It seems like we keep hearing about how there are many disgruntled, or unhappy, Texas Republicans, who don’t like what Perry’s doing to the state of Texas. But the “disgruntled Texas Republican” meme keeps getting harder and harder to believe as the years roll on. It’s half-way through his current term, (again), and his approval rating is back to 39%. There’s no way Perry can be re-elected, right? Wrong, the Texas GOP will likely keep re-electing Perry until he decides he won’t run any more.
While I believe what people like Harvey Kronberg and Paul Burka report – that there are Republicans out there that tell them they’re unhappy – there aren’t any that show it in public, or during a legislative session. (They’re like a GOP Chupacabra, we always hear about one, but never actually see one). It may be something a few of the caucus members are told to say to the media so they’ll keep reporting it, and Texans will still believe there are sensible Republicans out there.
Be that as it may, whenever I read something like this I try and picture how it would play our during a legislative session. Here’s the end of Kronberg’s latest at YNN, Governor’s budget compact evokes surprising GOP response.
The Republican majorities represent real people back home. It’s an all too familiar list. Rural hospitals suffered from budget cuts. Suburban areas are strangling in traffic with no money to build or repair roads. Almost every community has some public school horror stories about cuts. The current tax system will never have enough money to pay for the water infrastructure needed to support either suburb or agriculture. And on it goes.
Most Republicans were profoundly unhappy with the results from last session. The GOP super-majorities wrote a bunch of hot checks and left them for the next group of lawmakers to pay. From their perspective, the Governor limited their flexibility and made problem solving much more difficult while assuring a continuation of a government funded on hot checks.
That’s not a pretty picture Kronberg paints and we’re supposed to believe that “most Republicans” were “deeply unhappy” with last session. I just haven’t gotten that impression at all. But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that most GOP members of the legislature are deeply unhappy with the results of last session. Perry’s signalling he wants the same, only worse, no diversions, gimmicks, and tricks this time.
Other then Perry’s HPV debacle, which was mainly a revolt of the right wing social conservatives, there’s no will, whatsoever, of the GOP members in the legislature to stand up to Perry. Especially on the tax and economic issues. Are we supposed to believe that there will be enough GOP members of the legislature willing to stand up to Perry next session? Not to mention the timing of it all.
The current bets are the partisan balance in the Texas House will move slightly in favor of the Democrats. A switch from a GOP majority of 102 to between 90 and 95. That would mean in the House if every Democrat voted to override a Perry veto, somewhere between 40 and 45 Republicans in the House would have to as well. And in the Senate the partisan balance is likely to stay close to what it is now, a 19-12 GOP advantage. Will there be 9 or 10 GOP Senators willing to vote with the Democrats to override a veto? And that’s assuming both chambers can get a budget passed and on Perry’s desk in time for him to veto, with enough time left in session to override that veto. (See The Limits of the Veto).
There’s also a good possibility that the current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will be elected to the US Senate. If he is there will be a intra-party battle before the next session starts to see who will b the next Lt. Gov. It took eight ballots, all secret, in a “committee of the whole” to elect the new Lt. Gov back in 2000. The Senate back then had a 16-15 GOP majority. Wikipedia states Bill Ratliff was elected by a vote of 16-15, with most of his votes coming from Democrats. Suffice it to say that an election like that, just before the legislative session, is likely to stir up passions, not just in the Senate, but those outside the Senate looking to run for Lt. Gov. in 2014. It would be like a Speaker’s race in the Senate.
All of this makes it likely that the 2013 legislative session is going to be an exciting one. Last week, with the release of what Kuff is calling Perry’s budget suicide pact, Texas may finally get a legislative showdown between the two factions of the Texas GOP – between the right wing extremists and the less extreme moderates. Between the Perry Republicans and the rest of them.
If there really are disgruntled or deeply “unhappy” Texas Republicans out there, they’re not going to get anywhere without taking on, and ultimately, taking out Perry. And it certainly can’t be done through the media. They will have to make themselves known and quit being afraid of speaking in public about their disagreements and their deep unhappiness. Otherwise it’ll just be more of the same.