Chuck Hopson

Bad day for conservatives: the anger that wasn’t there

Mar 3, 2010 By Paul Burka

This was supposed to be an unpredictable election due to the tea parties and the Medina candidacy. It was supposed to be an election in which angry conservatives rose up and smote incumbents. Nothing remotely like that occurred. Republican congressional candidates, who might have been tainted by Washingtonitis, won with ease; the closest race was Ralph Hall's 57% victory. In fact, this was a bad election for conservatives, with one exception--Rick Perry. He was a ten-year incumbent in an election cycle that was supposed to be terrible for incumbents, but his keen political instincts enabled him to get out in front of the tea party movement early and become its champion instead of its victim. One of the undercurrents in this election was that conservatives disgruntled by Joe Straus's defeat of Tom Craddick in the 2009 speaker's race saw an opportunity to destabilize him by running hard-right Republicans against moderates on his team. Todd Smith was assailed for holding up Voter ID; he won with surprising ease. Vicki Truitt was assailed for offering a local option gasoline tax; she dispatched three opponents without needing a runoff. Burt Solomons had an unexpectedly close race but prevailed. Chuck Hopson, who switched from Democrat to Republican, infuriated Republicans in his district by announcing that he would continue to vote as he had in the past--and smashed his two opponents. Most of the opposition didn't come from the grass roots; it came from self-appointed kingmakers like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Michael Quinn Sullivan. Incumbency proved to be mightier than ideology. The voter anger never materialized; it metamorphosized into a brief infatuation with Medina and faded away after she self-destructed on the Glen Beck radio show. A bonus for Straus: One Republican he surely didn't want to see in the House was former Legislative Council director Milton Rister, a longtime Republican operative and hatchet man who is close to Craddick and Dewhurst. Rister was running for the Gattis open seat, but Dr. Charles Schwertner won that four-person race without a runoff. In the end, only five incumbent legislators lost, three Democrats (Al Edwards, Dora Olivo, Tara Rios Ybarra) and two Republicans (Betty Brown and Tommy Merritt), and none of the losses could be blamed on voter anger or ideology. Rios Ybarra could not overcome issues in her personal life that became public, and the others lost for the typical reason why legislators lose: They stayed too long and had too little to show for it. Brown could also attribute her loss to the suburbanization of her district.

R’s vs. R’s updated; Carona responds

Mar 2, 2010 By Paul Burka

My original post on this subject apparently touched off something of a firestorm involving whether Kelly Hancock had a role in opposing Vicki Truitt and Chuck Hopson. In researching the original post, I had e-mailed the Hopson and Truitt campaigns. I accurately published the response and attributed the information to…

R’s against R’s

Mar 2, 2010 By Paul Burka

A group of Republican House members has injected themselves into Republican primary races in an effort to defeat their own colleagues. In my book, this is bottom-of-the-barrel behavior, but these folks are the type to do it. Those inclined toward eating their own young are Leo Berman, Wayne Christian, Betty…

House primary races

Feb 16, 2010 By Paul Burka

Note to readers: The descriptions of these races reflect the best information I have been able to glean. It isn’t always possible to know what is happening “out there.” The four most endangered Republican incumbents (alphabetical order): Chuck Hopson Delwin Jones Todd Smith Vicki Truitt Hopson’s problem is that he…

Why Homer won’t follow Hopson

Nov 12, 2009 By Paul Burka

This is the Democrats’ analysis of why Homer won’t switch parties and is in good shape to win reelection. It was sent to me by a Democratic operative. 1. In 2008, Homer faced the following obstacles in House District 3: –Obama (08) lost ground to Kerry (04) in every county…

The Hopson switch

Nov 6, 2009 By Paul Burka

I am tempted to use the worn-out image of the canary in the coal mine, but this is more like a vulture pecking at roadkill. The Democrats now find themselves looking up at a 72-78 deficit in the House. The retirement of David Farabee and the party switch by Chuck…

The Vacuum: Who will run the GOP races in 2010?

Apr 5, 2009 By Paul Burka

The conventional wisdom is that Republicans will pick up House seats in 2010, for two reasons. One is that the president's party seldom does well in the first off-year election (George W. Bush in 2002 being a notable exception). Another reason is that Democrats have to defend their recent gains in marginal seats in Republican districts. But I'm not so sure that the conventional wisdom is right. The Republican electoral apparatus is in shambles. Tom Craddick has directed every Republican legislative campaign since "76 in 96." I can't envision him playing that role in 2010, even though his personal campaign account has $2.12 million cash on hand and his Stars over Texas PAC has another $94,000+. What's the point? The slaves have been freed; they don't want him back as speaker. Many GOP members chafed at the tight control and micromanagement exercised by Craddick over their campaigns last fall; it was a factor in his downfall as speaker. More to the point, the Republicans lost seats in every election since Craddick became speaker. So the question is: Who will run the races? The Republican party is incapable and incompetent. ART, the Associated Republicans of Texas, was very effective in its heyday, but when a split developed in the organization over whether ART should engage in Republican primary races, ART's godfather, Norm Newton, left the organization. ART is no longer a factor. The efforts of the Patriot Group to form an umbrella organization for Republican elected officials suggests that the firm might be seeking to take control of the elections. Other consultants and activists might have their own ideas. TAB's Bill Hammond and lobbyist Mike Toomey oversaw the 2002 elections, but they did so under Craddick's aegis. Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a Toomey client, aligned with Craddick in 2008, but they supported conservative Democrats as well as Republicans, and their efforts were significant. Rick Perry loaned his campaign team to the Craddick effort last fall, without notable success. If Perry were to win his Republican primary race against Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2010, he and his team could organize a campaign, but if he loses, he'll have one foot out the door. In short, the infrastructure for a Republican campaign does not currently exist.