Perhaps I am being ridiculously optimistic, but I believe that the overwhelming vote for Proposition 6 and the state water plan–by a three-to-one margin–may turn out to be a watershed (so to speak) in Texas politics. It represents a return to sane public policy and a rejection of tea party naysaying. Another straw in the wind was the failure of Empower Texans to defeat Prop 6, despite their best efforts, as well as a number of bond issues across the state. As the Quorum Report pointed out, Empower Texans sought to turn back bond issues and failed miserably. Two of their top contributors will be familiar to many readers: Jeff Sandefer ($200,000) and controversial UT regent Wallace Hall ($100,000).
The clear winner in the election was Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who pushed for spending on water projects from the beginning of the session to the end. Even tea party groups such as the King Street Patriots came out for passage of the state water plan. It is too early to say whether the lesson to be taken away from the election is that the tea party may have peaked. Still, in Burleson, regarded as a tea party stronghold, the three biggest bond proposals passed and only one failed. It is going to take a while to sort out the results and see how this carries over into 2014–Empower Texans still has a lot of money left to spend–but it is clear that November 5 represented a victory for the Speaker and a setback for Michael Quinn Sullivan.

(AP Photo | Harry Cabluck)