Tag Archives: Texas GOP

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.


Way to go, Sen. Seliger!

I am going to say something good about a friend of mine who happens to be serving his final term as a Texas state senator.

Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has just endorsed a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, sticking his finger in the eye of the incumbent Republican who — as has been reported many times — has earned Seliger’s scorn.

This news gives me hope that there might be more Republicans ready to toss aside the Texas Senate’s presiding officer in favor of an individual who can do a better job of working across the aisle than Patrick has been able to do.

Texas Lieutenant Governor’s race: Republicans Kel Seliger and Glen Whitley endorse Democrat Mike Collier for November’s election – ABC13 Houston

The Democratic candidate is Mike Collier, who ran against Patrick four years ago. This past weekend, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who also is not seeking re-election this year, declared he is going to support Collier over Patrick.

Hey, I don’t begrudge either of these fellows for waiting until they became lame ducks before tossing Patrick under the proverbial bus.

Seliger detests Patrick. The feeling is mutual. Seliger also detests the founders of Empower Texans, the right-wing political action committee that backs Patrick. Seliger detests Seliger because the Amarillo lawmaker hasn’t been sufficiently loyal to Patrick’s archconservative legislative agenda.

Seliger also had the bad form of uttering a snarky comment about a key Patrick aide. Patrick got his revenge by stripping Seliger of his committee chairmanships and relegating his committee assignments to back-row panels about which few of us know.

I am going to hope that Sen. Seliger — a fellow I have known since the moment I set foot on the Caprock in early 1995 — can find the time to campaign for Collier and speak from the gut about the nastiness that Dan Patrick embodies.


So many villains

Texas has the unfortunate title of being home to too many political villains, all of whom — it’s safe to say — happen to belong to a single party.

Yep. They’re Republicans.

What do you expect? Every elective office in this state is held by members of the one-time Grand Old Party. There was a brief moment just about four or five years ago when a sitting judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals changed his party affiliation Republican to Democrat; then Larry Myers got beat for re-election … by a Republican, of course.

The ranks are so full of villains, it is difficult for me to single many of them out.

I have to mention three obvious villainous pols:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott, who has concocted this goofy illegal immigrant busing program, only to blame President Biden for what Abbott labels an “open-border policy.” Foolishness.
  • Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has served as the state’s top law enforcement officer almost entirely while being under felony indictment right here in Collin County. Preposterous.
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the leader of the Texas Senate, who just manages to piss people off every time he opens his pie hole. Idiotic.

Will Democrats ever be able to break the GOP stranglehold? I keep hearing about how Texas is believed to be “trending” toward a more competitive political environment.

Oh, how I hope that’s the case.


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.


Goodbye, Louis Gohmert … don’t hurry back!

Louis Gohmert is the lamest of ducks. That’s the good news. Even better news is that he isn’t likely to return to Congress, where he didn’t exactly distinguish himself as a legislative giant.

Instead, Gohmert — a looney-bin Republican from Tyler — set himself apart as a gadfly and someone who is all too willing to foment The Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election.

Hey, that’s not the only Big Lie to which Gohmert attached his name. Gohmert was among those in Congress who once doubted whether Barack Obama was qualified to for president of the United States. He cited that phony notion that President Obama was born in Kenya, despite proof that the 44th POTUS was born in Hawaii.

Part of congressmen’s and women’s greatness must rest in the number of laws with their names on it. Gohmert authored one bill that became law. That’s it.

He spent the rest of his time in Congress acting like the royal pain in the ass he became.

Louie Gohmert leaves Congress with one law and many falsehoods | The Texas Tribune

Gohmert decided to run for Texas attorney general and finished last in the Republican Party primary this spring. Too bad, Louis.

I wish Gohmert’s leaving the political scene signaled a new day in Texas politics. I fear it won’t. There remain too many GOP loons out there ready to step up and take his place as a leader of the nut job wing of a once-great political party.