When assessing Fraser, it’s tempting to simply say: See TEXAS MONTHLY’s “Best and Worst Legislators,” July 2007. His performance this session has such a forehead-smacking déjà vu quality that we’re certain we’ve already written this story: worked brilliantly during the interim on the side of consumers, sabotaged by his own insatiable ego when the Legislature convened.
But we must give Fraser his due. This session, he plumbed new depths of self-absorption. Consider this exchange with Democratic freshman senator Wendy Davis, of Fort Worth, during the voter ID debate. Speak up, he exhorted her: “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.” Jaws were still agape when Democratic senator Royce West, of Dallas, who is African American, asked whether Fraser had discussed the bill’s impact with any minority voters. “I don’t want to get cute with you,” Fraser replied, “but you are an ethnic minority, and you and I have had a conversation about it.”
As chairman of the Business and Commerce Committee, Fraser insisted on authoring a critical windstorm insurance bill, but his solution was so extreme he couldn’t even get it to the floor of the Senate. As in previous sessions, the lieutenant governor had to wrest an issue away from him. Democratic senator Kirk Watson overcame Fraser’s opposition to liberate a solar energy bill from Business and Commerce, which then won easy passage on the Senate floor despite a Fraser counteroffensive. To prove he wasn’t a sore loser, Fraser congratulated Watson. And then, true to form, he reminded everyone that the bill’s core elements were originally his idea.