Tag Archives: Texas Democrats

GOP regrets all that power?

A saying comes to mind when I consider the infighting and back-biting within the Texas Republican Party’s political hierarchy.

Be careful what you wish for …

Gromer Jeffers Jr., who covers politics for the Dallas Morning News, refers to the “scrum” that has developed between Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Both legislative chambers are at odds with each other over Gov. Greg Abbott’s No. 1 legislative priority: school vouchers.

Republicans who command a super majority in both chambers cannot bridge the chasm that separates the MAGA/Freedom Caucus crowd from the more “establishment” elements within the GOP.

This thought entered my sometimes thick skull this morning as I read Gromers’ piece in the DMN: Might it be time for Texas Democrats to re-emerge from their decades in the wilderness to become a political force in this state? Ponder this for a moment: It could serve Republicans well to have a strong opposition party with which it could do battle rather than wasting time squabbling among themselves.

Phelan and Patrick’s alliance flew off the rails when the House impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton. The impeachment vote was heavily bipartisan; it was overwhelming. Paxton’s subsequent acquittal in the Senate trial brought out Patrick’s scorn for the decision delivered by the House … and he stated his contempt for the House immediately after Paxton’s acquittal.

Both sides are digging in. House GOP members dislike much of the voucher notion, much to the chagrin of GOP senators. Phelan backs his House colleagues, while Patrick stands with the Senate.

How do Democrats parlay all of this into political advantage that suits them? I suppose they can beat the drum over governmental incompetence, noting that Republicans are so damn entrenched in their dislike for each other that they let key legislation slip away. Then again, a united Republican Party would do Democrats little good … correct?

I am just one Texas resident who has grown tired of the Legislature’s inaction. I favor good government over no government. Republicans who own most of the Legislature’s seats — along with every statewide elected office — have continued to demonstrate big-league incompetence.

Democrats might have a way out of the darkness, but only if they can cobble together an agenda that doesn’t draw heavy fire from the demagogic wing of the Republicans.

Ted Cruz: common foe

Colin Allred and Roland Guiterrez have something — or someone — in common. It is the individual they both want to face in the November 2024 general election.

Except that only one of them will get the chance to face off against Rafael Edward Cruz.

Allred is a Democratic congressman from Dallas; Guiterrez is a Democratic state senator from San Antonio; Cruz is the Republican senator who has (allegedly) represented Texas since 2013.

Allred and Guiterrez are running in the Democratic Senate primary.

This is just a hunch on my part, but I’m betting we aren’t going to hear much from the Democrats about why they are better than the other guy. Their target will be Ted Cruz.

Their task, therefore, will be to persuade Texas Democrats who between them can make the best case to boot Cruz out of office.

I am likely to vote in the 2024 Democratic primary next spring. I am going to wait with bated breath on which individual is suited better to represent my state than the GOP fire-breather who has spent a Senate career making an ass of himself.


Texas GOP turns on one of its own

The late Texas state Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo once lamented how Republicans have this way of “eating their own.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant when he said that to me. Now I am beginning to get it.

The Texas Republican Party has sanctioned a radio ad lambasting GOP Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for continuing a longstanding Texas legislative tradition, which is to appoint legislators of the minority party to committee chairmanships.

What the hell?

Phelan is a Beaumont Republican serving his second term as the Man of the Texas House. Is he doing something radical? Something so completely out of the ordinary? Is he capitulating to those dreaded Democrats on policy? No, no and hell no!

He is doing what speakers of both parties have done for a lot longer than any of the whippersnappers who oppose this concept have been alive.

The Texas Tribune reports: In the minute-long ad, a narrator says the speaker is “teaming up with Democrats to kill our Republican priorities.” 

What in the name of good government is that narrator talking about?

I spoke this week with one of the GOP insurgents, state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, about his vote against Phelan’s bid to retain the speakership. He said Phelan is rewarding Democrats unduly with legislative power they didn’t earn at the ballot box. Slaton is one of the fiery members of the Texas Freedom Caucus who seemingly doesn’t understand the longstanding Texas political culture.

Republican Gov. George W. Bush forged a tremendous relationship with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney when he took office in January 1995. Their cooperation with the governor continued a hallowed Texas tradition of good-government compromise between the parties. Laney made sure to appoint Republican legislators to committee chairs, as did his GOP successors appoint Democrats to chairmanships.

The current GOP caucus seemingly wants to change all that. Many of them believe Democrats should be ostracized. Not all of them share that view, according to the Texas Tribune, which reported:

Texas GOP launches radio attack ads against Republican state House speaker | The Texas Tribune

That takes me back to an earlier point, which is that Phelan isn’t a closet progressive masquerading as a conservative Republican.

The Texas Republican Party has lost its mind.

Wherever he is, Teel Bivins is laughing out loud.


Confused by GOP dominance

I am going to admit what ought to be obvious: The Republican dominance of the Texas political landscape is confusing in the extreme to me.

Every GOP statewide candidate running for election or re-election in the just-completed midterm campaign won by a lot over their Democratic challenger. Leading the way, of course, was Gov. Greg Abbott, who won re-election to a third term by 11% over Beto O’Rourke … who I believe now needs to get back to working a day job and bringing home a paycheck. Beto’s days as a pol appear to be over.

The rest of the ballot showed similar victories. Perhaps most stunning to me was the result of the Texas attorney general’s contest. GOP incumbent Ken Paxton pounded Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza by a margin similar to what Abbott scored.

What baffles me is how Paxton managed such an impressive victory while campaigning under the shadow of a state felony indictment that came down in 2015, just after Paxton took office. The indictment alleges securities fraud. Paxton hasn’t gone to trail yet. It is not even clear when that will happen.

Moreover, there have been questions relating to the way he runs the AG’s office; seven top deputies quit and then blew the whistle on Paxton, alleging that he does favors for a top donor, suggesting criminal behavior.

Texas Democrats keep talking a good game about wrestling some of these offices out of GOP hands. Every election cycle, though, produces the same sorry result: Republicans win by comfortable margins.

Yes, the state’s population is growing rapidly. Its demography is changing to what “experts” suggest is a more Democrat-friendly electorate.

I want the state to become more of a battleground, with the two major parties battling head-to-head over ideas, philosophy and policy. I am tired of Republicans winning these fights and then foisting their far right-wing agenda on a population that doesn’t buy into it.

When will it change? I do not know. I am just going to keep wishin’ and hopin’ the day comes sooner rather than later.


Thanks, Beto, but time’s up

It pains me to say this, but I must get it off my chest: It’s time for Beto O’Rourke to call it a career.

The young man perceived as Texas’s rising Democratic political star got his butt thumped in the midterm election. He lost to Gov. Greg Abbott by 11 percentage points in the cash-heavy race for governor.

O’Rourke broke some sort of fundraising record. He raised and spent more money than Abbott. He drew enthusiastic crowds. He got ’em fired up.

But … he finished with far fewer votes than the GOP incumbent.

O’Rourke’s high-water mark is now more evident than ever. He reached his zenith in 2018 when he came with 3% of defeating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. He got a lot of us salivating over his prospects. Then he ran for president in 2020 … and flamed out.

Now this. In 2022, O’Rourke fell victim to belief in what he could do. He has fallen short yet again.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s been one [election] after another where we ramp everybody up and set up these expectations that we’re going to finish in first — and then we finish in second,” said Joel Montfort, a Democratic consultant in North Texas. “I don’t see any indication that we can win at statewide levels or won’t continue to bleed house seats to the other party.”

After election, Texas Democrats admit faltering on messaging, voter turnout | The Texas Tribune

Beto is now a three-time loser. Hmm. It seems to me his days on the Texas political stage have come to an end.

I voted for O’Rourke in 2018 and again in 2022. I don’t regret my votes for the young man. Still, the former congressman from El Paso, in my humble view, needs to find a job and pursue a new career.


Texas not yet blue

Texas Democrats are licking their wounds this week after learning that our state remains a good distance from becoming the Red vs. Blue battleground that many of them wish would occur.

I admit to being one of those Texans who wished for a different outcome from the 2022 midterm election.

Texas Republican officeholders — who occupy every statewide office in Texas — all scored significant victories over their Democratic challengers. They were elected or re-elected by double-digit percentage margins.

Beto O’Rourke raised and spent a lot of dough in his attempt to defeat Gov. Greg Abbott; the governor finished with 54% of the vote compared to O’Rourke’s 43%. Ouch, man.

Texas Democrats keep touting how they are “on the verge” of turning the state into a battleground. Hmm. Well, the election returns from Tuesday night say something else. We ain’t there.

Indeed, we might not get there in 2024, or perhaps even in 2026. I won’t venture any guesses beyond that.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Voters seem to be fine with the status quo,” said Drew Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College in Levelland, west of Lubbock.

Texas election results show the state is far from turning blue | The Texas Tribune

Yep. That “status quo” satisfaction will kill a political movement every time that comes from supposed dissatisfaction.


Last hurrah for Beto?

Oh, brother, I hate thinking about this, but I just have to get something off my chest.

It is that those of us who want to see Texas Democrats break the stranglehold that Texas Republicans have clamped on the roster of statewide public office might have to start looking for even fresher faces to carry their message forward.

I am thinking specifically of Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor. This might be the last hurrah for Beto.

I keep reading information about polling that puts Gov. Greg Abbott out front by around 7 to 9 percentage points, which is beyond the margin of error built into these polling surveys. It just feels to me that Beto is running out of steam.

He already came close to defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. He got many Texans’ hearts fluttering when he came within 3 percentage points of defeating Cruz. Then he ran for president of the United States in 2020; his candidacy never grew wings.

Now he’s making the case yet again for governor. He has been handed tremendous issues on which to campaign: Abbott’s horrible handling of the border crisis; his mishandling of his response to the Uvalde school massacre; Abbott’s fixation with blaming President Biden over every issue that flashes in front of his mug.

They don’t seem to be sticking to Abbott. At least not according to the public opinion polling.

Look, I want O’Rourke to win. I am doing everything within my limited ability to make it happen. Hey, lightning could strike! There might be something of a political miracle in the making that escapes my attention.

But if not … well, I believe it might be time for Beto to call it good and leave the fight for someone else.


Waiting for fur to fly

It’s going to happen any day now. Beto O’Rourke and Greg Abbott are going to don the brass knuckles and will start throwing rhetorical haymakers at each other in the race for Texas governor.

Yes, I know … I have seen the polls that show the Republican incumbent, Abbott, holding onto a 7-point (give or take) lead over the Democrat O’Rourke. And, yes, I want Beto to win.

I am not looking forward to seeing these men sling rocks at each other via my TV screen. However, we know that in Texas, politics is what the late Sen. and treasury secretary Lloyd Bentsen used to call a “contact sport.”

The Abbott ads so far have been tame. They feature his wife Cecelia recalling their early years together and the courage he showed recovering from the accident that crippled him for life. That’s fine. I want to know what he’s going to do for me now … not that it matters much what he says. Gov. Abbott already has disappointed me to the point that he’s lost my vote forever.

As for Beto, he’s going to make abortion and gun violence the twin cornerstones of his campaign. One bit of advice: Don’t spend an inordinate amount of airtime telling us what we know, that Abbott has failed on both issues; tell us what you’re going to do to fix them both.

OK, are we good? Let the campaign commence in earnest.


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.