Tag Archives: Texas Democratic Party.

Do not seek to bring back straight-ticket voting!

I will get straight to the point with this blog post.

South Texas Democrats have rocks in their noggins if they intend to argue that the elimination of straight-ticket, partisan voting is unconstitutional and that it discriminates against minority voters.

Readers of High Plains Blogger know that I detest straight-ticket voting. The Texas Legislature finally — as in finally — saw the light in 2017 and eliminated the provision that allows voters to walk into the polling booth and punch straight “Democrat” or straight “Republican.” Wham! That’s it! Then you get to leave.

A lawsuit filed in Webb County by the Texas Democratic Party and Webb County Democrats seeks to bring the practice back. They didn’t like the long lines that slowed the voting process to a crawl in many urban areas. Many voters, namely African-Americans and Latinos, stood in line for as long as eight or nine hours waiting to vote.

How come? I guess because voters ahead of them were taking the time to examine the ballots carefully before casting their votes.

What is wrong with that? Nothing, I tell ya!

I have argued for years that if Texans want to vote straight ticket, then they should be allowed to do so only after they examine each ballot entry. I also have argued that straight-ticket voting has resulted in qualified office seekers and incumbents losing their election or re-election efforts simply because they belong to the “wrong” political party. In recent years it’s been Democrats who suffer the most. In earlier times, Republicans suffered the same fate.

Allowing straight-ticket voting in Texas, in my mind, contributes to the continued dumbing down of the electorate.

Texas Republicans who argued for a change in the law had it right when they argued that disallowing straight-ticket voting would produce a more enlightened voting public.

I happen to agree with that logic. The current system doesn’t require voters to study the issues and the candidates. It just gives them more incentive to do so. If they want to vote for every candidate of a single party, then they are still allowed to do so.

That is where the unconstitutionality argument breaks down for me.

Therefore, South Texas Democrats do have rocks in their heads.

Texas might be a battleground? One can hope

Beto O’Rourke’s near-electoral miss in November 2018 has managed to turn Texas from a reliably red, staunchly Republican state into a potential battleground state in the 2020 presidential election.

Maybe . . . that is.

O’Rourke is now running for president of the United States. He damn near was elected to the U.S. Senate this past year. He came within 2 percentage points short of beating Ted Cruz. His close finish energized a once-moribund Texas Democratic Party.

So he decided to parlay that enthusiasm into a national bid.

Now, does his presence amid a gigantic — and still growing — field of Democratic presidential contenders automatically convert Texas into a battleground? Of course not.

He is going to campaign like all hell for Texas convention delegates. If he somehow manages to become the party’s presidential nominee –or even end up on the Democratic ticket as a VP nominee — then the state becomes the site of pitched battle between the two parties.

This is a dream come true for many of us. Me included.

I long have wanted Texas to become a two-party state. Even when Democrats controlled every public office in sight. It shifted dramatically over the past three decades. The GOP has control of every statewide office.

Presidential candidates haven’t given us the time of day. Why bother? The state’s electoral votes are going to the Republicans. So, the GOP has taken us for granted; Democrats have given up on us.

Beto O’Rourke well might have changed all that.

So, we might be in store for a barrage, a torrent, a tidal wave of political ads as we enter the summer and fall of 2020.

Forgive me for saying this, but I would welcome it.

Cornyn might face a lengthy list of challengers

John Cornyn is now Texas’s latest marked man, politically speaking.

The San Antonio Republican U.S. senator is running for re-election in 2020 and he is facing a lengthy list of Democratic primary candidates who will fight among themselves for the right to run against him directly in the fall.

I have to say that the list of possible foes is looking pretty impressive.

Two names jump out at me: U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who also hails from San Antonio and former state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. Given the premium voters place on name identification, I would have to rate those two as potential front runners in the Democratic Party primary. Joseph Kopser and MJ Hegar also are in the mix.

Castro is the identical twin brother of Julian, who’s running for president of the United States in 2020. The two are so identical, in fact, that Joaquin is growing a beard (more or less) to distinguish himself from Julian.

Joaquin Castro, I suppose you could say, comes from the more progressive wing of the party. I hesitate to label him a “democratic socialist” in the mold of Bernie Sanders, but he’s out there near the left-end fringe of the party. He hasn’t announced his candidacy for the Senate, just yet. My guess is that he’ll go all in soon.

Then there’s Sen. Davis. She made hay in 2013 with her filibuster in the Legislature against a restrictive anti-abortion bill. She gave Democrats hope that she could break the GOP stranglehold on statewide office — but then she lost to Greg Abbott in 2014 by more than 20 percentage points.

I keep thinking, too, that Beto O’Rourke of El Paso — who is widely considered to be getting set to announce a presidential campaign in 2020 — might enter the Senate donnybrook. I am not going to predict it. I’m just waiting for Beto to announce what he says he’s decided already.

Do I want Sen. Cornyn to lose? Yeah, but not with the passion I wanted O’Rourke to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. I know John Cornyn. I actually like him personally. He and I have joked about our respective heads of gray hair and has assured me that he was that gray at a much younger age than I was; I believe him, too.

I want the 2020 race between Cornyn and whoever Democratic voters nominate to be as competitive as the 2018 contest turned out to be between O’Rourke and The Cruz Missile.

Texas needs two healthy major political parties and it appears — finally! — that Texas Democrats are awakening from their 30-year slumber/stupor to give Republicans a serious challenge to their superiority.

SBOE runoff turns out OK after all


Just about the time I was ready to give up all hope of political sanity within the Texas Republican Party …

Those voters over yonder in the Piney Woods do something sensible. Who’d a thunk it?

Tuesday night, they rejected the candidacy of one Mary Lou Bruner to District 9 on the State Board of Education. Yep, the GOP runoff produced another winner, Keven Ellis of Lufkin, a member of the Lufkin school board.

Bruner had been favored to win. She finished first in the Republican primary in March and was considered a strong candidate in the runoff. Then came the torrent of criticism regarding many of the former kindergarten teacher’s social media posts.

The one that got the most attention has been her contention that President Obama subsidized his drug habit as a young college student by prostituting himself. My favorite, though, was the notion she posted about dinosaurs becoming extinct because the baby T-Rexes couldn’t survive after Noah’s Ark made landfall on Mount Ararat.

District 9 Republicans then began to give serious thought to the choices they had. Did they really want someone with that kind of outlook representing them on the board that determines public education policy in Texas?

I’m still not crazy about the notion of electing these board members. I still prefer that they be appointed, subjected to Texas Senate confirmation, and that they have a deep background in education.

A Republican runoff in one East Texas SBOE district shouldn’t be seen necessarily as a harbinger of a return to sanity in the state’s political process. The state GOP, which dominates the Texas political landscape to the point that it has all but eradicated Democrats’ viability, still is capable of enacting some highly restrictive public policies.

Still, Keven Ellis’s runoff victory in East Texas gives me some hope that reason and sanity still have a voice within the state Republican Party.

More evidence of Texas Democrats’ demolition


Mimi Swartz’s essay in the New York Times lends support to something I wrote just the other day.https://highplainsblogger.com/2016/05/texas-democrats-already-are-demolished/

It involves the pitiful state of the Texas Democratic Party.

My friend Tom Mechler was just re-elected chairman of the state Republican Party and then called for the demolition of the state’s Democrats. My response was that the Democratic Party already has been “demolished” in Texas.


Now comes Swartz, writing for the NY Times saying that Texas is so reliably Republican that we won’t be “relevant” in the upcoming presidential election.


She mentioned how it used to be in Washington, with Texans of both parties commanding actual respect among their congressional colleagues. Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn? How about Dick Armey? Swartz said, correctly, that they “got things done.”

I’m glad she didn’t mentioned the looniest of the looney birds now representing Texas in Congress — Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, the conveyer of lies about President Obama’s birth and assorted other nutty pronouncements.

My favorite paragraph in her essay talks about what has become of the state’s former pull in D.C.:

“That kind of gravitas has quit the scene. Texas boasts legions of engineers, architects, doctors, lawyers, artists and energy executives who enjoy global reputations, but back home pridefully ignorant pygmies run the political show. One example: When our senior senator, John Cornyn, was running for re-election in 2014, the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board asked him for his view of a huge coastal storm-surge-protection project in the Houston-Galveston area known as the Ike Dike. His answer: ‘I don’t even know what that is.’”

That’s pretty bad, yes?

What’s worse is that the Texas Democratic Party remains clueless on how to reshape the state’s political landscape.


Texas GOP comes to its senses


I’ll admit something.

Part of me wanted Texas Republicans to be able to vote on whether to support the goofiest idea conceived since, oh, just before the Civil War. A Golden Triangle-based group wants a secession referendum placed on the GOP primary ballot in March.

My thought was, hey, let ’em vote on it. Let ’em vote it down and then we can be done with this nonsense. It won’t happen.

The Texas Republican Party executive committee has voted the idea down. It’s not going to the party’s ballot in March after all. The GOP frowns on outside groups, such as the Texas Nationalist Movement, putting issues on party ballots. My hunch is that the executive committee decision will stand, no matter what the Nationalist Movement does.

The Texas GOP sometimes seems a bit goofy. But with this decision, the party seems to be run for the most part by grownups.

The state Democratic Party was harsh in its criticism of the pro-secession measure. Imagine that. According to the Texas Tribune:

“Calling it ‘unpatriotic,’ the Texas Democratic Party had seized on the secession debate as evidence that the state GOP was falling victim to extremists in its own ranks.

“‘Every hardworking Texan should be worried that fringe issues are now the hot topic in the same party that controls state government,’ Crystal Kay Perkins, the executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a statement after the vote Saturday.”

Well, no need to worry about that now.

Reason has prevailed at the top of the Texas Republican Party.

Still, a resounding defeat at the polls would have sent an equally clear message.


Texas Monthly scores big with Bum Steer of Year

Stand up. Take a bow, Texas Monthly’s editors. You’ve done yourselves proud with this year’s selection of the Bum Steer of the Year.

The “honor” goes to soon-to-be-former state Sen. Wendy Davis, this year’s losing candidate for Texas governor. Davis didn’t exactly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in losing to Gov.-elect Greg Abbott. However, she did manage to turn what should have been a competitive contest into yet another (ho, hum) Republican rout.


As Texas Monthly notes, 2014 produced its share of goobers and goofballs from which to choose.

It cites Gov. Rick Perry’s indictment for abuse of power and coercion of a public official; U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert for being, well, Louie Gohmert.

But oh, no. They didn’t hold a candle to Davis.

She entered the governor’s race as the prohibitive favorite among Democrats. She won her party’s nomination in a breeze. National party leaders swept into Texas to stand with her. The applauded her 2013 filibuster of that Republican bill that would severely restrict a woman’s ability to end a pregnancy. She got lots of money from rich donors.

Davis was going to make a real race of it, by golly.

Then she fooled us all by screwing up her biography and then making a mess of it by trying to explain it away. Once her campaign got started — in a manner of speaking — she never got traction on anything. No issue became her campaign signature.

That “competitive” governor’s race turned into a 20-point blowout. The Texas Democratic Party is in even worse shape than it was before the election and, as Texas Monthly notes, her Senate seat will be held by a Republican when the next Legislature convenes in January.

Congratulations, Wendy Davis, on your richly deserved (dis)honor.

And Texas Monthly’s editors? You have chosen well.


Let's chill the Perry-should-quit talk

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilbert Hinojosa’s partisan ferocity has gotten in the way of his better judgment.

Hinojosa exhibited a too-quick trigger finger the other day after a Travis County grand jury indicted Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts of abuse of power and coercion of a public official.


Hinojosa called immediately for Perry’s resignation.

Whoa, Mr. Chairman! Let’s back up a bit.

The grand jury has accused Perry of threatening to veto money for the public integrity unit run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who was convicted of drunk driving. Lehmberg is a Democrat. She didn’t quit her office. Perry vetoed the money. Lehmberg isn’t running for re-election; neither is Perry.

So, why call for Perry to quit? Hinojosa said the governor has “dishonored” his office. However, he hasn’t been convicted of anything.

Last time I looked, I noticed that the U.S. Constitution implies that citizens have a presumption of innocence. Perry, as of today, hasn’t even been arraigned in court on the accusation leveled against him.

It well might be that Perry would be found guilty of the charges. He might be acquitted of them. He might not ever go to trial. I’m quite certain that none of this will be determined until long after Perry leaves office at the end of this year.

So, let’s dispense with the Perry-should-quit nonsense. We have a judicial process in this country that should be allowed to do its job.

Texas Democrats still floundering

David Alameel.

Say that name a few times. Have you heard it before? Probably not.

Alameel stumbled out of the tall grass some time ago to run for the U.S. Senate. He’s now the Democratic Party nominee who will challenge Republican incumbent John Cornyn this fall.

To get that nomination, though, Alameel had to defeat someone named Keesha Rogers in the Democratic runoff. Rogers had called for — get this — the impeachment of President Obama.

Therein, boys and girls, lies an answer as to why the Texas Democratic Party is in such a shambles.


There exists no Democratic statewide officeholder to challenge the Republicans. The party is still looking for candidates to run against powerful GOP incumbents.

Democrats are trying to talk bravely about turning the state from Republican red to swing state purple. Some folks have actually said with a straight face that this is the year the transition begins.

I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Yes, the party has two quite credible candidates running at the top of the state ballot: Wendy Davis for governor and Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor. Both are state senators, both are articulate and fearless. Their chances of winning remain dicey.

I keep coming back to David Alameel, wondering: Who is this guy?

I don’t know much about him, other than he’s a multi-gazillionaire businessman who’ll likely pour a lot of his own money into the Senate campaign. Other mega-rich guys have won in Texas, the latest of whom, Lt. David Dewhurst, got his head handed to him in the GOP runoff by Dan Patrick in the race for lieutenant governor; but before Tuesday’s vote, Dewhurst had been a successful self-funded politician.

It’s instructive, to me at least, that the state of Texas Democratic Party can be summed up in the fact that its nominee for the U.S. Senate had to endure a runoff against a fellow Democrat who wants to impeach the president of the same party.

Setting aside the races for governor and lieutenant governor, Texas Democrats have a ways to go before finding their way out of the wilderness.

Party switch gives Democrats hope

Texas Democrats shouldn’t read too much into a recent party switch of a statewide elected official who’s now one of them.

Court of Criminals Appeals Judge Larry Meyers has made the leap from Republican to Democrat, becoming officially the only statewide elected official with the label “Democrat” next to his name.


Meyers, who hails from Fort Worth where he served as a trial judge, was elected as a Republican, so Democrats will have to be careful to avoid labeling him in a manner that implies he was elected as a Democrat.

Perhaps the most important element of this switch, from a Democratic standpoint, is that it marks the first such switch from “R” to “D” in many years. The inter-party movement in Texas has been in the opposite direction, with Democrats switching to the Republican Party. The late Potter County Sheriff Jimmy Don Boydston made the switch some years back; Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance got his political start as a Democrat, then switched to Republican after losing a bid to become a U.S. senator in 1984. The roster of Democrat-to-Republican across the state is virtually endless.

Now, though, comes this switch in the other direction. It has statewide Democratic Party officials borderline giddy. They need to take care in going overboard here.

Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilbert Hinojosa is quite happy with the news.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “With this and the candidates that we are fielding in this election, I think people are saying, ‘Wow, this is a totally different Texas Democratic Party,’” Hinojosa said. Hinojosa said Meyers had told party officials he was a big fan of state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, and indicated that he had grown uncomfortable with the rightward shift of the Texas Republican Party. Hinojosa said the party had been in talks with Meyers about the switch for about three months. “He just said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” Hinojosa said. “He’s been thinking about this for quite some time.”

Meyers is the senior member of the state’s highest criminal appellate court, which gives some added boost to his party switch. Will this move be the catalyst that produces a truly competitive political climate in Texas? Time will tell.

That’s my hope, anyway. Texas needs two vibrant parties to compete vigorously for votes. Democrats have been rolled in this state by a muscular Republican Party.

It appears Democrats finally have lifted themselves off the floor and started punching back.