The Tarrant County Republican Party will be voting on whether to oust current Vice-Chairman Shahid Shafi. Shafi, a Southlake City Councilman, was appointed vice chairman of the TCRP in July. Within days, numerous precinct chairs began urging Darl Easton, chairman of the TCRP, to “reconsider” the appointment. The only reason given – Shafi is a Muslim. The precinct chair that kicked off the campaign to oust Shafi, Dorrie O’Brien, and others have formally moved to remove Shafi as vice chairman because of his religion stating that one cannot be a Muslim and a Republican. The TCRP will vote on the motion on January 10. The move is opposed by many GOP leaders in Texas. But in ultra-conservative Tarrant County – the last big city bastion of the GOP – there is a possibility that a person could be excluded from office based on nothing more than religious bigotry.
Following the lead of Individual 1 and with a complete lack of evidence, O’Brien has claimed that Shafi promotes Sharia law and is affiliated with terrorist groups apparently because he attends his local mosque. O’Brien’s Facebook posts accuse Shafi of being a “fake Republican” who has infiltrated the party at the urging of the Muslim Brotherhood. Actual facts and evidence are meaningless in the Age of Individual 1. All that matters is the ability to foist your alternate reality on a gullible minority.
“We’re here to let you know that the Texas speaker’s race is over. The House is ready to go.”
Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton)
Bonnen appears primed to become the next Texas Speaker of the House. Bonnen was something of a dark horse having repeatedly denied that he was interested in the job. But support rather quickly coalesced around the feisty conservative and he claimed he had over 100 votes for Speaker – well above the 76 needed. Bonnen has been a member of the house since 1997 and is a predictable “red meat” conservative vote on restricting abortion rights, promoting guns in the public arena, imposing onerous requirements on welfare recipients, and reducing public school funding. He was also one of outgoing Speaker Joe Strauss’ lieutenants serving as Speaker Pro Tempore. Bonnen, however, does look to be something of a thorn in the side of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick as he has clashed with the bombastic blowhard before. The House will look different as Democrats picked up 12 seats and now may able to form coalitions with the few remaining moderate Republicans to advance some issues or block some of the more rabidly right-wing measures Bonnen has supported in the past. Maybe Bonnen is smart enough to realize that there is a new game in Austin. Or maybe not.
Early voting turnout in the most populous Texas counties has been remarkable. Apparently both sides are motivated to turn out the voting. In the 30 counties that comprise about 78% of Texas voters, early turnout has already surpassed the total votes cast in the 2014 midterm elections. Early turnout in these counties has been about 4.8 million votes case as compared to just over 2 million early votes in 2014.
The rule has always been that bigger turnout favors Democratic candidates. But Red suspects that the surprisingly exciting Senate race pitting Beto v. Lyin’ Ted has a lot to do with this surge in turnout. Red will be a winner either way in this race. If the charismatic Beto wins then Texas will be represented by someone who actually cares about the state – rather than the current occupant whose agenda basically consists of the greater glorification of all things Ted Cruz coupled with the most naked ambition witnessed in several decades of watching Texas politics (LBJ can hardly hold a candle to Lyin’ Ted). But if LT wins, then Red still has someone to kick around for another 6 years – and kicking Ted is like shooting alligators in swimming pool.
Texas voters are likely also casting their ballots in a referendum on the first two years of the Reality TV Show Joke of a Presidency aka the Trump Administration. Those who really like reality TV and disfavor actual reality (or “fake news” in Trumph parlance) are coming out to support Trumph. On the other side, those who have been horrified by the continual onslaught of daily falsehoods, fabrications and duplicity, and the racist fear-mongering, hatred, maniacal egotism and rampant nepotism and profiteering that are the hallmarks of the current White House occupant are also out in force to be heard – even in deep red Texas.
So regardless of your particular stripe, Red urges you to go and vote if you have not exercised the franchise already. The people get the government they deserve and in Texas we have been getting a lot of it for a long time. All Red knows is that Tuesday will either be exciting and down to the wire or same old story of one-party dominance in his beloved Texas. So go out and vote – or cease complaining.
The Texas Observer reports on Bunni Pounds’ run to replace retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TP-Flower Mound). TO takes issue with Pounds’ claims that she is headed to Washington to help clean up the swamp after a full decade of groveling for money for Hensarling and others from well-heeled GOP donors in North Texas.
Pounds set up her own political fundraising and consulting shop in 2015 and within two years had turned it into a half-a-million-dollar business with nine employees, according to her campaign website. The site also boasts that Pounds “is now seen as one of the top fundraisers in North Texas from Fort Worth all the way to Tyler.”
This background raises questions not only about Pounds’ qualifications for office, but about whose debt she’ll be in should she become a member of Congress. Groveling to donors day in and day out is enough to compromise your average politician, to say nothing of someone whose expertise that was before they became a politician.
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.
The Texas Tribune reports that members of the so-called Freedom Caucus sabotaged more than 100 bills in the Texas House last night in retribution for not getting their way in attempting to restrict abortion rights even more, make sure that everyone has a gun and that good God-fearing white people are not abused. It’s all too complicated and inside baseball for Red to explain, but it does show that there is no Republican solidarity in Texas and that the ultra rightwing of the party is willing to do anything to inflict punishment on those who will not go along with their attempt to turn Texas into the largest Christian Church in the country where the good ol’ boy whiteys are running the show.