Good morning Austin:
U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, went on MSNBC – MSNBC! – last night in support of Donald Trump.
It didn’t work out so well.
CHRIS HAYES: Congressman, if someone off the record said — could someone off the record in a locker room — this was not in a locker room, it was a workplace — said, “I really like raping women,” would that be locker room talk?
FARENTHOLD: Again — it depends — you don’t know the entire context of all of this.
HAYES: But you would be fine that? If a tape came out. …
FARENTHOLD: But I’m not here to defend Donald Trump. I don’t like what he said, but …
HAYES: If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that — if a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying “I really like to rape women,” you would continue to endorse him.
FARENTHOLD: Again, it would, I — that would be bad, and I would have to consider — I’d consider it. But again, we’re talking about what Donald Trump said 10 years ago as opposed to what Hillary Clinton has done in the past two or three years.
That’s unfair. They probably prepped him on the obvious threshold question for Trump supporters.
“If Donald Trump stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot somebody, would you continue to support him?”
The correct answer:
“Chris, I don’t answer hypotheticals.”
In fairness, I imagine Chris Hayes coaxing the show’s booker, `Hey, can we get Blake Farenthold on tonight? That’s guy’s great. Perfect. I would love to lob him a few hypoethicals. Oh, and if you get him, tell him it’s come as your are.”
Farenthold faced a lawsuit last year after a former staffer accused him of creating a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and retaliation. The Office of Congressional Ethics, which launched an investigation after the lawsuit was filed, ultimately disagreed with those claims last summer.
In September, the office made public a unanimous decision there was “not substantial reason to believe” Farenthold had done what was alleged. Farenthold has denied any wrongdoing, and the case was settled out of court late last year.
In a telephone interview with the Caller-Times, Farenthold further distanced himself from his hesitant answer on MSNBC while calling Hayes “unprofessional in asking” a hypothetical question and himself “foolish” in attempting to answer.
“I would never support a rapist, and I would not support anyone that said they like rape,” Farenthold said.
Here from something I wrote in early June.
Like many Republicans, Flores was especially distressed by Trump’s recent attacks on Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over the Trump University case in California, with Trump describing the Indiana-born jurist as a “Mexican,” who Trump said was biased against him because of his promise to build a wall between the United States and Curiel family’s ancestral land.
Trump’s line of attack on Curiel has been widely decried as what House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had just endorsed Trump, called the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Flores said it is especially unhelpful in Texas, a state where Republicans depend on doing far better with Hispanic voters than their party does with Hispanics nationally, a standing that Trump could jeopardize.
“That’s not going to do in Texas,” Flores said.
“I don’t agree with what he said, and it’s unseemly that he is using his forum as a presidential candidate for a lawsuit affecting his personal issues,” Farenthold said.
But Farenthold was willing to cut Trump some slack.
“He may have crossed the line there, but I don’t agree with everything I say sometimes,” Farenthold said. He said that Trump should meet with the House Republican Caucus before the convention.
“With President Trump, I’m ready to get off defense and go on offense.” Farenthold said. “Trump is going to slaughter some sacred cows, and I’m ready for the barbecue.”
So, Farenthold got singed at the barbecue.
From the Texas Democratic Party.
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal K. Perkins issued the following statement:
“Congressman Farenthold, let me make this easy for you: rape is rape, and wrong is wrong. No self-respecting Texan should hesitate to denounce sexual assault or the disgusting Republican nominee.
Republican Blake Farenthold is the worst excuse for a congressman Texas has ever seen.
“If Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott, and the rest of the Texas Republican Party had any dignity left they would immediately denounce Blake Farenthold’s blind allegiance to Donald Trump and his vile misogyny.”
But, as Rice University political scientist Mark Jones told me over the summer, one sign that Texas Democrats are not yet quite ready for prime time is its failure to have recruited and run a serious candidate against an incumbent like Farenthold in the year of Trump.
I checked in with Jones last night.
While all Texas GOP held seats other than CD-23 naturally fall in the safe Republican category, some of the pinker (or less ruby red if you prefer) are potentially vulnerable in the event of a perfect storm involving weak GOP coat tails, a serious unforced error by a Republican incumbent with a less than stellar track record, and a high quality and well funded Democratic candidate positioned to take advantage of this perfect storm. CD-27 is a pink district whose incumbent (Blake Farenthold) has faced his share of scandal related controversy and alienated many major business leaders in the district. And in the final four weeks of the campaign has just committed a major gaffe on MSNBC. Unfortunately for Texas Democrats, the party failed to recruit and finance a top tier candidate for this race.
Were for instance the Democratic candidate someone like Solomon Ortiz Jr. with say a $500k war chest (and not Roy Barrera with $2k), then Farenthold’s recent misstep might have pushed this race from Solid R to Likely R; which in turn would have attracted national money which might have in turn moved it closer to the Lean R/Toss Up category.
Democrat Solomon Ortiz was re-elected to the seat 13 times, usually be large margins, until he lost to Farenthold in the terrible Democratic year of 2010 by 770 votes.
Farenthold showed weakness in the March primary.
A couple hours before polls closed on Super Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold was full of confidence.
Farenthold, a three-term Republican incumbent, and some on his campaign team thought the 2016 primary race against little-known challenger Gregg Deeb would be over as soon as the early voting returns were released. The congressman thought he’d jump out to a 15-to-20 percent lead in Nueces County and easily maintain the margin all night.
None of that happened.
Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said the race may have come down to money and name recognition, and not Farenthold’s congressional record.
“Blake Farenthold is not your classic congressman – he’s … a little disheveled, not really commanding and not particularly articulate. He’s also capable of getting himself into difficulties,” Jillson said. “He has been in the position now for several terms, but he doesn’t dominate his district like other political figures.”
The 27th Congressional District leans Republican so Farenthold shouldn’t face as difficult time holding on to his seat in the fall.
“Every congressional election is a referendum on the incumbent. If you’ve done your work and you’re well liked, you probably don’t face a strong challenger,” Jillson said. “If you’re not doing those things and appear to be holding your district tenuously, you get stronger challengers coming out of the woodwork, and that’s what happened here.”
A challenger needs about $700,000 to have a bona fide shot at unseating an incumbent, Jillson said. As of Feb. 10, the most recent date available for campaign finance expenditures, Deeb had spent under $116,000. Farenthold spent about $562,000 by that time, and political activists noted an increase in Farenthold ads just before the March 1 election.
The fact a candidate with little name recognition who was outfunded at least five-to-one secured as many votes as Deeb did opens the door to future challenges, Jillson concluded.
“It’s one of the districts that is most competitive, and since Farenthold isn’t an overwhelmingly strong candidate it looks like he’s struggling to control the real population center of the district,” he said.
In other words, Farenthold was primed for a serious Democratic run at him.
If Democrats have any hope of flipping the U.S. House this year, it would be by picking up seats like Farenthold’s.
But here, from Barrera’s FEC filing through the end of June.
Seems like a nice guy though. Expect to see him soon on MSNBC.