The Dan Branch Effect
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I take a dim view of Dan Branch’s campaign for attorney general. A former member of our Best legislators list, Branch is in the process of ruining himself by running away from who he really is, which is a mainstream Republican. On Sunday, the Houston Chronicle ran story titled “Branch shifts to far right in AG race: once a moderate, Dallas Republican takes up tea party mantle–and cash” (sub req). The first thing Branch ought to do is fire his campaign spokesman, who proclaims that Branch is the most conservative candidate in the race. Of course, this is not the case. There is nothing to be gained by saying something that is demonstrably untrue.
What Branch can legitimately claim to be is the best lawyer in the race. That is what should matter to voters looking for the next attorney general. Branch needs to act like what he is, which is a very good lawyer with a sound legislative record. Instead, he is acting like what he isn’t. Branch should take a page from Joe Straus’s playbook. The speaker is a moderate conservative and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. He is completely comfortable in his political skin. Branch, on the other hand, is looking for camouflage.