One important election result that likely passed under the nose of most observers was the drastic transformation of the Texas Courts of Appeals on Tuesday. There are fourteen Courts of Appeals in Texas varying in size from 3 to 9 judges (technically called justices) with a total of 80 appellate justices statewide. Before Tuesday night these courts were dominated by Republicans with only a handful of Democratic judges on the El Paso and Corpus Christi courts. The Democrats swept through the Dallas (5th) , Austin (3rd) , San Antonio (4th) and both Houston (1st and 14th) courts on Tuesday. Those five courts and the El Paso and Corpus Christi courts will now have Democratic majorities. The only court of appeals based in a major urban county that remains in Republican control is the Fort Worth (2d) court. Even that may change in another couple of years. The remaining courts under Republican control (Amarillo, Beaumont, Eastland, Texarkana, Tyler and Waco) cover the more rural areas of the state and typically do not get as many high profile cases. This is a major shift as the now Democratic controlled courts of appeals are the end of the line for a large number of the most hotly contested cases in Texas. Very few cases reach the still Republican dominated Texas Supreme Court.
Red can hardly wait to see all the great things that Rafael “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz (TP- Tex.) is going to do for our fair state over the next six years. When Red considers all of LT’s fantastic legislative achievements he is reminded of – well, Red’s not really sure what he is reminded of – maybe a freshly erased chalkboard, a losing lottery ticket, a fallow field, an empty pistol, erectile disfunction, the Rice Owls football team . . .
Anyhow, Beto O’Rourke gave it a good shot and maybe Texas just isn’t ready for someone who actually wants to represent Texas interests in Congress. Texans apparently want someone who is there for the greater glorification of their own ego and naked ambition. Someone who is willing to sell their soul to the devil on the cheap. Someone who kowtows to the man who insulted their wife and father. Someone proven to be a spineless weasel when his political life was on the line. Someone who only spoke the truth once when he called Trump a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.” Someone who is so disliked in the Senate that he cannot form a coalition to get anything passed. Well friends, that is exactly what you got in Lyin’ Ted. At least it seems that the servile Canadian immigrant will not challenge the Alpha Dog Trump in 2020. He cannot bite the hand that feeds. So LT will set his sights on 2024 but by then will anyone be paying attention?
“I think he’s got a good shot. If he wins, it will be part of Texas political history, standing beside Lyndon Johnson’s 1937 congressional race in terms of personal effort, and perhaps besides John Tower’s 1960 election to the U.S. Senate, in terms of consequence.”
Lawrence Wright on Beto O’Rourke’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Red wants to believe, yet cannot. Rafael “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz (TP-Texas) will probably win by at least 5 points.
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.
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.
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 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.”