I remember someone saying a few years back, around 2004 or so, that Texas is usually a few election cycles behind national trends. Lets hope that explains what’s going on. That is why this report in the recent Round Rock Leader, on a post-election forum in Williamson County caught my eye, Republicans dissect Romney defeat. The day after the election “100 GOP faithful” and “a panel of journalists and consultants” discussed Romney’s defeat.
It’s a tricky riddle, for those who take their party affiliation seriously.
On the one hand, panelist Mike Hailey – editor of the Capitol Insider newsletter – had this to say: “The independent voters, they’re turned off by the extremes of both sides, the right or the left.”
But on the other hand, forum moderator Peggy Venable countered with this: “If the race is won in the middle, I think many of us in this room would think of Obama as being on the far left.”
That explains what’s going on in Texas and Williamson County pretty well. While most who are to the left of President Obama see him as a centrist Democrat, those on the far right see him as being on the extreme, far left. (Anyone who wants to see what someone on the “far left” really thinks of Obama’s reelection should read this, Once Again—Death of the Liberal Class.) What this shows is that when the far left is the center it skews everything, and what’s left of center gets ignored and left out of the conversation.
And that’s a big part of why Democrats are struggling in Texas and Williamson County. There is no serious discussion of how to try and lower the poverty rate in Texas, which is key to fixing our health and education problems. Instead these problems fester as our state leaders hoard billions of dollars that could be used to help many who are suffering in Texas.
The recent reporting on the race for Speaker in the Texas House of Representatives does a good job of showing where the discussion stands in Texas right now. A fight between a right-leaning Republican and a far right Republican. And it’s clear the Speaker’s race is a lesser of two evils choice for Democrats, and their issues will not be taken into account. Via the HChron, Straus faces tea party-backed challenge for Texas House speakership.
Unlike the governor and lieutenant governor, who are elected by Texas voters, the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives is chosen by members during the first day of each legislative session. It takes at least 76 votes to win the highly prized speakership.
The speaker appoints legislative committees and their leaders and also controls the flow of legislation.
Straus is counting on support from a solid chunk of the chamber’s 95 GOP members along with most Democrats, who have supported him in the past, particularly in 2009 when he upset incumbent Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland.
However, during a Democratic caucus meeting on Thursday, members decided to temporarily withhold support for anyone.
“We’re not in any hurry,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Jessica Farrar, D-Houston.
Farrar said Democrats, generally, could not back Hughes because his support from the most conservative Texans conflicts with the state’s need to invest in education, health care, water, transportation and other infrastructure.
“I don’t really have much of a choice, quite frankly. I am not excited about Joe Straus,” she said.
Straus’ standing among many minority lawmakers diminished during the 2011 legislative session following good reviews of his leadership two years earlier. Many remain upset with Straus’ handling of redistricting, voter ID, immigration and cuts to public education funding, including a $300 million cut to kill the state’s full-day pre-K program.
“Joe Straus seemed to be very uncaring when he cut public education by $5.4 billion for a statewide system that’s 51 percent Hispanic,” Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said. “He had no problem trying to curtail and take away minority voting rights (voter ID), and he participated in a scheme to intentionally discriminate against minority voters when it came to redistricting.” [Emphasis added]
This is what the far right sees as “mainstream issues”.
“The issues that matter to voters are mainstream issues that Straus was unable to accomplish,” [Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams] said, citing “balancing the budget without gimmicks and TSA (Transportation Security Administration) groping were two of them. Sanctuary cities were another.”
And Straus just wants the “same old, same old”, that hasn’t gotten accomplished in a decade.
The speaker said most legislators agree with him that Texas needs to focus on such priorities as education, water, energy, transportation and budget transparency and not get sidetracked with divisive speaker politics.
While Straus is the only choice between these two for House Democrats, no one should be left with the impression that he’s an ally of Texas Democrats. Texas cannot turn purple, much less blue, until there is much more push back from the left to get issues that aren’t being discussed back into the discussion. Changing the discussion and doing the much needed work is what will get Texas, and areas like Williamson County, “back to blue” sooner, rather than later.
Brains and Eggs thinks it’s all “kabuki theatre” and Straus is a shoo-in for relection, Texas House speaker politics begins.
And Texas Monitor on more crazy talk from the far right, Secession? Andale pues…