Sarah Davis, the only openly pro-choice Republican woman in the Legislature, will be contested in the Republican primary. She faces a challenge from Bonnie Parker, who describes herself as a conservative, a philanthropist, and a longtime Republican party volunteer. Readers may recall that Parker ran against Davis in 2010, losing by 9 points. In that election, Parker argued, among other things, that "the current Republican leaders have been a disappointment because they have allowed state government to grow faster than inflation and population growth."
John Smithee's decision to run for another term as state representative establishes him as a potential challenger to Joe Straus as speaker. Readers will recall that a group of twenty or so tea party Republicans congregated in Tyler in September for a fundraiser for Matt Schaefer, at which Smithee served as emcee. I wrote about that development and raised the issue of whether the tea party gathering signaled a future speaker's race.
Nathan Hecht, the recently sworn-in Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, is a disgrace: a judge who ignores the spirit of the law. For five years now, he has appealed a $29,000 fine assessed by the Texas Ethics Commission. The commission says that Hecht received a discount for his legal bills with the firm Jackson Walker, which, according to the commission, amounted to a campaign contribution. It is now the longest-running appeal of a state ethics fine.
Texas historian T. R. Fehrenbach, who died on Sunday at the age of 88, leaves behind an impressive legacy of work about his native state, most notably his epic history of Texas, Lone Star, which was published in 1968. It is a sweeping, mythic version of the Texas story, telling how the Texians subdued an alien land and alien peoples. Fehrenbach sees Texas history as a repeating clash of races and cultures, and he made the argument that the Anglo culture was superior to its rivals.
For the second time in this election season, I have to ask the question: Where's Wendy Davis?
Days go by without a statement being issued or any indication of what issues the campaign will address. Even as I write, Davis is missing a golden opportunity. I'm referring, of course, to the growing concern over whether Texas power plants will be able to meet peak demand in the coming months, and whether legislators will be up to the task of seeing that Texas consumers are not saddled with huge rate increases. This issue is on the front pages; it is heaven-sent for Democrats, and yet, we have heard nothing from Wendy Davis on the subject.
The Republican Civil War -- the Texas version, that is -- has come to fruition. As you might expect, the main protagonist is Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans. Here is Sullivan's take on the war:
As we have come to expect, advocates of big-spending corporate-cronyism are rushing to the aid of liberal Republicans. They may have succeeded in the past, but taxpayers won’t be fooled again.
A new group called “Texas Future Business Alliance” is mailing into the districts of moderate and liberal Republicans, trying to convince voters that their pro-bloat legislator is a conservative. But doing so requires that they re-define the word as synonymous with corporate cronyism.
What this is really all about is that the business community in Texas, as is true of the business community nationally, has had their fill of the tea party and is prepared to fight back and elect mainstream conservatives instead of the denizens of the far-right, who care only about their ideological battles.
The entry of Leticia Van de Putte into the race for lieutenant governor will be closely watched for its impact on Hispanic turnout. Democrats have been waiting for the Hispanic vote to start influencing Texas elections in a big way, but it just hasn't happened. Exactly why the Hispanic vote hasn't matured remains a mystery. A big Hispanic turnout was supposed to boost the Democrats' multicultural "Dream Team" ticket in 2002, but it didn't materialize, and Rick Perry easily defeated Democratic nominee Tony Sanchez to win the race for governor. The Hispanic vote has not been a factor in any subsequent election.
I have a high regard for Van de Putte as a politician, who earned a spot on this year's Ten Best legislators list. She is no ideologue. She'll work with the other side -- and did so during the regular session, when she joined forces with Rick Perry to push for more rigor in House Bill 5. She'll be an asset to Wendy Davis on the Democratic ticket, and she'll be a worthy opponent for whoever wins the Republican primary.
“I hope we haven’t been unpleasant,” Alpine resident Lesley Hopper apologized to Texas A&M senior research development officer Ron George toward the end of last week’s heated town hall meeting in this small, Far West Texas town. At stake was the question of whether the Alpine City Council would approve A&M’s request to use the desert town’s municipal airport to launch and recover domestic drones when the Federal Aviation Administration opens airspace to civilian-operated unmanned aircraft in the near future.
Before we leave the subject of the Kennedy assassination, I want to quote from a 1964 book called Dallas Public and Private, written by a onetime Morning News reporter turned corporate executive named Warren Leslie. The book provides a searching examination of Dallas during the weeks and months leading up to and following the assassination. Leslie has this to say of some of the city's leaders:
"They have fought an emotional, predictable reaction, resulting from the death in Dallas of a young President, better loved, perhaps, than he knew. They have not faced up to more reflective criticism, which has posed questions such as:
* Why were there three murders in Dallas that weekend, instead of one? Weren't two of these murders preventable?
*Why was Ambassador Adlai Stevenson struck and spat upon in Dallas? Why was Lyndon Johnson nearly mobbed?
*Why did Major General Walker, an ultraconservative, choose Dallas in which to live?
* Why did the Dallas News run a right-wing extremist advertisement on the day Kennedy arrived?
* Why do so many Dallas leaders keep saying, "It was not our fault. It could have happened anywhere. Dallas is a great city."
* Is Dallas a part of the United States? Or is it some savage country of its own?"
Leslie answers that question by saying, "Dallas is indeed a part of the United States, but there are many, including a good many Texans, who believe that the city has become disturbed psychologically and confused morally, and that while such difficulties are scarcely unique in Dallas, they have been underlined there because of local factors which are unique."
Next year is shaping up to be an eventful one in Texas politics. Governor Rick Perry’s announcement that he plans to step down rather than seek another full term means that—for the first time since 1990—there will be an open race at the top of the ticket.