The perils at the national level of being a majority minority-party state

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary at 3:42 pm by wcnews

Republicans in Texas are going to great pains to try and shift the blame for many of their schemes over the last several years finally coming back to bite them, and unfortunately, Texas as well. Currently Texas is a majority GOP state, at a time when the GOP is the minority party in our country. It has it’s detriments. Gov. Rick Perry recently tried to blame some issues Texas is having on the Obama Administration.

President Barack Obama “has put a target on Texas’ back” and illustrated it by not mentioning NASA’s sprawling Johnson Space Center in Houston while announcing new space agency initiatives in Florida, Gov. Rick Perry said Saturday.

Why is Perry complaining since he’s getting what he wants - less federal socialism? Burka tries to explain why it may be Perry’s rhetoric, and not how Texas votes, that’s causing the problem.

Perry is right about one thing — there’s a target on Texas’s back, all right — but a good case can be made that Perry himself bears some of the responsibility for putting it there. His attacks on Obama have been very personal. In a campaign speech at Midland last fall he said, “This is an administration hell bent on taking America towards a socialist country. And we ought not be afraid to say that because that’s what it is.” In his recent speech to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, he made the same point, that the country was engaged in “a great struggle between socialism and democracy.”

There was also this recent item about the Continental/United Airlines merger, Why Continental’s flight to Chicago might put Bill White in the Governor’s mansion.

While a representative of Gov. Rick Perry touted the state’s pro-business climate and such great selling points as no state income tax, no fuel tax, and a lower cost of living, he, like everyone else at the news conference, was at a loss for words to explain why, if Texas is such a hospitable place for business, did Continental decamp for Illinois?

I suspect politics played a part in it. And, I’m not the only one. As a high-level Republican insider explained, there’s a perception out there that Texas is losing its political clout.

Although BAE Systems had manufactured Army trucks for nearly 20 years in Sealy, the Pentagon recently dropped production there and awarded a contract to a Wisconsin company located in the home district of U.S. Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Few doubt that a substantial number of NASA jobs will be cut at the Johnson Space Center and end up in the battleground state of Florida.

It’s not much of a stretch to assume that United officials in Illinois, the home state of President Obama, believe they’ll have an easier time in winning approval for the merger than if they had abandoned Chicago for Houston.

You might think such sentiments would hurt Bill White in his quest to become the state’s next governor, but the former Houston mayor might well find a blueprint for victory by tapping into the idea that Texas would be better off with a Democrat in the state’s top job. If he can convince enough middle-of-the-road voters that the state is suffering economically by being so closely identified with the Republican party and can get some of its clout back by electing him, he stands a good chance of winning.

Should that happen, White might be the greatest beneficiary of the United merger.

There’s one obvious mistake in that excerpt, Texas certainly does have a fuel tax. But some on the right in Texas have been complaining that this is the Obama Administration exacting payback on Texas. It may seem that way but it’s not the case. It’s just political reality. Which is explained pretty well in this DMN article, Regulators get tough as Texas’ clout wanes in Washington. Many of the advantages Texas enjoyed through the Bush presidency are now gone. But this also has to so with what Tom DeLay, and the Texas GOP’s mid-decade redistricting did to Texas and the Democrats in the US House of Representatives. It took away the considerable seniority, those members of Congress would now have as part of the majority. And they could be using that political power to protect Texas in these battles.

Here’s an excerpt from the book Lines in the sand: congressional redistricting in Texas and the downfall of Tom DeLay (Pg. 5-6). Click the extended entry to continue reading.

A third sort of marginalization of the Democratic Party in Texas resulted from the depletion of its leadership and influence in Congress and the national party. The ten targeted Democratic incumbents represented 128 years of seniority in Congress; two of them had each served for twenty-five years. One, Charles Stenholm, was the ranking minority member of the House Agriculture Committee. Other held ranking positions on the Transportation, Veterans’ Affairs, Energy and Commerce, Space, and Homeland Security committees. Several (such as long-term congressman Martin Frost) held positions of power within the Democratic Party’s leadership or in organizations such as the Blue Dog Coalition (Jim Turner). With the defeat of these senior lawmakers, Texas Democrats have become less able to effectively assist persons, businesses, and organizations wanting to influence decisions in Washington. Businesses and persons thereby necessarily will become increasingly dependent on Republican congressman; this dependency will likely lead to campaign funding from these sources. [Emphasis added].

When asked about the state’s loss of seniority through the replacement of the targeted congressmen with freshman n lawmakers, Congressman DeLay explained that, in his view, the Democratic Party was essentially “irrelevant” in Congress today:

They [the Democratic incumbents] may look at themselves as important. I look at them as rather irrelevant. The ranking members don’t vote with the majority of Texans in almost every issue that comes to the floor. They are opposed to everything. And how can you claim to be relevant if you are opposed to everything just for opposition sake and in a partisan vein? So I don’t see that as a loss to Texas at all.

Therefore, in DeLay’s view, a loss by Texas of congressional seniority in the Democratic Party was unimportant. Other Republican officials emphasized that they were likewise unworried: since the President and many important members of Congress were from Texas, they expected the state’s interests to be adequately protected. Some Republicans pointed out that Teas now has the largest Republican delegation in Congress (twenty-one members, ahead of California’s twenty and Florida’s eighteen) and can wield more important power within the controlling Republican majority.

It’s not targeting it’s simply how politics works - you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. The Texas GOP hasn’t been helpful at all to Obama and the Democrats, so they shouldn’t be whining about other states benefiting from the federal government. It would certainly come in handy to have Texas Democrats chairing some of those committees. It’s that loss of political power, along with what this commenter from the DMN article states, about the unwillingness of any Texas Congressional Republicans to work with Democrats in Congress or the President.

The Texas congressional delegation, largely Republican (and totally so in the Senate) if far too busy with its anti-Obama campaign to deal with the business of the state. Cornyn has become primarily a mouthpiece for hard right conservative interests at the expense of representing the needs of Texas. Hutchinson has been too busy running for governor, and the House delegation is equally distracted. Moreover, Perry is more interested in raising his own political stock than dealing with the state’s business. There may be some retribution aimed at Texas, but when a states majority leadership declares war on the federal government, what is to be expected?

The Republicans in Texas have made their bed, and now they want to try and blame someone else. As the elected GOP in Texas continues to try and shift blame, and act like children, don’t expect much to change. But why is the Texas delegation so mad? They’ve been saying since Obama was elected that they don’t want any assistance from the federal government and think federal spending is socialism, this should make them happy.


  1. Eye on Williamson » Texas Blog Round Up (May 10, 2010) said,

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