McCaig defends Todd Smith on Voter I.D. issue

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This mass e-mail was sent to me by SREC member Mark McCaig. Dear Texas Republicans, Like the vast majority of Texas Republicans, I am a strong supporter of legislation that will require photo identification to vote. As a member of the State Republican Executive Committee, I supported efforts by the Republican Party of Texas to pass Voter ID legislation and worked with members of the Legislature to accomplish this. Unfortunately, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. This issue remains at the forefront of the public policy discussion in Texas and I look forward to helping pass a Voter ID bill during the next legislative session. It is not a surprise that the Voter ID issue has come up in certain campaigns in the upcoming Republican primary. In particular, this issue has come up in House District 92, where House Elections Committee Chairman Todd Smith is facing a primary challenger. It is very disappointing that Chairman Smith’s opponent and others have chosen to lie about his efforts on the Voter ID issue. A website recently launched by an Austin based Political Action Committee accuses Chairman Smith of “stopping” Voter ID legislation and making “elections less secure”, among other claims. The statements contained on this website are patently false and the dissemination of such inaccurate information is a reprehensible political stunt that is to be condemned. After the 2008 General Election, the Republican Party held a very narrow majority of 76-74 in the Texas House of Representatives. The absence of one Republican member from a significant portion of the legislative session while recovering from a massive heart attack coupled with the custom of the House Speaker not to cast votes resulted in a practical partisan tie much of the session. With members frequently off the floor for meetings, events in their districts, illness, graduations, or other reasons, there were many times last session when there were more Democrats than Republicans present on the House floor. Facing this situation, Chairman Smith spent countless hours working with members of the legislature and others to craft a bill that would increase the security of our elections. This was no easy task, as the Voter ID issue was the most contentious issue addressed by Texas legislature last session. This was also a task that was time consuming, as groups on both sides of the Voter ID debate undertook extensive efforts to have their networks voice their opinion on this issue. While not perfect, the Voter ID bill that Chairman Smith proposed to the House represented a significant improvement over current law that would have gone a long way in protecting the integrity and security of Texas elections. More importantly, this bill had sufficient support to pass in the House. Chairman Smith would have been derelict in his duties as Chairman of the House Elections Committee to present a bill that potentially did not have enough votes on the House floor at a particular time to pass. Unfortunately, a group of Democratic legislators engaged in an unprecedented abuse of House procedure in order to kill Chairman Smith’s Voter ID bill (along with a number of other important bills). In absolutely no way was Chairman Smith responsible for stopping or hindering the passage of a piece of legislation he devoted an incredible amount of his time and energy to. Simply put, no legislator worked harder than Todd Smith to pass a Voter ID bill in the Texas House of Representatives last session. His efforts should be recognized and commended by Republicans in his district and across Texas. It is my hope that the Republican Primary voters in District 92 will repudiate these and other deceitful campaign tactics and strongly support Todd Smith for re-election. Sincerely, Mark McCaig State Republican Executive Committeeman- SD 18 * * * * Smith is under heavy attack by self-appointed Republican enforcer Michael Quinn Sullivan. In his e-mail opposing Smith, he says that the Republicans were four votes short of passing Voter ID. This is pretty much the way I remember it. Smith could hardly be the bad guy when his side didn’t have the votes. Smith wanted to craft a Voter I.D. bill that could pass–and work. The Republicans on the committee would not support anything except Betty Brown’s version of the bill, which probably could not have passed on the floor. The Democrats probably could have defeated Brown’s bill (the Senate version), but, rather than risk fighting it heads up, they resorted to a mini-filibuster of the local and consent calendar, thereby running out the clock of the session before Voter I.D. was eligible to be voted on. Republicans didn’t want to vote on the insurance sunset bill, so the two parties found common ground to kill the bills they didn’t want. Todd Smith was left hanging out to dry. The Democrats had run rings around the Republicans on the floor and in Calendars all session, but their leadership wound up sacrificing their members’ bills to kill Voter I.D., which was already on life support by this time, to the great displeasure of many of their own members who had worked all session to get their bills passed. All these decisions were made way above Todd Smith’s pay grade. The end of the session in the House was one of the worst moments I can recall in my years of watching the Legislature, equaled only by the beginning of the session in the Senate.

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