Tag Archives: Tom Pauken

What does former GOP chief really think … of Trump?

Fort Worth, Texas USA Feb. 26, 2016: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gets the endorsement of former candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Texas is the big prize in the upcoming Super Tuesday primary on March 2. (Bob Daemmrich/Polaris)

I don’t get to talk much these days with my old pal, former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken.

He lives in Dallas; I’m way up yonder in Amarillo. Pauken has had business dealings in Amarillo, but I sense he’s backing away from them, as he would call whenever he came to town.

Here’s what I know about him.

He is a true-blue conservative. He’s the real thing. He doesn’t think much of the “neo-cons” who advised President George W. Bush; he also doesn’t think much of the former president, for that matter.

Pauken served as an Army intelligence officer in Vietnam and he believes the Iraq War was a mistake. He believes in low taxes, less government spending and he is fervently pro-life on abortion.

He’s also penned an essay in which he declares his belief that the Texas Republican National Convention delegation will line up to support the party’s eventual nominee Donald J. Trump, even though most voters endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the Texas GOP primary this past March.


What I didn’t read in Pauken’s essay is a personal endorsement from him for the man who’s about to become the GOP’s presidential nominee. I attached the link to this blog, so you can see for yourself. Pauken seems strangely detached from Trump — which has become sort of the norm for many of the party’s elder statesmen and women.

What goes around ...

Trump is getting a lot of endorsements, to be sure. U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his intention to back him, but one could not escape the feeling that the speaker was swallowing real hard before he uttered his words of endorsement.

My trick knee is acting up again. It’s telling me that former Texas GOP chairman Pauken is getting a lump in his own throat as he ponders his party ‘s nomination of someone such as Donald Trump.


Abandoned building gets another new owner

Is this it? Is this the corner that an abandoned, dilapidated, rotting hulk of a downtown Amarillo office building needs to return to life?

A Dallas developer, Tom Pauken, has just foreclosed on the long-abandoned Barfield Building, wrestling it away from its owner who’s said for longer than anyone can remember that, by golly, he’s going to find someone to develop the structure.

Todd Harmon hasn’t delivered the goods. From where I sit, it doesn’t appear that he ever will.

Enter the group headed by Pauken, a lawyer, real estate developer who’s worked with property in Amarillo, former Texas Republican Party chairman — and a longtime friend of yours truly. (I thought I’d throw that last thing in for grins and giggles.)

Pauken leads a group called Henderson Willis Ltd., which has foreclosed on mortgage notes totaling about $550,000 on the building at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Polk Street.

It’s a complicated procedure, but as of today Pauken’s limited partnership has control of the Barfield Building. The former controlling owner, Harmon, so far hasn’t responded to media requests for comment.

Pauken’s foreclosure comes as well after another Amarillo business group sought to develop the Barfield Building, only to have Harmon get it back in some more complicated maneuvering.

What is Pauken’s aim here? He wants to find someone to invest in breathing life back into the Barfield Building. Harmon had gutted the ground floor and a few floors above. Then the work stopped. The ground floor was boarded up and the crews walked away; that was a decade ago.

It has sat vacant, rotting ever since.

Pauken said he believes the Barfield “is a natural” for some sort of redevelopment. Harmon had sought to turn the 88-year-old building into a combination of apartments, retail shops, a restaurant, day spa, bank branch, coffee house — and Lord knows what else.

Enter the Pauken group, headed by someone who’s already had some success redeveloping property in downtown Amarillo.

Can this group do what no one else has been able to do? I am cautiously optimistic my pal Tom can get ‘er done.



Pauken pulls out, paving way for Abbott in GOP primary

This just in: Tom Pauken has announced he won’t run for governor of Texas.

Man, that makes me sad.


I consider Pauken to be a friend. We’ve known each other about 25 years, going back to when he wrote a column for the Dallas Times-Herald and I was editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. We’d publish his work frequently and that’s how we got acquainted.

He went on to become head of the Texas Republican Party. He’s written some books, one of which — “Bringing America Home — he signed for me. We’ve met many times over the years for breakfast or lunch. My wife and I have visited him in his Dallas office, where he practices law.

He’s a good guy, quite smart and is a very strong conservative. He’s no fan of George W. Bush or Karl Rove.

Would I want him as governor? Probably not. Then again, one shouldn’t vote for someone solely on friendship.

I just wish he could have stayed the course and challenged Attorney General Greg Abbott for his party’s nomination next spring. He bowed out today, saying he cannot compete against someone as well-financed as Abbott.

With that, Abbott now goes from prohibitive favorite for his party’s nomination to lead-pipe cinch. He won’t be challenged seriously by anyone on his right. I was hoping Tom Pauken could provide that challenge.

I hope he stays active in some fashion, perhaps to remind Texans that the state’s Republican Party doesn’t speak with one voice.

Keep ’em honest, Tom.

Red-light cameras become campaign issue

Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s running for governor, had this — among other things — to say to a North Texas tea party group: “Both the advocates of red light cameras and their detractors have a point. One emphasizes safety, and the other emphasizes privacy.”

Let’s hold it right there.


I am an advocate of red-light camera technology, which is being deployed in many cities across the state, including Amarillo. I see it as a safety issue. It is making it safer for people to drive without getting clobbered by idiots who ignore street lights instructing them to stop.

The other side, I am presuming from Abbott’s remark, suggests that the cameras are “invasive” and that they intrude on people’s “privacy.”

I’ve had this argument with more anti-red light camera residents in Amarillo than I care to count.

My point about the so-called privacy issue simply is this: Motorists driving vehicles on public streets, putting other people’s health and their very lives, by ignoring traffic laws have no inherent right of privacy. Period.

Some of those foes suggest that government is overreaching by allowing cities to implement these devices. They stand behind some bogus conservative political theory that says government has no right to intrude in this manner.

My answer? That is pure crap.

The state used to prohibit cities from deploying these cameras. Then the Legislature changed part of its collective mind by allowing the cameras, but then requiring cities to dedicate revenue raised from fines to traffic safety improvements. That’s all fine. The state also takes a significant cut of the revenue raised. That’s OK too.

The people elected to govern cities deserve the chance to determine what’s best for the communities. Amarillo’s elected commission (now city council) decided in 2008 that it was in the city’s best interest to deploy these cameras at selected intersections. Have the cameras stopped red-light runners? No. They have, however, deterred some folks from doing it and they have raised revenue to pay for improvements in traffic signalization around the city.

I am tiring rapidly, though, of the argument that the anti-camera crowd keeps harping on regarding privacy. These clowns aren’t protecting anything except their bogus “right” to break traffic laws.

Tom Pauken, another GOP candidate for governor, opposes the cameras. He says they’re intent is to raise money, not make streets safer. Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth — which has the cameras deployed — also is running for governor; she favors the cameras.

Let us have this debate. I want to hear candidates for governor explain rationally how privacy matters when it involves motorists traveling along publicly owned streets.

GOP platform goofs on red-light cams

Tom Pauken is a smart guy who’s running for Texas governor.

He’s running as a “true conservative,” which means — I am going to presume — that he favors small government and less intrusion into local affairs.

Why, then, does this stalwart Republican say he opposes cities’ authority to install red-light cameras at dangerous intersections? “I support a statewide ban on red-light cameras as prescribed in the Texas Republican Party’s platform,” Pauken said in a recent news release.

What? The party platform opposes cities’ right to act on their own to curb what they believe to be a problem at certain intersections?

Amarillo has deployed these cameras for the past five years. They’ve had mixed success. People are still running red lights, either just blazing through them or taking off from a complete stop to violate the law. The Amarillo City Council, instead of retreating from the strategy to reduce these infractions, has expanded the number of intersections that will be patrolled by the electronic devices. Good job, City Hall.

Back to Pauken’s point about endorsing the GOP platform.

Republicans keep yammering about government interference. They decry “big government” paternalism. They keep saying localities should have the right to determine policy issues. Amarillo acted in its own interest when it decided to activate the cameras. What’s good for Amarillo isn’t good, say, for Lubbock — which once deployed the cameras, only to take them down because too many people griped about them.

By my reckoning, Pauken’s insistence that the GOP platform is correct doesn’t make sense coming from the so-called “true conservative.”

‘Rule of capture’ might become campaign issue

An interesting issue may be emerging in the race for Texas governor.

Is it OK for a leading candidate for governor to talk about water conservation when he has drilled a well on his property to collect all the water he can use — and avoid municipal fines in the process?

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sunk a well on his property in an exclusive Austin neighborhood. Austin, as is much of the state, is snagged in a punishing drought. It has imposed restrictions on lawn-watering. Abbott — along with other well-heeled residents — has gotten around that drilling his own well.


Abbott is using the time-honored “rule of capture” doctrine in Texas that enables property owners to use whatever they can from under the ground. The courts have upheld this practice, even though it might deplete groundwater supplies for others.

“To me it’s just unconscionable. It’s a total disregard for the resource,” said Andrew Sansom, executive director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and the former head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “What we should be doing is reducing our consumption of water.”

The drought has had its impact on West Texas. Remember what used to be known as Lake Meredith? A recent survey of all the state’s surface-water reservoirs shows the one-time “lake” at 0 percent of capacity, meaning that it’s virtually empty.

The Hill Country also is in serious trouble with its water. So, what about the leading Republican candidate for governor digging his own well? Does it become an issue for his major GOP primary opponent, Tom Pauken? Will the likely Democratic nominee, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, make it an issue?

Should they? Certainly they should.

Leadership requires leaders act the part, not just talk about it.

From my vantage point way up yonder in the water-starved Panhandle, I believe the attorney general might have dug himself into a bit of a political hole.

Davis talking to Texans … about education

Wendy Davis’s campaign for Texas governor is just now getting started.

I’ll be waiting with bated breath to hear what she thinks about a lot of issues not related to abortion — the issue that catapulted her to national fame.

The Fort Worth Democratic state senator declared her gubernatorial candidacy this past week, spilling the beans on one of the worst-kept secrets in recent state political history. Seems as if everyone in Texas knew she would run before she announced it.


I’ll go out on a limb here and say she’ll be the Democratic nominee next spring when they count all the primary ballots. Attorney General Greg Abbott appears headed for the Republican nomination, unless underdog GOP firebrand Tom Pauken pulls a rabbit out of his hat.

Davis is beginning to sound like the “education candidate” for governor. She pledges to restore some of the money cut from public education under Gov. Rick Perry’s watch. Seems as though Perry sought budget cuts to help balance the budget and the Legislature obliged by cutting public education. That was a curious decision, given the need for the state to boost public education in an increasingly competitive environment with other states.

Wendy Davis is talking now about restoring those cuts.

Remember the filibuster this past summer she launched against an anti-abortion bill? Well, she said this week she also filibustered a proposal to cut public education in 2011. That one didn’t get nearly the attention the 2013 filibuster did.

I am betting Davis will choose to highlight the earlier gabfest in support of education as she travels the state in search of votes.

Texas governor’s race about to get interesting

OK, here we go. Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis made official Thursday what most folks knew already, that she wants to become the next governor of her state.


I’m waiting now to hear more about what she thinks about issues other than a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, which is what vaulted to national fame earlier this year.

She talked in Haltom City about education and about restoring some sense of trust among Texans in their government, that Austin is as interested in rank-and-file Texans as it is in corporate donors and political action groups.

Davis is the one Democrat right now who can wrest control of the governor’s office from Republicans. I’m not suggesting she’ll win in November 2014; she’s just the best Democrat in the field at the moment.

Davis will face a formidable challenge against The Republican Candidate, whether it’s state Attorney General Greg Abbott (the current GOP favorite) or former state GOP chairman Tom Pauken (who’s running as the “true conservative”).

The smart money is pretty smart so far, thinking that Abbott is the prohibitive favorite. Davis now is virtual a shoo-in to be the Democratic nominee.

It’s been a good while since Texans have had an interest-grabbing race for governor. We have one now.

Let the Abbott v. Davis polling commence

The polling has begun and it shows a competitive race for Texas governor next year.

You know what they say, though, about politics: A week, or month, let alone a year, can be a lifetime or two … or three.


A Texas Lyceum poll shows Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott leading Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth by 8 percent in a theoretical matchup. Davis is expected Thursday to announce her candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, infusing enthusiasm into a state Democratic Party that has been in a virtual coma for two decades.

Abbott is the prohibitive favorite to be nominated by the Republicans next spring, although I’m not yet willing to count out my old pal Tom Pauken, a Dallas lawyer and commercial real estate developer (with interests in Amarillo), who’s also running for the GOP governor’s nomination.

Abbott has lots of money, lots of support among mainstream Republicans and lots of name identification.

Davis is no slouch in name ID or support among mainstream Democrats. Her problem, though, is that Republicans outnumber Democrats in Texas by a large margin. Therein lies the obstacle she faces.

The Lyceum poll says Davis does much better among women; she’s in a statistical tie with Abbott. She does better among minorities. Abbott, though, does better among independents.

I’ve noted before that the governor’s race needs some excitement. Wendy Davis is going to provide it.

Whether excitement translates to votes, though, will be the operative question going forward.

Sen. Davis good to go … for governor?

I’m wrong about these things more often than I’m right, but it’s looking to me as though Wendy Davis is going to run for Texas governor next year.

The Fort Worth Democratic state senator will make her plans known on Oct. 3.

What’s interesting to me is the suspense she is building into the announcement. See the link here:


If she were to announce that she is going to seek re-election to her Senate seat, my hunch is that she’d just say so: “I’ve decided, after careful consideration and prayer, that I will not be a candidate for governor and will seek re-election to Senate District 10 and will seek to continue to serve my Fort Worth constituents.”

There. That would be it. Over and done.

But she’s asking her supporters to spread the word to others who they think would like to be the “first to know” her plans.

That feels to me as though a run for governor is in the wind.

All the excitement in this contest so far has been on the Republican side. Attorney General Greg Abbott is the odds-on favorite to be nominated by the GOP over former state Republican Party chairman Tom Pauken of Dallas. (Full disclosure: I’ve known Pauken personally for more than 25 years and I am pulling for him to at least make a contest of his party’s primary fight.)

It could be that the excitement quotient is going to shift dramatically toward the Democratic primary if Wendy Davis answers the bell. Davis burst onto the national scene with her dramatic filibuster of an anti-abortion bill in the waning hours of the Legislature’s first special session.

Will she win next fall?

That remains the multimillion-dollar question, given that’s how much it’s going to cost the next person who will become governor to succeed Rick Perry.

Texas remains a deeply ruby-red state, in the vise grip of Republican officeholders. Texans have shown a propensity in recent election cycles to elect Republicans over more qualified Democrats just because of their party affiliation. But, hey, Texans did the same thing in reverse back when Democrats were the top dog.

Sen. Davis would surely energize a moribund political party that’s been whipped so often it’s lost much of its will to win.

Please, though, don’t hold me to any of this. We’ll just wait for Wendy to give us the word.