Tag Archives: Kay Bailey Hutchison

Cruz gets fascinating Texas endorsement


Say what you will about Chris Christie and Ben Carson endorsing Donald J. Trump after Trump trashed both of them during their joint Republican presidential primary run.

Ted Cruz of Texas has just scored a fascinating endorsement as well from a fellow former competitor. Only this guy didn’t run against him in this year’s GOP presidential primary. Oh, no! This fellow was the original foe to get “Cruzed,” as some of us in Texas have said about the treatment he got from the junior U.S. senator.

Former Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is backing the Cruz Missile.

This endorsement might not have the legs it does in Texas. Take it from me: This is a big deal.

Cruz decided in 2011 to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. The prohibitive favorite to succeed her was Dewhurst. He had served well as lieutenant governor and as land commissioner before that. He had lots of money and lots of political connections, dating back to his pre-public service career as a mover and shaker in the Houston area.

Dewhurst backs former foe

Then he ran into the Ted Cruz buzz saw.

Cruz campaigned against Dewhurst more or less the way he has campaigned for the presidency: He cast Dewhurst as part of the Texas political establishment and promised to change the climate if Texans elected him to the Senate.

He called Dewhurst a dreaded “moderate” because he managed to work pretty well with Texas Senate Democrats while presiding as lieutenant governor over the upper legislative chamber. To the ears of Texas Republican primary voters, he might as well have called Dewhurst a child molester.

Dewhurst responded by trying to outflank Cruz on the right, which is pretty damn hard to do, given Cruz’s reputation as a far-right TEA Party golden boy.

It didn’t work for Dewhurst. Cruz beat him in the primary.

Dewhurst, though, has forgiven Cruz for the rough treatment he got.

Will any of that matter down the road? It’s interesting to me that Dewhurst decided to endorse Cruz now … nearly a month after the state held its primary elections.

Cruz already has won the Texas primary.

Don’t look for Dewhurst to campaign much for his new best friend Ted Cruz as the primary campaign continues its journey. For the rest of the country, the rangy former Texas lieutenant governor’s rhetoric endorsing Ted Cruz won’t mean much.

It does speak, though, to how political wounds manage to heal.

Dewhurst can boast, I suppose, of being the first of Ted Cruz’s political victims — which grants him a fascinating, if somewhat dubious honor.

Win or lose, Cruz may pay steep price


Ted Cruz stormed onto the U.S. Senate floor in January 2013 and began immediately demonstrating his lack of understanding of institutional decorum.

The Texas Republican began making fiery floor speeches. He accused fellow senators — and former senators — of doing things detrimental to national security. He sought to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act.

Along the way, he decided to run for president of the United States … and while running for the White House, he accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of being a liar.

Cruz facing hurdles

The Texas Tribune reports that win or lose in his bid for the presidency, Cruz faces a serious problem with his Senate colleagues. Many of them don’t like him. They don’t like his brash attitude. They dislike his lack of manners. They believe he’s self-serving and egotistical — which, coming from U.S. senators with monstrous egos of their own is really saying something, if you get my drift.

If the Cruz Missile gets elected to the presidency next year — which I do not believe is going to happen — he’ll have to cut deals with the very senators he’s managed to anger. If his campaign falls short, he’ll return to Capitol Hill and, well, he faces the same chilly reception from his colleagues.

The Tribune reports that some political observers doubt Cruz’s ability to legislate. “Texas has been short a senator since the day Cruz was elected,” said Jenifer Sarver, an Austin-based GOP consultant and former staffer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cruz’s predecessor. Sarver continued: “As someone who worked for Senator Hutchison, who was an absolute and constant champion for Texas, it’s disappointing to see his lack of regard for how his political posturing could impact Texans.”

Sure, Cruz has his fans among conservatives in Texas and around the country. I surely get that many Americans applaud the man’s in-your-face style. Cruz calls his approach merely “anti-establishment.”

But the young man is just one of 100 men and women from both political parties who need to work together on occasion to get something done for the good of the country or for their own states.

To date, as near as I can tell, Sen. Cruz — who is serving in his first-ever elected office — hasn’t yet read the memo that reminds him of how a legislative body is supposed to function.



Hutchison came to region’s aid


BEAUMONT, Texas — A news story in the Beaumont Enterprise brings to mind a memory I have about a former U.S. senator who came to the aid of a region that had been struck by what’s been called “the forgotten hurricane.”

It was nearly a decade ago when the Gulf Coast, which was reeling from what had occurred in August 2005 in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina stormed ashore, suffered another killer storm.

Its name was Rita and it slammed into the coast at Sabine Pass, which borders Texas and Louisiana. It roared inland and tore into Beaumont.

City, county and state officials were having trouble getting the feds’ attention. Then came Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, who managed to parlay her good relations with Senate Democrats to fast-track aid to the region that had been walloped by Mother Nature’s fury.

As the Enterprise reported today: “I’ll never forget what Sen. Hutchison and her staff did for us, as a community,” said former Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith. “(Hutchison) made a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives.”

What she did was work with Louisiana U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, to obtain military aircraft to aid in evacuation and the delivery of supplies to the region. Other efforts to get the White House — where Republican President George W. Bush lived at the time — had fallen short.

Hutchison’s work made the difference.

Hutchison came through

Indeed, my memory of her familiarity with this part of Texas is quite vivid. I had the honor during my nearly 11 years working at the Enterprise to interview Sen. Hutchison as she would come by to, um, chat and to update us on senatorial goings-on.

And almost always, without fail, Hutchison would remind me of how she spent time visiting extended family members living in Old Town, a noted residential district in Beaumont.

She knew the region and wasn’t about to let bureaucratic bumbling stand in the way of relief for the home folks.

Nor was Hutchison going to waste the political capital she had piled up with her friends across the aisle.

Bruce Drury, a retired political science professor at Lamar University — who I knew fairly well while I worked in Southeast Texas — said that Hutchison’s ability to cross party lines is not nearly as evident with today’s Texas congressional delegation. “We have two Republican senators, neither one of whom have attempted to cultivate goodwill with the administration,” Drury told the Enterprise, adding that “to some extent the administration hasn’t been overly active in trying to establish links.”

As the former senator demonstrated, it’s nice to know people in the right places.


Dewhurst a goner?

It’s looking like today is going to signal the end of a once-promising political career in Texas.

I’m still trying to figure out how it got to this point.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has been locked in a form of political mud wrestling with state Sen. Dan Patrick for, yes, Dewhurst’s job as presiding officer of the Texas Senate. The Republican runoff is today and it appears — from my vantage point — that Patrick is going to win this thing.

That means Dewhurst likely is finished as an elected political figure.

This leaves me with terribly mixed feelings.

For starters, I grew to respect Dewhurst immensely in all the years I’d reported and commented on his activities first as Texas land commissioner and then as lieutenant governor.

He came out of virtual nowhere to be elected as land commissioner, taking office in 1999. He hadn’t held any political office. He was a big-time political money man in Houston, where he developed his power base. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2002 and won that race too. He was re-elected twice and then ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 for the seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison.

That’s where the trouble began. He got outmaneuvered on the right by Ted Cruz, whose extreme views forced Dewhurst to seek to outflank Cruz on the right — which was virtually impossible. Cruz won the GOP nomination, while Dewhurst went back to work as lieutenant governor.

Now he’s in another likely futile battle.

My respect for Dewhurst grew as I watched him work the Senate. No one could out-detail this guy when it came to the nuts and bolts of legislation. He could talk both of your ears off with legislative minutiae. Indeed, he did that to me on numerous occasions.

However, in this political climate, intimate knowledge of legislation — and an ability to work with members of both political parties — no longer is good enough to stay in public office. You need to be a quick-tongued, fire-breathing sloganeer. That’s what Ted Cruz proved to be in 2012 and what Dan Patrick has demonstrated this year.

Dewhurst has tried to fire back at Patrick — just as he tried against Cruz — but he has appeared clumsy and unsure of himself. That’s not his style.

Patrick won the March GOP primary, but didn’t get enough votes to avoid a runoff. He’s only pushed the pedal harder against the metal in the runoff.

A part of me wants Dewhurst to win, only to demonstrate that there really is value in experience and knowledge. Another part of me is disappointed in the extreme tone he has taken in this campaign to try to counter the relentless attacks by his runoff opponent.

Therein is the source of my mixed feelings about this race.

I’m afraid David Dewhurst’s time on the stage is about to end. Turn out the lights.

Ted Cruz works for me, too

“I don’t work for the Party bosses in Washington, I work for 26 million Texans.” – Cruz

The above quote was tweeted this morning by the Heritage Foundation, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent conservative think tank.

The “Cruz” at the end of the tweet is none other than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who spoke to Heritage today. I caught a little bit of his remarks in which he criticized President Obama for saying at the State of the Union that if Congress doesn’t act on some legislation, “I will.” Cruz noted that Democrats stood and cheered the president. Cruz compared the moment to something out of Alice in Wonderland.

OK, back to the tweet.

He works for Texans, not party bosses. I admire that statement. He does work for us. A majority of Texans who voted in November 2012 elected Cruz to the Senate seat held formerly by another Republican, Kay Bailey Hutchison who, I feel compelled to add, served in a manner that bore no resemblance to the way Cruz has served his bosses back home. Hutchison managed to work quite well with Democrats. As a Republican moderate, Hutchison didn’t feel the need to appeal to the base of her party. She knew that legislating requires compromise.

Yep, Cruz works for all Texans, not just those who voted for him. I was part of the minority of voters who in November 2012 cast a ballot for Democrat Paul Sadler. That doesn’t mean I disavow Cruz’s election. I honor it. However, I expect my elected representatives in Congress to honor my wishes too.

I support the Affordable Care Act. I do not want Congress to threaten to throw this nation into default by reneging on our debt obligations. I support the president’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. I believe the president has been measured, nuanced and careful in conducting foreign policy. I favor comprehensive immigration reform. I believe long-term unemployed Americans deserve some help from the government as they look for jobs.

There’s more, but you get the idea. I take positions opposite of where Cruz stands. I am not alone, either.

He works for millions of Texans who oppose his world view. Those of us on the other side of the fence deserve to have our voices heard by our congressional delegation. That includes Sen. Cruz.

I understand the concept of majority rule. That doesn’t mean, though, that the minority is shut out completely. Sen. Cruz acts very much as though he’s listening only to those who agree with him.

He works for 26 millions Texans, not just some of us.