Tag Archives: Texas Elections

Mike Toth – Justice for Sale?

Mike Toth – a member of embattled Texas AG Ken Paxton’s inner circle – won the GOP primary for a seat on the important Austin Court of Appeals yesterday.  Observers wonder about Toth’s impartiality in light of his aggressive out-of-state fundraising that violated the voluntary ethical guidelines that almost every judicial candidate in Texas follows.  At one point almost one-third of Toth’s campaign cash came from out of state – something very unusual in a normally somewhat obscure down ballot judicial race.

According to the Texas Observer, Toth soaked up cash from controversial right wing billionaire Peter Thiel and from John Thayer , former hedge fund manager from  Greenwich, Connecticut who notified the Texas Ethics Commission that would exceed the $5,000 expenditure cap that all normal judicial candidates agree to.  Other questionable funds have flowed to Toth personally and politically.   Joel Lumer, a Florida lawyer claiming to be a long-time friend of Toth’s, contributed $10,000 to Toth and also gave Toth’s family $24,000 for their children’s college funds [plus a Canon Ef 200mm lens and a “monetary gift” of $2,268], according to campaign records and personal financial statements on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.  Who gives someone else $24,000 for their kids’ college education without expecting something in return?

To top it off, Toth has waged an unconventional campaign as if he were running for Congress – not a judicial post where you are supposed to be impartial.  Toth touted his Tea Party and Trumpian bona fides and left little doubt in Red’s mind that he will be a judicial activist of the most pernicious sort – one using the old saw of substantive due process to knock out laws that he personally disagrees with and running roughshod over the legislative process.   Toth’s claim to rule impartially on the facts and the law if elected seems especially doubtful in light of his over right-wing campaign designed to push the GOP’s hot buttons.

Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips appeared appalled by Toth’s right-wing campaign.

 Phillips, a Republican said, “he had never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.  “I’m concerned anytime a judicial candidate suggests, even indirectly, that his or her election will lead to a particular policy outcome,” Phillips said. “To conduct a campaign based on your view of hot-button political issues confuses rather than enlightens the electorate.”

Red is endorsing Gisela Triana – sight unseen – against the unfolding ethical nightmare that Toth seems to embody.

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Among the Good News from Primary Night – This Gun Worshipping Gal Lost

GOP Candidate Totes Assault-Style Weapon In Campaign ...

No Texas candidate for Congress wrapped themselves in the groping arms of Donald Trump more than Republican Kathaleen Wall in her race for the Second Congressional District.  Wall spent over $6 million of her own money in an effort to pander to the lowest common denominator as shown by ads such as this one.   Wall liked to paint herself as having pulled herself up out of poverty by her own bootstraps.  She also wore her version of Christianity on her sleeve as if somehow Jesus was a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and against any government welfare programs.  Red doesn’t know much about Wall’s background other than she is married to a rich older man.  What Red does know is that she blew $6 million on a losing campaign.  Alas, she will have to travel to DC on her own dime in order to feel the warm embrace of the real Donald.  There is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Lyin’ Ted, er – Make that Lyin’ Rafael

Sen. Ted Cruz (TP – Texas) has put out a pathetic attempt of parody song attempting to smear his opponent Beto O’Rourke with the following line:

“Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.”

Of course, Rafael Edward Cruz felt no such similar need to fit in.  He just used Ted because he was a big fan of Ted Kennedy.  Red has to admit that Lyin’ Rafael has a ring to it. What it does show is that Lyin’ Ted learned from the beating he took at the hands of Trump.  Go after your opponent no matter what your personal circumstance might happen to be.  Trump was the consummate liar and crooked businessman – so he reversed that by calling his opponents liars and crooks.  Lyin’ Ted has a name that would not fit in well with his conservative base – so attack your opponent for using a nickname that was given to him and that he has carried since birth it would seem.  The only problem for Lyin’ Ted is that such a strategy may work for a once-in-a-lifetime political anomaly like Trump – it probably doesn’t work if you are already an unlikable, stick-up-your-ass narcissist like Lyin’ Ted.

 

A Justice for Sale in Austin?

A Republican candidate for the Third Court of Appeals in Austin is stretching what are traditionally considered the limits for appropriate campaigning.  Mike Toth a card carrying Tea Party member and protégé of embattled AG Ken Paxton is embracing Donald Trump and conservative identity politics in his campaign for a seat on the influential Austin Court of Appeals.  Despite being in Austin, the Court is firmly in Republican hands because it covers a 28 county area stretching all the way to San Angelo.  Toth is also accepting contributions in excess of the standard $5000 limit.  Judicial candidates in Texas typically pledge to not accept contributions over $5000 as anything more than that gives the appearance of buying justice.  Toth is apparently blowing through that limit and accepting gifts of money for the education of his children from a Florida lawyer, as well as embracing our Realty TV Show President.  The Texas Tribune has more.

Candidate Michael Toth, a special counsel in the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton, has pulled in $151,000 so far in the 3rd Court of Appeals GOP primary contest, and more than a third of it comes from out of state, records show.

[O]ne of Toth’s major non-Texas donors, former hedge fund manager John Thaler of Greenwich, Connecticut, has notified the Texas Ethics Commission that he plans to exceed a $5,000 expenditure cap the candidates agreed to; that allows Toth’s opponents to ignore donation and expenditure limits.

Toth isn’t shy about touting his Tea Party bonafides and running on the same issues that non-judicial candidates use to attract Republican primary voters. In one mailer, Toth brags that he fought for “tougher border security, defended President Trump’s travel ban, sued to crack down on sanctuary cities” and “supported extreme vetting of refugees.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips, a Republican, said he’d “never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.

“I’m concerned anytime a judicial candidate suggests, even indirectly, that his or her election will lead to a particular policy outcome,” Phillips said. “To conduct a campaign based on your view of hot-button political issues confuses rather than than enlightens the electorate.”

Texas’ Hottest Primary Contests

The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey has categorized some of the 215 contested primary elections for statewide office, U.S. Congress and the Statehouse according to his calculation of the heat of the race  See Ramsey’s temperature scale of hottest, hotter and hot contests here.

The one GOP race that has Red excited is the contest to unseat Do-Nothing Land Commissioner and only holding office by virtue of his family name George P. Bush.  The Bush family scion had done nothing to deserve election to statewide office and by all accounts doesn’t really do much on the job other than collect a paycheck on the taxpayer dime.  Red is firmly backing former LC Jerry Patterson who actually wants to do a good job for Texas and protect Texas public lands.  Patterson fought hard for our historically open beaches when the Texas Supreme Court attempted to cut back access with bizarre rulings based on arcane concepts.   Patterson is a little extreme for Red’s taste on the weapons front –  but other than allowing hunting on some public lands (which is sorely lacking in Texas compared to our western neighbors), his views on concealed and open carry laws will not have much impact on the Land Commissioner’s office.

George P.’s endorsement of Donald Trump after Trump totally trashed his father JEB!!!!$$$$? tells you just about everything you need to know about the current LC.  Some might say only a spineless weasel of an ambitious politician would endorse a man who called his dear old Dad “dumb as a rock” – which was actually among his kinder things Trump said about JEB!!!!$$$$?.  Red won’t go that far, but you can.

Texas’ Most Endangered Species – Thoughtful Republicans

The Republicans who represent a good chunk of the Texas Panhandle in the Texas House and Senate are facing ultra-right wing challengers in the upcoming GOP primary.  Merely being a somewhat thoughtful conservative or even considering a Democratic proposal is a dangerous game to play in the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP.  If you are unwilling to lick the boots of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you might just find yourself back home wondering how you aren’t quite conservative enough.  Senator Kel Selinger and Representatives Ken King (Lubbock) and Four Price (Amarillo) may be unseated in March.  The Texas Observer has more on the far right movement to take down any such “Establishment Republicans.”

The challengers are generally following a playbook developed by Empower Texans, a right-wing enforcement group that targets what it considers establishment Republicans: claim that you are unequivocally conservative and that the other guy is basically a Democrat, all the while vilifying bipartisanship and accusing your opponent of being a big-government patsy who’s soft on abortion.

Far-right groups, including Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texas Right to Life and Grassroots America — We The People are working to knock off the incumbents. And while the Panhandle is one of the reddest parts of the whole country (Trump took 90 percent of the vote in some of the counties here), the area continues to elect Republicans with a pragmatic streak. For instance, King has sought to secure funding for struggling rural schools; Price has been a champion for mental health care; and Seliger refused to divert money from public schools for private school vouchers. Wielding accusations of perceived liberalism, challengers have made the region a battleground in the civil war raging within the Texas GOP.

 

Today in Texas History – November 7

From the Annals of the Constitution –  In 1972, Texas voters passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Texas Constitution.  The Amendment was the end result of a campaign started in 1957 by the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. In 1957, the TFBPW sent attorney Hermine D. Tobolowsky to testify for a bill authorizing married women to control property separately from their husbands. When members of the Senate Committee reacted to her testimony with amusement, Tobolowsky determined to shift direction and steer the TFBPW towards a campaign for an equal rights amendment rather than seeking incremental changes in particular statutes.  Despite several setbacks including resistance from later-disgraced House Speaker Gus Mutscher, the TFBPW ultimately succeeded in getting the amendment passed by the Legislature and almost 80% of Texas voters approved the amendment.  The amendment is remarkably simple in its phrasing but broad in its impact.

Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.  This amendment is self-operative.