Category Archives: Republican Party of Texas

To Kill a King: the Unmaking of Speaker Straus

(Updated below!)

Regular readers of Texian Partisan will recall last week when we reported that Governor Abbott had cut Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus out of the planning for the special legislative session. Additionally, we theorized that this may have started in motion events that could lead to Straus’s ouster from leadership. Well, that process may actually be underway.

Reported on Tuesday (07/11/17) in the Statesman, in a 36-28 vote, the Bexar County Republican Party’s executive committee passed a resolution of no confidence in Straus, calling for his departure. This vote was opposed by the GOP County Chairman (and Straus ally) Robert Stovall, who “attempted to rule it out of order.” However, he lacked the support to do so.

As a leader, Straus’s unpopularity has steadily been growing for being seen as (at best) a weak advocate for many conservative causes, but also his petty vindictiveness towards house members who don’t toe the line well enough. Until recently, no GOP legislator had seriously opposed him, and he was even reinstated as Speaker, unanimously. The reason for this is simple. As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “When you strike at a king you must kill him,” and Straus was too strong to risk direct opposition that would likely fail, leaving the opposition to suffer his wrath. But like an aging alpha-lion, Straus is now showing signs of weakening, and those in the pride who have long chafed under his leadership are circling for an attack.

The resolution is the latest in a series of challenges for the beleaguered Speaker. In addition to the governor pushing him out of the special session, presumably for killing much of Abbott’s agenda through administrative channels, the Speaker also recently endured an uprising of conservatives. In an event dubbed the Mother’s Day Massacre, the House Freedom Causus slaughtered the remainder of Straus’ approved agenda in retaliation for his quiet garroting of the caucus’ program. Additionally, the election of James Dickey as the new Texas GOP chairman, who was considered the non-establishment candidate, could also be seen as a rebuke of Straus and his ilk. With recent events in Bexar county, Straus’ home turf, it’s starting to look as if Republicans from top to bottom are holding Straus culpable and an affirmative obstacle to achieving the kind of reform desired by Texas Republicans, ensconced in their party platform.

It is yet uncertain whether more counties will jump on the dump Straus bandwagon, but currently it is difficult to foresee ends where Straus comes out on top without humbling himself, confessing mea maxima culpa, and reversing much of his past conduct and positions. Unlikely. When and if Straus is replaced, hopefully it won’t be with a member that he’s personally groomed, but rather an outsider that will shake things up and deliver on change long-promised.

UPDATE!!

The Texian Partisan has recently learned that a similar vote of no-confidence has been issued by the GOP leadership in DeWitt County, Texas. Spurred on by the Bexar county resolution, Tuesday night, DeWitt GOP had their County Executive Meeting where they unanimously declared (with only 3 out of 10 members absent): “We the DeWitt County Republican Party, resolve that there should be a change in the Texas House speakership due to non-support of the RPT platform by the current incumbent.” Commenting on the vote, DeWitt County GOP Chairman Regina Cowan said, “We may be a small county here in DeWitt, but we have no right to bellyache about Straus or our Representatives that vote for him if we aren’t willing to back [our beliefs] up. This just lets them know we have their backs and it’s time to do the jobs we elected them to do.”

How The Texas Solution Was Defeated At The Texas GOP Convention Part 1

How The Texas Solution Was Defeated At The Texas GOP Convention Part 1

I can give you an inside look at how this went down. I interviewed and took notes from the delegate who authored the minority report, TJ Scott.  I spoke with the grassroots activists working the floor. This is meant to be an amalgamation of our grassroots experience, opinion, and impressions.  We at RagingElephantsRadio.com expose the inconvenient truths of the plutocracy of Texas.  We are the voice of the Texas grassroots! Here’s what I can tell you thus far…
Originally, it was a strike and replace amendment of the platform committee and voted on 15-15 (hardly a “pass” as Mechler presented it to the body).  The Chairman of the platform committee, Tom Mechler (who has designs on the RPT Chairmanship when Munisteri resigns), refused to break the tie (which he had done previously to pass medical cannabis).  A tie kills the amendment, and thus it became the minority report signed by 12.  One of those 12 was a reluctant (by his own admission) Mark Ramsey, SREC of SD7.

Tom Mechler wasted about three hours of TJ’s time by not assisting him with filing the minority report on Friday.  No one seemed to know what to do or how to do it.  Finally, a frustrated TJ attempted to pin Mechler down on the procedure, but could not get an answer.  On Saturday morning, TJ called Mechler and again asked how to get the minority report submitted to the floor.  Mechler told TJ to not worry because Mark Ramsey was going to “take care of it.”  (Why Ramsey?  He didn’t even really support the minority report, so why not one of the minority report authors who could really champion it?) When TJ questioned the tactic, and said he was planning to present it at one of the floor mics, Mechler revealed that Ramsey was going to present the minority report from the stage “with some compromises”.  TJ asked “who had compromised what with whom?”  Good question! TJ had spent four hours Friday morning and early afternoon in meetings with people on the other side trying to hammer out a compromise but TJ would not give in on granting legal status to anyone in the country illegally and the talks broke down.  Oddly, Mechler proceeded to lecture TJ about “working with people” and that he needed to get off the phone.

TJ and several other activists tried to reach Ramsey – he did not return their texts or calls, thereby leaving them in the dark about his intentions.  That made them very worried.  Ramsey had voted against similar language to the minority report in the subcommittee meeting. And now he was the one who was going to present it to the body?!  Something was very wrong.

We activists were warned on Saturday morning that Ramsey may sabotage the minority report.  We were told we needed to vote against anything that was substituted for the minority report. Instead of properly presenting the minority report, Ramsey used his stage time to propose an amendment to the Texas Solution plank, thereby accepting the 2012 plank by default and then tweaking it by adding a so-called “trigger”.  He was out of order by the rules, and no one corrected him.  However, it created mass confusion when the vote was called.  Were we approving an amendment to the Texas Solution plank of the platform or the minority report?  Where was the dang minority report?!  Ramsey never properly presented it (though he did tell us he didn’t like it).  By the way, I thought it was strange that his “trigger” amendment to the Texas Solution passed, until I talked to delegates afterward who thought they were voting for the minority report!

Other amendments were proposed. We lost one made by Pastor Terry Holcomb. Then someone made a motion to accept an amendment that was currently on the floor and the minority report in the same vote.  Good grief!  The mass confusion over that lasted for a half hour!  Eventually, the vote was separated  – and the amendment was approved, but the minority report was already botched and therefore killed.

At this point, we had just lost two keys votes – a striking amendment and the minority report. We believed the chaos was intentional due to the switcheroo with Ramsey – the fix was in!  Delegates questioned the fact that they never got a chance to debate the minority report – or see it even!  Overruled. We had folks waiting in line at the mics to try and strike further language from the Texas Solution.  It was our last hope.

And then this is what happened (as I posted on my FB page):

After debate on the minority report was denied, and then killed due to the mass confusion, things were very chaotic! Then unexpectedly, a pre-filed amendment to the platform was proposed. What was this, who was this, what should we do?! I was busy running between activists and groups, when I realized that the new amendment had been proposed from the microphone nearest to me. I went straight to the author, Peter Batura, and got a hard copy which I was able to share with JoAnne Fleming and Larry Korkmas before it ever went up on the screen. It looked really good! Strong! We didn’t know Peter, the minority report was dead thanks to Mark Ramsey, but this amendment gave us new life!

We quickly confirmed with other groups via text and Facebook – who had reached the same conclusion – and the word went out: vote yes on the amendment, it will kill the Texas solution!

It’s a true testament to the grassroots adapting and overcoming, using every available means to network, and literally flash mobbing the vote!

And more than anything else, it was a God-thing!

I will say that this was not a planned strategy, but a miracle.  Because we had our communication lines wide open, and activists from around the SDs pre-positioned with vote placards we were able to take advantage of an unforeseen blessing – the pre-filed amendment very closely matched the minority report!  It was about 98% of the minority report we wanted and we took advantage of our networks to spread the word throughout the delegates.

Also, it took split-second judgment from the grassroots activists and leaders who had to decide whether to put their hard-won reputations on the line for an unknown person and unforeseen amendment.  Peter Batura’s amendment might have failed because he was an unknown to all of us who had been working on this issue in Texas.  He stood there quietly and calmly answered every question I asked as I tried to ascertain his intent.  Remember, the Texas Solution lobbyists had been intentionally sowing confusion to deceive the delegates into accepting the Texas Solution again.

At the end, the vote was called.  The ayes had it (by my ears), but Munisteri said the Parliamentarian and the Secretary disagreed on the results, so then called for a stand up vote.   A confused Norm Adams and Dr. Steve Hotze had previously taken to the mics to protest and now were working the crowd to suppress the vote.  Norm, the big bad lobbyist, was reduced to running up and down the aisle flapping his arms to signal people to stay seated.  Hilarious.  Again, I thought it was obvious that we won, but Munisteri said it still wasn’t clear and wanted there to be no doubt and then called for a roll call vote!

THIS WAS IT!  Our chance to shine!  We knew the people didn’t want the Texas Solution but most were so confused at this point. They looked for clarity and found it in the leadership of the grassroots activists who had been involved from the beginning.  We worked the SDs hard in the minutes before the vote, but so did the lobbyists and Mark Ramsey.  (He whipped the votes in SD7 against the Batura amendment, as did the other SD7 leaders.) We lost only a few SDs, and won all the rest!  The vote on the amendment was 4763 for 3735 against.  We struck down the Texas Solution with over 1000 votes – it was not even close!

I will have Batura on my radio program on Monday, June 9th, to discuss how this all went down from his perspective, which is heretofore unknown.  (www.RagingElephantsRadio.com). I will have TJ Scott, the author of the minority report on as soon as he is available.

Also, Peter Batura sent me the language of the approved amendment.  The Texas Solution was replaced with the following language (most of it taken from the minority report):

Amended Text
America is proudly a nation of immigrants. Throughout our history, our nation has attracted productive, industrious and gifted people to America because she is exceptional, and those immigrants and their descendants helped make America the world’s unrivaled economic and military superpower. It remains imperative to create fair and consistent procedures that will again enable freedom-loving, hard-working and law-abiding immigrants to join us, by providing them an efficient, practical method of legal entry, so they can lawfully take positions where their labor is needed, without exploitation or harassment.
Our national interests are poorly served by our broken, embattled, and outdated immigration system, and patchwork attempts to mend its deficiencies will not prepare us to continue to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy that demands the legal movement of people to fill jobs at all skill levels. An efficient, pro- family and market-based system will provide a more workable solution that is compassionate, equitable and respects the rule of law.
But by failing to create a rational and effective system that encourages and facilitates legal immigration to the benefit of the nation, Congress has forced states to deal with the consequences of a broken immigration system, including human, sex and drug trafficking, the direct criminal activities of cartels and gangs. This situation must end so America can, once again, enjoy the fruits of a vibrant and beneficial system of legal immigration.

In addition, with 92 million Americans not working, the labor force at 36-year low and a lethargic economy, the United States of America can ill-afford a guest worker program designed to depress wages.
The following outlines specific actions needed to address these critical issues:
• Secure the borders through

o Increasing in the number of border security officerso Increasing joint operations and training with local law enforcement, DPS and the Texas State Guard

o Contiguous physical barrier coupled with electronic, infrared and visual monitoring

• Ending In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants

• Enhancing state smuggling laws

• Prohibiting sanctuary cities

• Prohibiting the knowing employment of illegal immigrants

• Providing civil liability protections for landowners against illegal immigrants

• Protecting the ability of law enforcement officers to inquire of the status of someone in custody

• Modernizing Current Immigration Laws to address the following:

o Any form of Amnesty should not be granted, including the granting of legal status to persons in the country illegally

o We support replacement of the current employment visa system with an efficient cost effective system

o We support ending country of origin quotas

o We support ending the annual green card lottery

• Once the borders are verifiably secure, and E-Verify system use is fully enforced, creation of a visa classification for non-specialty industries which have demonstrated actual and persistent labor shortages.

http://www.heidifortexas.com/how_the_texas_solution_was_defeated_at_the_texas_gop_convention

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Tune-in on June 9, 2014 to hear Peter Batura who authored the amendment that killed the Texas Solution on RagingElephantsRadio.com with Heidi Thiess

Peter Batura with Heidi on RER June 8, 2014

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Tanya Robertson elected as the new SD11 SREC Committeewoman!!!!

Tanya SREC Election