Tag Archives: Texas GOP

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.


Hey, Ken … answer these questions

Ken Paxton, by all rights, should attend a four-person candidate debate Thursday, answering questions from the three Republicans who are challenging him in the March 1 GOP primary for Texas attorney general.

Except for this little item: The AG is under felony indictment in Collin County for securities fraud. There’s that and the FBI investigation into allegations of corruption in his office. There’s also the dipsh** lawsuit he filed in 2021 seeking to get four states that voted for Joe Biden for POTUS to overturn their results and give their electoral votes to Donald Trump; the U.S. Supreme Court tossed that lawsuit out.

So, you see, Paxton won’t attend the debate. He’ll cede the floor to challengers George P. Bush, Eva Guzman and Louie Gohmert, all of whom are making Paxton’s ethical (mis)conduct a major part of their efforts to defeat the AG.

Because the Texas Republican Party electorate comprises voters who don’t give a rat’s rear end about ethics and moral standing, Paxton somehow enjoys standing as the front runner in the primary campaign. One of the three challengers wants to face off against him in a runoff if no one gets 50% of the vote in the primary. I have no favorite among the three people running against Paxton. I merely want the attorney general to lose the primary contest, whether it’s March 1 or in the runoff.

As for his absence from the debate, a candidate with a semblance of courage and a stern belief that his conduct is defensible would show up and take on the challengers. The incumbent, however, is showing a cowardly streak that should not be tolerated.


Paxton still favorite for AG? Ugghh!

(Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

Recent public opinion polling in Texas sends a chill up my spine about the state of the race for attorney general.

The indicted incumbent who is under FBI investigation for alleged corruption in his office is the leading candidate among the four Republicans running for his seat. Yep, there you have it: Texas GOP voters appear to favor an incumbent who is facing potential prison time if a state trial jury convicts him of securities fraud.

AG Ken Paxton needs to be removed from office. Somehow. Some way. The state’s Republican voters have three fascinating choices to make when they vote March 1 in their primary. Land Commissioner George P. Bush, retired judge Eva Guzman and East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert all want to succeed Paxton.

Of the three challengers, Gohmert is my least favorite, given his Donald Trumpian stance on all issues. Bush and Guzman are running as tough enforcers of the law who will throw criminals in jail, which is strange, given the AG is primarily a civil litigator. Whatever.

Paxton is a joke and a jerk.

I should add that the indictment for securities fraud came from a grand jury in Collin County, which Paxton represented during his unremarkable tenure as a state representative prior to his being elected AG in 2014. I mean, it’s not as though some far-left liberals in Travis County handed down the indictment; it came from the home folks, man!

The latest Dallas Morning News/UT-Tyler poll had Paxton leading with 33% percent, followed by Bush, Gohmert and Guzman. There well could be a runoff if none of them gets 50% or greater in the primary.

But the idea that Paxton remains in the lead tells me the state’s GOP voters just don’t give a crap about the cloud of suspicion that hangs over the incumbent who simply — in my view — is an embarrassment to our great state.



Battle set for Texas Senate District 31

A conversation I had this week with a friend and former colleague informed me of a battle for political power that is developing in the Texas Panhandle.

It involves Texas Senate District 31, which has been occupied since 2004 by Kel Seliger of Amarillo; Seliger is not seeking re-election this year, leaving the seat vacant for the next person to emerge from an expected tough battle.

I am biased, to be sure, but I hope the seat remains in the hands of a Texas Panhandle politician. Seliger served as Amarillo mayor before moving to the Senate; his predecessor, Teel Bivins also hailed from Amarillo; as did the fellow who preceded Bivins, Bill Sarpalius.

Kevin Sparks of Midland has declared his candidacy for the seat. I am looking for good things, though, to come from Tim Reid, a retired FBI agent who returned to Amarillo after retiring from the federal government.

Reid is no stranger to local political office. He served on the Canyon school district board before being transferred by the FBI to a new station back east.

Reid is appealing for a major reason: He is not aligned with Empower Texans, the far-right conservative political action committee that has targeted Seliger for years. It has recruited candidates to run against Seliger, who in turn has spoken ill of the individuals who run the PAC. Empower Texans has endorsed Sparks to succeed Seliger. Reid is running as the anti-Empower Texans candidate. He would have my vote … if I lived in Amarillo.

I am casually acquainted with Reid. He served on the Canyon school board for a time after I arrived in the Panhandle in early 1995 to run the opinion pages of the Amarillo Globe-News. Still, since he is running as a traditional Republican in a district populated more and more by the wacko wing of the GOP, I want to offer him a good word as he seeks to hold the seat for the Panhandle.

The Panhandle already has a nut job representing it in Congress in the person of Ronny Jackson. It doesn’t need another far-right fruitcake representing it in the Texas Senate.


Governor’s race presents conundrum

The upcoming Republican Party primary race for Texas governor presents a serious conundrum for GOP voters.

They will get to choose from among three top-tier candidates, two of whom are nut jobs.

We have the governor, Greg Abbott; challenging him are former Texas GOP chairman Allen West and former state senator Don Huffines. I won’t vote in the GOP primary this March, but I do have a thought or two I want to share.

Abbott is being challenged on the right by West and Huffines. Those two clowns don’t believe Abbott is conservative enough. West is the former one-term Florida congressman who moved to Texas because his political career in Florida was shot; Huffines is another far right-winger who says we need to ban all immigration into Texas.

Then we have Abbott, the guy who is fighting with the Biden administration over mask mandates.

I believe Abbott will survive this primary challenge, chiefly because West and Huffines are going to carve up the nut-job vote, paving the way for Abbott to skate to the party nomination.

It reminds me of the Texas Senate District 31 race in 2018 that enabled Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo to win his party’s nomination in a three-man race. His foes that year were former Midland mayor Mike Canon and Amarillo businessman Victor Leal. Both men sought to outflank Seliger on the far right. Seliger ran as a true-blue,  mainstream Texas conservative and won the primary fight with 50.4 percent of the vote; no runoff was needed.

Canon and Leal split the goofball vote in that year’s Senate GOP primary.

I see the same thing happening this year in the GOP primary for governor.

Texas politics is really weird, indeed.


Texas’s newest residents get stiffed

Texas is going to get two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Why? Because our state grew significantly during the past 10 years.

The population boom was fueled by more African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians flocking to the state. The word is that these folks generally vote Democratic. So, it was believed that the state’s changing demography was going to make the state more, um, divided politically.

Well, the Legislature took care of that by gerrymandering the new congressional and legislative districts to ensure that the Republican Party maintains its chokehold on power.

The Legislature takes command of the redistricting effort every decade. The 2020 census shows the state achieving additional power in Congress with those two new seats. However, Republicans are big winners, given the way the Legislature reconfigured all those boundaries.

Collin County, where I now reside, was turned into an even heavier GOP-friendly place; Collin County voted narrowly for Donald Trump in 2020, but would have voted significantly more for the ex-POTUS had the new borders been in effect.

I am scratching my noodle on this one. Is this the way “representative democracy” is supposed to work?

I think not.


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.


Fruitcake ratio unworthy of boast

Texas is a big state, with lots of people who call it home and lots of politicians elected to leadership positions.

Thus, it stands to reason that Texas would be home to an inordinate number of assorted fruitcakes, goofballs, nut jobs and, dare I say it, dangerous zealots.

State Sen. Bob Hall recently joined the High Plains Blogger nut job “honor roll,” with statements criticizing the vaccines available to inoculate us against the COVID-19 killer virus.

He is far from alone. My goodness, we have loons making national headlines daily with their preposterous statements.

Sadly, almost all of ’em are Republicans. Ye gads, man!

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler is my unofficial captain of the goofball squad. He is a “birther” who continues to question whether Barack Obama was qualified to seek and to serve as president of the U.S. Former Texas GOP chair Allen West is a close second in the running. He once called Democrats “communists.” Then we have Sen. Ted Cruz, the lunatic who continually inserts his foot in his mouth while proclaiming his intention to block every single initiative that comes from President Biden or Democrats in Congress.

I’ll stop with those three. The state’s roster of nut cases is too voluminous to continue. You’ll get my drift.

We love living in Texas. My wife and I established a good life here when we ventured from Oregon in 1984. Our sons have acclimated themselves well (I believe) to Texas culture; indeed, they both came of age here.

We have watched the state make a dramatic transition from a mostly Democratic state to a solidly Republican one during our time here. I don’t begrudge the rise of the GOP per se. What I do begrudge is the surrender of mainstream conservatism to the goofiness that prevails in so many quarters here.

I always presumed Texas pols were smarter than to be snookered by the cult leader who seized control of the GOP in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Silly me. What in the world was I thinking?


Abbott pushed rightward

Don Huffines is taking credit he might — or might not — deserve in his effort to unseat fellow Republican Greg Abbott from the Texas governor’s office.

I tend to believe that he deserves at least part of the credit he is taking.

You see, Huffines is running in the Texas GOP primary next year against Abbott. He’s been hectoring Abbott over policy matters. Abbott is responding by, hmm, marching to the cadence that Huffines is calling.

The Texas Tribune reports: Abbott’s decision Monday to prohibit private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for employees marked a stark reversal for the governor — and came after Huffines hounded him over it. Abbott justified the reversal as necessary pushback against the federal government, but Huffines declared victory — and it is far from the only issue where he contends he has pushed Abbott to the right.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s rightward push tracks challenge from Don Huffines | The Texas Tribune

Indeed, Abbott has disappointed me ever since he got elected governor in 2014. I knew him as Texas attorney general and before that when he served on the state Supreme Court. He swilled the right-wing Kool-Aid when he took office as governor.

But now he has tilted even farther rightward as he faces a primary challenge from Huffines as well as from former Texas GOP chair Allen West, who’s a radical right-winger.

Is Huffines driving Abbott toward the cliff on the rightward edge? Yeah, more than likely.


Legislature stiffs voters ‘of color’

Well, here we go.

Texas will gain two congressional seats as a result of the 2020 census. Who drove the state’s stunning population increase? Black and Latino residents, that’s who.

Are they going to reap any of the political reward for choosing to make Texas their home? Oh, no. The Texas Senate has hammered out a congressional redistricting map that does a fine job of protecting Republican (and overwhelmingly white) incumbents. There isn’t likely to be any majority African-American or Latino districts when all is finished.

That’s representative democracy at among its worst.

To be fair, it is important to note the bipartisan nature of this exercise that occurs every decade when they take the census. Democrats did the same thing to protect their own when they ran things in Austin. Now it’s Republicans’ turn. They have perfected gerrymandering, turning it into an art form.

However, it is galling to me to watch the Legislature stiff the ethnic and racial minorities who came to Texas voluntarily, to make it their home and for them to be denied any sort of political reward.

The Texas Tribune reports: In anticipation of federal challenges to the map, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who presides over the Senate, said in a statement Friday that the proposal approved by the chamber was “legal and fair” and represented a “commitment to making sure every Texan’s voice is heard in Washington, D.C.”

Texas Senate approves new congressional map protecting GOP incumbents | The Texas Tribune

Actually, Lt. Gov. Patrick, “every Texan’s voice” is not going to be heard equally when all is done.

He should just get ready for the lawsuits that are sure to follow.