A couple of incidents since the election raise the issue of whether Texas Democrats are acting just like the Republicans they most love to hate–Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick–by resorting to threats and extreme partisanship. Case 1: The state’s Democratic congressional delegation asked Governor Perry to fire the two former DeLay staffers who were hired to lobby for the state’s interests in Washington. The reason the D’s gave was that the lobbyists contributed money to opponents of Texas Democratic congressmen. Case 2. Tracy King and Pete Gallego came to blows during a meeting of the Mexican American legislative caucus when Gallego, as the story goes, threatened King with a primary opponent if King continued to support Craddick for speaker.
Are Democrats guilty of acting just like DeLay and/or Craddick?
In case 1, the answer is no. DeLay had a broad plan to get Democratic lobbyists fired and replaced with Republican lobbyists, who would then arrange large campaign contributions to Republicans. There was even a name for this scheme: the K Street Strategy. And it worked, as long as the Hammer was around to do his thing. What distinguishes the case of the state’s Washington lobbyists from the K Street Project is that they were being paid with public money, and the lobbyists used a portion of that public money to try to defeat Texas representatives. That stinks.
In case 2, the answer is yes. Gallego–one of the most talented members of the House–did to King exactly what the Democrats accuse Craddick of doing: threaten him. The Democrats need every vote they can get, not just to fulfill their dream of unseating Craddick as speaker, but to resist the Republican majority during the upcoming session. There’s an old saying: Don’t get mad. Get even. There was no reason to threaten King with a primary opponent. He knows the score. He knows that Ron Wilson, Glenn Lewis, and Al Edwards, all of whom cozied up to Craddick, lost their seats to Democratic primary opponents. Threatening your own people when you’re still the minority isn’t very smart.