Chubbing is done, winners and losers TBD

Posted in 81st Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, The Lege at 9:52 am by wcnews

The Democrats succeeded in protecting voting rights in Texas and have killed the Texas GOP’s attempt at passing a voter suppression for another session. Before it was all said and done yesterday the most partisan GOP members of the house used the tactic they whined about the Democrats using for five days. The Democrats, of course, used to keep Texas elections inclusive, the GOP used it to take needed of unemployment insurance benefits from in Texans in need. And as BOR points out, they seemed to enjoy it, Democrats Save Voting Rights; Republicans Steal Unemployment Compensation and Grin.

Well, if Rick Perry, Joe Straus, David Dewhurst and their GOP conspirators couldn’t successfully deny the vote to hundreds of thousands of Texans, they succeeded in denying them unemployment benefits.

I’ve seen a lot of black-hearted things in the Capitol, but I’ve never been as disgusted as I was when I saw GOP House Caucus Chair Larry Taylor grinning like the Cheshire Cat as Straus and his henchmen used the very device they’d been whining about — slow talking — to kill the unemployment insurance bill.

They were grinning like cats, but they were behaving like wee, witless errand-folk for Perry. Perry opposed the UI bill because he had to object to something in the federal stimulus package. Refusing a few hundred million from Barack Obama seemed just the ticket to raise his creep-cred with the far right. Even if it raised taxes on businesses about $700 million. Even if it increased the suffering of 200,000 Texans who’ve lost their jobs because G.W. Bush and Perry almost destroyed the economy.

There are many reasons this happened but mainly because the house is so evenly divided, and the GOP was unwilling to compromise, in any way, on Voter ID. The way the Democrats handled this was excellent. With Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) being the only one talking to the media, only certain members doing the “chubbing”, and it being done in a respectful manner made it as painless as possible. The GOP for their part could have been worse, and didn’t take as many shots as they usually do. It seemed the GOP was doing more of the explaining, and whoever is explaining more is usually losing the argument.

Vince thinks this will play bad for the Texas GOP in the long run, and that’s certainly a possibility, Chubbed Into Submission: Why The Last Five Days Will Hurt Republicans And Help Democrats In 2010.

The buzz around the corridors of the Capitol this week has been that Republicans are publicly salivating–and Democrats are privately anxious–over the implications the Great Chubbathon of 2009 over voter identification legislation will have on the 2010 election cycle.

House Republican Caucus Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) has already called the Democratic minority “whiny kids;” House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) has called them “obstructionist.” The rhetoric is seemingly powerful, so one could see why Democrats may be a bit anxious.

The fact is, however, that Republicans–not Democrats–have lost the most as a result of the last five days’ labors in the House.

Kuff on the other hand thinks it too early to tell, And so the chubbing comes to an end.

So, as far as I know at this point, SB362 is dead, other bills may or may not be dead, and some semblance of normality will return to the House for the remaining days of the session. After seeing so much analysis, hand-wringing, name-calling, and what have you over the weekend, I think it may be premature to speculate as to what the fallout of all this may be. It may wind up that most of the bills people were fretting and arguing about pass anyway, and most of the ones that end up dead were always fated to die one way or another. We may yet have a special session, or we may not - even Burka is now equivocal about the possibility. I’ll simply observe that Rick Perry hasn’t telegraphed his intentions, which as best I recall is not how he’d operated in the past in calling specials. Not definitive by any stretch, but at least moderately suggestive.

If in the end most bills wind up getting passed, then the question is how does this play out in the 2010 elections. Voter ID, at least the concept of it, has a fair amount of support in the polls. You could probably knock it down a fair amount with some detailed information, but having to go into that kind of detail is generally not winning politics. On the other hand, I daresay that support is fairly shallow. Present it as a matter of priority, with voter ID being put ahead of things like insurance reform, and I bet it’s not nearly the winner it is in a vacuum. I’d bet it barely registers in an open-ended “what’s your top priority” poll question. So while I’m sure the Rs think they have an issue, I know the Ds think they do as well. And if you want to make it about obstructionism, my general belief is that in most cases it’s the majority party that gets the blame when stuff the electorate perceives as important doesn’t get done. That’s not universal - ask the national GOP how their obstructive efforts paid off for them last year - but I think it’s the starting point. Each side can claim they had priorities that they tried to enact but were prevented from doing so. All I know is I’ll put mine up against theirs any day. I’m sure they see it the same way.

How this will all play out in the end, no one really knows. And whether there’s a winner in all of this likely won’t be decided until we know who the Speaker of the House is in 2011.

This session was not a “normal” session. With a Speaker’s race decided late, a nearly even partisan divide, late committee assignments, and no definitive governing majority in the House, it was probably inevitable that some kind of brouhaha would take place. One lesson learned may be for a Speaker to get those issues that must be passed, through the house early in session. Especially in such a closely divided chamber.

[UPDATE]: STX Chisme adds some key points on Voter ID, a special session and the governor’s race.

1 Comment »

  1. Wednesday Evening Press Clips « Texas Republic News Blog said,

    May 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    […] Eye on Williamson, Chubbing is done, winners and losers TBD […]

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