Tag Archives: Texas GOP

Texas GOP: rigidity matters

Yep, by all means it is true that the Texas Republican Party has gone bonkers over its fealty to the gun lobby.

The State Republican Executive Committee voted 57-5 to censure state Rep. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio over his vote for gun-control legislation. No can do, said the GOP, which now has opened the door for the party to oppose Gonzales in the next Republican Party primary race in that district set for the spring of 2024.

What a sham! And a joke! Not to mention a disgrace!

Texas GOP censures U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales | The Texas Tribune

“The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party,” Gonzales said, according to the Texas Tribune. Ahh, but this vote was the deal-breaker.

The Tribune reported: Gonzales did not appear at the SREC meeting but addressed the issue after an unrelated news conference Thursday in San Antonio. He specifically defended his vote for the bipartisan gun law that passed last year after the Uvalde school shooting in his district. He said that if the vote were held again today, “I would vote twice on it if I could.”

Good for you, Rep. Gonzales.

His campaign issued a statement: “Today, like every day, Congressman Tony Gonzales went to work on behalf of the people of TX-23. He talked to veterans, visited with Border Patrol agents, and met constituents in a county he flipped from blue to red. The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work,” campaign spokesperson Evan Albertson said.

Unbelievable, yes? Not really.


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.


Puppy Tales, Part 99: He’s dressing himself

You know by now that Toby the Puppy is a smart pooch, perhaps the smartest pooch who ever lived.

I want to provide a brief report on a skill that our puppy has just acquired: He can “dress himself.” Yes, you read that correctly.

How does he perform such a — um — human task? It goes like this:

We use a harness when we take him for walks around our neighborhood. We prefer the shoulder restraint over a collar for one obvious reason: We don’t want to choke him if we need to tug on his leash.

When I tell him I have his harness ready for him to wear, he runs to me and then sits down. I lower the harness below his face. Toby the Puppy then lifts one leg for me to slip one loop over him. Then he lifts the other leg.

Bada-bing, bada-boom! He’s dressed. No fuss whatsoever.

Being a puppy parent has been loads of fun for my bride and me. These little tricks or habits he has learned make it easy.


Legislator hires lunatic

Suffice to say that Texas has no shortage of loons sitting in public office, or a shortage of certifiable lunatics willing to work for them.

Get a load of this tidbit out of Arlington, just down the road a piece from your blogger’s home in Collin County: State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican, has hired a guy to run his district office who has called for the public execution of anyone who takes children to drag shows.

Jake Niedert is just 22 years of age. He now is going to be Tinderholt’s legislative director working out of the lawmaker’s Tarrant County office.

Niedert is a self-proclaimed “Christian nationalist” who once said this on Twitter: “You want to force kids to see drag shows, I want to ‘drag’ you to the town square to be publicly executed for grooming kids. We are not the same.”

Texas Rep. Tony Tinderholt hires Christian nationalist Jake Neidert | The Texas Tribune

Is this idiot going to say he was “joking” or he was being “sarcastic”? Wait for it.

Tinderholt is running for speaker of the Texas House against the current speaker, Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican. He wants the House to be even more right wing than it currently has become. God help us.

Well, Tinderholt isn’t likely to defeat Phelan, but he remains a dangerous character serving in a Legislature that is likely to quarrel and squabble beginning January over anti-LGBTQ and transgender legislation.

This dude is a freak … who hires freaks to work for him!


Bipartisanship is best for Texas

Dade Phelan has survived a challenge to his role as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives … and for that I am glad he did.

Why? Because the challenge came from a fellow Republican who doesn’t much cotton to the way Phelan doles out House committee chairmanships. You see, Phelan — a Beaumont Republican — handed chairmanships to some of those dreaded Democrats with whom he serves in the Legislature.

The insurgency came from Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Tarrant County Republican, who sought to replace Phelan as speaker. The final vote was 78 to 6.

Phelan’s bipartisan handling of the speakership is not unlike so many of the individuals who preceded him. Speakers Joe Straus, Dennis Bonnen and Tom Craddick all handed chairman’s gavels to Democrats. The most recent Democratic speaker, Pete Laney, also was generous in sharing power with Republicans.

According to the Texas Tribune: In response to the vote Saturday, Tinderholt said on Twitter he is “undeterred in my fight to ensure we have strong conservative leadership this session” and added that he will “look forward to the floor vote on the first day of session.” The 88th Texas Legislature begins meeting on Jan. 10.

Texas House Republican Caucus endorses Dade Phelan for speaker | The Texas Tribune

The endorsement by the Republican legislative caucus only strengthens Phelan’s hand as the entire Legislature will vote next month to select the next speaker. Phelan needs 76 votes and the GOP endorsement would seemingly ensure Phelan has them.

Phelan merely is following a tradition set long ago in a legislative body that works best when Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on legislation that works for all Texans. Sharing some of the power in the manner Phelan has chosen is a step toward achieving that legislative success.


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.


How would Beto work with GOP?

Let’s suppose for a moment that lightning strikes and Beto O’Rourke is elected Texas governor in the midterm election.

O’Rourke is a Democrat who would have to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature. I have been rolling that notion around and have come up with a conclusion.

Given the obstructionist nature of the current GOP, I only can conclude that O’Rourke would have a huge hurdle to clear. That would be a vast difference from the previous time the state had a governor of one party and the Legislature controlled by the other party.

In January 1995, Republican George W. Bush took over as Texas governor. The Legislature that year was controlled by Democrats. The Senate’s lieutenant governor was the irascible Bob Bullock. The speaker of the House was the more amiable, but still fiercely partisan Democrat Pete Laney.

The two legislative leaders developed a tremendous working relationship with the newly minted, freshly scrubbed GOP governor. They became friends. Partners. Allies at times.

Legislative Democrats in 1995 seemed to have little appetite for fighting, fussing and feuding with Republicans, especially the one who moved into the governor’s office.

I am trying to imagine a Democrat such as Beto O’Rourke developing that kind of relationship with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan. Both of those legislative leaders are wedded to the MAGA world view.

Oh, how I would love to be proven wrong. I fear, though, that a Gov. O’Rourke would not get anything resembling the kind of feel-good introduction to governing that greeted Gov. George W. Bush all those years ago.

Do I believe that will happen? I am afraid not. Then again, there’s always hope.


AG race: most troublesome

Of all the contests on the Texas ballot in this midterm election cycle, one of them presents the greatest opportunity for joy … and also for profound disappointment.

It’s not the governor’s race. It’s the next one down on the ballot, the contest for Texas attorney general.

I keep hearing chatter that it might be the closest statewide race on the ballot, the one contest that gives Democrats their greatest chance of breaking the death grip Republicans have had on the state elective offices for nearly three decades.

The GOP incumbent, Ken Paxton, is seriously damaged goods. Yet here he is, seeking a third term after winning re-election in 2018 while under felony indictment for securities fraud. In 2022, he’s still under indictment. 

Oh, but there’s more. Seven of his top legal assistants quit the AG’s office complaining about what they allege is criminal conduct. They blew the whistle on what they contend is corruption. The FBI has launched an investigation into Paxton’s conduct.

The man has embarrassed the state. His Democratic foe is Rochelle Garza, a civil-rights lawyer from the Valley. She reports that the race is narrowing. Indeed, polling from around the state suggests a tightening contest.

What gives me hope is that Garza is as clean as they come. She can hold her own background up to Paxton’s shady behavior, which became evident when the Collin County grand jury indicted him in 2015 on an allegation that he failed to disclose his relationship with an investment firm to potential customers.

But there’s even more to pore through. Just this past week, Paxton ran like a frightened puppy when a federal process server showed up at his McKinney home to serve him papers to testify in a court proceeding. Paxton said he didn’t know who was standing outside his house; but then we learned that he knew several days earlier that he would be served the summons.

The guy is a worm. A weasel. A coward.

For the life of me I do not understand how this guy continues to have any standing among Texas voters.

A grand jury in his home county indicts him on a felony charge; his top legal team bails; the FBI launches a probe into alleged misconduct; he hides from a process server.

And on top of all that, the AG has been front and center in promoting The Big Lie, that Donald Trump was the victim of an electoral heist in the 2020 presidential election.

Can’t we do better than having someone so damaged as our state’s top law enforcement official? Well, we can! The question: Will voters show the good sense to reject this clown?


More Rs cross over?

It’s been a good while since the last time I can recall so many politicians making headlines by endorsing candidates from “the other party.”

It’s happening on the eve of the 2022 Texas midterm election.

Sarah Stogner, who lost the Texas Railroad Commission Republican Party primary runoff to incumbent Wayne Christian, has announced her intention to vote for Democrat Luke Warford. She’s not alone.

Former GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff is going to cast his ballot for Democratic challenger Mike Collier. The man who was known in the Texas Senate as Obie Won Kenobi ain’t gonna support incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Neither is Amarillo GOP state Sen. Kel Seliger or Tarrant County GOP Judge Glen Whitley, both of whom have thrown their support behind Collier.

It all seems to speak to the deep divisions within the Republican Party. I know Seliger quite well, and I know of Ratliff, given that I was paid to follow legislative activities during my time as a full-time journalist. They both are “mainstream Republicans,” and neither of them is wedded to the fiery MAGA rhetoric that folks like Patrick use to blister their opposition.

Sarah Stogner endorses Democrat Luke Warford for railroad commissioner | The Texas Tribune

I am acutely aware that a handful of examples does not constitute a groundswell. It might, though, be a harbinger of what could be boiling under the political surface as we get nearer to midterm Election Day.


Will this strategic appeal to women work?

A political action committee has launched an intriguing midterm election campaign in Texas that appears plainly aimed at turning women out to vote in this year’s campaign.

They call themselves “Coulda Been Worse, LLC.” The PAC has paid for a series of TV ads that tell voters that “three men” are responsible for virtually banning abortion in Texas, despite polling that shows a significant majority of Texans favor allowing women the right to choose.

Coulda Been Worse singles out Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “Three men,” the ad repeats, have decided that Texas women must not be allowed to determine whether to end a pregnancy.

The ad concludes with Abbott uttering “it coulda been worse” while he was briefing the public about the Uvalde school massacre, which killed 19 fourth graders and two heroic teachers in Robb Elementary School.

Coulda Been Worse LLC also has broadcast an ad telling voters how Abbott made a choice in the wake of the Uvalde slaughter to attend a fundraiser rather than visit Uvalde to perform his duties as “the father of Texas.”

I am not going to predict that the campaign against Abbott, Patrick and Paxton will prove decisive. But, man, the PAC has plenty of material with which it is working. It has the backdrop of that Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a ruling that has outraged millions of women everywhere … including Texas!

Paxton is seeking a third term — despite being under felony indictment for the past seven years — against an ACLU lawyer, Rochelle Garza; polls show the contest a virtual dead heat. Patrick is facing Mike Collier in a lieutenant governor rematch from 2018.

Of course, Abbott is facing former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, currently the darling of the Texas Democratic Party; polls in that race are all over the place, with some of them showing a tightening contest while others suggest Abbott is pulling away.

If there is a hot button to push, my hope is that Coulda Been Worse can find it and push it incessantly until it produces what I deem to be the desired outcome: the defeat of Abbott, Patrick and Paxton.