Tag Archives: GOP primary

Now it’s Trump vs. Pence

A weird political back story is being pushed to the forefront on the eve of the Georgia Republican Party primary election.

Donald J. Trump endorsed former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s effort to win the party’s gubernatorial nomination. Former Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Gov. Brian Kemp’s bid for re-election.

The smart money at this moment says that Kemp is going to roll to an easy victory over Perdue. Which means that Pence is going to trample Trump in the fight for whose candidate gets Republican voters’ nod.

Trump vs. Pence, therefore, is going to end in a technical knockout — for the former VP … and possible rival to Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

This is really rich, man.

Trump got angry with Kemp because the governor wouldn’t buckle under Trump’s pressure to “find” enough votes to turn the state’s electoral result from Joe Biden’s column to Trump’s. So now the ex-POTUS is backing Perdue … sort of. You see, he now has washed his hands of Perdue’s bid because the ex-senator is trailing so badly that Trump doesn’t want to be associated with the losing candidate.

All Gov. Kemp did in the wake of the 2020 election was follow the law. He refused to pressure the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensberger, to do Trump’s bidding. Trump doesn’t believe in the rule of law; he believes instead in the “rule of keeping himself in power.”

If my voice mattered in Georgia — which, of course, it doesn’t — I would be pulling for Mike Pence’s guy over the dipsh** Donald Trump has endorsed.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

GOP: party of liars

It pains me to say this, but I feel as though I must get something off my chest. Whatever is left of the Republican Party has become a haven for liars.

The Texas Tribune, for instance, points out that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and one of the challengers in the GOP primary set for Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, happen to agree on a specious contention, that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald J. Trump.

As the Tribune reports: “The majority of Republican primary voters are very likely open to the argument that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election,” said Jim Henson, a pollster and director of the Texas Politics Project. “It’s not a fringe position in the Republican party. It’s become orthodoxy.”

That “orthodoxy” suggests a narrow-mindedness I never thought I would see in what used to be considered one of the nation’s great political parties. It suggests a gullibility among a bloc of voters that portends danger ahead. Those who adhere to what everyone calls The Big Lie put our democratic process in dire peril of unraveling.

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/02/24/texas-attorney-general-election-integrity/

This is scary stuff, man.

Paxton has drawn the endorsement of Trump, even though Gohmert has been every bit the Trumpkin while representing East Texas in Congress. Indeed, Gohmert also has promoted another bit of “fake news” by suggesting that Barack Obama wasn’t qualified to serve as president because — you guessed it — he was “born in Kenya.”

You see, the once-Grand Ol Party has become an organization populated by ignorant cultists. It’s sickening in the extreme.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Watch for phony heroics among GOP candidates

Clearly it has become open season on the Joe Biden administration among Texas Republican candidates for public office. They all seem intent on positioning themselves as the polar opposites of the Democratic president … even if the office they seek has little to do with anything related to federal policy.

The Texas comptroller of public accounts provides an interesting example of what I am talking about.

The GOP incumbent Glenn Hegar is running a TV ad in which he declares that he is going to fight the Biden administration over protecting our southern border. How is he going to do that?

Hegar’s ad proclaims that he spent $3 billion on border security. I was wondering about an issue related to that bit of braggadocio: Does the comptroller have the discretionary authority to just send $3 billion in that manner, or must he do what the Legislature and the governor tell him to do?

I asked someone who covers state government extensively about that matter. He responded that government agencies have limited authority in some cases to exercise discretion in spending money, but the border money to which Hegar referred isn’t one of them. I have posed the question to the public information officer for the comptroller’s office and haven’t heard back from him.

I am left to wonder whether Hegar is misrepresenting his authority on that border security issue so he can muster up some anti-President Biden anger among Republican primary voters.

I will report back to you the response I get from the comptroller’s media flack.

Meantime, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the state’s top bean counter — Glenn Hegar — might be, um, overstating his role in “keeping Texans safe from illegal immigrants.”

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

 

Most chaotic post-POTUS, too?

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Jeb Bush warned voters during the 2016 Republican Party presidential primary campaign about what we would get were Donald Trump elected to the nation’s highest office.

It would be “chaos.” The former Florida governor called it. He was spot on.

Of course, he didn’t last long during the GOP primary battle that year. However, his prediction has carried over into the post-presidency of the man who would serve a term as POTUS before being defeated for re-election in 2020.

The man’s post-POTUS time has been as chaotic as his time in office.

Who woulda thunk it?

He is trying to throw chaos into the search for the truth behind the 1/6 insurrection. He seeks to muck up the congressional inquiry through delay tactics. He is succeeding … so far!

There well could come a day when the chaos will expire. When order and reality will take hold. When we can learn the truth behind the riot that Trump incited.

I am hoping.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Fruitcake fringe loses an AG candidate

Well, now. It looks as though Louie Gohmert is going to have the fruitcake fringe of the Republican Party electorate to himself as he challenges Ken Paxton in next year’s GOP primary for Texas attorney general.

Why is that? Another GOP fruitcake, Freedom Caucus member state Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth is going to run instead for Tarrant County district attorney. He had sought to run in the 2022 primary for Texas AG, but switched races.

Gohmert is still in. He joins Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman as challengers to the felony indicted Paxton, who is awaiting trial in state court on a charge of securities fraud.

Bush and Guzman are campaigning specifically against the corruption that Paxton brought with him to the AG’s office in 2015. I don’t know what U.S. Rep. Gohmert’s platform will be; he might want to push Paxton even farther to the right than he already stands.

There might be more entries, given the trouble that keeps swirling around Paxton. The FBI is conducting an independent investigation into allegations of corruption with his office; several top legal assistants quit earlier this year while citing allegations of improper behavior by the attorney general. Imagine that, will ya?

The waters are still roiling.

It’s gonna be fun to watch this race play out.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

That’s why they’re called ‘exploratory committees’

What do you know about this? Texas state Sen. Pat Fallon, a Republican from Prosper, has decided against running for the U.S. Senate in 2020.

He had formed an exploratory committee to, um, explore the possibilities of challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP primary.

He’s decided to stay in the Texas Senate and not expose his wife and young sons to the rigors of trying to pull Sen. Cornyn even farther to the right.

It’s a smart move, Sen. Fallon.

For starters, Sen. Cornyn is pretty far right already. He is a reliable opponent of gun control measures, of abortion rights, of the Affordable Care Act. That’s just three issues.

Trust me on this: Pat Fallon didn’t need to seek to make Texas’s senior U.S. senator even more conservative. So he’ll forgo a race against Cornyn.

It just goes to show that these efforts occasionally produce the kind of result that Pat Fallon has found. It’s why they’re called “exploratory committees.”

Where are the GOP challengers with ‘heft’?

Joe Walsh has joined William Weld and Mark Sanford as actual and potential challengers to Donald Trump in the president’s quest for nomination by the Republican Party for another term in office.

A friend of mine wonders where the GOP challengers with “heft” are hiding. He believes Trump will “swat” any of the three challengers being discussed “like flies.” I fear he is right.

Who, then, are the hefty GOP heavyweights who might stand a chance of giving the president the primary campaign scare he so richly deserves?

I am having difficulty coming with names.

Former Secretary of State/Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell more or less comes to mind. He won’t walk onto the field. He had his chance leading up to the 1996 election when Bill Clinton was running for re-election. Gen. Powell begged off, citing the lack of support from his wife, Alma. I doubt Mrs. Powell has changed her mind. Besides, Powell’s time has passed.

I think also — are you reading for this? — of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Naww. He won’t do it, either.

I fear the GOP is left with three men who don’t stand a serious chance of inflicting any meaningful damage on Trump, who is raising many millions of dollars toward his re-election effort.

Mark Sanford is grievously damaged already. He once was South Carolina’s governor who messed around with a woman other than his wife; he skulked off to South America for a fling, while telling his staff to lie to the media about his whereabouts, instructing them to say he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.” No good, Mark.

William Weld ran for vice president in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Weld does have political experience, having served two terms as Massachusetts governor. But he ain’t gonna make the grade, either.

Joe Walsh served for a term as a congressman from Illinois. He’s a firebrand, a TEA Party advocate. He is ultraconservative. He also cannot stand the idea of Trump serving as president. He says things about Trump that many of us have said to each other at dinner tables and living rooms around the country.

I fear the GOP pool of challengers is thin, given the state of politics in the country at this moment. History shows that intraparty challenges against presidential incumbents have proven politically fatal to the incumbent. Sure, Trump is likely to have someone run against him, but he has rewritten the playbook and installed strategies that few “traditional” politicians can recognize, let alone emulate.

The GOP primary campaign will contain plenty of fiery rhetoric. Of that I am sure. Will it matter? I am thinking it won’t.

We’ll have to await the main event to commence sometime in the late summer of 2020 when Democrats nominate their candidate and Republicans swallow hard and send Donald Trump back into battle.

Oh … boy!

Former GOP Rep. Walsh now set to challenge Trump

Joe Walsh hasn’t been in the public eye all that long, but his time in the spotlight has been fraught with, shall we say, uncomfortable moments.

The former Republican member of Congress has thrust himself back onto the stage with an announcement that he’s going to challenge Donald J. Trump for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

Does this TEA Party adherent stand a chance of wrestling the nomination away from the president? Ohhh, probably not.

However, the guy who now works as a right-wing talk show host could make this primary fight entertaining in the extreme.

Walsh served a term in the U.S. House. Then his district got redrawn in a way that favored Democrats. He sought to switch districts and then lost to Tammy Duckworth, who since has gone on to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Walsh, though, has been far from silent. Yes, he once spoke harshly against President Barack Obama, but has all but apologized for the intemperate language he used against Trump’s immediate predecessor.

In a way, though, it kind does my heart good to hear him say things many millions of us have been saying about the president since before he won the 2016 election.

He calls Trump unfit, frightening, incompetent, crass, callous, lacking in empathy. And this is from a Republican who once stood foursquare behind Donald Trump.

Joe Walsh isn’t exactly the kind of politician I want to see elected. He tilts too far the other way than I do. He was elected as a TEA Party advocate. I am not crazy about TEA Party candidates or officeholders.

However, he stands on a set of principles in which he believes strongly, which happens to be something that is foreign to Donald Trump, who doesn’t appear to have a single guiding principle other than what benefits him.

So, with that I wish former Rep. Joe Walsh well. Give POTUS the dickens. He deserves every lick he’s going to get.

Empower Texans zealot really makes me angry

I am going to admit something about which I am not very proud.

Whenever I see the name of Michael Quinn Sullivan, my hair tends to stand straight up. Why this guy? He runs an outfit called Empower Texans, a far-right political action committee that tends to interfere in Republican Party primary contests; Empower Texans prefers GOP candidates to adhere to rigid ideology, no matter how effective certain Republican incumbents have been in service to their constituents.

He is now linked to Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Sullivan reportedly recorded a conversation he had with Bonnen in which the speaker allegedly offered to give Sullivan the names of 10 Texas House GOP incumbents who might be ripe for targeting in the 2020 GOP primary election.

Texas Democrats have sued Sullivan and Bonnen, alleging campaign finance law violations connected to that conversation. Democrats also want Sullivan to reveal the full content of what he and Bonnen discussed.

Bring it on

Bonnen is embarrassed. He has apologized to his Republican House colleagues for things he allegedly said to Sullivan about them. He has reached out to House Democrats as well in an effort to rebuild his reputation. Bonnen assumed the speakership at the start of the 2019 Legislature after Joe Straus gave up the speaker’s office at the end of the 2018 election.

But … back to Sullivan.

I haven’t met this man. I know him only by what I’ve seen him and Empower Texans try to do in legislative districts in the Texas Panhandle, where I lived for 23 years while writing about politics and policy as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

Empower Texans has tried twice to defeat Republican state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo. They ran a TEA Party candidate against Seliger in 2014. Seliger defeated former Midland Mayor Mike Canon five years ago. Canon ran against Seliger again in 2018, along with a third candidate, Amarillo restaurant owner Victor Leal. Seliger managed to defeat both challengers in the GOP primary, avoiding a runoff.

I’ve stipulated already that I have strong professional and personal affection for Sen. Seliger. It pi**** me off royally to see Seliger get a primary challenge from the far right wing of his party.

Indeed, Seliger has made no secret that he detests Sullivan. The feeling is quite mutual. Never mind that Seliger is a solid and dependable mainstream conservative Republican lawmaker who talks candidly and fluently about issues throughout the vast Senate district he has represented since 2004.

Sullivan also drew a political bead in 2018 on state Rep. Four Price, another mainstream Amarillo Republican. The Fritch city manager ran against Price in the GOP primary, but got thumped in the process. Price, though, has been much quieter about his feelings about Sullivan. My hunch is that Four Price shares Kel Seliger’s view about the Empower Texans political mogul.

Accordingly, I am hopeful that Texas Democrats can prevail in their lawsuit against Sullivan and against Speaker Bonnen.

Sullivan plays a relentless game of political hardball. This guy needs to get beaned.

Run, Gov. Weld, run!

Wouldn’t it be just a kick in the backside if William Weld re-creates a Eugene McCarthy moment in the 2020 race for the presidency of the United States?

Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether to mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump. Weld said many other Republicans “exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captor.”

Weld ran for vice president in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. The ticket didn’t do too well, gathering just 4.5 million votes, or about 3 percent of the total.

He wants back into the fight, this time as a Republican.

The McCarthy moment? In 1968, the Vietnam War was raging and Sen. McCarthy, a Minnesota Democrat, mounted a Democratic Party primary challenge against President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy — a vehement anti-war candidate — took his campaign to the nation’s first primary state, New Hampshire.

He then finished a very strong second to President Johnson, sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party establishment. McCarthy’s strong showing brought Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into the race. Then on March 31, 1968, LBJ spoke to the nation to announce an end to the bombing campaign against North Vietnam — and then said he would not seek or accept the Democratic nomination “for another term as your president.”

History does have a way of repeating itself. If only Gov. Weld can mount any sort of serious challenge to the wack job serving as president of the United States.

One’s hope must spring eternal. Mine does.