Good day Austin:
On a recent Saturday afternoon I met Samuel Temple at a playground at a housing complex on Old Bee Caves Road in Austin that was the site of a sparsely attended voter registration drive and candidate fair. I wanted to talk about his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 21st Congressional District.
After we talked a while, I said I wanted to make a one-minute video of him explaining why he was running. He said he would give it a try, and he proceeded to give the elevator pitch for his unlikely candidacy – if the elevator was in the Empire State Building.
I first encountered Temple, who is from San Antonio, a few days earlier at a forum for the large field of Republican candidates seeking to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith in TX-21, sponsored by the Travis and Hays Country Republican parties at the Exotic Game Ranch in Creedmoor.
On Sunday I wrote about the four Democrats in the TX-21 race. I am now working on a story about the unwieldy larger Republican field.
Samuel Temple will probably not loom very large in story, which doesn’t mean he is not interesting, only that he stands little chance of winning, and, with that many candidates, I have to focus on the contenders.
As San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia wrote in his recent appreciation of Temple.
It’s hard to dislike any political candidate whose campaign pitch includes the phrase, “After I lose this election.”
That phrase was uttered by Samuel Temple, the defiant outcast of the 18-candidate GOP field to succeed Lamar Smith in U.S. District 21.
Like Garcia, I thought there was something compelling about Temple’s candidacy, and I figured I could devote a First Reading to him without skewing the outcome of the race.
He is different.
Here, for example, is Temple, using his time at Bexar County Republican Women’s meet and greet on Jan. 12 to talk about the lessons politicians should draw form the landmark social psychology experiments of Stanley Milgram:
The emotional high point of Temple’s candidacy – so far – came at last week’s Austin Legalize Marijuana Forum at Austin’ s Flamingo Cantina.
Temple appears just past the 17-minute mark.
My name is Samuel Temple. I am running as the last moderate Republican in the district. Seventy-five percent of my appearances have been in rooms full of tea partiers.
Does anyone in here think Islamic law is taking over the nation?
Oh good, I don’t have to tell you about the First Amendment.
Does anyone in here think failure to clap is an act of treason.
Oh, thank God, I had to deal with that last night.
Which is funny because the guys who are worried about that used to yell, `You lie,’ at the president.
Fiscally, socially, ethically, there is no good reason not to legalize marijuana.
I am running as the last sane Republican in District 21. Please God, help me find 15,000 people to prevent the tea party from continuing to radicalize our party. Fifteen thousand votes is all I need to get to the runoff, and if you think I’m funny now, make me one of two and let me take those uneducated Republican to the cleaners in a debate with cameras.
I will do it, and I hope Jason Isaac sees it, because I am tired of having to go after him in meetings to say that Sharia law is not taking over the country, and I am tired of him getting more applause than me when he says that.
So please, for the love of God, help me find 15,000 people in South Austin and San Antonio and the Hill Country, and help me move America in the right direction. We have had a speed bump, but do not lose faith, there are good people out there. There are good Republicans out there. They have just been marginalized.
Temple was followed by Foster Hagen, another of the 18 GOP candidates, who made the surprise announcement that he was endorsing Temple.
That person that just spoke, he tells the truth. His name is Samuel Temple and he is a bad-ass mother——and he tells he truth.
He’s going to get elected. I am going to endorse him right now.
We are going to take on Jeff Sessions.
The guy i endorsed right now is the right guy at the right time
I am endorsing Sam
Here is Temple the previous day at a candidate forum at Canyon High School in New Braunfels.
Temple is campaigning around his full-time job as statistician with AT&T.
Here is what we talked about when I caught up with him in Austin.
I’m a statistician. I was mentored by economists. These things are important. And I am running against people who, “I believe, I believe.”
Well, there’s what you think, what you know, and what can you prove. A lot of these people can’t prove the sun is rising if they tried. I could spend five minutes on Google and I am dancing these guys on border policy.
They act like, `Oh, the border’s insecure.’ Well, I hate to give W credit for doing something right but, well, illegal border crossings decreased by half between 2000 and 2008, went from about 1.5 million a year to about 750,000. It halved again under Obama’s tenure, it’s down to about 350,000 a year. It dropped 33 percent year after year. It sounds to me like we’re improving our border security. Every bit of evidence is on my web site. Everything is well documented.
The number of undocumented individuals in our country leveled off about five years ago and now it’s starting to decline. Well, if the Republicans acknowledged they had solved the problem, then they wouldn’t be able to rally their base by fear-mongering. But that’s not appropriate. That’s unethical.
You don’t mandate the legislative process in this country by appealing to irrational fears. If you’ve solvedthe problem, you’ve got to move on to the next one, which is Dreamers and DACA. And the Republicans don’t want to acknowledge that not only were there independent economic studies that showed that the average Dreamer contributes a quarter million dollars net positive over the course of their lifetime, but the Trump administration found it too and the Trump administration buried it. So you have them behaving not fiscally responsible and unethical at the same time. So, where’s the fiscal conservative side of the party?
To me there’s only one reason they would bury that study, and that’s to appeal to somebody who doesn’t think somebody from Mexico ought to be here for a non-fiscal reason.
FR: Any Republican role models, now or in the past?
Joe Straus is someone who recently I’ve been very proud of. But if I go further back.
Eisenhower’s the last president to run a true budget surplus.
But more importantly there are two speeches Eisenhower made that I have found to be very meaningful – his farewell address warning about the dangers of he military-industrial complex, without necessarily providing a solution, but we have a problem, is very prescient given his career in the military. When he said, gone are the days when people could forge their plowshare into swords – he recognized that the had to have a standing Army give modern warfare structure, but he also said the defense-industrial complex is profiteering.
Many years later, many decades later, we can see that his warning was reasonable. We see the cost we spend on our defense infrastructure, sometimes wastefully. The F-35 could have paid for everyone’s student loan debt. Did we get a good plane for a war that we might never fight?
FR: When did you first vote for president?
I’m 34 now so I just missed out on Bush’s first election in 2000, so my first presidential election was 2004. And so Bush was running for re-election, and we were already in Iraq.
You know you grow up with you father’s stories about how there were anti-war protests for Vietnam, and I was perplexed that there were both anti- and pro-war protests on my college campus at Texas Tech. I thought this was interesting. People really wanted blood.
I remember the day after 9-11 being in class and everybody was talking about their feelings, and I remember I was sitting in a social psychology class, which should have known better, when it was my turn to say something, I was cut off before I could finish. At that point, the day after, we didn’t who’d done it, I said, `Before we go off to war, let’s find out who did it,’ because remember, in the first hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, I remember, the police said we are looking for two Islamic suspects. We don’t even know who did it yet. Yes, there’s a lot of anger, but don’t in the heat of the moment make a decision that you will come to regret. And the teacher, the instructor, cut me off. And after class, I was very upset, and she said I was afraid you were going to say something that was going to upset somebody. I’m sorry that a call for patience is offensive.
And what happened. We got the Patriot Act, which nobody likes but everybody keeps renewing, which is, oh, I thought Republicans were all about individual freedom. Those who would give up permanent freedom for temporary security will get neither. I think that’s Benjamin Franklin, but I also think that may have been misattributed. So I’m careful.
Abraham Lincoln said don’t believe everything on the internet. That’s a joke.
FR: Do you always vote Republican?
Temple: I’m a swing voter all over the place.
At the Creedmoor forum, Jenifer Sarver was asked by another candidate about her vote for Hillary Clinton against Trump in 2016..
Temple wished he had gotten the question.
I voted for Hillary Clinton because, in my opinion, the evidence was all there up front that Trump was very likely compromised and unfit to be president. My opinion on this somehow has not changed over the last year.
Jenifer voted in the Republican primary. But I voted in the Democratic primary for the first time in my life because in 2016 the Republican primary was a circus of disgrace. That was the worst assembly of candidates I’ve ever seen in my life. Half of them weren’t really running and were just out there to sell books, in my opinion. The other half – I mean if Kasich is the sane one in the room …
These people are saying things that are fundamentally wrong, they are making lapses left and right that ten or fifteen years would have killed your political career. And, on the other hand you’ve got Hillary and Bernie, and say what you will about Bernie being a progressive, you know what I love about Bernie, he wrote bloody encyclopedias on his page. He had facts supporting his policies.
There are two candidates in District 21 who have put citations on their web site – to my last check about ten days ago – myself and Autry Pruitt. I hate him because he puts citations on – facts, web links, anything that supports what you have to say – and I can’t claim to be the only one.
I’m a peer-reviewed published author – we bloody cite.
(In the primary) I gave Bernie a try. I was very anti-Hillary because I have a problem with the establishment.
But, in the general election, Temple said:
When you have a job that affects over 300 million people, if you don’t have the gravitas in your heart that even your smallest decisions hurts people and helps people, then you’re not fit for office. Hillary was a great statesperson. I was happy to vote for her in the general election because to me it was an obvious choice.
Trump’s in a lot of trouble and it’s going to be epic because four people have already plead guilty. There weren’t even tried. They didn’t even try to fight it. They just plead.
FR: When did you decide to run.
When Lamar retired, but I’d been looking at it for years. I hated Lamar for years.
Let me be fair.
What do I hate? I hate corruption.
The first time Lamar appeared on my radar, I don’t know when, a couple of years back, and Lamar Smith is the head of the Science Committee, and he was putting forth some legislation to remove the peer review process from scientific grants, I believe, trying to remove the peer review process because it was too political, and that political review should be used instead. And so the problem was politics in academia, and yes I know there is a politics in academia, but to get it out we’re going to replace it with pure politics? Brilliant solution there.
And so I started reading more about Lamar Smith and started realizing more about his positions on climate change. I started seeing that he was a hard-line party loyalist, and again, people before the party. He wasn’t too far to the right for me. He wasn’t a tea partyest. But he was extremely party loyal.
Well, look at the situation we have today. We have a situation where there are amazing amounts of credible evidence that our president has been compromised on numerous levels. Amazing. It was available before the election. When Donald Trump Jr. said in 2008, `Most of our investment is coming from Russia,’ and then Donald Trump says, `We have no business with Russia.’ I can’t help you. It just breaks my heart.
We have potential Russian collusion. We have his emoluments violations. We have, quite frankly, that he is one of the most vulgar people to ever hold office. And so Take your pick of the reasons why he is unfit.
And so he is being investigated by Mueller, Mueller has found several people guilty, and now we see Republicans in powerful positions in the House and Senate trying to discredit the investigation, which is funny because when he was appointed people I remember being thrilled because, `Oh, he’s a lifelong Republican. He’s one of us. He’s the right one to ethically run it. It will be great.’ And then when he
found something about their guy it was, `Oh, he’s terrible,’ they changed their tunes pretty fast.
They’re smearing him. They’re smearing the DOJ. They’re smearing the FBI.
What good is it to criticize the ethics of only your opposition, because then it’s easily dismissed as partisan politics. You must be willing to speak out about any corruption of your own party. If you really care about your party, if you really believe it is a vehicle for rightness, then you want to be as clean and effective as possible, yet we see people closing ranks.
The NRA is implicated. Where did you guys get your money? That’s a pretty big deal. The NRA is amazingly active in politics, funnels tons of money to candidates. If they received Russian money, how many candidates, all over the country, illegally received Russia money, most, I imagine, unknowingly, through a PAC donation.
I mean how serious is this? Is there an active attempt by a foreign government to buy a political party, and how far have they gone. And instead of investigating it to restore faith in our government, we have people closing ranks on it because it’s their guy.
From Gilbert Garcia’s Express-News column:
To his fellow Republicans in the race, Temple is a hopeless irritant. But from where I’m sitting, Temple’s willingness to go off (as in way off) the party-line script is bringing some useful discomfort to the campaign; a little bit of creative friction which is healthy for the political process.
To get a sense of how far afield Temple is from his primary rivals, consider the fact that a business-friendly, low-tax conservative like Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who served in the administration of Ronald Reagan, is routinely lambasted by Texas Republicans as a left-wing traitor to his party. If GOP activists in this state regard Straus as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), how could they begin to process the rogue stylings of Temple?
Fortunately, for all concerned, he doesn’t much care.
Make no mistake, even 15 years ago Temple would have been a major GOP outlier. But in this political environment, in this primary, he sounds like nothing less than a mutant invader from another galaxy.
I want to know why everybody calls me a radical, why I’m so crazy, why the San Antonio Express-New -, I loved the article by Gilbert, I think it was flattering. I think it painted me in a very favorable light I think it was accurate, I am a goofball who’s passionate, who’s trying to laugh so I don’t cry – but why am I a foreign invader, the mutant from another galaxy.
Of the Republican audiences where his pitches, Temple says:
There are 100, maybe 200 people in the room at a time. Half of them are candidates or friends of the candidates. Seventy thousand to 100,000 people are going to vote in this primary for a Republican and mostly likely only a thousand or two thousand will have seen any of the 18 candidates in person.
There are plenty of moderate people. I’ve knocked on doors. And there are plenty of people who are dissatisfied. If there are 20,000 who I can get my message to with no money and say, `Hey guys, we’re over here,’ then we can have reform in the Republican Party.
And we need housecleaning I believe. We separately need a housecleaning and the only people who can clean house are those who have never had authority and have never been compromised. Chip Roy with his contacts is going to clean house? Jason Isaac with `Dearborn, Michigan is a no-go zone,’ he’s going to clean the house?’
Here, from Feb. 6, is Temple doing a Facebook Live session on immigration.
And here is another on health care, in which he explains that his campaign manager couldn’t be there to moderate the discussion because he had to work.
“I joke that our current level of campaign fundraising is don’t quite your day job.”
Oh, and here’s his latest, on “supply side economics and why it doesn’t work.”