On May 24, 2019, the Pregnancy & Parenting Support Centers of Galveston County held its annual fundraising dinner. As the President of the Clear Lake Tea Party, myself and several members of our board attended to lend our support to the pro-life movement in our community. The large crowd was thoroughly captivated by the keynote speaker, ChristyAnne Collins Dickenson, the Executive Director of the crisis pregnancy center. This was a woman who had been arrested over 80 times and had served a cumulative total of over two years in jail for her street advocacy for the preborn at abortion centers across the country. She had been sentenced to maximum jail terms and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluations simply for trying to talk women out of killing their unborn children. Her testimony was moving and powerful.
At the start of our evening, the Master of Ceremonies indicated that all the servers were either elected officials or candidates for public office. They ranged from county commissioners, district and county clerks, constables, judges, school board members, a State Republican Executive Committeewoman and the Texas National Republican Committeeman. As I watched these public servants scurrying through the tables serving food and beverages, I finally noticed the small sign on our table which read “Public Servants Serving for Life – Table 26.” That struck me as especially profound. Here we had those that we are entrusting our government choosing to give their time and resources towards supporting the pro-life movement by actions and deeds instead of only words. While it may seem like a small thing, it did my heart good to see our leaders become servants, if only for a few hours.
Yet, this display of service evoked another thought within me. How different the politicians in Austin were compared to the fine men and women in Texas City that night. I suspect that “Serving for Life” has a totally different meaning for the Austin brand of politician. While the public servants in Texas City were serving us Chicken Alfredo, the politicians in Austin are serving us something else!
Slavery is often called “America’s original sin.” However, growing the pro-life movement in America considers abortion as “America’s greatest sin.” The right-to-life movement has been winning many victories that incrementally restrict abortion and have started to sway the court of public opinion. In 2019, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia have all seen “heartbeat legislation” filed in their state legislatures. The state legislature and Governor of Alabama has directly challenged Roe v. Wade by outlawing virtually all abortions in that state. Indeed, abortions in America are at a historic low. While this decline in abortions is reflected across all age groups, the biggest drop is among young girls aged 15 to 19 years old. Undeniably, the culture in America seems to be swinging to the pro-life arguments.
Unfortunately, the question today is “Who does our Texas Republican legislature serve?” Do they serve the grassroots who overwhelmingly support pro-life and the severe restriction if not outright banning of abortion? Do they support the Republican Party of Texas 2018 platform that declares [Principle #2] “The sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.”? Or do they support shadowed special interests or political consultants advising them to run away from the issue? Who do our state Republicans serve?
Speaker Bonnen, a supposedly pro-life champion, has seen to it that almost every pro-life bill filed in the Texas legislature has died without a floor vote. From Representative Tinderholt’s House Bill HB 896 prohibiting abortion and protecting the rights of an unborn child to Representative Cain’s Texas Heartbeat Bill HB 1500 which would empower the tiny beating heart of an unborn child to save its own life, Speaker Bonnen has aborted this legislation before it could ever be voted on the floor. I can guarantee that all Texas House Republicans save one would say they would have voted for this legislation if only it had come up for a vote. Welcome to the Texas two-step! Consequently, all we are left with is SB 22, the No Taxpayer Funding for the Abortion Industry Act as a crumb to be thrown to conservatives. Apparently, the new Republican House leadership is the same as the old Republican House leadership.
And while much of the fault for failed pro-life legislation lies directly upon Speaker Bonnen’s shoulders, we must not forget the gross inaction on the part of Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick. Why did they not fight just as hard for pro-life legislation as they did for making psychiatry part of the Texas education system? They and their allies used every trick in the book to save their sacred “mental health” bill (SB10) at the cost of $100 million a biennium. So one doesn’t really have to wonder what was truly more important in their minds – saving the lives of the unborn or throwing millions of dollars at the mental health and pharmaceutical industry. Actions do speak louder than words.
Finally, we have seen who the public servants in Galveston County serve, we know who the politicians in Austin are not serving, and the next question for the future is who will the conservative base of Texas serve? Will they continue to support a Republican incumbent political class who offer nothing but words and excuses or will they seek out true public servants who mean what they say and then will actually act on those beliefs and principles? I guess the answer to that will be found in the 2020 Texas Primary election results.
Dale Huls is a long-time Republican activist and is the President of the Clear Lake Tea Party
The Bipartisan Platform: Why haven’t we accomplished the things we all agree should be done?
SD11 Senate District Chair Scott Bowen finds common ground between the Republican Party of Texas platform and the Texas Democratic Party platform.
As a delegate to the Republican Party of Texas convention, I was honored to testify before platform committees, vote on amendments, and be part of the process of developing the party’s stance on important issues for the coming biennium. Reading the Democratic equivalent confirms that the other party has a much different vision for society and government. However, I was surprised to find several areas of common ground between the two.
The 182 men and women elected to the next legislative session, and the 38 sent to represent this state in the U.S. Congress, will all approach their posts with their own priorities as well as those of their respective parties. I hope, though, that they can set aside some time to come together and quickly accomplish the things both parties agree would be beneficial to the state of Texas. In this article, I’ll detail several issues where both party platforms completely agree. Remember that it’s possible for two groups of people to see the world in very different ways, and yet approach the same conclusion—that often speaks to the urgency of action to solve that problem. It’s a lot to ask for both parties to set aside their differences and avoid using these issues to gain advantage over each other, but if we can do it, you’re about to see just how much can be accomplished, especially for the most vulnerable Texans among us.
No Jail for Non-Jailable Offenses
Democrats make it clear in several of their criminal justice planks that they want to keep people out of jail for low-level crimes, or crimes that would only be punishable by fines. The Republican platform explicitly calls upon the Texas Legislature “to end the practice of jailing individuals for offenses for which jail is not an allowable consequence under the law.”
Ending Debtor’s Prison
The Democratic platform calls for “ending the practice of sending poor people to jail or prison for inability to pay fines and court costs.” The Republican platform goes a step further, asking the Legislature to end incarceration of individuals who cannot pay “tickets, fines, and fees for class C misdemeanors, including traffic violations.”
Age of Criminal Responsibility
Both parties explicitly call for the age of criminal prosecution or responsibility to be raised from 17 to 18.
Consent During Traffic Stops
The Republican platform calls upon the Legislature to “require officers to get written or recorded consent (i.e. body cams) to conduct a search and inform motorists that they can decline to give such consent.” The Democratic platform uses almost the same words, asking to require officers to “get written or recorded consent prior to conducting a search during traffic stops and require them to inform people of their right to decline such consent.”
Ending Civil Asset Forfeiture
The Democratic platform calls for “ensuring civil asset forfeiture only upon a criminal conviction.” The Republican platform calls for the abolition of civil asset forfeiture using the same language, and requests that the Party make this one of its legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session.
Eliminating 3-Tier Alcohol Distribution
The Democratic platform contains strong free-market language defending the rights of craft brewers: “Democrats support modernizing the TABC’s 3 tier system because Texas’s craft breweries create jobs, encourage tourism, grow the economy, revitalize communities and add incremental tax revenues. Democrats support legislation allowing craft breweries to enjoy the same rights as their competitors in every state that allow them to sell and market their products directly from their breweries to consumers for take-home consumption, and ensure fairness in distribution across the state.” Cheers to that. For their part, Republicans “urge the Texas Legislature to adopt legislation eliminating the mandatory three-tier system of alcohol production, distribution, and retail. Texans should have the freedom to purchase alcohol directly from manufacturers, just as any other retail product.”
Reducing/Ending “Robin Hood”
The Democratic platform calls for the state to “equitably reduce reliance on ‘Robin Hood’ recapture.” The Republican platform goes a step further, stating that Republicans “oppose the ‘Robin Hood’ system of public school finance and believe the Texas Legislature, not the courts, should determine the amount of money spent on public education and the distribution thereof.” While both parties likely come at this issue from different angles and have very different visions for what school finance in Texas should look like at the state level, it is clear that neither party is happy with the status quo produced by the “Robin Hood” program and support its reduction or elimination.
The Republican platform calls upon the Legislature to provide “appropriate funding for the improvement of mental health services for children and adolescents,” especially emphasizing training for people who touch the life of a child in the foster care system and trauma-informed care. The Democratic platform offers several suggestions for this, asking for the number of treatment facilities to be increased and for community-based mental health services for children and adults.
Republicans call upon the Legislature to “improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to certified patients.” Democrats call for “the immediate legalization of medical cannabis use.”
Rape Prevention and Prosecution
The Republican Platform calls for the passage of “Abby’s Law,” which requires prosecution of rapists within 90 days, prioritizes victims’ safety and justice, requires the state to “establish a standard protocol to be followed in regards to claims of sexual assault,” and requires that “the funding of rape kit processing where the assailant is unknown will be continuous with mandatory annual reporting to ensure that the money is being allocated for this intent.” While the Democratic platform is not as specific, it supports “strong enforcement of Texas laws to hold offenders accountable and increase the likelihood that victims will come forward to report these crimes” and calls for training programs for all professionals involved in the reporting of sexual crimes.
The Republican platform calls for a “zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment,” but does not specify a group for this to apply to. The Democratic platform addresses sexual harassment in several planks, and specifically calls for a policy to be adopted in the Texas House and Texas Senate that could include significant penalties such as censure or expulsion.
Eliminating Chapter 313 Property Tax Abatements
The Democratic platform calls for “eliminating tax loopholes and unproductive special breaks, such as Chapter 313 agreements, to simplify the tax system and provide revenue for essential services.” Republicans “support repealing Tax Code Chapter 313 school property tax abatements.”
Eliminating the Driver Responsibility Program
The Democratic Platform calls for “stabilizing trauma center funding by repealing the Driver Responsibility Program fees, which many Texans cannot afford and never pay, and replacing the funding [by] other budgetary means,” while the Republican platform focuses on the Texans affected: “we call upon the Texas Legislature to abolish the Driver Responsibility Program and to immediately restore the driver licenses of the citizens whose licenses were suspended by the DRP and to cancel their debt.”
Elimination of Special Funds
Both parties call for the elimination of certain special funds, but they target different ones. The Democrats object to the Texas Enterprise Fund, referring to it as a “corporate slush fund that rewards businesses owned by political cronies and contributors, despite their failure to meet hiring targets and other program requirements.” The Republican platform calls for the Legislature to abolish the Events Trust Fund program and the Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, which also meet that description. Perhaps as a compromise, we can end all three.
Public Information Act/Trade Secrets
The platforms have suspiciously identical language about this: they both, in these exact words, “support legislation that would close contractor and trade secret loopholes in the Texas Public Information Act, while providing due process protections for private companies wishing to keep trade secrets private.”
Home and Community-Based Services
Both platforms call for the Legislature to support HCBS. The Democrats call for HCBS funding to “follow the person” in cases of long-term care. Republicans see this as a pro-life measure, presumably directed at mothers who may be considering abortion for children who would be born with special needs, and ask to “enact language to apply additional protections and to address any loopholes that fail to protect or provide appropriate home and community-based alternatives for children and adults with disabilities, in addition to providing families with information about life-affirming social and medical services available to them in Texas as alternatives to abortion and costly institutional care.”
While the Democratic platform generally advocates for less stringent enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, it does include this plank: Democrats “support strict enforcement and appropriate punishment against those who exploit undocumented workers rather than targeting the workers themselves.” Republicans agree with this approach, asking for Texas to eliminate the employment magnet by “requiring all employers to screen new hires through the free E-Verify system to prevent the hiring of illegal aliens and of anyone not legally authorized to work in the U.S.” Nothing in the Republican platform calls for the targeting of workers who are illegal immigrants—responsibility for these enforcement actions would come down entirely upon employers, as it should.
Legalization of Hemp
The Democratic Platform supports “the legalization of hemp for agricultural purposes.” The Republican Platform recognizes “industrial hemp as a valuable agricultural commodity,” and urges the Legislature to “pass legislation allowing cultivation, manufacture, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products.”
Opposition to Eminent Domain by Private Entities
The Democratic platform states that “the protection of private property is a cornerstone of freedom and liberty and is central to the Texas Constitution,” and includes strong and detailed language opposing eminent domain by private corporations, allowing condemnation “only where necessary, and only for needed projects such as transportation and utilities that serve a clear public interest.” It also supports an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would eliminate the ability for private entities to “exercise the powers of eminent domain in condemnation of private property” and ensure “all entities seeking eminent domain authority should be required, before any eminent domain is exercised, to prove that they are deserving of condemnation authority and prove that their project serves the public good.” The Republican platform calls for eminent domain to “exclude the seizure of private property for private economic development or increased tax revenue.”
Both parties call for Congress to remove cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Democrats want it removed entirely (and in the interim, to cease enforcement of federal laws regarding cannabis in states that allow it), and Republicans want to move it to Schedule 2.
The Democratic platform opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and opposes “free trade” proposals which “hurt American jobs and workers, the environment, and the American consumer.” Democrats “support fair trade deals to bring back and protect Texas and American jobs.” While Republicans “support free trade as a necessary component of American capitalism and of the United States’ influence in the world,” Republicans oppose the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Republicans also demand “the immediate withdrawal” from NAFTA and CAFTA.
By Kaia Flowers -Guest Columnist with Big Jolly Politics
The great state of Texas has suffered a devastating blow the past week. Hurricane Harvey was a nightmare scenario that many of us did not see coming. The damage to our area is unprecedented with countless families having lost everything they own – houses, cars, and clothing gone in a flash. Social media is filled with pictures of homes flooded to the roof, streets filled with cars no longer fit to drive, and debris fields along our coast.
Another thing filling our news feeds and twitter walls are messages urging people to file insurance claims before a September 1, 2017 deadline. Most of the memes do not give any other information besides the opinion that a bill, HB1774, will hurt people filing insurance claims after this deadline.
What exactly is HB1774? HB1774 is a lawsuit reform bill passed by the Texas Legislature in the 85th session along party lines in the Texas House, 92-55 and in the Texas Senate 21-7, with one Democrat supporting it. It outlines the amount of interest added to claims that are not paid out in a timely manner (section542.060, amended subsection A and adding subsection C), it requires a pre-suit notice of 61 days before a lawsuit is filed (section542A.003), it instructs the court to dismiss with prejudice any claim against an insurance company that is fulfilled before court (i.e. settled with the homeowner, section 542A.006) and outlines the award of attorney’s fees during a lawsuit (section 542A.007). Lawsuit reform is a necessary part of our legal system; laws must be written and revised to ensure that frivolous lawsuits do not hurt the consumer (many experts say that Texas has the strongest consumer protections in regard to insurance policies in the nation). The cost from these lawsuits is passed on to the consumer by raising rates or high prices on everyday goods that we buy.
The timing of this bill and the subsequent social media hysteria is unfortunate during this crisis. We should be very skeptical of the fear mongering in our Facebook feeds. Lawsuits are not the norm and should not be the norm. The vast majority of people will not have to sue their insurance company to receive a settlement. This bill focuses on the outliers that have been unable to come to an amicable settlement.
The Texas state legislature did not lower the amount of interest you will receive if a claim is not paid in a timely manner, they defined it – some cases will still receive 18% interest while other cases will receive the interest rate in section 304.003 of the finance code plus 5%. Section 542.060 subsection C states “Nothing in this subsection prevents the award of prejudgment interest on the amount of the claim, as provided by law.” The pre-suit notice is designed to allow the insurance claim to be settled expediently. After giving notice of the pending litigation the insurance company will have an opportunity to settle the claim without going to trial. This will save time and money by reducing attorney’s fees and the length of the unfilled insurance claim, which is the goal.
This bill also outlines the award of attorney’s fees. It requires reasonable and necessary attorney fees that are supported by sufficient evidence at trial. If the court hears evidence to support a higher attorney fee it will be granted but the key is that there must be evidence. Without this clause unscrupulous lawyers can take advantage of exorbitant attorney’s fees raising the cost of lawsuits and limiting the amount the award to the homeowner.
Without the attorney fee clause, would there have been an uproar over this bill worrying people displaced by hurricane Harvey? I find it extremely unlikely because there would have been no gain to flood social media with messages urging people in shelters to file their claims before the Texas HB1774 takes effect. Filing insurance claims promptly is always the best thing to do in these situations. The faster this step is done the faster people can begin to rebuild their lives after this natural disaster. In times of hardship there are people who will misuse the public’s trust for their own gain and that is unfortunate but please do not be scared that your insurance agency will abandon you due to this bill.
Kaia Flowers is a long time resident of La Porte, Texas. Mrs. Flowers is currently a student at the University of Houston Clear Lake and is pursuing her degree in history and government.
Primary challenges aren’t all that unusual in the Texas Republican Party but most of the time it is some fringe candidate with no chance of winning going up against an ‘establishment’ guy. In the race for Texas HD23, we do see an ‘establishment’ type in the form of Rep. Wayne Faircloth, who was first elected in 2014. But this time he has a very, very serious challenger by the name of Mayes Middleton. I suspect that Rep. Faircloth is in deep trouble.
Why? Because Faircloth has no grassroots or activist support. Truth is, he never has but he didn’t have a serious challenger in the 2014 primary and he was viewed as the best chance to take that seat from the Democrats after Craig Eiland retired. And it worked to everyone’s benefit as Galveston County was changing from blue to red. He hasn’t been a disaster for the party but neither has he been a leader. You can look at his committee assignments, bills authored and press statements to understand this.
You can also look at his campaign finance reports, which I did.
I included the January report to give a better representation of his fundraising ability and number of contributors. If you look at it casually, it looks like his fundraising is okay, not stellar but I’ve seen much worse. The problem comes when you look deeper. Here is what his report from January looks like if you break it down into something most of us can understand.
NUMBER OF CONT
So in reality, more than half of his reported contributions were In-Kind, mostly from large PAC’s including him in their mailers for the November 2016 election. That’s nice and helpful but it doesn’t allow you to direct your campaign. Plus, most of those organizations won’t be as big of players in a primary challenge.
As for the Entities, those are also PAC’s but they gave directly to his campaign. Again, those types of organizations usually aren’t in play in a primary because they need to mitigate their risk if their chosen candidate loses.
The most telling are the 21 Individual donations. Sure, he had some big name support (James Dannenbaum, Charles Butt, Tilman Fertitta) and it is possible that they could write much larger checks if they need to. The problem is that he had one, count ’em one, contribution under a $100. That’s a problem in a primary, where enthusiastic support is needed versus a general where it is more about a voter’s party choice.
Okay, enough about Rep. Faircloth. What about his challenger? Well, let’s take a look.
Obviously the first thing anyone is going to notice is that $485,000 loan. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of money. The second thing that the more observant are going to notice is that the numbers don’t balance. I mean, if you loan yourself $485k, raise $60k, spend $37k, you should have more than $480k on hand. Why? Beats me. I see this all the time and have never tried to figure out why. Perhaps you can.
Not that Mr. Middleton didn’t score a few big donors, he certainly did. Perennial large Republican donors Holly Frost, Windi Grimes and Wilkes Farris made large contributions. But they aren’t the story this time. The story is the number of smaller contributors and who they are. I’m not going to name them all but everyone knows Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector Cheryl Johnson. And then you have the Senate District Director for SD11 Scott Bowen. Further down the list you have the Texas SREC rep from SD11 Tanya Robertson. The activists in the district seem to have chosen a side.
And instead of one contribution under $100, Mr. Middleton has 179 individual contributors at $50 or less. Make fun of small donors all you want but if you give a guy $5 and you live in his district, you are going to vote for him.
Mr. Middleton also has the enthusiastic backing of the Empower Texans mail list, an important force in Republican primaries. Like I said earlier, I suspect that Rep. Faircloth is in trouble.
A lot of people talk about making a difference. A lot of people write on Facebook or Twitter about how they are ‘patriots’. Unfortunately, very few people give money to a candidate, even one with a proven record of supporting the positions that they write about on their social media accounts. In the same vein, very few ‘patriots’ get up off of their couch and out from behind their keyboards to actually help a candidate win an election.
Don’t be like those people. Do something besides moving your lips and fingers.
If you live in Harris County or Chambers County or Liberty County, you can make a difference this weekend. State Rep. Briscoe Cain will be block walking in Baytown on Saturday morning to support his re-election campaign. From the InBox:
Let’s take the fight to them! The liberal Austin cartel has recruited a big government opponent to challenge me for boldly representing your values. Join us July 15, to tell your neighbors why we need the #1 Conservative Representative in Texas to keep fighting for you!
RSVP to let us know you are willing to help! We can use drivers who are willing to use their vehicles to transport walkers and walkers who are willing to spread the word or assist. It’s easy and effective! We will walk you through every step!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re coming, and we’ll be sure to bring campaign literature and shirts!
P.S. If you can’t make this blockwalk, will you consider chipping in $10 to make sure our walkers have the shirts, water, and material they need to take our message to the voters?
Briscoe had a great first session. You know it was good when Texas Monthly named him as one of their ‘Worst’ legislators. That should mean something positive to anyone who calls themselves a Republican, especially given their reasoning:
When we asked Capitol insiders for Worst list suggestions, his name, almost universally, was the first one mentioned.
You want to know who I give the least amount of credibility to when deciding which legislator did a good job and which didn’t? Capital insiders, that’s who. There are very few people that crave more for attention from ‘journalists’ (I have to use that term loosely when talking about Texas political reporters) than so-called ‘capital insiders’. The inbreeding that goes on between Texas political reporters and Texas politicians rivals the mountains of Arkansas.
Even a few elected Harris County Republican officials have turned against him and are pushing an opponent in the 2018 primary. Sad but true. You’d think these guys would support a state representative with a rock solid conservative voting record, especially since they are the same people that tout Reagan’s commandment of someone who votes with me 80% of the time isn’t my enemy. But hey, Briscoe apparently didn’t kowtow to the ‘right’ officials, so they are going to teach him a lesson.
These clowns have a surprise coming. No one works their district harder than Briscoe. The clowns that are supporting yet another big government Republican to replace Briscoe are going to be embarrassed when he cleans their clock in the primary. I’d like to be in the room when they take a look at his fundraising efforts in the short time between the end of the session and the end of the fundraising period on June 30th. And yes, you’ll see my name on that report.
Make a difference. Support a candidate who is willing to buck the system. Come on out Saturday. If you can’t, why not chip in a few bucks. Beats spending it at Starbucks.
And if you want to know just how messed up Harris County Republicans are, look no further than this race. We have current Republican elected officials working to defeat a man that kept 100% of the campaign promises that he made to the voters that put him in office. Think about that.
“Here we are just days away from the 2014 Republican Primary Run-off Elections. Patrick or Dewhurst…Dewhurst or Patrick, is there a clear and simple choice for the Texas Tea Party movement? Is there one candidate that the tea party can trust to advance our agenda of personal freedom, economic freedom and a debt-free future for our children and grandchildren? Who knows? Ultimately, it’s a crap-shoot…or is it? Let’s look a little deeper now that we only have two choices left for the Republican Lt. Governor candidate.
To be fair, I have supported Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for re-election since the four challengers (Dewhurst, Patrick, Patterson, and Staples) announced their candidacies. This surprised many of my friends in the tea party movement. They looked at me like I had two heads (and both of them crazy). How could I support Dewhurst! Look at what he did to Ted Cruz during the US Senate campaign! He’s the establishment in Austin that we are fighting against! Talk about hard to defend your pick, it didn’t get any harder than this.
Indeed, even before the campaign season started…for most tea parties…David Dewhurst was not an option. Opinions were already set. An unspoken “anybody but Dewhurst” approach was pursued by everyone driven by their revulsion of the previous “scorched earth” tactics used against Ted Cruz and the continuing overspending and increases in the Texas State budget. Indeed, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst had become radioactive to the vast majority of tea parties in Texas. It seemed that everyone, including my own tea party, was searching for reasons to support one of the other remaining candidates. And for the most part, they found one reason or another to throw their support to one of the other three. The Clear Lake Tea Party endorsed Todd Staples by an overwhelming majority. It was a cold and lonely place on the CLTP Board standing up for Dewhurst and my arguments fell on deaf ears.
Yet, in the months before that vote to endorse Staples. Like many others, I was also looking for that “white knight” tea party candidate who would champion our principles and causes. However, Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert already had jobs. So I sat down and did my own analysis of the Republican candidates with their names in the hat.
Ordinarily, Patrick should be a shoo-in for tea party support. He truly does have one of the more conservative voting records in the Texas Senate. He did form the Texas Legislative Tea Party Caucus during the 82nd legislative session. Additionally, he assembled a Texas Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee composed of many leading tea party activists in the State to advise the caucus. So why was this not a slam dunk for Senator Patrick? Patrick claims that new “authentic conservative” leadership is needed in the Lt. Governor’s office. Maybe the problem seems to be with the word “authentic.” The sense of many in the tea party was that they were being “played.” Several Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee members have said that the Texas Tea Party Caucus has been ineffective in setting tea party supported policies and championing them in the legislature. Although Patrick often casts conservative votes on many issues (such as his voting against the State budget this session), his votes are never a deciding vote. Patrick also has a reputation as a “bully” and an “ideologue,” which was visibly demonstrated when he stormed the House floor to confront Rep. Steve Toth over his CSCOPE oversight bill which Patrick promised to scuttle in a backroom deal with the CSCOPE administrators. This particular instance gave some in the tea party a deep glimpse into his character. Some of us still remember, Dan Patrick’s ambush interview of Ted Cruz on his radio show that upset the grassroots state-wide. With his election year revelation regarding Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s leadership abilities, the tea party grassroots should remain unconvinced of Senator Patrick’s motivations and ultimate goals. Ultimately, I decided that Dan Patrick was no “tea party champion.”
So if not Dan Patrick, what other choice is left? It was not enough to only vote against someone. I needed to vote for someone in this election, so I gave David Dewhurst another look. I found that the original disagreements over spending and the State budget with Dewhurst still remain. I am still against the water amendment (No. 6) passed in November that was supported by the Lt. Governor. However, as I looked at the overall performance of Texas during the national financial crisis starting last decade and the hardships and anti-prosperity policies of the Obama regime, I began to evaluate things in a different light.
The tea parties are looked at as the L’Enfant Terrible of the Republican Party. We are conservatives who are terrifyingly candid by saying embarrassing things to and about the Republican Establishment. We are also portrayed as uncompromising and naive with respect to politics. While it may be true about us saying candid things that embarrass the establishment, we are growing up and maturing.
Getting past the Senate race campaign, the State budget, and a revolving-fund water amendment, I began to focus on the whole Dewhurst record. I discovered that he has be responsible for increasing the DPS budget by $800 Million to build the infrastructure necessary for Texas to be able to close its own borders for the first time. That after Patrick’s Sonogram Bill stalled in the Senate that Dewhurst personally pushed through the bill’s passage in the Senate. That under Dewhurst, as Lt. Governor, Texas has had lawsuit reform, election reform, stopped the State from adopting Medicare expansion, rejected Common Core, and greatly expanded our internal energy sources. With these in mind, I looked at other States and how they are faring with respect to Texas. Texas leads the nation in job growth. One third of all jobs created in America are in Texas. Approximately, 1200 people a day from other States come to Texas. If Texas has been so bad under the watch of Lt. Governor Dewhurst, then why are we in such great shape compared to the rest of the country?
After I looked at the Lt. Governor’s entire record, I next looked at the man. Who was this guy who ran such a cutthroat campaign against Ted Cruz who I actively supported during the campaign? Who was this politician that from the CLTP perspective seemed hardly to recognize that there was a Texas tea party movement? My questions were answered as I worked with the Dewhurst campaign team last year when they reached out to grassroots around Texas. I and other activists were brutally honest with our advice to the Dewhurst campaign. Sometimes our suggestions and input were taken and acted upon, sometimes not. However, they kept coming back and asking. That is all we in the tea party are asking for. A chance to be heard! We know that we won’t get everything we ask for, but that is all right. As long as you are listening and making valued, principled judgments, I am okay with being on the losing side of things from time to time. Just ask my CLTP Board!
And then, I finally got to interact with David Dewhurst directly. From the time I spent with him in person and on the phone, I gathered my own sense of the man and who I thought he was. I got a feeling of “authenticity,” “integrity,” and “sincerity” from the Lt. Governor. He seemed earnest that I understand his positions and rationale, yet was never condescending or dismissive over my concerns and issues. Sometimes we would agree to disagree and others I could see enlightenment enter his eyes regarding concepts and concerns he had previously not thought of. For the first time my personal assessment agreed with my political assessment, that I was indeed backing the right horse in this race.
Like I said before, backing Dewhurst was a lonely place in the tea party. However, after the primary and the field now down to just two candidates, the CLTP was trying to figure out what its next steps would be regarding the run-off. The Patrick team contacted Robert Gonzalez, then President of the CLTP, to set up a meeting to “bury the hatchet” regarding our opposition to his candidacy for Lt. Governor. We agreed, and in good conscience, Robert decided it was only fair to give Dewhurst a similar opportunity to address our tea party board. Dewhurst accepted our invitation and on a Friday at the First Baptist Church of Seabrook, the Lt. Governor sat with the CLTP Executive Board. Sitting down, the CLTP Board was very anti-Dewhurst for all the reasons previously stated. My fellow board members began questioning with a vengeance and hitting on topics like education, the TSA anti-groping bill that failed, the Wendy Davis filibuster, budget issues, border security, open carry, Obamacare, tort reform, local elections and debt reform to name just a few. Dewhurst spent three and a half hours with us answering questions, giving background information, and discussing problems and solutions. After our meeting, my fellow board members seemed rather stunned at the way things had turned out. I was asked “was that for real” to which I replied “that is the David Dewhurst I have been working with for months, you are just seeing this for the first time.” In fact, one of my friends on the board commented that “if this is for real, I owe you an apology.” No apology needed. I understood their mindset intimately because it was once my own.
After a week of reflection and debate, the Clear Lake Tea Party Executive Board announced their endorsement and support of Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for re-election as Texas Lt. Governor. To those who read these words, take note that it is a rare thing that so many strong and opinionated people can re-evaluate their positions, change their minds and publicly reverse their stance.
But this is not the end of this story. If it was just the CLTP Board who reconsidered their opinion of David Dewhurst and ended up supporting him, it could be looked at as an atypical outcome in a turbulent political season. But the story doesn’t just end there. Immediately upon the announcement that the Clear Lake Tea Party had formally endorsed Dewhurst for Lt. Governor, all the leadership of the surrounding area tea parties began to question the wisdom and sanity of backing the Dewhurst. In order to answer this question, the CLTP organized another meeting with Dewhurst and the leadership of six area tea parties all mainly hostile to the Lt. Governor last week.
Folks, lightning struck twice. After the meeting, what were once critics of David Dewhurst came out with a new understanding and perspective of the man and his efforts for Texas. Within a day, two tea parties that were represented by their boards immediately endorsed David Dewhurst for Lt. Governor and representatives of the others went back to advocate an endorsement from their respective boards. Their decisions are pending. What all this demonstrates is that if the tea parties of Texas temper their initial opposition and take a hard long second look at both candidates, they just might come to a different conclusion regarding the candidates.
Finally, do a grassroots activist’s due diligence by throwing out conventional wisdom and judge the situation on the entirety of the facts present. Get your facts first-hand by doing your own research, picking up the phone or setting up a meeting. Oh, by the way, how did the CLTP meeting with Dan Patrick go you may ask? After several canceled meetings by the Patrick team, we were never able to get him to sit down with our board. Who knows, what would have happened if he had thought it important to keep his appointments with the Clear Lake Tea Party.