Saturday, November 20, 2010

Refuting Statements by "Conservatives 4 Joe Straus"

Timothy E. Bradberry
President, Central Texas Republican Assembly (CTRA)
National Committeeman, Texas Republican Assembly (TxRA)

The opinions and viewpoints expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions and viewpoints of the CTRA or the TxRA or their members.

Straus apologists talk about how conservative he is, now that conservatism is so popular. Below I attempt to refute, or at least pose questions about, some of their claims. All bulleted quotes are taken from Conservatives 4 Joe Straus.
  • Contrary to false rumors and allegations, Speaker Straus is and has always been pro-­life, and his pro-­life legislative record has been verified by Texans for Life President, Kyleen Wright, who is supporting Speaker Straus. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
If Speaker Joe Straus has been such an advocate for the unborn pray tell why/how did Rep. Joe Straus earn a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas in 2007? To date no explanation from the Straus team has been offered to this question.
  • Speaker Straus is a lifelong Republican, a family man, and a committed conservative. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
If Speaker Joe Straus is a committed conservative, why did he appoint exclusively moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats to chair committees when he became Speaker in 2009, thereby diluting the influence of conservatives and the potential of conservative bills, like Voter ID?
  • As Speaker, 81st Legislative Session, requested ZERO earmarks.
    - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
A ban on Congressional earmarks are all the rave these days. That seems to be the only reason that Conservatives 4 Joe Strauss made this statement. By saying Speaker Joe Straus has been anti-earmark it makes him appear ahead of the curve on earmarks. This simply exploits current sentiment to make Straus appear more fiscally conservative. I'm scratching my head trying to think of an example where a Speaker of the Texas House would ask for earmarks in the State budget, but I don't claim to be a legislative wonk.
  • Donated over $1.5 million to Republican House Members and candidates, helping increase the Republican majority to 99, 2010. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
And from the Conservatives 4 Joe Straus "Open Letter" we read this:
"...While our Republican Majority shrunk in the previous three elections, under Speaker Straus’ leadership, we made substantial gains in the November 2 election to an unprecedented 99 seats in the Texas House. Joe Straus gave unprecedented early sums of money to Republican incumbents, and Republican candidates in open seats, as well as to the Republican Party and Party organizations working to get out the vote, making the gains Tuesday possible. (emphasis added)
There was one candidate that Joe Straus did not give any money to. On the contrary, on May 12, 2010 Speaker Straus allowed his name and presence to be used to raise money for that Republican candidate's opponent, Patrick Rose. With no contribution from Joe Straus, and in fact the Speaker actually helping his opponent raise money, Jason Isaac proved to be not only a viable candidate (which Joe did not consider him to be), but he also soundly defeated Rose on Nov 2nd.

Shortly before the Rose fundraiser I had the unique privileged of talking to Speaker Straus about why he was headlining the Rose fundraiser. After our conversation I sent an email to the CTRA Members and Friends list. Here is what I wrote:
I have now talked to Speaker Straus (via phone) regarding this matter. He was very gracious and obviously had already fielded some calls on the issue. He was quite animated. He made the following points, and more I can't remember:

(1) He would not do anything that would jeopardize the Republican majority in the House;

(2) In spite of #1, he will support incumbent House Democrats if they are not vulnerable;

(3) He did not know that Rose had a viable opponent and had never spoken with Jason Issac;

(4) He is cognizant that Rose has a very substantial "war chest" (seem to implied that that is why Rose's opponent is not viable);

(5) Had he known about Jason Issac and felt like Rose was vulnerable, he would not have gotten involved with the Rose fundraiser;

(6) He said his (sic) is committed to growing the Republican majority and mentioned that the Republicans recently gained one seat with the flipping of a Democrat;

(7) He said Craddick did the exact same thing he (Speaker Straus) is doing for Rose and was not criticized. He said Craddick has been giving money to Democrats in this election cycle as well;

(8) He said he has been a lifelong Republican and mentioned his mom becoming a Republican in 1960;

(9) He mentioned that Rose voted with Republicans on some key pro-business votes in the last session;

(10) He was very gracious and said that I had the right to disagree with him. He even remembered the last time I criticized him at a TCRP Fundraiser in Austin about his committee appointments.
So lets be honest, Conservatives 4 Joe Straus, you cannot claim HD 45 as a seat Speaker Strauss helped a Republican fill. That leaves the Speaker only able to say that he was not in the way of some 98 seats, and perhaps less, and that he actively tied to fill some of those seats with Republicans, most or all of whom now actively support him in his bid to be re-elected Speaker.

Overall, Republican gains in the Texas House are due more to the backlash against Obama, Pelosi and Reid than to support from Speaker Joe Straus.

BTW, Speaker Straus and his team seem to blame Speaker Tom Craddick almost as much as Obama blames President George W Bush.
  • Donated over $100,000 to local Republican Party clubs, Republican Women clubs, and other local conservative groups to cultivate Republican grassroots support across Texas, 2010.
Interestingly, Speaker Straus did not give any money to the Travis County Republican Party, like he did to the Harris, Bexar and Dallas County varieties. I wonder why?

Maybe his support for and donations to the Alamo City and Bexar County Republican Women (though the amount given was peanuts compared with the Republican Party organizations and the candidates) explains this email from the TFRW that was forwarded to me with this message "Your club may not be a federated club like ours, but I have to agree with her particularly the last sentence":
Dear Club Presidents,

Again, Congratulations on an Excellent Election! Texas appreciates you. Now, as we enter the next Legislative Session we must remember our role as a Support Team for the Republicans that are making decisions for the State of Texas. One of the important decisions our Representatives will be making soon is to elect their leader, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Please remember that your members may choose to support their political views in the way they see best--as individuals. However, as an organization TFRW will not endorse or publicly support any candidate for Speaker of the House. Additionally, your club should not support or endorse in this race. Please encourage your members, should they choose to support one of the candidates, to do so in a positive manner.......Democrats just love when we hurl insults at each other.

Thank you,
Rebecca Bradford
TFRW President
Having that forwarded to me may be innocuous enough, but the same person sent me two emails warning me about being divisive over the Speaker race even though she knew, or should have known, that the Central Texas Republican Assembly, in it's bylaws is charged with rooting out RINOs and backing conservatives. This fellow conservative, for whom I have great respect, wrote in the second email:
Might think about William F Buckley's the most electable candidate. A "moderate" Republican may not be one's #1 choice but much better than the leftist alternative who will win against an unelectable one. Delaware is a prime example.

"Democrats just love when we hurl insults at each other."
The way I see it, the worse that could happen here is for Joe Straus to be reelected as Speaker under a mandate to move right, so I don't know why we conservatives have to back down from our clarion call for a true conservative to be picked as Speaker of the Texas House, someone like Rep. Ken Paxton who has a solid conservative voting record.

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