Tag Archives: Texas Democrats

Ceding power to the few

Good job, Texas voters — or should I say “non-voters.” You appear headed to a new level of apathy, laced with ignorance.

The word we’re getting is that Primary Election Day 2022 is going to conclude after 7 p.m. with a single-digit turnout among Texas Republicans and Democrats. You know what that means, I am sure. I’ll remind those who need reminding what it means to me.

It means that rather than taking these important decisions seriously and taking care of issues by ourselves, many of us are going to leave those decisions to those they don’t know. Those who might harbor vastly different political philosophies than you do.

I long have said that good government works best when more of us take part in nominating and electing those who we deem fit to represent our interests in government. It works less well when we leave those decisions up to others.

To borrow a phrase from the Marine Corps, those of us who vote in these elections are “the few and the proud.” That’s fine if you are recruiting men and women to fight our battles; it’s not fine if we leave these decisions to someone else.

This is Round One of the 2022 election season. The Main Event will occur in November. That won’t produce any great shakes, either.

Abysmal, man. Just abysmal.


Texas Democrats take another gut punch

Ryan Guillen no longer is a Democrat, having switched party affiliation to Republican.

That’s a big deal? You betcha. Especially  when the party-switcher is a longtime Democratic legislator from South Texas who told his former party leaders that the Democratic Party has abandoned him; so he is becoming a Republican.

This is grim news for Texas Democratic Party officials who keep telling the world about how the tide in Texas is turning from Republican Red to Democratic Blue. But … is it?

RealClearPolitics reports: While Guillen is a state lawmaker whose switch won’t impact which party holds power in Washington, there’s one sign that this may not be an isolated example: At least nine congressional House Democrats have  announced they are not seeking reelection next year. More are expected to follow.

As for the impact on the state’s political fortunes, Guillen’s switcheroo seems to portend something ominous for a party that contends the changing Texas demography suggests that Democrats are on the rise and Republicans are sinking.

I am not so sure about that. Just yet anyway.

Guillen is a Texas Latino who believes the Democratic Party has taken him for granted along with those who share his ethnicity.

Texas Party Switcher Is Latest Ominous Sign for Democrats | RealClearPolitics

I used to call the Golden Triangle home. The Triangle is in deep Southeast Texas, where Democrats until the early 1990s continued to occupy virtually every county elected office in sight. That began changing about the time I moved from Beaumont to the other corner of the state, in Republican-heavy Amarillo.

Republicans now occupy every statewide office in Texas and a heavy majority of the local offices as well. Dallas County, next door to us in our new home in Collin County, remains a heavily Democratic bastion.

So, if Democrats intend to regain any semblance of influence in Texas, they need to heed the admonition of one of its veteran former legislative representatives: stop taking your core constituency for granted.


Catch your breath, Texas Democrats

(Bob Daemmrich/Pool Photo via AP)

Texas Democrats no doubt are having trouble catching their breath over recent polling news regarding the state’s top Republican: Gov. Greg Abbott.

I word of caution: Don’t get ahead of yourselves.

Recent Texas Tribune polling shows significant slippage among Texas independents regarding the governor. Abbott now trails film star Matthew McConaughey by 9%. Then there’s former El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is sounding more and more like a Texas candidate for governor; O’Rourke is within spitting distance of Abbott … pollwise.

I am going to shake my head on all of this.

I also shall stipulate that I hope Abbott can be beaten next year when we elect the vast bulk of our state’s constitutional officeholders. Abbott is one of them. I am profoundly angry at the way he has governed since he first was elected in 2014.

He is tacking to the hard right. Abbott is facing Republican primary foes, such as former Texas GOP chair Allen West, the one-term Florida congressman who moved to Texas to further his political aspirations. We have former state Sen. Don Huffines, too, in the GOP primary contest.

I don’t know whether Matthew McConaughey will run as a Democrat or a Republican. He is being coy about his political orientation. Indeed, he is bobbing and weaving on plenty of specific issues as well.

As for the heavy breathing among Democrats that Abbott is on the ropes, it is way too premature to start ringing the death knell on the governor’s political career.

Texas is to this day a heavily Republican state, no matter the demographic changes that are turning this state into more of a political battleground. Let us not forget that GOP voters in Texas are capable of electing some serious losers to serious public offices.


Well, Ted … your take on Dems’ bolting the state?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Republican politicians are having a high time criticizing their Democratic legislative colleagues for leaving Texas intent on preventing a Republican-led effort to suppress Texas voters’ access to polling booths.

But … where is U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz? Is the Cruz Missile going to weigh in? Oh, wait! He has his own bail-on-Texas cross the bear.

This is the nitwit who sought to high-tail it to Cancun, Mexico in February while the rest of us were freezing — many of us to death — in that monster winter storm. He came back home when the fecal matter hit the fan, then tried to explain his way out of the jam into which he had inserted himself.

So, go ahead, Sen. Ted Cruz. Tell us all why you think Texas Democrats are shirking their duty.

Hang tough, Texas Dems

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Here we go … again.

Texas Democratic legislators are fleeing the state to deny a quorum from being present to enact a law they find onerous … so much so that they are willing to watch state government grind to a halt.

To which I say: More power to em!

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session to deal with some unresolved issues left by the regular legislative session. One of them is this goofy notion of protecting the Texas electoral system against a phantom known as “widespread voter fraud.”

Read my lips: There is no such fraud in Texas!

Texas Democrats attempt to block voting bill by fleeing state | The Texas Tribune

Yet the Texas Republican legislative caucus insists on throwing up barriers to voter access to prevent the kind of fraud some of them suggest occurred during the 2020 election that President Biden won bigly over the Republican incumbent who masqueraded as POTUS for four years.

Texas Democrats managed to stymie this rush toward voter suppression at the end of the Legislature’s regular session in late May. Republicans made a few changes to the proposed legislation in an effort to make it more palatable to Democrats when they convened for their special session.

A lot of clunkers remain in the amended version embraced by the Texas GOP. They still want to ban 24-hour mail-in voting; they still insist on having partisan poll watchers on duty while Texans cast their ballots.

The essence of a thriving democratic system of government is to encourage more people — not fewer of them — to vote in our elections. Texas was among many states across the nation that enjoyed record voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election. The 45th POTUS carried the state’s vote by about 6 percentage points, yet the Republican Party of Texas has concocted this notion that Texas was infected by rampant voter fraud.

Indeed, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered any Texan a million bucks if he or she could produce fraud on a scale that GOP honchos insist occurred in 2020. So far no one has come forth. Imagine that, eh?

And so, Texas Democrats are playing hardball with their GOP colleagues, who in my view are using legislative procedure to make it more difficult for Texans to cast their ballots.


Solution needs a problem

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It is troubling to me in the extreme that Texas legislative Republicans keep yapping about their efforts to make elections “more secure.”

I keep asking: More secure against what? Precisely?

They are pondering how to limit people’s access to voting. They want to reduce voters’ ability to vote because, according to GOP legislators, they want to guard against vote fraud.

Good grief, man! There is hardly anything of the sort occurring in Texas. Or anywhere, for that matter!

What we have here is a solution in search of a problem. Texas GOP legislators are concocting a pretext to stymie voters along the way. They profess to be fearful of vote fraud. Some of the loonier among them suggest the 2020 presidential election was fraught with fraud.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who runs the state Senate, offered to pay someone $1 million if they could produce any evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas. To date, he hasn’t had to pay. Why? Because there isn’t any such fraud!

The Legislature is meeting in special session to enact a number of laws left undone during the regular session that concluded at the end of May. The so-called voter “reform” is little more than an effort to keep GOP politicians in power.

Legislative Republicans have sought to soften some of the harder edges on their overhaul plans. Yet they remain committed to certain provisions that appear to target minority communities and actually suppress voter turnout in upcoming elections.

Read the story here: Texas Republicans Have A New Voting Bill. Here’s What’s In It | 88.9 KETR

Texas legislative Democrats might try to bolt the state during the special session to prevent a quorum and, thus, stymie efforts to enact the legislation. I am one Texan who wants Democrats to do precisely that to end this blatant power grab.

Republicans who suggest they seek to end vote fraud are simply lying to those of us they serve.

Texas Democrats fall short, however …

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This needs to be said, so I’ll say it.

Texas Democrats keep telling us the state is about to “turn blue,” yet the state’s roster of elected statewide officials remains Republican. However, I do believe in the theory being kicked around that the Lone Star State’s population is shifting inexorably toward a more competitive political environment.

Let’s consider two key election cycles: 2018 and 2020.

The mid-term election of 2018 produced a near upset of astonishing proportions. Democrat Beto O’Rourke came within a slice of brisket of knocking off Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz three years ago. He lost by, oh, just this much. O’Rourke got Democrats’ hearts to flutter.

Then came the 2020 presidential election. Donald Trump carried the state over Joe Biden and won its 38 Electoral College votes. But … Trump’s victory margin was less than half of what he earned against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and less than a third the size of the victory Mitt Romney posted against President Obama in 2012.

What does any of this portend? It might be a precursor to Democrats scoring the major electoral breakthrough for which they have been lusting.

Or … it might not.

I am going to go with the former theory.

Population trends do tend to take on lives of their own. Texas’s shift from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican has been followed by another — more nuanced — change. We are becoming a majority-minority state, meaning that ethnic minorities will comprise a majority of the state’s overall population.

I want the state to become competitive. I dislike having one party standing like a colossus over the landscape, especially when that party — the Republican Party — is dominated by assorted fruitcakes, wackos and nut jobs.

Wanting two parties to fight it out

I want Texas to become a two-party state.

It’s not enough to be dominated by a single political party. Not even the Democratic Party, which used to control everything in sight dating back to the period after the Civil War. They held onto power like a vise until the 1970s, when Republicans began picking off statewide elective offices and then started winning local races where Democrats once reigned supreme.

Now it’s all Republican all the time.

Democrats keep yapping about the next election cycle when they’ll turn the corner, when they’ll start winning back some of those seats. It hasn’t happened … yet!

Is this the year? Is this when Texas Democrats can start regaining some of the clout they gave away when the party leadership veered too far to the left to suit many millions of Texans?

We’ll have to wait. And see. And hope.

Why is a two-party state preferable to a one-party juggernaut? This comes from my own point of view, given that I consider myself to be a moderate, center-left Democratic-leaning voter.

Two viable political parties make them both more alert, more receptive to compromise, tacking more toward the middle. That has been the case in Texas, at least during my more than 36 years living here while reporting and commenting on Texas public policy.

My definition of good government combines the best of both major parties. It also compels them to work with each other, not against each other.

We have in Texas a Donald Trump version of the Republican Party, which is to say that it doesn’t hue to traditional GOP partisan principles. Low taxes? Government fiscal responsibility? Internationalism?

The Texas GOP follows Trump down some version of the Yellow Brick Road to, well, nowhere in particular. Meanwhile, Texas Democrats see this as their best opportunity to pick off a few GOP posts, playing to the anger and perhaps some disappointment among rank-and-file Texas Republicans. Take my word for it, there are a number of them out there wincing, grimacing and gnashing their teeth over the way Donald Trump has chosen to lead the nation.

Might all of this pave the way for a return to competitive political environment? My hope springs eternal.

Texas Democrats optimistic; but let’s keep it (more or less) in check

Texas Democrats reportedly are optimistic heading into the 2020 election season. They think a Democratic presidential nominee can carry the state, handing Texas’ 38 electoral votes to the party’s nominee.

Were that to happen, the GOP president, one Donald Trump, can kiss his re-election goodbye. Indeed, I figure that if Texas is going to flip from Republican to Democrat, then the 2020 election will be a dark, foreboding time for the GOP throughout the ballot in Texas.

However, Democrats would be wise to curb their optimism in Texas.

It’s not that I don’t want Texas to help elect someone other than Donald Trump, or that I don’t want the Texas Legislature to turn from GOP to Democrat. I want to see at minimum a contested political playing field, one that features two strong political parties arguing vehemently to persuade voters to buy into whatever ideology they are trying to sell.

However, Texas’ turn from Democratic to Republican control was dramatic and total over the course of about 20 years.

I get that Democrats got all fluttery when Beto O’Rourke nearly defeated GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke then tried to parlay that near-miss into a presidential candidacy. He failed.

Texas Democrats have been floundering in the wilderness since the late 1990s, when they won their last statewide political campaign. Is the upcoming year going to mark the turnaround for the Texas Democratic Party. My bias tells me to hope it does.

My more realistic side tells me to wait for the ballots to be counted.

Beto wipes out on wave he hoped would win the White House

Beto O’Rourke rode a huge wave to a near win in a 2018 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Texas.

Then the former El Paso congressman decided he would ride that wave in search of a bigger prize: the White House.

Today, though, he called it quits. He is no longer running for president of the United States. Indeed, O’Rourke never quite caught the same wave that excited so many Democrats in Texas and for a time got ’em pumped up in many other parts of the country.

I’ll admit to being disappointed. I had hoped to cast my ballot for O’Rourke once the Democratic Party primary parade marched its way toward Texas. However, O’Rourke never quite ignited the same level of interest in his presidential campaign that he did while he challenged Sen. Ted Cruz a year ago.

Oh, I wanted him to win the Senate seat in the worst way. He campaigned in all of Texas’s 254 counties. He took his message to progressive bastions such as Travis, Dallas and Bexar counties as well as conservative strongholds in the Panhandle, the Permian Basin and Deep East Texas.

O’Rourke finished Election Night 2018 less than 3 percent short of victory. In Texas, that constituted some sort of “moral victory” for Democrats who have lusted for a statewide election victory for more than two decades.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as O’Rourke sought his party’s presidential nomination.

There might be another elected office in O’Rourke’s future. Just not this next year.

Nice try, Beto. Many of us still want to see you stay in the game, even if you’re no longer a candidate for public office.