Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speaker's race update

November 2 was a true Tsunami election that swept out Democrats in statehouses and in the Congress, and swept in stronger Republican majorities. Here in Texas, the conservative grassroots that got 99 Republican Texas State Reps elected are demanding a conservative Speaker of the House, to turn our massive majority into an organized conservative legislative body. This has turned the Speaker's race into a passionate race involving more than just the members of the Texas House. Interested parties from Redstate to Mike Huckabee are piling on.

November items for Your Information on the Texas Speaker's race:

(1) Flowchart on the Speaker race, created by The Texas Tribune. The flowchart shows the "who's who" in the Speaker's race:

(2) Video: "The Battle for the Texas House", http://j.mp/fPGdC2. In this video David Barton sums up what “we the people” seem to be saying—that Texans want a conservative Speaker! It lays out the history and the issues clearly and completely.

(3) Rep Ken Paxton now has his Speaker of the Texas House campaign website up at:

(4) The Austin American Statesman has a “postcard” history of its coverage of the Speaker’s Race which includes stories way back to January 9th, 2007:

(5) Empower Texans’ (Michael Quinn Sullivan’s group) Letter On Leadership:

(6) The Dallas Tea Party blog has a lot of information on the Speaker’s Race:

(7) On Nov 30, State Rep Van Taylor endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker. This brings the number of newly elected 'freshmen' State Reps endorsing Paxton publicly to 9: James White, Erwin Cain, Cindy Burkett, Bill Zedler, Charles Perry, Jim Landtroop, Kenneth Sheets, and David Simpson are also on the Paxton endorsement list.

(8) HUCK PAC has endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House (Huckabee is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(9) FreedomWorks / Dick Armey Oppose Speaker Straus, Announce Support for Paxton (Armey is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(10) On November 10, 2010 Rep Brian Hughes withdraws his pledge to Straus, says that House leadership is trying to oust Reps Flynn and Cain and told Hughes that if he did not go along (i.e. support Straus) he would fall victim to similar retribution. Chairman Hopson’s General Investigating and Ethics Committee investigates the allegations and dismisses them after taking sworn testimony from Hughes and unsworn testimony from Rep Larry Phillips, who made the threats (Hughes and Hopson are on the Flowchart of Item 1):
http://bit.ly/fAmfiN , http://bit.ly/gGnZgX and http://bit.ly/hOTWMf

(11) Straus Chairman Shuts Out Public From Speaker Race “Threats” Information at so-called “Public Hearing”—related to Item 10 above:

(12) Rep Warren Chisum announced his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House on October 13, 2010:

(13) Rep Leo Berman, first Rep to file as opposition candidate to Joe Straus (June 23, 2010—see http://bit.ly/i8OkIj and http://bit.ly/eusjYM ) wrote an Open Letter to Joe Straus on Nov 8, 2010 which is chopped full of enlightening information for those of us on the outside of the House of Representatives (Berman is on the Flowchart of Item 1):
http://bit.ly/gFJSY8 and http://ainn.ly/gSTUyL

(14) Erick Erickson (of RedState) blogs that Ken Paxton should be Speaker of the Texas House: http://www.redstate.com/erick/

(15) Gun Owners of America endorse Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House:

(16) On the other side, we have primarily one group that is the apologist for and promoter of Speaker Joe Straus—that is, Conservatives4JoeStraus:

(17) Higher Education Committee Chair, Dan Branch questioned the constitutionality of the proposal of a Republican Caucus picking a consensus candidate for Speaker, as mentioned in the Flowchart of Item 1:

(18) If you want to read what Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka is saying in his left-of-center BURKABLOG, you can follow the following link (you might need to use the blog’s search engine to find all the relevant posts):

“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains, if friends stay true.”
- Elf Queen Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
The above items and quote are courtesy of "Freedom Ain't Free".

"This is why the People have Thrown You Out"

Wow. The stand-in Democrat Speaker decides not to recognize a ranking Republican on the House floor, in order to stop their lame lame-duck political stunt from being criticized and exposed. "This is why the People have Thrown You Out" said Rep Buyer. Must see:

Rep Alan Grayson was a case study in DC partisanship gone-mad, and I was attacked in a 30-second ad by my Democrat opponent for calling him and other partisan Congressional Democrats 'unfit to govern'. The above stunt by the stand-in Speaker, on top of a lame-duck session that is trying to cram legislation down our throats at the last minute before the Democrats lose their monopoly on power, is a reminder that perhaps the 'unfit to govern' label on these Congressional Democrats was accurate.

Meanwhile, no man is safe while Congress is in session.

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 advice...support 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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to choose the Texas House Speaker

It's the most important election in Texas that doesn't happen in November: The election of the Texas House Speaker. In the wake of the historic election of 99 Republicans in the Texas Statehouse, conservative activists and the grassroots of the party began demanding a conservative speaker that reflects that majority. Along with Rep Warren Chisum, Rep Ken Paxton stepped forward to challenge Speaker Straus. Rep Hughes defected from Straus, Rep Jodie Laubenberg and Rep Tan Parker endorsed Rep Paxton and even Mike Huckabee and Redstate's Eric Erickson weighed in with a Paxton endorsement. With complaints about last session, observations of Straus' unconservative committee chairmen and comparisons of their voting records showing Paxton to be the 'true conservative', it's easy to see why thousands of grassroots activists are rallying to get a conservative speaker and why Rep Ken Paxton is gaining most of the conservative grassroots support.

Will Lutz says the race is on the verge of "becoming a street brawl". Indeed, it appears that another one of these "establishment moderate" versus "grassroots conservative" choices needs to be made.

A few principles to keep in mind:

We need a Speaker who advocates, supports and will implement a conservative agenda in the House, an agenda that reflects the will of Texas voters in sending a large conservative and Republican contingent to the statehouse. All Republicans claim to agree on this matter, but voting records and past actions speak louder than words.

To have a productive session, the House Speaker must be supported by the majority of the House Republican caucus. To ensure this, the Republican House members should caucus and decide on a nominee for House Speaker. It will be dysfunctional to have a House speaker supported by 50 Democrats but opposed by 70 Republicans. The end result of that may be a repeat of what happened in 2009, when conservative bills that would have passed in a fair floor vote never got the chance to go forward. The further necessity of a Republican caucus is to keep the matter "in the family" of Republicans in the Statehouse, in order to maintain party unity on the House floor. An intra-party fight on the House floor might give the rump Democrat minority excessive leverage and worsen any intraparty split.

Given the 99-51 large Republican majority in the House, committees should be chaired by Republicans, and every committee should have a Republican majority on it; if not, the agenda is put at risk. However, Speaker Straus appointed and relies on Democrats for support, and that would compromise his willingness and ability to give the newly enlarged Republican majority a fair shake.

Finally, the conservative activists have already made clear on one thing: The Speaker's race affects all Texans, so it is time to stop imagining that Texans outside the statehouse shouldn't have a say on it. Citizen can, should and will sound off on this. As in all matters of public concern, one hopes the State Reps are listening.

To summarize: Let the people have their input; Have a Republican caucus meeting to select the majority-supported candidate for speaker; Pick a speaker who will implement a conservative agenda; Leverage the full strength of the new Republican majority in appointments and agenda-setting.

Do all this, and we will have a good Texas House Speaker. I suspect his name will be Paxton.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Every Vote Counts

Every election, we get another lesson in how every vote is important.

This election, we saw several central Texas incumbent Democrat State Representatives fall to their Republican challengers: Rep Moldanado was defeated by Larry Gonzales; Rep Valinda Bolton was defeated by Paul Workman; and Patrick Rose was defeated by Jason Isaac. Republicans picked up 22 seats from Texas House Democrats in this election, giving them an imposing 99-51 margin.

In Texas house district 48, the vote count is a split decision: State Rep Donna Howard holds a miniscule 15 vote lead over her Republican challenger Dan Neil. Hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots are yet to be counted, and this one will surely go to a recount. Consider those who decided not to vote due to late election day rain, or the many who cast a libertarian vote (would you vote libertarian if you could instead decide the victor between the Republican or Democrat?) Or consider those who voted for Governor but left this race blank. Did they know how important just a few votes could be?

Nobody was predicting the pickup of so many Texas House seats, and nobody can predict which race ends up with a razor-thin margin. So it's prudent to vote like your vote will decide the outcome in every race, because it just might be the deciding vote when you least expect it.