Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Sen. Seliger takes aim at veto power

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Kel Seliger already has antagonized Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Now he has drawn a bead (so to speak) on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Amarillo Republican state senator has filed a bill that seeks to overrule the governor’s line-item veto power.

According to Amarillo Matters, a political action committee based in the Texas Panhandle: Senator Kel Seliger filed a bill to remove Governor Greg Abbott’s line-item veto power. The move comes after Abbott used his Executive Power to veto Article X of the State’s budget, which includes funding for House and Senate lawmakers, their staffers, and those working in nonpartisan legislative agencies. In a tweet, Seliger said, “Out of frustration, the Governor vetoed all funding for the Legislative Branch because Democrats broke quorum. But, vetoing this funding doesn’t punish legislators who left. It punishes regular, hard-working folks who have nothing to do with voting for or against bills.”  

My hunch is that Seliger isn’t going to align with legislative Democrats in their dispute with the GOP over voting restrictions proposed in legislation. Democrats bolted the Legislature to deny the quorum required to enact legislation.

However, Seliger is correct in identifying Abbott’s motives and his hideous overreaction to what Texas legislative Democrats did. He isn’t punishing Democratic politicians. Abbott is taking his anger out on the hard-working staffers who have done nothing to incur the governor’s wrath.

Where’s the fraud … Dan?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

So help me, I cannot get my noggin past that idiotic offer Texas Lt. Gov.  Dan Patrick made some months ago to his fellow Texans.

He offered to pay anyone a million bucks if they produced evidence of widespread vote fraud in Texas during the 2020 presidential election. The offer has become part of the Republican legislative mantra as legislators seek to make it more difficult for Texans to vote.

The link between the offer and the GOP legislative effort is clear: Republicans insist there was fraud; no one has produced a shred of proof of fraud in Texas or anywhere else for that matter.

Patrick — who came into this world with the name of Dannie Scott Goeb (and I don’t know why I mentioned that, other than perhaps to illustrate this clown’s phoniness) — has made vote fraud an issue as he pushes the Texas Senate over which he presides to enact these restrictions.

Why, though, hasn’t Patrick produced proof? Why is he relying on some unknown Texan to provide the Legislature with proof — where none exists — of vote fraud?

The reason the lieutenant governor hasn’t delivered the goods is because there are no goods to deliver. It’s also why he hasn’t been forced to shell out the dough to anyone else who has proof of vote fraud.

It is another version of The Big Lie.

Lt. Gov. Patrick’s offer remains on the table. I do not expect anyone to come forward with proof of vote fraud. Which begs the question: Has the Texas lieutenant governor committed an act of treason — along with the former Nitwit in Chief — by challenging a free and fair election?

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.

Shameful.

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.

West seeks to drag Abbott into the right-wing ditch

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This is just dandy.

A right-wing former one-term Florida congressman is now seeking to become Texas’s next governor by suggesting that the current right-wing governor isn’t right-wing enough.

Spare me the alt-right demagoguery.

Allen West, the former head of the Texas Republican Party, has declared his intention to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the GOP primary next spring. What has Abbott done to incur West’s political challenge? I guess he hasn’t yet rounded up and thrown illegal immigrants into jail and tossed the keys into the Gulf of Mexico.

The former president of the U.S.A. has endorsed Abbott already, so West isn’t likely to curry much favor with the bloc of fanatics who hang on POTUS 45’s every idiotic pronouncement.

Allen West announces he’s running against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in primary | The Texas Tribune

Abbott wants to build a wall along our southern border. He has stuck his thumb in President Biden’s eye practically every chance he gets. Abbott has anticipated this challenge from West, so he’s moving his re-election rhetoric farther to the right-wing fringe all the time. It’s not as if he isn’t adhering to the conservative mantra preached by the likes of Allen West and so many other Texas Republicans.

Allen West is a far-right ideologue. Indeed, the entire Texas GOP playing field is cluttered with others just like him.

West now wants to take his game to the next level. He wants that governor’s office. Ugh!

Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of Abbott. I am even less of a fan of Allen West, the guy who got drummed out of the Army because he mistreated prisoners of war in Iraq … allegedly.

West is now a Texas GOP fire-breather. This upcoming campaign season will be fun to watch, if I have the stomach for it.

Ex-GOP chair West to seek another office? Oh, boy!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

One of my least favorite Republicans — ever! — has declared he is thinking seriously of running for statewide office in Texas.

That means governor. Allen West resigned as chair of the Texas Republican Party to declare that he well might run for governor. He said he wants to avoid any potential conflict of interest by holding a partisan job while seeking a public office. Well, good for you on that score, Allen West.

But this guy really pi**es me off! Seriously, man.

He moved to Texas just a couple of years ago to run for party chair. He got elected and then started picking fights with other Republican pols. He got into snits with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan. West’s beef with Phelan was the funniest of them all, as he called Phelan a “traitor” because he works relatively well with legislative Democrats.

You can’t have any sort of bipartisanship, right Mr. GOP Chairman?

What ought to become an issue in any sort of political campaign that West launches is his military record. He resigned from the Army as a colonel, but got caught up in a scandalous incident in which he was party to the brutal mistreatment of an Iraqi prisoner during the Iraq War. He left the Army to run for Congress in Florida. He served a single term. West moved to Texas.

I chuckle how he compares himself to some of Texas’s heroes. According to the Texas Tribune: “Many men from Georgia, many men from Tennessee, came here to serve the great state of Texas, and so we’re gonna consider it,” said West, who grew up in Georgia. He added that he was announcing his resignation, effective next month, so that there is no conflict of interest as he weighs his next political move.

Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West resigns | The Texas Tribune

Allen West seems to embody the carpetbagging trend we happen to see these days. U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson had never lived in the 13th Congressional District before moving to the Texas Panhandle to run for the office that Mac Thornberry vacated when he retired. Indeed, former Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis moved from Fort Worth to the Austin area to run for a congressional seat, but lost that bid. Others have followed suit.

Now we have Allen West, who knows next to nothing about the specific issues related to Texas. Will this guy study up on West Texas water needs, or on North Texas’s transportation issues, or on Gulf Coast shoreline erosion problems?

Hey, if he doesn’t want to run for governor, West — who resides in the Metroplex — said he might look at seeking the 32nd Congressional District now held by Rep. Collin Allred, a Democrat.

Good grief!

‘Assault on democracy’ explained

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A critic of this blog wants to know how Texas’s efforts to restrict voting is an “assault on democracy,” as President Biden has described it.

I’ll take the bait and offer what I believe is an explanation for all to read.

It’s an assault because our form of representative democracy — as I have understood it — intends to make voting easier for all Americans. Thus, states and local governments have enacted early-voting laws; they have given citizens a chance to cast ballots in a variety of ways; they have sought to extend early-voting days and hours to enable citizens to have their voices heard.

Texas Republicans along with their GOP colleagues in several other states have determined that such voting initiatives also lead to corruption of the voting process. They have concocted the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election about “rampant vote fraud” where it did not exist and have projected it onto efforts to restrict access to those who wish to vote. The Texas GOP legislative caucus also wants to give judges more power to overturn election results.

One of the tragic consequences of this effort is that the GOP is  targeting minority voters who — get a load of this — tend to vote Democratic. Shocking, yes? Rather than seeking to compete head to head with Democrats over their ideas and policies, Republicans instead are seeking to restrict access to all eligible U.S. citizens.

Where I come from, I consider all of that taken together to be an assault on democracy. The Texas Democratic legislative caucus has stalled the GOP assault — if only temporarily. The Legislature likely will  reconvene soon in special session to figure out a new strategy to continue its attack on our democratic process. I hope Democrats hold firm.

This brief response likely won’t persuade my blog critic friend of anything. I just felt the need to clear the air.

GOP fighting among its members

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This isn’t a scoop, but it is clear that today’s Republican Party is locked in an internecine battle over the path it should take toward its future.

Yes, it causes me plenty of grief. Not because I am a card-carrying Republican — although I have voted in plenty of GOP primary elections over the years — but because it forces me to align with my  Republican friends who I consider to be on the “good side” of that intraparty battle.

I lived and worked in the heart and soul of the Texas Republican Party for nearly 23 years, nearly 18 of them as editorial page editor of the I know many fine elected officials all of whom are Republica Amarillo Globe-News. I resigned from that post nearly nine years ago, but I have retained many personal friendships with those individuals.

They are being whipsawed by competing factors: the beliefs of those who they represent in public office and their own view of what constitutes a “real Republican.” OK, you know that I am talking about the cult of personality that has evolved since the emergence of Donald John Trump on the political landscape. He ran for president of the United States as a Republican while campaigning as a so-called “populist” who by definition abhors concentrating power in the hands of the “elite.” Is that how he governed? Hah!

He’s out of office — thank Almighty God in Heaven! Trump’s legacy lives on in the minds of those who continue to believe in the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The Big Lie taints everything about Trump and the party he purportedly represented while campaigning for the presidency and then serving as president for the past four years.

Meanwhile, we see actual GOP officeholders and contenders for public office trying to sell their ideas to a constituency that has swilled the snake oil sold to them by the presidential imposter known as Donald Trump.

How do these actual Rs compete with that? Thus, we see how this conflict is playing out.

I pity those friends I consider to be actual Republicans. They are caught in a struggle exacerbated by the lies — led by the Big Lie — told by the individual who grabbed their party by the throat. He is throttling the life out of it.

Rep. Slaton makes early impact

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, brother.

I commented earlier on this blog about my respect for Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger, the Amarillo Republican whom Texas Monthly has identified as one of seven legislators to watch during the current Texas Legislature.

Well, TM also has ID’d a bold, brash and bodacious freshman lawmaker, a young man I know only casually, but who is — shall we say — also worth watching for an entirely different set of reasons.

State Rep. Bryan Slaton is another Republican. He hails from Royse City, just a bit east-southeast of where I now live. TM calls him The Fearless Freshman. Why? He is unafraid to make a name for himself for reasons that run quite counter to my own political world view.

Slaton got elected this past year, defeating longtime fellow conservative state Rep. Dan Flynn. I was aghast that he would run “to the right” of Flynn, but he did.

What does the young man do when he arrives in Austin for the start of the Legislature? He pitches a bill that would criminalize the act of a woman obtaining an abortion; she would, in Flynn’s eyes, be guilty of “murder” and would be subject to the state’s death penalty if she is tried and convicted of murder.

Texas Monthly wrote this about Slaton: A principled hard-right conservative and Gen Xer, Slaton is stepping into the void left by former representative Jonathan Stickland, a Bedford Republican who made his reputation as a troublemaker and thorn in the side of his party’s establishment. Slaton says he is focused on advancing social-conservative priorities, including eliminating abortion (by passing a law declaring the Roe v. Wade unconstitutional) and protecting historical monuments (by requiring a two-thirds vote to remove one of, say, a Confederate general, from a state university). 

Seven Texas Lawmakers to Watch – Texas Monthly

He also seems to believe that Texas can secede — again! — from the United States of America. Hasn’t anyone told him (a) that secession is illegal and (b) that the first time Texas did it in 1861, it didn’t work out well for Texas — or for the rest of the Confederate States of America?

My only visit with Slaton was over the phone. We had a cordial conversation. I was working on a story I wrote for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. I hope to be able to talk to him in the future as needs arise.

However, I must be candid. If he flies off the rails and starts yapping about secession, or protecting monuments honoring Confederate traitors or sentencing women in trouble to the death chamber, well … it could get ugly. In a big hurry.

Seliger makes a key TM list

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ya gotta hand it to Andrea Zelinski, a writer for Texas Monthly.

She does her homework. Texas Monthly has published a story listing seven Texas legislators to watch in the current session that is set to adjourn at the end of May. One of them is a senator I happen to know pretty well: Republican Kel Seliger of Amarillo.

Zelinski has labeled Seliger “The Swing Vote,” a guy who could tip the balance in either direction on key legislation. And why is that the case? Seliger is a “maverick” in the Senate because, according to Zelinski, he adheres to traditional conservative Republican values. You know, things like local government control at the expense of overreaching state interference.

Amazing, yes? I believe it is.

Seliger served as Amarillo mayor for a decade before being elected to the Senate in 2004. He learned Legislature-speak quickly and became fluent in the jargon that lawmakers use when talking to each other. He also developed plenty of alliances across the aisle, you know, making friends with Democrats. He once told he one of his best friends in the Senate was McAllen Democrat Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, with whom he has worked closely.

Seliger also has crossed swords with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a darling of the TEA Party/Freedom Caucus movement. Seliger spouted off during the 2019 Legislature about one of Patrick’s key aides. So what did Patrick do? He stripped Seliger of his Higher Education Committee chairmanship and removed him from the Education Committee.

Seven Texas Lawmakers to Watch – Texas Monthly

That hasn’t stopped Seliger from exerting his influence among his Senate peers, who I gathered over the years have developed a firm respect for his legislative integrity.

Zelinski writes in TM: Seliger once again might be a crucial swing vote, particularly on policing issues. The 31-member Senate has 18 Republicans, and new Senate rules require bills to receive 18 votes to reach the floor. Both Patrick and Abbott are bent on punishing Austin for reducing funding for its police department, with the governor suggesting that the state freeze property tax revenues of cities that shrink their police budgets. Though Seliger says Austin’s budget reduction in 2020 was “absolutely terrible,” the former mayor adamantly opposes Abbott’s bid to have the state dictate policy in areas traditionally considered the province of city and county governments, calling it “almost Soviet.” “If Greg Abbott wants to be the mayor of Austin, he can do it in a heartbeat and he’d be a very good one,” Seliger told me. “Do we [the Lege] need to go set the speed limit on Austin’s streets? And do we need to determine where stop signs go on Austin’s streets? No, we don’t. That’s what they elect [city officials] for.” 

My goodness, Sen. Seliger is out of control!

That’s OK with me.