. Say, the state is taken to court. The AG’s office represents the state in the courtroom. The state does not “prosecute” bad guys. That task is left to district attorneys who are elected by county voters.

Why the Mattox comparison? Well, Mattox was the former Democratic attorney general who traipsed around a crime scene in Mexico vowing to capture and prosecute the individuals responsible for murdering a University of Texas student in the late 1980s.

Mattox had no business making the that pledge, just as Smitherman’s prosecutorial experience really doesn’t matter in the race for attorney general.

Now it’s Smitherman standing up for gun owners

Barry Smitherman is the latest Texas politicians to state the obvious.

He’s all for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one that guarantees Americans the right to own firearms.

My reaction to that? Duh!


Smitherman, a Republican, currently serves on the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates the oil and natural gas industry in Texas. He wants to become the state’s next attorney general. Smitherman’s web ad proclaims his undying support for the Second Amendment.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, another Republican, recently posted a web ad that says the same thing as he seeks to become the state’s lieutenant governor.

I’m trying to look for the courage it took Smitherman to declare his support for gun owners. Texas isn’t a lot of other states. Gun ownership is virtually a given here. Our state’s popular culture practically requires people to own guns. Texas was among the first states to enact a concealed handgun carry law.

Barry Smitherman is a sophisticated individual. He stands a very good chance of being elected attorney general.

He cannot go wrong by declaring he supports Texans’ right to own guns. Put another way, Smitherman has exhibited a profound command of the obvious.

Unborn babies would vote Republican?

Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is reaching deeply into the darkest corners of some rhetorical warehouse for a recent comment on abortion, politics and related matters.

Smitherman is running for the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general. He told a Texas anti-abortion group that most unborn babies would vote Republican.


Smitherman was the keynote speaker of the Alliance for Life meeting in mid-August. An abortion-rights activist, Jessica Luther, called the remark a “strange statement.” Meanwhile, Smitherman spokesman Allen Blakemore, said his boss was merely citing a “statistic,” given that Texas is a heavily Republican state.

I’m trying to figure out precisely what Smitherman’s message is intended to convey. If it was meant to state the obvious, as Blakemore noted, I find it an odd expression. I’m inclined to go a little farther than how Luther described it. It sounds downright weird.