The GOP brand is tarnished in Texas

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Money In Politics, Uncategorized at 1:11 pm by wcnews

Over the last few days there have been several articles that have crystallized the issues that the Texas GOP is facing post election. The Texas GOP is beginning to look like a bunch of AIG Executives. Their caucus is getting together with corporate lobbyists, at a posh spa retreat just South of Austin, paid for by corporate lobbyists, to plot strategy for the upcoming session. The AP’s Jay Root has the story, GOP leaders ask for ‘unlimited’ corporate money:

They might have lost ground in the past election, but state House Republicans are playing up their two-seat majority for all it’s worth: They’re asking for unlimited corporate and personal contributions to raise money and finance strategy sessions this week at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Bastrop, where donations and access to top leaders go hand in hand.

GOP House Caucus meetings are held before every legislative session. The next session begins in January. But critics, including fellow Republicans, said the idea is particularly ill-timed and tone-deaf because of the economic downturn, the party’s recent electoral losses and the way the money is being raised — by doling out access to GOP leaders based on the amount given.


The two-day confab includes dinner Wednesday night at the home of registered lobbyist Bill Pewitt, whose clients include Accenture. Last year the company lost a lucrative state contract designed to privatize the state’s social services eligibility system.

Gov. Rick Perry; his pollster, Mike Baselice; Craddick and national GOP activist Michael Steele , a candidate for Republican National Committee chairman, are among the invited speakers. The news media is not allowed to attend.

Of course shortly after the November 4th election much ink was wasted in the traditional media about the Democrats supposedly not being unified because they only had 68 of 74 caucus members show up at their post-election caucus meeting. Now we find out that Texas GOP’s house caucus couldn’t even get a quorum (38 of 76) to show up at their corporate sponsored AIG-like caucus meeting. The Democrats in the house continue to be unified. This editorial in today’s AAS, Texas GOP falls head over heels into deep pockets, does a good job of pointing out the GOP’s delusion.

After losing legislative seats in three straight elections, after accusations and indictments for fundraising improprieties and with the House in complete disarray, you would think the GOP leadership would be just a bit ashamed to be selling access to its “Preferred Members” and asking for unlimited corporate donations.

But no, the leadership is as tin-eared and arrogant as ever, embarrassing even some of those “Preferred Members.” The Texas version of the Republican Party obviously can’t read the handwriting on the wall, either.

Earlier this week Paul Burka had on his blog a conservative that compared the GOP’s corporate money problem to quicksand:

The GOP has built its foundation on quicksand, and Tuesday, the voters told the GOP — nationally and in Texas — that they’ve had enough. The voters sent the same message in 2006 and it didn’t register with the GOP leadership. Perhaps the second time is the charm. The quicksand here is the Austin lobby, a handful of purely self-interested major campaign contributors, and large corporate bureaucracies.

Whether it’s quicksand or manna it ain’t easy for the Texas GOP to quit it, that’s for sure. At this time it seems likely that the Texas House will be in disarray unless, or until, a different Speaker is chosen. Maybe some in the hierarchy of the Texas GOP need to go to Craddick and tell him it’s over, and that he should step aside for the good of the party. It’s obvious that “Craddick fatigue” has set in and many GOP members of the house are worried about the damage another house session like the last would do to them. They should be worried about that and the GOP’s record of bad governance, especially with redistricting coming up. This probably isn’t helping Craddick or the house GOP’s cause either, Texas House members spend $140K to renovate lounge.

While state agencies are being told to rein in their spending, Texas House members have ordered at least $140,000 in renovations for their members-only lounge, including antique chandeliers, granite countertops and big screen televisions.

According to records obtained by The Associated Press through freedom of information requests, an “estimated budget” for the renovations lists a little over $140,000 in equipment and labor costs so far.

Among the expenditures listed are the two brass chandeliers at $14,500 each; custom wood cabinets with granite countertops and backsplash at $61,200; a Scotsman Touchfree air-cooled flake ice maker at $3,425; and two Sharp 42-inch LCD TVs at $2,198.

The renovations come as state agencies are cutting expenses at the request of Gov. Rick Perry, who doesn’t oversee spending by the Legislature, which operates independently of the executive branch.


The records don’t indicate what the final price tag for the renovation will be or who’s coordinating the makeover. In a written response to AP inquiries, House Accountant Steve Adrian said “no particular person” initiated the renovation and he didn’t foresee the costs exceeding that amount.

One person named in the documents is Nadine Craddick, the wife of GOP House Speaker Tom Craddick. She approved a new sink and oversaw the selection of the granite used for the countertops.

She wrote Adrian Oct. 29 about the possible purchase of a new couch. “This is my favorite,” she said in the e-mail containing pictures of three Hancock-Moore sofa designs.

What all this means is that GOP conservatism in Texas is finally taking the same hit it’s been taking at the national level since the 2004 election. The curtain has been pulled back and Texans of all political stripes are figuring out, at an increasing rate, that it hasn’t worked, isn’t working, and won’t work. Looking like a bunch of lobbyist shills, unresponsive to the needs of the citizenry, while living it up at a spa, and using taxpayer money to outfit a lavish backroom lounge, probably isn’t the post-election image the GOP wanted to portray after losing ground in the legislature for the third straight election cycle. It’s obvious the GOP brand is tarnished in Texas.


  1. GoneFishing said,

    November 20, 2008 at 8:59 am

    The Texas Republicans can’t seem to resist the urge to circle the wagons and begin firing inward. Not unlike the Democrats did in the not-too-distant past. I have mixed feelings about Craddick not returning as speaker. With him and Terry Keel at the helm of the House in 2009, additional losses of Republican seats are guaranteed in 2010.

    If we thought the 2007 session was contentious, “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet” for 2009 if Craddick returns as speaker. That could only be good for Democrats in 2010 which is much more important for the future (ie, redistricting) than whatever good could come out of a 2009 session under more moderate Republican leadership. While I respect Burt Solomons, I am not sure he has the ability (yet) to pull together the bipartisan coalition that it will take to elect him. The more Republican candidates for speaker there are reduces the odds that Craddick will be able to pull it out, but I am not counting him out for good until the last vote on Jan 13 is counted. Either way, I figure it’ll be good for Texas Democrats.

  2. wcnews said,

    November 20, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Good points all.

    It really does seem to come down to a decision that will have to be made within the Texas GOP as how to deal with Craddick, one way or another.

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