I headed to the Republican State Convention a week ago Monday, and was there all week. But somehow, I very nearly missed what I now consider my favorite moment, even though I was present for it
It was during George P. Bush’s speech to the convention on Friday afternoon.
Because my laptops’ battery is weak and I need to keep it plugged in most of the time, and because there were precious few outlets in the hall at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, I spent most of the general session seated on the hard cement floor (though on the last day I found a single chair that wasn’t attached to a row of chairs that I could move near an outlet and sit on).
The first day, I was up toward the front of the hall, but by the second day, they day Bush spoke, the good outlets were taken and, I was seated on the floor pretty far back between the men’s and women’s rooms (or as Republicans refer to them in their platform, biological men and biological women) in an acoustically challenged part of the hall where you could hear the speaker and then also also the speaker’s echo.
I knew Bush’s speech could prove a dramatic moment. How would he be received? Would there be any boos from delegates unhappy with his supervision of the Alamo. At some point during his speech I moved into one of the empty seats in the back of the hall to get a better look at Bush as he spoke.
But, even then, when the dramatic moment arrived, I somehow missed the best part.
After recounting his support for President Trump, and amid his trumpeting his successes as the “most conservative” land commissioner in Texas history, Bush bragged about his stewardship of the Alamo.
Bush: And despite the fake news you may have been reading in the liberal media we’ve been busy saving and strengthening the Alamo for generations to come.
This was met with some boos and jeers from the crowd.
Bush smiled and let loose with a classic response, which amid the boos and jeers and the bad acoustics, I missed but which is beautifully clear in the livestream of the convention, which I watched for the first time last night.
Here it is:
Bush: I did win, right?
How great is that?
Before his speech, Bush met with reporters at the convention center.
Miguel Suazo, Bush’s Democratic opponent was spending a few hours next door to the convention in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel talking to reporters. I asked Bush about Suazo’s position that the Alamo Cenotaph, the big memorial statue that dominates the plaza in front of the Alamo, should remain right where it is, and that the General Land Office should negotiate a new deal with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who had managed the Alamo until Bush became commissioner, so the Daughters could return to that role.
Well, I think if you look at the track record over the last four years the average observer would see nothing but success on the grounds of the Alamo, an historical appropriation from the state of Texas, buy-in from the city of San Antonio, a $5 million master plan that’s been completed, a roadshow that incorporated 40 public feedback. forums.
We are on the precipice for the first time in Alamo history to bring it back to the origins of 1836.
So, I’m excited by the track record, looking forward to a vigorous campaign where we’ll discuss the differences of opinion. It’s in safe hands with the GLO and we look forward to an even brighter 300 years.
And the Cenotaph?
So as part of the process, we are in the middle of the public feedback component, so the fourth of five steps that were agreed to by the city of San Antonio, the board and the General Land Office.
So we just released last week the designs that show more deference to the site. There’s different concepts within it to either keep the Cenotaph as it is or move it just about 100 yards south of the south gate, which was the entry to the Alamo, but would actually dignify the Cenotaph more than where it currently is and restore the original battlefield of 1836.
As part of that process we still have 20 public town hall forums that we’ll be hosting here in San Antonio and throughout the state, then a recommendation comes to the working committee, and then the final decision is made by me and the mayor.
Patrick Svitek asked if he had any regrets about the way he and his campaign characterized a leaked draft report of an internal audit that I had written about in February.
The document, which questions the use of a nonprofit to manage the Alamo, was characterized by the agency as a “proactive internal audit of the Alamo’s accounting and financial management — the first of its kind in Alamo history — undertaken by the Texas General Land Office to modernize and reinforce oversight and accountability.”
“Many of the recommendations have already been implemented while others are being fulfilled through the implementation of a new Alamo management contract with the Alamo Trust,” Bush said in the statement.
The audit begins with the internal auditors’ “overall conclusions,” which are presented in language identical to the draft report quoted by the Statesman in February and which agency spokeswoman Brittany Eck said then had been “altered,” but would not say how.
At the time, Bush was being challenged in the Republican primary by his predecessor, Jerry Patterson, and two other candidates, who made his management of the state’s most hallowed site a central issue in the campaign. Eck said then that the audit would be made public in the spring. In the meantime, Bush’s campaign labeled the Statesman story “fake news,” and Bush won the March 6 primary, with 58 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Patterson and 12 percent for the two other candidates, Davey Edwards and Rick Range.
In answer to Svitek:
Bush:No regrets. I think what is lost in the discussion is that this about the public trust. We had an employee in the middle of a campaign release a document that wasn’t finalized. This was an internal work product and for anybody who serves in city government, county governments, state government, you know that until the product is finished .. you have to wait.
Here is what his campaign said at the time.
Back to the convention press conference.
Bush: I never disagreed with the conclusions and the recommendations. That’s why we proactively held the audit in the first place and been working on it since then to rectify those recommendations The problem is that whe an employee who has a disagreement with the boss who happens to be an elected official in the middle of a campaign, releases a document. that’s problematic and that was the concern.
Is there an ongoing investigation on the release of the audit?
There is. I was recently briefed that he Texas Rangers are still investigating it so we will report back if there is a conclusion or if there is a resolution to that.
We have rectified and have responses to all the recommendations that are in the audit. We have improved oversight in my opinion form a finance standpoint by putting in GLO full-time employee as the CFO along with several other FTE’s to have a little more direct oversight on the financial picture.
How was the draft audit “doctored?”
BUSH: It wasn’t complete and that it was changed and it was altered, not in the recommendations and I think theres’ where the clarification exists, the recommendations I never said were changed, there were responses in the appendix in the back part of the memo, if you red-lined what was leaked and what we just released, you’ll see some changes and some differences and our focus at the GLO is taking security very seriously. We live in a world were cyber attacks occur daily. We maintain personally identifiable information as defined by the federal Privacy Act and so we take it very seriously. So we are proactive about it, we made changes and I think that’s what people want out of their leadership.
What happened to the leaker?
BUSH: That individual was let go and I can’t go into deeper specifics beyond that. We are continuing the investigation at the advice of the Texas Rangers and we’ll brief you as to the resolution or outcome of the full investigation.
R.G Ratcliffe of Texas Monthly asked about the convention’s Alamo platform plank “that doesn’t mention you but is aimed at you.”
The Alamo plank was shepherded by Ray Myers, the head of the Kaufman County Tea Party, who chaired the state affairs subcommittee of the convention’s Platform Committee. He is seen here, at right, at a Save the Cenotaph rally last year with Rick Range, one of three candidates to run against Bush in the Republican primary in March.
In the next session, Myers is looking to enlist legislators to move the Alamo from the jurisdiction of the GLO to Parks and Wildlife to get it out from under Bush’s control.
RATCLIFFE: What will your feelings be if the delegates show displeasure?
BUSH: I think its going to be a positive reception. We won with – we doubled up the gentleman who held the office the second-longest in Texas behind Garry Mauro who’s been in politics since the 90s. We also had two other challengers and we avoided a runoff. So I think it was a strong showing.
This is about us coming together as a party after some difficult primaries and difficult choices and difficult stances that we’ve all had to take but then aiming fire at the … Democratic Party but then also reaching out and expanding the tent, reaching out to moderates and Independents and Democrats. That’s how I won with more than votes any other candidate but for Sen. Cornyn in 2014.
Ratcliffe asked Bush what he thought about the family separations at the border.
BUSH: To me its reflective of the failure of DC politics. This an issue that is all too familiar to folks on the border, to folks in Texas.
And separating arents and children?
BUSH: Well I don’t want to dive into specifics, but I know that we’re having difficulty triaging between legitimate asylum cases … and other cases which are folks that are trying to get here illegally. There are legitimate claims that can be made for political intimidation and violent threats in other jurisdictions but our resources from all ends of the spectrum are spread thin.
This was on Friday in what is a very fast-moving story.
Three days later, Bush’s father made his feelings plain
Children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool. @realDonaldTrump should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers. https://t.co/OOjv0vNeVg
Donald Trump Jr. is canceling an appearance at a New York fundraiser for Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush next week, according to The Associated Press, citing anonymous sources.
The move comes after George P. Bush’s father, former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, tweeted on Monday that “children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool” and that President Donald Trump should end his “heartless policy” of family separation.
On Sunday, George P. Bush’s aunt, former first lady Laura Bush, also criticized family separations on the border in a Washington Post opinion piece.
According to an invitation to the event posted on the website of the New York GOP, the event in New York City on June 25 has a suggested contribution of $5,000 for admittance to a private reception and $1,000 for admittance to a general reception. The “young professional” rate is $250.
Donald Trump, Jr. is listed as a “special guest” — the only speaker other than George P. Bush listed on the invite.
Asked Tuesday by the American-Statesman whether George P. Bush has made any public pronouncements about the family separations at the border, General Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eck said, “this is an issue area for the campaign.” George P. Bush appears to have remained silent on the issue on Twitter and his office did not make him available for an interview.
Messages left by the Statesman with Donald Trump Jr., the Trump Organization and the George P. Bush campaign were not returned on Tuesday.
The backdrop: During the 2016 presidential campaign, George P. broke with his family to support Trump — a move that signaled he’d decided to adapt to, rather than the resist, the new direction of the GOP. His support earned him not only the backing of Don Jr, but also an endorsement from the president in February.
How things unraveled: Sources close to Don Jr. say that Jeb Bush’s tweet was the final straw in what he sees as repeated attacks from the Bush family.
-Don Jr. was furious after Jeb Bush said in March that, despite losing the 2016 election, at least he goes home to children “who still love me,” which Don Jr. perceived as a swipe at Trump.
-Don Jr. reached out to George P., who was apologetic, according to the sources close to the president’s son. And when Don Jr. fired back at Jeb on Twitter, he purposefully left George P. out of it.
About two hours into yesterday’s afternoon session of the Texas Republican Convention, in the lead-up to the vote for chairman, the battle between James Dickey, the current chairman, and Cindy Asche, his rival, was truly joined.
The outcome, based on Senate caucus votes in the morning, was already clear. Dickey would prevail by a large margin but the Asche camp was persisting with some tactical maneuvers, though it was unclear to what end.
At which point, Amy Clark, the outgoing vice chair of the party, who was presiding over the session, recognized Toni Ann Dashiell, the state’s national committeewoman and a leader of the Asche forces, to speak.
DASHIELL: I have a very important announcement and I would like to yield my time to Jennifer …
JENNIFER STONER: I’m Jennifer Stoner, Republican Party accounting director … for eight years, and I have resigned my position as accounting director …
Amy Clark:Ma’am. I’m advised this is out of order.
Having cut off Stoner, Clark went called on delegate Terry Holcomb.
Terry Holcomb, Senate District 3, I am speaking in heavy opposition to this. I never thought I would say this at a Republican Party State Convention in Texas, but don’t California my Texas. What are we really talking about here? They say they don’t concur with the will of the voter.
This sounds like something Hillary Clinton would do when Trump beat her. We heard speech after speech about unity and here we are doing the most divisive thing possible. We want to burn the party down so she can be queen of the ashes.
I encourage you to vote “no” and let’s join together behind Chairman James Dickey.
Before the vote, Dickey and Asch each got five last minutes to speak to the delegates.
Dickey strode to the stage access;pained a score of well-known figures in the Texas conservative firmament.
This has been a challenging year.
It was challenging being the third chairman of the Republican Party in two years.
It was challenging standing up strongly for what we believed in and having donors and elected officials and everybody else not know what we really meant by that and not knowing that was going to be a positive things and to turn it around and have it result in growth and benefit and this amazing unity that you see up here has been so humbling. and I am so grateful that every one of you who has seen this with your own eyes and felt it with your own heart.
We have lived out leadership over the last year taking strong stands, doing the hard work that needs to be done and I will tell you there were significant obstacles to that.
When I ran a year ago, I kept getting badgered with, “Will you keep everybody from the old administration that had failed, would you keep all of those things, and, of course my response was, “I have no intention of changing things up, time will tell and what the party needs is the most important thing.”
It has been tough to try to unify the group while there has been a core faction of folks from prior leadership that were disappointed that they were out, and were disappointed that they didn’t win the election, and were trying to do everything they could possibly do to overturn the bodies who had voted and I thank you guys for looking past that, looking over that, looking through that.
You can look around and judge by your own eyes how things are going. It is so important that we move forward together. We have President Trump. We have the House. We have the Senate. We have the Texas House. We have the Texas Senate. We have city councils, school boards county commissioners and county judges. We are going expand our victories here and we can do that if we unite to win, and we have offered that olive branch and we are consistently offering.
You can decide by your own eyes, which campaign, which candidate has shown an interest in and a commitment to growing this party by being welcoming and open versus tearing it apart. And I ask you, vote for winning, let’s beat the Democrats in November. Let’s support President Trump. And let’s continue to have new donors, new supporters, new voters feel welcome and encouraged and loved so together we grow our majority.
God bless you.
Then it was Asche’s turn to take the stage.
I know many of you are not happy with me for being here right now. But I hope, I hope you will allow me the opportunity to be heard one last time.
This race is not about me. I am not running because I want to hold office.
You deserve to know the truth. You deserve to have leadership that is above reproach, because the only way we can advocate for our party’s principles and our elected officials and candidates is to be known as people of our word.
I have been accused of running a negative race and spreading mistruths, but every piece of information we’ve put out has been backed up overwhelmingly by evidence and support.
In fact, if you missed it just a moment ago, our current accounting director, Jennifer Stoner, submitted her resignation minutes ago. Jennifer has been with the party for eight years. She was hired by Cathie Adams and proudly served under Steve Munisteri. She is known by every one of those state chairmen as a professional of unquestioned personal and professional integrity.
According to Jennifer, she has resigned because, in her entire time as accounting director, she has never seen the level of dishonesty, manipulation and erroneous reporting that she has seen, that she has seen from this chairman, and her direct quote, her quote was, “He is not trustworthy.”
The crowd, about two-third Dickey supporters, was growing increasingly restive.
Please hear me out.
The information that was disseminated via both RPT email and also on James’ printed campaign literature was not approved or verified by the accounting department or with Jennifer’s consent. Unlike any previous chairman, Mr. Dickey has required that she submit an Excel spreadsheet instead of a PDF, where the data can easily be moved and manipulated and the numbers simply don’t match up. The way the numbers are communicated by the current chairman are in contrast to the processes that have been used and approved for almost ten years. And this past Wednesday, when directly asked by an SREC member at the SREC meeting if Jennifer had approved the numbers being disseminated, he lied.
She asked him publicly to retract the email and the statement multiple times but, as you know, he has not. She has offered a resignation statement but has promised me that she will return if Mr Dickey is not elected.
Talking amid some tumult not he floor, Asche ran out of time.
My time has expired because I could not complete it.
I am asking you to vote and I am praying God will give you the wisdom to make the right decision.
It was a gripping scene, and properly seen as Act II of a drama that played out a year ago when Dickey was first elected chairman by the State Republican Executive Committee.
Here are scenes from Act I, trom a June 2, 2017 First Reading: Trump loyalty an issue in Dickey-Figueroa contest for Texas GOP chairmanship
The 62 members of the Texas State Republican Executive, meeting at Austin’s Wyndham Garden Hotel, will choose a new Republican State Party Chairman Saturday to replace Tom Mechler of Amarillo who resigned two weeks ago because, when you get right down to it, he would rather “spend time with my 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and my beautiful wife Becky,” than the 62 members of the SREC who are so divided down the middle in all matters Mechler that Amy Clark, the party’s vice chairman and top ranking figure with Mechler’s resignation, might have to break a tie vote to determine his successor.
There are two candidates – Rick Figueroa of Brenham and James Dickey of Austin, the chair of the Travis County Republican Party. (A third candidate, Robert Morrow, tweeted he was running but that’s it so far, and he will not be a factor in the race. See my recent First Reading: Robert Morrow throws his jester’s hat in the ring for Texas GOP chair on an ‘Impeach Trump’ platform;)
On the face of it, Figueroa ought to have he edge.
He is the favored choice of Mechler, who named him ten months ago as co-chair of the Republican Party of Texas’ New Leaders on the Rise Committee, and in recent months has been crisscrossing the state with Figueroa on the Republican Party of Texas Hispanic Engagement Listening Tour.
Figueroa is also in good with President Trump, serving on his Texans for Trump leadership team and on his National Hispanic Advisory committee and now President Trump’s National Coalition of Hispanic Leaders.
And, maybe it’s me, but wouldn’t the Texas Republican Party benefit from the headlines that it had selected its first Hispanic chairman?
Dickey also comes with a couple, three strikes against him.
He managed to lose the chairmanship of the Travis County Republican Party in the March 2016 primary to the aforementioned Robert Morrow, no mean feat and one that made the Travis County Republican Party an object of intense and sustained national ridicule.
While he says he was never a “Never-Trumper” he was part of a movement to “free the delegates” to stop Trump, until Trump became the nominee, when Dickey climbed on board the Trump train, but for those punching tickets, that was a mite late.
Trump won 27 percent of the vote in Travis County.
Normally, three strikes and you’re out. But in this case, I’m giving the slight edge to Dickey.
He is a far more familiar figure to the members of the SREC, somebody who knows them, who they know, who knows the rules and seems more likely to follow their lead than lead them where he wants to go, and won’t get too big for his britches. He’s paid his dues.
He is not Mechler’s choice.
While naming an Hispanic chair might seem, symbolically and practically, a good thing to do, this is the Republican Party, which rejects anything that smacks to them of pandering, and are particularly disinclined to choose someone for the symbolic value if that’s the reason they are picking him
Here is a summary of the argument against Dickey from Travis County Republican Bill Crocker, a former Texas national committeeman and former RNC general counsel, in an endorsement letter he wrote this week for Figueroa.
When his county chairman’s seat came up for election in 2016, Dickey spent very limited time and money in the first reporting period campaigning to defend his turf. And in doing so, lost his seat to a conspiracy theorist who made Texas an international laughingstock. When Dickey had the opportunity to make amends for this stinging loss and be a unifier at the 2016 National Convention, he instead chose to attempt to subvert the will of Republican voters all across the nation by being a leader in the “Never Trump” and “Free the Delegates” movement. At the same time, Rick was working to unite the bitterly divided factions of our party. In fact, during one particularly heated moment in our Texas caucus, I am told that a Cruz delegate and Trump delegate were on the verge of a physical fight. Rick approached this altercation to talk with both of them, and by the end of it the three of them were praying together. The mark of true leadership is the ability to lead and find peace in even the most difficult of situations.
Mr. Dickey also has a spotty record of raising funds for the Travis County Republican Party. When he lost his seat to Robert Morrow, the Travis County Republican Party was in rough financial shape. The most important job of the Chairman is to raise funds. During election years, the RPT will need to raise a minimum of 2-3 million dollars, just to ensure we maintain our current seats. A person who struggled to keep money in the bank is not a person with the capability of raising that level of funds.
Finally, Dickey does not have a strong record of success in his current position. In addition to his inability to maintain his own seat, Dickey has failed to hold on to the precious few Republican seats in Travis County. In fact, from my research, of the 56 partisan elected seats in Travis County today, only 2 are held by Republicans. Friends, we cannot let Texas begin to look like Travis County.
Whether it was his temperament or that he thought he had it in the bag. Figueroa did not go for the kill at the forum that night.
The question addressed this tweet, about those rumors, came up the next night, at an SREC forum on the chairman’s race, the night before the election.
Figueroa were asked by the party’s general counsel, Patrick O’Daniel, who was moderating the discussion, whether he intended to keep the current party officers and committee chairs in place.
Figueroa said he woudn’t make any changes.
Then Dickey answered:
As both Patrick and (RPT Treasurer) Tom (Washington) can confirm, I had conversations with both asking them whether they were willing to stay on if I win election tomorrow. There is a very logical process for making change. You figure out the goals. You figure out the talents and skills needed. You match people with talents and skills needed. Until I’ve got an indication we are not going to meet the goals or we don’t have the necessary talents and skills needed, my bias is to leave things alone and that’s exactly what I’d do and that’s why I extended those invitations to Patrick and Tom.
But, the next day, right after his one-vote victory, Dickey announced that he was replacing almost the entire board, O’Daniel and Washington included.
I spoke some weeks ago about this with Melinda Fredericks, a former vice chairman of the party who represents Senate District 4. She told me that as soon as they broke for lunch that day she approached Dickey.
“I pulled him over to the side of the room and said, `James, you said you were going to keep the officers and you just didn’t.’ And he said, `Wait a minute, wait a minute, Melinda, what I said was I asked the officers if I were to ask you, would you continue serving as an officer?”
But, Fredericks said she told Dickey, “You led us to believe that you were going to keep the officers,” and he replied, `I had to in order to win.’ “
“I said, `Wait James, that is ends justify the means and that is totally unacceptable and you owe us an apology,” she said.
When I asked Dickey about this last Friday (June 8), he said that’s simply wrong.
“I have consistently said, including to Melinda, that that is an absurd claim on its face. Not only would I not do such a thing but that the idea that I would do an impression of a Bond villain disclosing my plan to one of my most stalwart opponents is as ridiculous as it sounds,” Dickey said.
Dickey said that, at the forum the day before the election, “It actually was my intention at that moment to keep them, which is why there is that impression, even though there was no such blanket statement.”
The more I thought about Patrick O’Daniel’s conditions upon which he would remain, I both had concern about the specifics of the conditions and the fact that there were conditions, and so that changed my mind on that.
And Tom Washington, for the first time in his entire service as treasurer, warning the SREC members that the party was in dire financial straits and likely to be out of money by November, his choosing to hide that fact until the night before the election was, in my opinion, a breach of fiduciary duty and unacceptable, and he didn’t do that until ten or eleven o’clock that night.”
Mechler wrote a post about all this at the Houston politics blog, Big Jolly Times, at the end of May, to which Tom Washington appended his own version of events:
This is an important point. James Dickey would prefer that you pay attention to his point that he never agreed to actually reappoint either Patrick O’Daniel or myself to our former duties. The actual key point here is that James Dickey used deception with the SREC voters to mislead them on his actual intentions in order to gain votes that he would not have gotten otherwise. James Dickey had already lined up his officers in advance and announced them as soon as the election was completed. He had no intention of following through and reappointing Patrick or myself.
James asked me for a meeting during the Friday evening before the election. He asked me if I would serve as Treasurer if he was elected on Saturday. I did not know that he was asking me only to give him a chance at shifting votes in the SREC with people who wanted some stability in the RPT key officers if he was elected State Chair.
I was fine with not being reappointed by James Dickey. I had reservations about serving with James because I had known him for over 15 years. I knew that there would be benefit to the continuation of the financial condition of the Republican Party of Texas if I continued as Treasurer but I had to address my reservations. I knew that James would be under extreme fundraising pressure if he was elected. Any signs of stability that the major donors saw in the party would be helpful.
In fact, before I told him I would serve because of my reservations, I gave James Dickey two conditions that he had to agree to in advance.
Condition #1 was that he retain Jennifer Stoner as RPT Accounting Director. Jennifer does a fine job for the Republican Party of Texas and I had no desire to retrain another person in that role.
Condition #2 was that James not interfere with the Republican Party of Texas keeping true and accurate accounting records and filing true and accurate reports to the FEC and TEC for our political and financial activities. James agreed to both conditions and I agreed to serve if James was elected.
James Dickey did in fact win the election by one vote (after shifting 3 votes with his deception that James intended to reappoint Patrick and myself).
The deception came to light in Chair Dickey’s first comments from the podium after election. James read his list of officers and did not reappoint Patrick O’Daniel or myself to office. He then added for the benefit of the deceived voters that he found that both Patrick and I had insisted on conditions for our service which he, James Dickey, could not accept.
James Dickey then made the first mistake of many that morning. He invited Patrick O’Daniel and me to the podium to give our final officer’s reports. Patrick went first. Prior to giving his report, Patrick clarified that he had made no conditions to his continuing service to the Party. James stated in response that Patrick had insisted on the retention of all of the Assistant General Counsel’s currently serving. Patrick stated again that he made no conditions to his service.
I was up next. I told the SREC that I did have two conditions to my service and I was sorry that they were unacceptable to Chair Dickey per his statement contrary to his acceptance with me on the prior evening. I then told the SREC what the two conditions were. You could hear an audible gasp from the SREC members.
Perhaps some were just becoming acquainted with Chair Dickey’s brand of ethics. James stood up quickly and clarified that he only had issues with Patrick O’Daniel’s conditions for service (Patrick didn’t make any). James then said from the podium that his issue with me was my lack of transparency in financial reporting to the SREC over my seven years of service to that body. During my service, I had increased the financial transparency that the SREC had from previous State Treasurer’s. First as Assistant Treasurer and then as State Treasurer, the SREC received a full income statement in detail by fund as well as Cash balances by fund. The new State Treasurer has since eliminated reporting by fund to the SREC.
Two weeks later, James Dickey contacted me to apologize for his conduct and statements to the SREC involving me.
James Dickey’s conduct involving the appointment of new officers for the Republican Party of Texas illustrates James Dickey’s ethics, morals, honesty and integrity in action.
Marvin Clede, a member of the SREC from Senate District 17, also commented at Big Jolly.
The comments to Melinda Fredericks are telling. —Melinda then asked him “why did you mislead us?” He replied “I had to or I would have lost the race because 2 votes would be determined based on my response.”—
I was one of those 2 votes who expected different things from Mr. Dickey. And this does not even address the heavy handed and impolitic way he dealt with the chair of the Auxiliaries and Coalitions Committee who is my colleague on the SREC. At the very least I am concerned about style and character expressed in subsequent actions. There are difficult questions to evaluate in this upcoming election, which to date, has become exceptionally divisive.
Travis County’s James Dickey was elected Saturday to lead the Texas Republican Party, defeating Rick Figueroa on a 32-31 vote of the State Republican Executive Committee.
Dickey succeeded Tom Mechler, whose sudden resignation two weeks ago left it to the statewide Republican Party leadership in the nation’s largest red state to pick his successor in a previously scheduled meeting at Austin’s Wyndham Garden Hotel.
“I am deeply humbled,” Dickey said, adding that he was only disappointed by the divisions revealed by the razor-thin margin.
For Dickey, chairman of the Travis County GOP, the victory was a stunning success for a campaign that was thrown together and executed in less than two weeks, quickly piling up endorsements from conservative activist groups.
Dickey’s victory signaled the strength of grass-roots tea party leaders, who felt Mechler was insufficiently aggressive in pushing the state party’s platform at the Capitol. Texas Right to Life also backed Dickey.
After Saturday’s vote, Mechler said he was “shocked and disappointed” with the result.
The next state convention in June 2018 will decide whether to ratify Saturday’s choice or select someone else as chairman.
Figueroa said he had no intention of challenging Dickey for chairman in 2018.
“It’s not who I am,” he said.
Ultimately, Mechler couldn’t impose his choice on an executive committee that was divided down the middle between what are described, broadly speaking, as establishment and tea party wings.
Mechler’s abrupt resignation two weeks before the executive committee’s meeting might have been intended to improve Figueroa’s chances, but it didn’t work, and there was some resentment on the committee that the chairman was trying to force his choice on them.
Yesterday, Bill Crocker nominated his daughter, Cindy Asche, for state party chair. Mechler was her most prominent supporter.
The final vote was 5,680 votes, or 65.4 percent for Dickey, a former Travis County Republican Party chairman, and 3,009 votes, or 34.6 percent for Asche, a nurse from Frisco who serves as chaplain of the Texas Federation of Republican Women and whose father, Bill Crocker, is an Austin attorney who formerly served as the Republican national committeeman from Texas and general counsel of the Republican National Committee.
After the tally was announced, a relieved and smiling Dickey briefly took the stage to offer his thanks to strains of the Beatles “Come Together,” and to ask those who voted for him and those who didn’t to “come together” to beat the Democrats in November.
As for Asche’s exit music, well, there wasn’t any, but if there were, the choice is obvious.
The Texas Republican Convention’s Platform and Resolutions Committee and the Legislative Priorities Committee finished their work late last night with some drama.
The submission of the platform was accompanied by the submission of a far shorter minority report, signed by nine members of the committee and intended to be something the public beyond the 10,000 hard-core Republicans in attendance at the biennial convention San Antonio are likely to read.
The Legislative Priorities Committee, led by Amy Clark, the vice chair of the state party, is a new innovation this convention.
Here, in no particular order, are the five issues it recommends that the full convention identify as the five top issues the party should set as its goals for the next session of the Texas Legislature.
The plank that packed the most emotional wallop, and was attended by the most angst, was on abortion.
As I wrote about in a First Reading earlier in the week, this was a tug of war between the abortion abolitionists, who want Texas to abolish abortion and ignore and resist Roe v. Wade, and what Texas Right to Life describes as the “prudent incrementalist” approach of chipping away, with an aim to ultimately undoing Roe through legislation and the courts.
The 2016 platform adopted the radical abolitionist approach as its priority, and the new language recommended by the new committee, is a hybrid, which leaders on both sides considered mixing “oil and water,” but which the abolitionists especially found distasteful.
In his closing remarks in favor of the compromise plan, Terry Holcomb from San Jacinto County, representing Senate District 3, said that people needed to realize just how radical the implications of at the undiluted abolitionist plank are.
So obviously I’m going to speak in favor but I am going to try to educate this bunch, I mean. I’m the one who wrote the original language, so forth and so one, but when someone says, “All we have to do is ignore Roe,” that shows the literal lack of understanding of the impact this would have, because you wouldn’t just have to ignore Roe, you’d have to arrest DA’s, you’d have to arrest doctors, you might even have to arrest governors and lieutenant governors and all these other people, and the magnitude is something that we need to get our arms around because if we ever decided we had the backbone to abolish abortion, this is what we’d have to do.
It has nothing to do with the federal government, it has to do with what we would do right here in Texas. And that is going to require more than people can possibly imagine. Blood. Tears, Treasure. The whole thing.
While the language they settled on had the support of most of the members of the committee, Melissa Bodenger of Austin, representing Senate District 14, was overcome with emotion with passage of what she considered to be a dangerous and destructive recommendation when Clark called the question.
This is lunacy. No legislator is going to walk out of his office with this. And I’m sorry, but who here signed up to start defying the Constitution? I mean, seriously? Seriously, you’re going to do that? My God, how selfish.
On adjournment, Bodenger was still trembling.
This is the Constitution.
States cannot nullify decisions of the federal courts
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
They’re going to defy the federal government on purpose.
Why are we blowing a hole in the Constitution? That is what the left does.
From Holcomb after adjournment:
This is compromise language, stating we want to abolish abortion but, until we get there, it offers incremental steps.
He said that the rank-and-file delegates who endorsed the purely abolitionist priority two years ago – and wanted to see it simply reiterated in this platform – really didn’t fully comprehend the implications of what they were saying.
They do not understand the magnitude. They don’t understand what it is actually saying.
It was a more of a political, emotional position without ever really truly looking to understand the reality and the impact.
This is not over. the abolitionist guys are going to be there, first thing out, guaranteed, to try to change it from the floor. This is not final.
The 30-page platform has 331 planks and one resolution – the censure of Rep. Byron Cook.
There is also a seven-page minority report with 81 planks.
It was submitted by nine members of the committee led by Steven Armbruster of Round Rock. It was signed by:
Steven Armbruster, SD5
Henry Peyton Inge, SD12
Todd Gallaher, SD18
Brandey Batey, SD20
Brian Hill, SD21
Stephen Broden, SD23
Beth Cubriel, SD25
Morgan Graham, SD27
Mark Dunham, SD2
The preface explains its premise:
Our platform planks should be strong, clear assertions of the contemporary principles of our party membership. They should unite our membership under shared ideals rather than divide the membership with fractious detail. These assertions should be tailored for brevity, clarity, unity, and to distinguish our positions from those of our opponents.
This platform has planks that define the principles of the Republican Party. In addition to this platform we have included specific action items that would help implement principles in our platform.
The minority report was mostly the handiwork of Armbruster.
I’ve been working on the platform for the last ten years and the number one complaint that I have gotten in the last four years is that the platform is too long, too unruly, too contradictory of its own self and that the average voter doesn’t read it.
The delegates read it because they gave up a weekend, or, in my case, a week of my life to come play politics. But the people I know at church, the people that I know through work and my friends, they’ve never read the platform. It’s so long, they pick it up and thumb through it and say, “I’m not gong to read this.”
It becomes an exercise to produce a document that, once we leave here, nobody reads. The only people who actually use it are the political activists.
My whole point behind this – and I told the members of the committee – this is a one-time deal. I’ll not do this again. I won’t bring a simplified platform again. We get one shot at doing this, and we’re done, but I want the 8,000 delegates to have their voice heard.
Ambruster said he was elected by his Senate District with the explicit promise to do what he’s doing.
My people have sent me here to produce a simplified document.
The major debate comes down to this one point. What is a platform? Is a platform what it historically has always been, which is a statement of beliefs and principles which the members of an organization all agree on or, is it a laundry list of items which you want to see acted on.
I’ll be honest, I call our platform a Christmas tree. We built a Christmas tree and then every special interest group and every individual that has their pet project comes along and hangs it on there and, since 2006, our platform has done nothing but get larger.
A little before 9 last night, I left my dual posting at the side-by-side ballrooms where the Texas GOP Convention Platform/Resolutions and the Legislative Priorities committees were meeting until they were kicked out of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center at midnight, in order to walk down the hall a ways to cadge some coffee from the urn in the back of the room where the Rules Committee was meeting.
I had written a story a few hours before about how the Platform and Resolutions Committee had, on a voice vote, dismissed resolutions to censure U.S. Sen John Cornyn and three North Texas members of Congress, mostly for some budget votes, and also, by the narrowest margin, rejected a resolution to censure state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana.
Another censure resolution, directed at state Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, failed by a single vote Wednesday. Cook is a top Straus lieutenant who, as chairman of the State Affairs Committee, enforced their shared priorities. Like Straus, he is retiring from the House.
Critics of the censures warned the party was forming a “circular firing squad.”
But Stephen Broden of Senate District 23 responded, to audience applause: “I understand the need for unity, but sometimes we have to excise those who are disruptive to that unity.” He cited Benedict Arnold, the most famous traitor in American history, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who in 1951 were convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and put to death.
From the back of the room I saw Amy Hedtke doing what she does – live-streaming a public meeting – in this case the Rules Committee, which was of special interest because of the possibility that it might revise Rule 44, which enabled the local censure resolutions against Cornyn, the three congressmen, Cook and, earlier this year, the successful censure of House Speaker Joe Straus by the State Republican Executive Committee (which Hedtke live streamed.)
The Rules Committee resisted each and every attempt to water down Rule 44.
Hedtke is a unique individual.
Last May I devoted a First Reading to her – Some like it hot: How Amy Hedtke went from Scout mom to anarchist Republican and James O’Keefe heroine.
But that was a long way back in Hedtke time, quite a few adventures, a Beto-quantity of livestreams and a spell or two in jail ago.
Hedtke would have liked to have been a delegate to the convention, but Ellis County Republicans denied her that honor, holding her ill-concealed anarchism against her, so, she’s here concentrating on her live-streaming.
After grabbing a cup of coffee – actually two – I went over to tease Hedtke about Cook surviving the censure resolution, in which she provided a significant whereas.
This is Hedtke being arrested after a disagreement with Cook about whether she was within her rights to livestream a hearing of the State Affairs Committee he chaired and she attended out of her interest in abortion abolition.
This landed her in jail, and then in court ,where she fared well in pressing her claim that she was within her rights to livestream at the hearing: 3RD COA DISMISSES AMY HEDTKE: “YOU WON – NOW GET OFF OUR LAWN!”
When I asked what Hedtke made of Cook beating the censure rap, she gave me an “it isn’t over for Cook,” shrug.
“At conventions,” Hedtke said, “you get three bites of the apple.”
Indeed, neither she or I knew that at just about that very moment, the Platform and Resolutions Committee was reversing its position on the Cook censure.
This puzzled me, especially coming from Madden, a veteran former state representative from Richardson.
Madden had spoken against the censures of Cook, who he formerly served with, and of John Cornyn and three North Texas Republican members of Congress.
Why would he have thought better of his opposition to the Cook censure?
During a break in the Platform Committee’s deliberations, I approached Madden and asked what had changed.
“I was hearing back from people in my district, “`Gee, you really need to do that,'” he said, referring to backing the Cook censure. “I said, `OK.'”
Why, I asked, were his folks so exercised about Cook and Madden’s failure to support the censure?
“Because they’ve been exercised about him because that’s basically Ken Paxton’s home district, and the suit,” Madden said. “I didn’t think about that.”
Neither had I, and, oh, yes, of course. How obvious.
Look back at this Chuck Lindell story from July 2016: Ken Paxton: Is his legal trouble motivated by politics?
Facing possible prison time over accusations that he defrauded investors in 2011, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton insists that he is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt because he dares to run his powerful agency based on conservative Christian values.
Paxton places most of the blame for his legal troubles on a vendetta by a friend-turned-adversary, with some cutthroat politics in Collin County, where the criminal charges originated, thrown into the mix.
Prosecutor Brian Wice isn’t buying it, calling the assertion “as predictable as it is untrue.
Let’s skip down a few grafs.
Paxton blamed much of his legal problems on a Republican rift between conservatives like him and moderates like those who supported former state Rep. Dan Branch, his GOP primary opponent in the 2014 attorney general’s race. Then he singled out one GOP legislator.
“It’s not a coincidence that the chief witness against me in these charges is a political adversary of mine,” Paxton said in the video.
That witness/adversary is state Rep. Byron Cook, a Corsicana Republican who endorsed Branch in 2014 and who the grand jury named as a victim of Paxton’s allegedly fraudulent representation of Servergy. Cook also was known as “Investor 1” in the SEC lawsuit against Paxton.
Cook and Paxton both started in the Texas House in 2003 and became friends, with Paxton living in Cook’s Austin apartment, and later a house Cook purchased in Austin, during their first two legislative sessions.
They also belonged to the same investment club, and Paxton supporters say that Paxton brought Cook, an experienced investor, into several lucrative deals before approaching Cook about investing in Servergy in the summer of 2011.
Cook, who can expect to be called as a witness if the criminal and civil cases against Paxton go to trial, declined to answer questions about his dealings with Paxton, who went on to the Texas Senate in 2013 and became attorney general in 2015.
Those who know Cook say the Servergy deal fractured his friendship with Paxton.
Paxton’s supporters, however, say the friendship had already been strained as Cook established himself as a leading moderate and Paxton as a conservative — culminating in Paxton’s unsuccessful bid to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus, a Cook ally, in 2011.
Paxton supporters question why Cook waited four years to air his grievances about the Servergy deal, suggesting it was payback by GOP moderates who strove to marginalize Paxton in the Legislature — particularly after he challenged Straus — and were unhappy he became attorney general over Branch.
Wicedisagrees, saying the Texas Rangers began by investigating whether Paxton broke state law by failing to register with the State Securities Board — a third-degree felony for which he was later indicted. Allegations of fraud were uncovered later, he said.
“The Rangers followed the evidence wherever it led them,” Wice said. “It eventually led them to Byron Cook, and not the other way around.”
‘I will get to work’
Whatever the genesis, Cook’s allegations play a large role in the criminal and civil cases against Paxton.
For a Paxton partisan, censuring Cook is always a good idea.
Senate District 8 is Ken Paxton’s former seat, and, in all likelihood, his wife, Angela’s future seat.
“Double Paxton,” I said.
“Double Paxton,” Madden said.
More from Madden and his original thinking about the Cook censure.
“Byron. I knew him, I knew him well. He’s not running again. He’s not up. The electorate has spoken. Let it go. That’s what I did the first time (the committee voted on the censure). No big deal.”
But, on reflection, “I’ve got to take care of the people who are here. To me it was not the most important thing going on. And we beat the censure motions they had on the congressman and Sen. Cornyn bad. That was more consequential.”
The Platform and Resolutions Committee, which has a representative from each the state’s 31 Senate Districts, is actually the temporary committee. Today, each Senate district caucus met and selected who they want to represent them on the permanent Platform and Resolutions Committee, which will meet this afternoon and approve the final version of the platform that will be voted on by the convention on Saturday.
If Madden had not switched sides on the Cook censure, he could have been replaced on the Platform and Resolutions Committee. As it is, he presented his report to the caucus on the work of the committee, and was named its representative on the permanent committee by acclamation.
But, the censure switch wasn’t the only, or even latest change the committee made in the platform last night.
See-saw battle over plank on homosexual behavior continues into the night, with Platform Committee refusing to strike the line, “Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible.” pic.twitter.com/4fflU0RpHP
It was Marco Roberts of Houston, a leader of the Log Cabin Republicans serving on the committee, who sought to strike the new language, written by Pastor Stephen Broden (see Cook/Benedict Arnold/Julius and Ethel Rosenberg analogy above.)
Here’s a little about Robert’s GOP bona fides from his Facebook page.
Believer in the fundamental rights of the First Amendment and the right to property. Secretary/Board Member at Log Cabin Republicans of Texas President at Log Cabin Republicans of Houston Precinct Chair 0154 at Republican Party of Texas Studied Political science at Texas A&M University Went to American School Foundation Lives in Houston, Texas From Mexico City, Mexico Manages Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, Log Cabin Republicans of Houston and Freedom First Republicans
I reject the idea that anyone is a bigot just because they have a religious view. I don’t support that and I don’t call anybody that because I do understand that people have sincere values in this area.
The last two years I’ve been doing everything I can to defend our religious freedom in many different ways. I wrote an Op-Ed Friday in the Houston Chronicle defending the Supreme Court decision …
Same-sex wedding cake ruling shows how we can all just get along
By Susanna Dokupil and Marco Roberts
June 8, 2018
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that compelling a baker to create a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding was unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause. While religious liberty advocates won a legal victory, both sides — indeed, all Americans, religious or not — won a victory for freedom of conscience and mutual tolerance.
Jack Phillips, the baker, told a same-sex couple that he would sell them any products in his shop. However, he refused to create a cake for their wedding because he would not use his artistic self-expression to participate in a ritual that conflicted with his faith. The couple claimed unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, got seven votes with only Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissenting. In other words, all the conservatives and the moderates agreed on the result. The importance of that consensus cannot be overstated.
But what is really going on in this opinion? The majority focuses heavily on a key fact: Members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission expressed open hostility to Phillips and dismissed the validity of his religious views in the process of ruling against him. Meanwhile, the opinion never suggests that Jack Phillips behaved in an impolite or disrespectful manner. Rather, it goes into great detail to explain that the applicable civil rights laws were not clear, and Phillips may reasonably have believed he acted legally.
Motive matters in First Amendment religious liberty cases. Even strikingly similar cases can reach opposite results based on the court’s assessment of a party’s intent to follow or flout the law. In 2005, the court decided two landmark cases involving Ten Commandments displays on the same day. In one, then-Attorney General Greg Abbott successfully argued that a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas state capitol grounds was constitutional because it was presented in the context of other monuments and displays. In the other, Kentucky’s county courthouse displays failed the test of constitutionality because the court found that their intent was to promote religion.
Seven Justices agreed that government-sponsored hostility toward religious beliefs is unacceptable: “[T]he government, if it is to respect the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise, cannot impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens, and cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices.” A seven-vote majority for this statement is a huge victory for religious liberty.
At the same time, seven Justices agreed with the opinion’s closing words: “[T]hese disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” The Court absolutely refused to make a sweeping ruling that either side is always right. Rather like parents settling disputes between children, the majority seems inclined to consider not only who has rights, but also who has played well with others.
Roberts, on Broden’s amendment.
I can live with what you wrote here if you take out that one sentence.
Rolando Garcia from SD 15 in Harris County offered words of support for Roberts’ effort to remove the offending sentence.
I think Marco’s amendment acknowledges that all of us are willing to adopt any language that affirms marriage between man and a woman as God-ordained, that affirms we respect people who believe that.
The only question is the attack on homosexuals. That is the language this committee rejected …. and a few people are determined to put back in.
The real point of contention is that language. It is just not necessary and it does us harm and it does not do anything to advance the protection of traditional marriage.
This section is titled, Homosexual Behavior, and the sentence that Marco is attempting to remove is the one sentence that addresses homosexual behavior. The title of the platform is Homosexual Behavior and the one sentence that Marco is recommending that we remove addresses homosexual behavior.
(Broden repeated himself for emphasis, so I did as well.)
Not in a negative way, in terms of disparaging people. It is addressing why it is and why we’re against it. I don’t see it as strident or caustic or an attack as Rolando has identified it as an attack. It is not an attack.
And I’ll just read it again.
Homosexual behavior, which is part of the title, homosexual behavior is contrary – contrary is not an attack, it’s a statement of an observation or truth – is contrary, it’s contrary to the fundamental truth that has been ordained by God in the Bible.
I don’t see that as an attack.
I believe it’s addressing the title of the platform, which was Homosexual Behavior. What it is and what do we say about it. If we remove that, nothing is said about homosexual behavior, nothing at all.
And I would say to this committee, if it’s saying nothing about it, then why is it titled Homosexual Behavior?
Robert’s motion to delete the sentence was defeated on a voice vote.
Committee chair Mark Ramsey: I will remind members, we have probably spent an hour today on just this one plank.
The came the debate on Broden’s complete amendment with the sentence intact.
William Lan Lutz, a member of the committee from Austin:
The words we choose on this issue matter, especially to younger people.
I believe in the traditional values that are found in the Holy Bible, and that is a book that is filled with love from Genesis 1, Chapter 1 to the end of Revelation.
Love is all throughout the Bible.
And so the question is how do we impart biblical truths beginning with Genesis and say that we believe but do it in a way – and I think Pastor Broden and others on this committee are trying to figure out and are struggling because it’s hard, it’s not easy, to strike the right balance between affirming that we believe in God’s biblical truths while at the same time respecting people as human beings.
It’s the old, criticize the sin but love the sinner.
So how do we come up with a message that we as Republicans love people?
Roberts said that Republican condemnation of homosexuality was increasingly on the wrong side of an issue politically, especially with younger voters.
In every state on these issues for the last two or three years, every time you’ve lost.
I have succeeded in getting the Young Republicans, the Log Cabin Republicans to agree on religious freedom. How? By advocating the idea that everyone is entitled to the same religious freedom as everyone else.
What I hear Pastor Broden is, “I don’t see it this way. I don’t see it this way.”
Well I get that, but what about other people?
So what I am asking for is a plank that while still affirming all the things you want, still takes into consideration the rest of us in the party that you may not hear from sometimes.
I am not asking you to deny anything. I am just asking you to affirm what you think is good and then leave it at that. You don’t have to single out what you don’t like about some of us.
I just ask, you know, Roger Williams said 400 year ago, a Christian evangelist who started this small idea about freedom of the church, he said, “To compel worship stinks in the nostrils of God.”
And so what I ask for you guys is to think about that and start affirming what you want and stop with the condemnation.
Allison Winter from SD 4 spoke in favor the plank.
I’m speaking in favor of this. It has the language of God in here, which was taken out of the other one.
The Republican Party, the majority of us, do have faith in God and want that to be in there.
This speaks of what we’re for, marriage between a man and a woman, a biological man and a biological woman, these are two important words.
The other thing is that even as we say what we are for we have to say what we are opposed to also, and that is really important to take stand.
We should not be afraid to take a stand for what is in our hearts.
I hear Marco, I want that to be understood. I hear Marco and I hear the passion of what he is saying.
And I hear (William Lan Lutz.)
And the implication of both of them is that this is negative, that it is an attack.
And I think they are saying that, and I’m not sure, is because of the word, “homosexual.”
Certainly the sentence is not an attack, it’s a statement: “Homosexual behavior is contrary to…”
That’s not an attack, that’s a statement or an observation. You can agree with it or not. I understand that. But it is not an attack.
If it’s about the word, the plank itself, the title of the plank has the word.
And if you’re suggesting that the word is an attack, then it seems to me that you are having a problem with the plank and the label of the plank, and in Marco’s presentation the word “homosexual” shows up, in his words, so if you are having a problem with the word, why are we having a problem or not having a problem with the word being in Marco’s presentation of the plank, Homosexual Behavior?
I’d like to call the question, because we can a debate on this forever.
Ramsey:We do get another crack at this tomorrow afternoon for those who do choose to come back.
We have 21 for, do we need to take the negative?
Hearing no objection, the amendment passes by a vote of 21 for.
Here’s the language approved for the GOP plank on homosexual behavior, at least until tomorrow night when the permanent Platform Committee can take another crack at it. pic.twitter.com/j9UabGGrlF
I am in San Antonio for the Texas Republican Convention. The general sessions don’t begin until Thursday, but, since Monday, the Platform, Rules and Legislative Priorities committees have been meeting at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center.
Two years ago, the Republican convention set five legislative priorities.
We, the delegates of the 2016 Republican Party of Texas State Convention, call upon the 85th Texas Legislature to:
1. Pass constitutional carry while maintaining licensing as optional for reciprocity purposes.
2. Abolish abortion by enacting legislation to stop the murder of unborn children; and to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life.
3. Prioritize the allocation of funds to effectively secure the border through whatever means necessary, including but not limited to barriers, personnel, and technology over land, sea, and air, because the federal government refuses to secure the southern border of Texas.
4. Call for a limited Article V convention of states for the specific purpose of restricting the power of the federal government, including the implementation of term limits, and balanced budget amendment. Any proposed amendments must be ratified by ¾ of the states.
5. And to replace the property tax system with an alternative other than the income tax and require voter approval to increase the overall tax burden.
The Legislature obliged on priorities 3, funding for border security, and 4, calling for a limited Article V convention of states.
Not so on 1, constitutional carry, which means the Second Amendment should be all the license any American needs to carry a gun, or on 5, replacing the property tax, or on 2, the abolition of abortion.
This last is a really quite radical position for a the dominant and dominating political party in the state of Texas. It calls on the state to ignore the Supreme Court and completely outlaw abortion.
It would criminalize women who have abortions and doctors who perform abortions.
It didn’t get very far in the Legislature, but Arlington Rep. Tony Tinderholt did introduce it as House Bill 948.
The Republican lawmaker behind a controversial bill — which could make it legal to charge women and providers with murder for an abortion — defended the proposal by saying completely removing access to the procedure would “force” women to be “more personally responsible” with sex.
State Representative Tony Tinderholt, of Arlington, said in an interview with the Observer that, if passed, the bill would reduce the number of pregnancies “when they know that there’s repercussions.”
“Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child,” Tinderholt said.
House Bill 948 would ban and criminalize abortions at any stage, direct state officials to ignore “any conflicting federal” laws, and would no longer exempt pregnancies as a result of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities. The bill would remove the exception for abortion in the state’s penal code for criminal homicide, meaning that women and providers could face charges as serious as murder for the procedure.
The abortion abolitionists – who fashion themselves in the tradition of the anti-slavery abolitionists – want to keep the language in the platform, which shouldn’t be a problem, and also to keep it as one of the party’s top legislative priorities, which is more contentious, and is opposed by Texas Right to Life.
Texas Right to Life wants to continue to pursue a course of what it describes as “prudent pro-life incrementalism” that they believe has weakened and could eventually lead to overturning Roe v. Wade.
It is akin to the decades-long strategy of civil rights groups to overcome legal segregation.
The abolitionists hold as their model a movement whose victory came as a consequence of the Civil War.
Here in Texas and elsewhere, the abolitionists hold the traditional pro-life groups with a certain contempt.
Enough with the pro-life platitudes. Enough with the empty pro-life promises.
Forty-four years of regulated child sacrifice is enough. We are done congratulating these compromised officials for their half-hearted efforts. We are done celebrating their so-called victories.
Children are being torn apart on their watch, on our watch.
It’s time we demand the abolition of abortion.
They may not be the obvious enemy.
That’s the face of the pro-choice movement and it’s very clear that that’s wicked, that’ s evil up front and not hiding at all.
But the pro-lifers are also an enemy, more insidious in their own way.
Pro-life is the expression of a moral opinion. Abolition is the expression of a moral action. When you call yourself “pro-life” you are letting people know what you think about abortion. When you call yourself an abolitionist, you are telling them what you aim to do about it.
Pro-lifers prefer gradual, over immediate, abolition.
Abolitionism has historically been wed to the doctrine of immediatism. The history of the pro-life movement has been one of gradualistic means and measures, incremental legislation, ameliorative programs, and the inclusion of exceptions to abortion along the way to its eventual total abolition. Abolitionists reject the idea that you can effectively fight evil by allowing it in some cases or do away with it by planned out incremental steps which preserve it along the way. Abolitionists reject the notion that you can ever commit evil in order that good may come. Abolitionists cry NO COMPROMISE!!! Pro-lifers cry “get the best that you can get when you can get it,” and consistently support the “lesser of two evils.”
You can be a secular pro-lifer. You cannot be a secular abolitionist.
To be an abolitionist you must believe in a higher law. One does not need to believe in a higher law or deity to embrace an adverse opinion regarding abortion. But to argue that abortion is evil and ought to be abolished regardless of whether 99.99999% of the rest of the human population agrees with you requires the existence of a binding moral law which has its reference point outside of humanity.
Pro-lifers prefer common ground. Abolitionists prefer to proclaim the gospel.
A majority of pro-life leaders and organizations argue that one need not convince a person that God exists or that abortion is sin, in order to convert them to the pro-life position. While this may be true, abolitionists never choose to remove God or the gospel from the conversation. Abolitionists believe that abortion exists because men deny that God does. The pro-life movement argues that we should talk less about sin and more about science. Less about salvation and more about “saving the babies.”
Central to the work abolition is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Bringing abortion and its justifications into conflict with the Gospel is the primary mechanism of Abolition. Abolitionist understand our work as being part of the Great Commission. Abolitionists adopt these Five Tenets of Abolition and practice these Two Modes of Abolitionism
THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT ARGUES THAT WE SHOULD FOCUS ON SAVING THE BABIES. THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT ARGUES THAT WE SHOULD FOCUS ON CONVERTING THE CULTURE. ABOLITIONISTS BELIEVE THAT SAVING SOULS HOLDS THE KEY TO SAVING BABIES. ABOLITIONISTS BELIEVE THAT A CONVERT TO CHRIST IS A CONVERT TO THE CAUSE OF ABOLITION.
On Tuesday, the convention’s Legislative Priorities Committee, which will recommend to the convention what the priorities should be for the next legislative session, heard from John Seago, the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, Bradley Pierce, who leads Abolish Abortion Texas, and Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.
Pojman talked about Texas’ long and continuing record of pro-life legislation that has made it one of the most restrictive for abortion in the nation.
I will focus on Seago and Pierce, because it is their two views that are competing for primacy at the convention. Each wants their view of where the anti-abortion movement should direct its energy to emerge from the convention as one of the Texas Republican Party’s legislative priorities for the session that begins in January.
What follows are excerpts from what Seago told the committee.
The Legislature is built to kill bills.
We have to practice prudence.
We have to be very selective about our priorities. We have three criterion.
Will this bill save lives?
Talking about what we will do with the body of a baby after he or she is murdered does not save lives. Yes, it’s good public policy. Yes, it shows our respect for life. But we’re talking about after the abortion.
It wasn’t a legislative priority for our organization, because we want to save lives.
Does this bill move the cultural conversation to the right topics?
The two things I want to have a conversation with my pro-choice neighbor about is the humanity of the pre-born child and the inhumanity of elective abortion.
When we talk about clinic regulation, well, what’s the debate around clinic regulation? It’s about how long it takes to drive to an abortion clinic. It’s about how wide the hallways are in an abortion clinic. Those are not culture-changing conversations.
But when we talk about dismemberment abortions, when we talk about the ugliness of the violence of elective abortions, that’s the conversation I want to have with my pro-choice neighbor. So if we pass a bill prohibiting dismemberment abortions, as we did in 2017, I get to explain to my pro-choice friends, or even just my apathetic Republican friends, why abortion is injustice, why it’s an act of violence.
The third criterion, is, does this bill work to undermine Roe v. Wade?
We live in the shadow of Roe v. Wade. There’s no denying it.
We are not afraid, our organization is not afraid of the courts. In fact, we feel we have to use the federal courts to undermine the legal foundation of Roe v. Wade.
Attempts to circumvent the court ruling, or simply ignore the Supreme Court (won’t work.)
Our organization is convinced we have to use the courts, but not just in an arbitrary way.
The last ten years there have been successes and the legal foundation of Roe is shaking.
What we will be seeking to pass in 2019 is going to be a pro-life PreNDA legislation.
Here is Plank 88 from the 2016 platform”
88: Right to Life – All innocent human life must be respected and safeguarded from fertilization to natural death; therefore, the unborn, the aged, and the physically or mentally challenged have a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed.
Texas law doesn’t live up to that principle. Texas law has dangerous loopholes in it right now.
We say we are going to protect pre-born children at 20 weeks because that’s when they have the capacity to feel pain, except for children who are expected to have a disability.
We say for those children we are going to give you less protection. We say we are going to allow you to be aborted after 20 weeks.
That is a disgrace to Texas. That is a black mark on our pro-life record. Usually in Texas and in U.S. law we provide more protections for individuals with disabilities or individuals with diseases. We give more legal protection, not less. But what Texas law does is the opposite.
So, what PreNDA seeks to do is fill that loophole and provide non-discrimination language to Texas law. So saying that we see certain abortions as discriminatory and we want to prohibit those.
Also PreNDA legislation doesn’t just say no to abortion, it says yes to life. We want to expand these mothers’ access to perinatal care, palliative care and other social and medical services.
We can talk to our pro-choice neighbors. We can talk to Democrats.
It’s a very dynamic legal attack.
We don’t think ignoring a court and having a federal-state standoff is a legitimate strategy.
We have a reputation for being stubborn. But we do take into consideration what’s possible.
We think prudent incrementalism is the right strategy to adopt.
Bradley Pierce is a co-founding attorney of Heritage Defense, where he helps defend the parental rights of Christian homeschooling families around the country against threats by social services. After being homeschooled in the late 80′s through graduation, Bradley earned a degree in History and English from Baylor University while serving as student body vice president, then went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from Baylor Law School. He and his wife Cindy have seven children.
Here are excepts from Pierce:
I’m a Christian, I’m a husband, a father, an attorney. I’m a loyal Republican. I’m here from Williamson County, SD 5. I’m an abolitionist. I’m here on behalf of Abolish Abortion Texas.
I’m here to talk about a legislative priority that is already a legislative priority
Our legislative priority that we’re pushing is our name. Abolish Abortion Texas.
The Abolish Abortion plank from the 2016 platform: We call upon the Texas Legislature to enact legislation stopping the murder of unborn children; and to ignore and refuse to enforce any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life.
It got the most top votes in the committee when it was considered. It was adopted by nearly 90 percent of delegates in 2016. It led to HB 948 being filed in our legislative session with 12 co-authors. It got the support of over 68 percent of Republican primary voters three moths ago on our Republican primary ballot.
Why ignore Roe?
There’s two ways to approach Roe. Change the court or ignore the court.
Well, here’s what 45 years of trying to change the court looks like, just a little bit of history here.
Pierce recounted how a succession of Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents have affirmed Roe.
Even if we had President Ronald Reagans now into infinity Roe would not be overturned at this rate. 55,000 plus babies are murdered in Texas every year. I don’t call that success.
Some people say Roe is the law of the land.
No it isn’t.
This Constitution will be law of the land. Roe is unconstitutional so it’s not the law of the land.
Nowhere in the Constitution is there a right to an abortion, either expressed or implied
Where the court has ignored the Constitution, we must ignore the court.
And some may say, Bradley, that’s lawlessness. No lawlessness is what we live in right now. Lawlessness is 55,000 babies a year being murdered.
The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being. God is.
Not only can we resist it. We must resist it.
If we don’t ignore Roe there is no end in sight to the Nile River of blood that is flowing through our land.
This is a legislative priority in our platform and we need to defend legislative priorities. If we put on a legislative priority and then our Legislature substantially ignores that and then we rip that legislative priority off, you’ve just sent a signal.
Dear Republican legislators: You can ignore the grassroots of your party and our response to that is we’ll give up. We’re sending them a signal that we’re giving up.
People say this is not very specific. Specific? We’re saying outlaw abortion. How much more specific does it need to be?
The legislators are complaining. “We don’t like this.” Good, that means we’re having an effect.
We’re not here to pass things they are going to do anyway. We’re here to tell them what conservative Texans want.
This has not become less important. 110,000 estimated have died since this became a legislative priority. This has gotten more important every single day.
The 2016 platform includes both abolition and incrementalist planks.
The same is likely to be true of the 2018 platform.
“It’s contradictory, but that’s where our party is right now,” Seago said. “You could have both in the platform. Once you go into the Legislature, we are not advocating for abolition because we don’t think it’s an effective legal strategy. We’re saying PreNDA is something the Legislature will do, it’s something that will get us a step closer. instead of asking them to do something the Legislature has already shown they are not interested in doing.”
Seago acknowledges that there is power to the abolitionist argument that it will appear the party is softening its stand on abortion if it steps back from identifying abolition as a top legislative priority.
“They messed up,” Seago said of the 2016 convention. “They shouldn’t have put abolition in in the first place. There are a lot of committee members who were supportive of it last time who see that that’s not a prudent decision.”
But, Seago said of the abolitionist stance, “It’s pretty popular for conservative Republicans.”
“It’s a family discussion,” he said. “It’s just about strategy.”
But, in testimony later in the day before the Platform Committee’s State Affair Subcommittee, Pierce framed the issue in typically starker terms.
To end abortion, he said, “I think we should be willing to lay down our own lives.”
As it finished its business Tuesday evening, the State Affairs Subcommittee voted without disagreement to recommend that the abolitionist plank remain a legislative priority for the Texas Republican Party for the coming session.
I spent Friday and Saturday night at the Maverick PAC Mavericks Conference.
Traveling back from Dallas, I arrived just in time Friday night.
There were protesters outside Brazos Hall who had marched up from a rally at Republic Square protesting the separation of immigrant families at the border.
Maverick PAC appeared well-heeled. They had Brazos Hall Friday night and the Moody Theater at Austin City Limits. There was food. There was an open bar.
And the protesters – or at any rate their presence outside – got shout-outs from the stage, a kind of satisfied recognition that their gathering was significant enough to merit pickets.
This was not a Texas tea party audience. The several hundred attendants were generally young, successful businesspeople from around country who, collectively, contribute about a quarter million dollars through the PAC to help other young Republican candidates like themselves win election to Congress.
While now national, Maverick PAC got its start 15 years ago with young alumni of the George W. Bush presidential campaign in Texas, starting with Cruz and George P. Bush, now Texas land commissioner, way before either of them had run for anything.
On Friday night, Cruz and Maverick co-chairs Morgan Outages and Fritz Brogan answered a few questions from reporters, including Stephanie Hamill of the Daily Caller in D.C.
I’m proud to announce my new role as Advisor for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. In the divided era we must push for greater good to find areas of common ground.As Americans, we must remember that united we stand, divided we fall. #MAGA@NDCTrump 🇺🇸 @DonaldJTrumpJrpic.twitter.com/FfMMBdTCGS
Bravo! @realDonaldTrump Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views. And he’s a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left—which is why they hate him. This is Justice. https://t.co/cGHzcgwSnK
New: @TedCruz says he suggested @DineshDSouza pardon to Trump while they were riding together to @NRA meeting last month in Dallas. Cruz told Trump the pardon would be “very much along the same lines of Scooter Libby.” https://t.co/kys6eRRLWZ
Bravo! @realDonaldTrump Dinesh was the subject of a political prosecution, brazenly targeted by the Obama administration bc of his political views. And he’s a powerful voice for freedom, systematically dismantling the lies of the Left—which is why they hate him. This is Justice. https://t.co/cGHzcgwSnK
ALEX JONES (HOST): You know, we really pushed it to Trump. He didn’t even know that [former sheriff Joe] Arpaio had been “convicted” by a judge of contempt and was facing a year in prison. And I know a lot of folks pushed [Dinesh] D’Souza. In fact, I personally pushed [Roger] Stone — I’m just bragging, this is true, I know other people did it, other people did as well — D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza. Because that will bring all that up and show the hypocrisy. I know for a fact Stone brought that up to Trump because he told me he did.
I asked about Cruz to review his role in the Dinesh D’Souza pardon.
CRUZ: I’m very glad the president chose to pardon Dinesh D’Souza because I think the Obama administration’s prosecution of him was incredibly unfair. It was political persecution is what it is. The crime he was charged of was an offense that typically is handled with a civil fine and it’s typically handled with a slap on the wrist but because he was a such a prominent critic of Barack Obama, the Obama administration targeted him and charged him with a felony.
It was an abuse of power. It was abuse of power when it happened. I spoke out against it then and in fact it was right about the same time you may recall, when the Obama administration targeted a filmmaker right after the Benghazi attack happened, and they tried to blame the Benghazi attack on a filmmaker. Turned out that was not true but they went back and put that filmmaker in jail, a year in jail on unrelated charges.
Listen, I don’t think we should countenance the administration of justice being used for political and partisan ends. That’s what was done under the Obama administration.
So I had the opportunity to raise the issue with President Trump, I encouraged him to pardon Dinesh D’Souza and I’m very grateful the president made the decision to do so.
I asked Sen. Cruz if he considered D’Souza a friend and an ideological soul mate.
CRUZ: Dinesh and I are friends.
CRUZ: I think he has been very effective tearing down many of the lies of the far left.
CRUZ: You know it’s interesting. You see liberals on Twitter going crazy that they’re so upset he was pardoned.
What’s interesting is, just a few weeks ago we saw revelations that Rosie O’Donnell apparently committed the same offense five times, five times, when she broke the identical law that Dinesh was prosecuted for. I don’t recall any of those liberal activists on Twitter calling for Rose O’Donnell to be prosecuted.
The Department of Justice and the criminal justice system should not be used as a partisan tool and the Obama administration far too often put politics ahead of the rule of law so I am glad that President Trump made the decision to issue the pardon.
I think the pardon furthers justice because criminal prosecutions shouldn’t be used to score partisan ends.
I asked if Sen. Cruz thought Trump was sending a message about his use of the pardon.
Dinesh D'Souza pardon 'has to be a signal' to Mueller, indicted Trump associates: Roger Stone https://t.co/Jm1w9lr7T2
CRUZ: I think the message of the pardon is very simple, which is that justice should be served and political prosecutions are not just and that’s exactly what happened with Dinesh D’Souza.
And by the way, none of the people who are decrying – I read some of the editorials saying how terrible it was he was pardoned – no one takes issue with the fact that his prosecution and his sentence were grossly disproportionate to just about anybody else who had committed the exact same offense.
Imagine the reaction Jonathan, during he Bush years, imagine if the George W. Bush Justice Department had gone out there and prosecuted Michael Moore or Alec Baldwin or any of the other liberals in Hollywood who criticize the president. That would have ben obviously wrong. The press would have been completely against it.
And yet when the Obama administration targeted a conservative filmmaker, you didn’t get the same outcry. I’m glad the president stood up and stood for the principles of juice by pardoning what aw an unfair political prosecution.
During Barack Obama’s administration, the conservative author and activist Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book, “Obama’s America,” full of gross speculations about the sex life of the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was a pioneering anthropologist. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” wrote D’Souza. He described her as a “playgirl” who used “her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”
D’Souza’s insinuations had little to do with his ostensible thesis, which was that Obama sought to undermine America. It was simply a timeworn insult — calling someone’s mom fat and promiscuous — that tells us nothing about Obama’s family, but a lot about D’Souza’s character.
Besides being a huckster and a sexist weasel, D’Souza is a felon who, in 2014, pleaded guilty to routing illegal campaign donations through a woman he was having an affair with, and the woman’s husband. (At the time, D’Souza was married and serving as president of the evangelical King’s College. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.) For his crime, he spent eight months in a halfway house. On Thursday, Donald Trump gave him a full pardon, tweeting that D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government.”
Trump’s action, a clear abuse of his pardoning power for political ends, serves several purposes. Most seriously, the D’Souza pardon, like those of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and the former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, is a message to Trump confederates facing legal trouble. It says that if they stay strong, he’ll take care of them. As a former federal prosecutor, Joyce Alene, pointed out on Twitter, D’Souza was convicted of one of the same crimes, a campaign finance violation, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is now being investigated for.
The pardon is also a culture war smoke bomb, distracting from manifold other scandals and disasters: the study estimating that around 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria; outrage over migrant children ripped from their parents’ arms at the border; and an incipient trade war with our allies. Adding to the diversionary spectacle, on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he was considering commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, a onetime contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” and pardoning Martha Stewart, who hosted a “Celebrity Apprentice” spinoff.
Another person that got railroaded by the Obama administration is Rod Blagojevich – would love to know why he took the fall for Obama- maybe if he’s pardoned he’ll finally spill the beans! They threw him under bus & ran over him!
D’Souza, who made his name in the 1990s fighting campus political correctness, once had a reputation as a middlebrow conservative provocateur, but he’s really more gutter-dwelling troll. His 1995 book “The End of Racism” argued, “In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well,” and called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. D’Souza wrote a bizarre book blaming the “cultural left” for provoking the jihadists who struck America on Sept. 11 and arguing for an alliance of the American right and conservative Muslims in “opposition to American social and cultural depravity.” During the Obama years he, like Trump, became a full-bore conspiracy theorist, accusing the president of spearheading a third-world scheme to subvert America.
In the Trump era, he’s become even worse. He mocked survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who cried after the Florida Legislature voted down an assault weapons ban, tweeting, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” (He later apologized.)
He described Rosa Parks as an “overrated” Democrat. He played a major role in spreading the lie — which Barr tweeted on Tuesday — that the billionaire financier George Soros, who was a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Hungary, was really a Nazi collaborator.
OVERRATED DEMOCRATS DEPT: So Rosa Parks wouldn't sit in the back of the bus–that's all she did, so what's the big fuss?
And now Trump has singled this man out for grace. One former White House official, speaking to BuzzFeed News, denied that there was “any grand strategic reasoning” behind the pardon, which may well be true. But even if Trump was acting out of instinct rather than calculation, he has an intuitive ability to speak to his supporters’ dark impulses, and an insatiable need to smash boundaries that constrained his predecessors.
The fact that D’Souza is utterly undeserving of a pardon might be part of the point; it signals that fealty to the president transcends all other values. In his new book “The Road to Unfreedom,” the historian Timothy Snyder quotes the Russian fascist philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who is beloved by Putin’s circle. Fascism, Ilyin wrote approvingly, is “a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.” Trump has almost certainly never read this line, but he understands it.
Not all critics of the pardon are on the left.
The President has the right to do it, but pardoning Dinesh D’Souza is an embarrassing mockery of justice.
Back to the MAVPAC press gaggle Friday night with Cruz:
Stephanie Hamill:Your opponent. His real name is Robert, correct, not Beto, and you released an ad and you highlighted the absurdity of a white man using the nickname Beto. As Latina and a daughter of an immigrant, I’m kind of in the same boat as you, so when I hear somebody using that name, and to me I find that pandering for votes.
What’s you reaction to the criticism of left over the ad that you put out.
Cruz: Well, we had some fun, I actually think in campaigning, it’s important to have some fun.
In it included a line, “Lberal Robert wanted to fit in so he changed his name to Beto and did it with a grin.”
That was done to be light, to have fun. But I’ve got to say the reaction of some Democrats, the reaction of some folks in the media was predictable. They stamped their feet they were so upset. How dare you point out that his name is Robert Francis.
And was also quite amusing to see som of the Democrats explain, “No, no,no, you don’t understand, Congressman O”Rourke is Robert Francs, he’s not Hispanic.. He just has an Hispanic nickname. Whereas Cruz …. his name is Rafael, he is he son of a Cuban immigrant, he’s Hispanics, but he uses the nickname Ted, aha, we got you.”
Well, I don’t know if this counts as stamping my feet, but when the ad came out I did a First Reading in which I wrote:
I think that little ditty contains within it everything you will need to know about the Cruz campaign against O’Rourke. This is not based on anything anyone has told me. It is simply my intuition.
Ted Cruz means to do nothing less than crush Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy and do so by destroying his good name, or at least, his first name, by turning BETO into a four-letter word, an epithet to be spit out in anger or, better yet, derision, the telling diminutive of a liberal beguiler, imposter and poseur, who is either an opportunist trying to fool Hispanic voters into thinking he is, at least in part, one of them, or, some kind of deluded, self-hating Anglo (albeit Irish-American Anglo), whose sentimental, fuzzy-headed, liberal notions of bi-nationalism and multiculturalism have robbed him of the most basic understanding that what makes Texas Texas is a strong border and unfettered access to guns.
The jingle, and Cruz’s follow-up comments, send the message to his voters that Cruz — the Hispanic son of an immigrant — is, by taking the name “Ted,” assimilating the way it’s supposed to be done, while O’Rourke, by calling himself Beto, is going weirdly the other way, undermining what made America great.
Little Beto, in the photo at the top of First Reading, may look innocent, but, Cruz’s jingle tells us, don’t believe it.
And, one would think, if O”Rourke’s parents were planning a pander knowing that he would one day be running for Senate on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Francis Kennedy – that Irish Catholic Democrat with famous appeal to Hispanic voters and who, in hair and teeth and general affect, O’Rourke is already frequently likened to – they would have stitched Robert Francis on his pre-school sweater.
For the record, here is what O’Rourke told me about his the derivation of his nickname.
My grandfather, Robert V. Williams, who passed away when I was 4 years old, but when I was little, my mom tells me, that since there were two Roberts around, so such a little guy, look, we weren’t going to also call you Robert, because that was confusing, and in El Paso, if you’re not Robert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Albert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Umberto, you’re Beto. Beto is as common in El Paso as Bob might be in Dallas. There’s Beto’s Tacos. Wood Floors by Beto. Beto, your mailman. Beto, your congressman.
But, back to Hamill’s give-and-take with Cruz on whether O’Rourke is Beto-worthy”
HAMILL: Yeah, but you’re bicultural, aren’t you? So you can technically go either way, but it’s absolutely absurd for a white man to use the nickname Beto.
Cruz: Well he’s entitled to call himself anything he wants but I will say that we had poll just this week a Quinnipiac Poll, and I don’t put a lot of stock in good polls or bad polls, but the thing that was interesting, this poll showed me beating congressman O’Rourke among Hispanic voters in Texas. I think the reason is our values are commonsense conservative values.
CRUZ: If you look at what Hispanics want – we want jobs, we want opportunities. What resonates in our community is faith, family, patriotism, hard work, the American dream. Those are the values of Texas Republicans and those are the values of most Hispanics voters in Texas.
HAMILL: He’s promoting illegal immigration, people that are in this country illegally,
Immigrants from Mexico, from everywhere else, they want the border wall, they want border security.
I saw signs downstairs (of the protesters outside the window) that said “No borders,” “Love,” all these things … they said, “Defund ICE, CBP.”
It’s an outrage.”
CRUZ: Usually, in a general election in Texas a Democrat runs to the middle, at least pretends to. Congressman O’Rourke isn’t doing that.
He is running hard left, just like Bernie Sanders. He is running on rising your taxes and repealing the tax cuts. He is running on more job-killing regulations. He is running on expanding Obamacare and socialized medicine.
You’re right. On immigration, he is running on defending sanctuary cities, not only opposing a wall, he says there are too many walls, too many fences, tear down what we have.
And he’s running also on aggressive gun control, and impeaching Donald Trump.
Now those are great campaign issues if he were running to be the senator from the state of Massachusetts People running Elizabeth Warren might have a problem with Congressman O’Rourke attacking from her left flank.
But those aren’t the values in Texas – low taxes, low regulation, more jobs, border security. We want the rule of law respected … legal immigrants like my father when he came from Cuba in 1957 right here to Austin, he came with a student visa … It’s legal immigrants who find their jobs are lost and wages are driven down by illegal immigrants.
CRUZ: You know if you want to know what someone’s values are see what they stand for.
The State of the Union, every member of Congress gets to invite one guest. The last State of the Union, Congressman O’Rourke chose to invite an illegal immigrant. That’s what he wants to highlight – that he’s fighting for illegal immigrants.
On the other hand, at the State of the Union, I joined with Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and the two of us together invited Stephen and Pamela Willeford.
Stephen was the hero of Sutherland Springs who risked his life saving people and you know I think between Congressman O’Rourke’s invitation and mine we illustrated who it is we are fighting for every day. He chose, his number one priority according to the State of the Union is illegal immigrants. My number one priority is standing up and fighting for Texas and defending our Constitution.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Official blog of the US Representative for El Paso, TX
My Guest For Tomorrow’s State of the Union
Meet Daisy Arvizu, my guest to this year’s State of the Union Address. I first met Daisy in 2016 at a Dreamers town hall we held in El Paso that brought together Dreamers in our community and those who support them.
Daisy was brought to this country at the tender age of one year and eight months. She grew up in our community; she works two jobs; she’s a student at the El Paso Community College; and she’s hoping to continue on to UTEP. In every way that’s meaningful, Daisy is every bit as American as my three kids. We need to do right by Daisy and the 800,000 Dreamers in Texas and across the country who are contributing so much to our communities — making us stronger and safer and more successful every day.
I’m grateful that Daisy is able to join me for the State of the Union, and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to ensure that she and Dreamers across the country can continue contributing their full potential to the only country they’ve ever known — as citizens.
On Saturday night, in addition to panels that included George P. Bush Gov. Greg Abbott Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, there was also a panel of young Republican members Congress, the oldest of whom, at 40, was Rep. Will Hurd, who is seeking a third term in the swing 23rd Congressional District, that stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso.
The next morning, Hurd was interviewed by Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation.
BRENNAN: We turn now to Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He sits on Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And he joins us live from San Antonio.
Congressman, good morning to you.
I want to quickly ask you this “New York Times”-obtained letter from the president’s attorneys laying out their arguments, saying, he as president has complete control over federal investigations, cannot be compelled to testify, and could not have obstructed the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sitting on House Intelligence, as do you, what do you make of this argument?
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, this is going to be something that is going to be sorted out through the judicial system.
And I’m not a lawyer. But one of the things I have learned is, if you are innocent, act like you’re innocent. And Bob Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation and turn over any stone and pursue any lead.
BRENNAN: Should the president be compelled to testify to Bob Mueller, the special counsel?
HURD: Again, I think this is going to be a judicial issue that — to figure out what is, what can he be compelled to do?
Again, if you don’t have anything to hide, why wouldn’t you testify? Because I think that would help get — close this investigation quicker, which I think that is something this administration wants to see.
But one of the things that I’m focused on is on issues that is firmly in the responsibility of Congress. And that’s trade, that’s immigration, and these are big issues that are going to be coming to the forefront over the next few days and weeks.
BRENNAN: And I do want to ask you about trade, but just to button this up, the president’s attorney said this morning the president probably has the power to pardon himself, though doing so would be unthinkable.
What would happen in the House if the president tried to do that? What would the political ramification be?
HURD: Look, I think that would be a terrible move. I think people would erupt.
I think even thinking about trying to fire Mueller is a bad move politically. So, I hope we don’t have to get to that point. And it’s hard to predict what would happen. But that would — that would be — that would create outrage on both sides of the political aisle.
BRENNAN: But let’s get to that issue of trade you brought up there.
Would there be support in the House, where you sit, for legislation that would require the president to get congressional approval before putting on tariffs? There’s talk in the Senate about doing it. Would you support something in the House?
The Congress has shared our responsibility when it comes to trade with the executive branch over the last couple of decades. And I think that is something that we need to reevaluate. One of the things that — as you know, Margaret, I spent nine-and-a-half years as an undercover officer in the CIA.
I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning. One of the things I learned is, be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. Make sure your allies know you have their back.
BRENNAN: So, Canada, Mexico and European Union are not national security threats, from your point of view, which is the authority the president used here?
HURD: No, they’re not. No, we are lucky to have Canada and Mexico as our neighbors.
Imagine what some of our other allies have to deal with. A sound foreign policy, sound trade policy does not mean penalizing your allies while you’re rescuing a Chinese company that firmly and clearly violated U.S. sanctions. And I’m speaking about ZTE.
So, let’s address the real problem. China is dumping steel on the world markets. Let’s address that. China is stealing intellectual property. Let’s address that. Let’s not help one Chinese company continue to sell their widgets all around the world, while we’re going to ultimately impact the American consumer.
Why should my fellow Americans compare about this? Here in South Texas, it’s hot. And if you like a drink, a cold beer on a hot day, it’s going to be more expensive. If you have got to fill up your car with gasoline, it’s going to be more expensive.
If you have to buy clothes, it’s going to be more expensive. If you buy food in a grocery store, it’s going to be more expensive. And so this makes absolutely no sense. And to say that this is going to create jobs in the United States of America, we are celebrating 3.8 percent unemployment.
That is the best it’s ever been in almost half-a-century. So where — what jobs is this going to be bringing back? It’s only going to impact jobs. And so that’s why most of us, a lot of us in Congress thinks this is not the way you handle trade, this is not the way you deal with your allies.
BRENNAN: On the issue of immigration, the majority of Americans polled seem to support some kind of protection for dreamers, so-called DACA recipients.
But your bosses in Congress have tried to block a vote on this. Do you have a surefire way to force a vote in the House and get a bill to the president’s desk?
HURD: Margaret, let me correct you for a second. They’re not my bosses. My bosses are the 800,000 people that I represent in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.
And that’s why I’m working on this issue with friends like Jeff Denham from California, Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Elise Stefanik from New York, in order to force this vote.
This is this discharge petition, where it’s saying, hey, we’re going to bring multiple bills to the floor on immigration and have that vote. I hope teachers are still teaching in school that having a public conversation and discourse is still important to keeping democracy alive and thriving in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re trying to push.
BRENNAN: Well, Speaker Ryan — Speaker Ryan and his whip and everyone with him are trying to block this vote from happening.
Do you have the votes to force this to the floor?
HURD: We do. And we’re adding votes every single day.
We’re engaged in conversations to figure out, is there another path? I don’t believe that there is. And the time has come. It’s 2018. We don’t have operational control of our border. We have a million-plus young men and women who have only known the United States of America as their home that are in this uncertainty period. They don’t know about their future.
Now is the time to solve this problem and do it once and for all.
And guess what?
BRENNAN: You expect that vote this month?
HURD: Yes, this month of June.
BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, thank you very much.
HURD: Always a pleasure.
Hurd, 40, Curbelo, 38, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsoin, is 34, and Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014, is 33, were all on a panel together moderated by Hamill. (Cruz is 46, and O’Rourke is 45.)
Here is something about the members of the panel.
Stefanik Selected as Co-Chair of Republican Tuesday Group
January 11, 2017
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) has been selected as Co-Chair of the House Republican Tuesday Group, a policy caucus within the House Republican Conference.
“I am honored to be selected by my Tuesday Group colleagues for this important opportunity,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Tuesday Group is comprised of Members who are willing to work across the aisle to advance policy solutions for their constituents, and I look forward to working on critical issues facing our nation in this important role.”
“Representative Stefanik is an outstandingly talented and dedicated member of the Republican Conference,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Co-Chair of the Tuesday Group. “As a millennial, Elise brings a fresh perspective to a number of issues. The Tuesday Group is fortunate to have her in a leadership role as one of our co-chairs.”
by the Senate. Right now, negotiations for this longer-term funding bill are ongoing and critical issues need to be agreed to, such as on DACA and spending levels for our defense department. (3/5)
A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington
By Alex Daugherty
November 26, 2017 WASHINGTON Carlos Curbelo is picking fights.
He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application.
And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change.
These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to criticize both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction
According to Bipartisan Index ranking of bipartisanship in the last Congress, Curbelo ranked 11, Stefanik, 31, O’Rourke, 77, and Hurd 112.
In 2017, Curbelo ranked 4, Stefanik, 27, Hurd, 49, and O’Rourke, 93.
In the Senate, Cruz ranked 85, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, was 30. Bernie Sanders was last. In the last Congress, Cruz was next to last, ahead only of Sanders.
Oh, and there’s this, a press release from Curbelo’s office.
South Florida DACA Recipient To Join Curbelo at State of the Union
Washington, D.C., January 26, 2018 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | 0comments On Tuesday, South Florida DACA recipient Adrian Escarate will join Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) at the State of the Union.
“I’m honored to have Adrian be my guest for the State of the Union,” Curbelo said. “One of my chief legislative priorities this Congress and the last has been to forge a compromise on immigration that delivers a fair, permanent solution for young immigrants like him. I was encouraged by the immigration outline the White House released yesterday, and look forward to working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle next week to make sure Congress fully recognizes America’s Children – young men and women like Adrian who are contributing greatly to our country.”
Escarate was born in Santiago, Chile and was brought to the United States when he was 3 years old. Initially, his parents had only intended to live in Miami for five years, but after assimiliating, South Florida became their permanent home. Growing up, Adrian played competitive tennis while also achieving great academic accolades during his primary schooling. Adrian was also able to attend the University of North Florida and St. Thomas University as a student-athlete by playing on the men’s tennis team at both universities. Although undocumented, he was able to attend school with private scholarships and graduated Cum Laude from St. Thomas University in 2011 with a Degree in Communications Arts and a minor in Psychology. It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately he could not exercise his degree because of his undocumented status. When Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) went into effect, Adrian was able to acquire a work permit, social security number, and a Florida Driver’s License.
Curbelo first met Escarate when he was advocating for a DACA solution in Washington. Since then, they’ve met on several occasions in Washington and in South Florida.
Curbelo and Escarate are available for interviews together from Washington, D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday.
One of the key players in congressional negotiations on immigration, Curbelo has consistently made Dreamers a priority. Curbelo introduced the bipartisan Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, which would provide three paths to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, last year and in the 114th Congress. The RAC Act was the first permanent legislative solution for the DACA population introduced in this Congress and the only one introduced in the 114th Congress.
According to a Niskanen Center report, passage of the RAC Act would increase gross domestic product (GDP) by $79 billion over ten years and create 115,000 new jobs.
Curbelo has stated he would support any legislation that offers a permanent solution for the DACA population.
And, finally, Mike Gallagher.
How to make it as a maverick from Trump country
By Katie Glueck at McClatchy:
April 01, 2018
He had barely been in Congress four months, but already, Mike Gallagher was being discussed as presidential ticket material.
“The Republican ticket in 2020 will be: Trump-Pence, Pence-Haley, Kasich-Martinez, Sasse-Gallagher,” read a Twitter poll posted by prominent conservative Bill Kristol one morning last May.
It was a lighthearted survey and the Gallagher option, paired with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, came in last. But it was an early sign that the freshman congressman was on the radar of high-profile Beltway Republicans.
Nearly one year later, Gallagher, of Wisconsin, has cemented his image as a rising star — one with an unusually independent reputation in today’s Republican Party.
In an era of intense political tribalism, Gallagher is the rare House member from a strongly pro-Trump district who has broken sharply with the White House over a range of issues, including the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey and the Russia-related investigations.
Even more rare: he has done it—so far—without sparking crippling conservative backlash.
“All Americans should want the president to be successful, right? If he’s successful, the country’s successful,” Gallagher told McClatchy in an interview in his Capitol Hill office last month.
But, he said, “It’s not my job to just salute everything the White House does.”
“He’s done a very, very good job of navigating the Trump rapids,” said Kristol, the editor at large of the Weekly Standard and a Trump critic. “Of not picking unnecessary fights with Trump and Trump supporters, but not in any way bending over backwards, as so many other Republicans have, to give up principles or…be obsequious to Trump.”
Gallagher, 34, is a Princeton- and Georgetown-educated Marine veteran with a Ph.D., and an acolyte of former Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. He delights in policy wonkery, which offers some cover when he breaks with Trump: party leaders, referencing his resume, suggest that Gallagher has earned “the right to his own opinion.”
His Marine discipline shapes his personal life, too: Gallagher, one of Congress’s youngest members, sleeps in his office, works long hours and has health nut tendencies.
“Let’s get some vegetables and some protein!” he said one recent morning, unsatisfied with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “heavily salted almond” offerings. “Let’s also install pull-up bars…if you have to endure the pain of raising money, at least you can knock out a set of pull-ups in frustration.”
Republican donors and operatives see the freshman workaholic as the next sterling-credentialed member with a maverick streak who could shape the future of their deeply divided party—if he can outlast the turbulence and tribalism of the moment.
Gallagher presents as breezy and self-deprecating. But he is, clearly, intensely driven.
Rep. Seth Moulton, another Ivy League-educated Marine veteran who has traveled with Gallagher, called him “witty, fun, engaging,” but also “very intellectual, likes to read a lot, he tends to go to bed early, sometimes you have to work a little to get him to stay out.”
Like Gallagher, Moulton—a Democrat—is often mentioned as a future leader of his party.
“My deep hope is people like Seth and Mike…become the next generation of John Kerry and John McCain,” said McKnight, Gallagher’s friend from Iraq who also knows Moulton. “Does that mean he stays in the House for forever, becomes a senator, goes into the administration? Those people I referred to initially did all of those things.”
They also both ran for president.
“Everyone’s looking to see who the young rising stars of the party are and whether they will stick through the current turmoil and, if they do, whether they will survive and be successful,” said Jamil Jaffer, former chief counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he became friends with Gallagher.
“The answer,” he said, “is absolutely yes.”
The Mavericks Conference panel were not Hamill’s usual Daily Caller interviewees.
But she gamely sought to draw them into her worldview.
HAMILL: As a young Republican I see everything were surrounded by. We’ve got the legacy fake news media attacking us 24/7, and then not only do we have that but we have liberal Hollywood just shoving propaganda down our throats in their movies and their late-night comedy, and our education system which has basically turned into a liberal indoctrination center.
She then segued into a truly weird person-in-the-street interview she had just done in Washington, D.C.
Now, none of this would have thrown Ted Cruz off his game. He would have offered Hamill something on the order of what she was looking for.
But the Hurd Herd simply stared at Hamill, and, then, one by one, offered what amounted to a rejoinder.
Stefanik: So, I think one of our biggest generational challenges is people are unwilling to hear or listen to people they don’t agree with. I think that is going to be a challenge for policy-makers in this country and the media exacerbates that. You don’t hear stories about bipartisan victories when the media covers what Congress is doing. The reality is 80 percent of our bills are actually bipartisan. You don’t hear about those significant legislative victories. I think the onus is on individuals to really stand up and be strong messengers about collaborative policymaking.
Curbelo: One of our flaws as a movement, as a party, as Republicans, is that we have forfeited on many issues over the decades – an agenda that helps people rise out of poverty, whether it means the environment, immigration, something that we’re trying to change now by actually having a debate in the Congress, and be able to engage on all these issues and show a younger generation of Americans who have real concerns that we have solutions or at least are willing to listen to them and consider some of their ideas and solutions. So I would stay, stop forfeiting on ideas, engage on every issue. We have an agenda that is loyal to the founding principles of this party but also can respond to the concerns and the fears and the anxieties that a lot of people feel about the future with the new economy, with issues like sea level rise in the 26th Congressional District where everyone lives near the sea or at sea level.
HURD: If the Republican Party in Texas does not look like Texas, there will be not be a Republican Party in Texas. So we have to engage in places where most Republicans have never been. And I consider myself the vanguard of this because I’m in communities, they’ve never seen a Republican before.
GALLAGHER: At the risk of being a buzz kill, I do think we need to look at our own house. I understand that the tactics and the disinformation of the left can be frustrating at times, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. I was at a Lincoln Day Dinner recently, and this has happened a thousand times and I am the least experienced member of this panel. A lady came up to me and said, “Congressman Gallagher, you need to do something for me. There are Democrats who won’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re sitting down and their protesting and they’re disrespecting our country.”
And I’m like, “I’ve never seen that,” and she said, “I’ve got proof,” and she pulled out a whole email thread chain and there’s pictures of people that look like legislators and they have names and they were sitting down and they were at desks, though, and in the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks.
“This is not the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks. Maybe it’s the Senate.”
“Oh, it’s the Senate. I think it’s the Senate. It’s the Senate.”
And I look at the names and I go, “Ma’am, I don’t know all the names of all the members of the Senate off the top of my head, but these are not the names of any U.S. Senators.”
“This could be some weird other country where they’re sitting down, but it’s not the United States of America.”
And I left there thinking just how much of this misinformation is out there, you know. And social media has made it worse.
And I tend to think most people value honesty, and they don’t expect you to agree with them on everything, but if they just have some sense you are being honest with them and real with them, they’re willing to put up with a lot. So I just do think there’s an element of this where we can’t allow the same thing in our own party.
HURD: We all know not to get in a car with a stranger – asterisk, an Uber or Lyft driver – so why are we sharing things from people we don’t know who they are or where that information from?
As a professional intelligence officer, it really drives me crazy.
After the conference, I talked with Gallagher and with MAVPAC co-chair Fritz Brogan, who worked for Florida Gov. Jeb bush as a young man, worked in the George W. Bush White House (with Stefanik), interviewed George P. Bush at the conference Saturday night, and is now restaurateur in Washington D.C.
I told Gallagher that I thought it admirable that he had straightened that woman out at the Lincoln Day Dinner and that he retold the story at the conference.
“It kind of reminded when McCain was running,” said Brogan, recalling that famous moment in the 2008 presidential campaign when John McCain corrected a woman at one of his rallies who said she didn’t trust Obama because he was an “Arab.”
Gallagher: There’s not common field of intellectual combat where we can keep track. What does the evidence say? What are the facts?
But, for many Republicans in our Year of Trump 2018, McCain is nothing but a throwback, a memory, and not a good one.
Cruz’s views on immigration and Dreamers are a lot harder line than those of George W. Bush or Rick Perry were.
Returning home from MAVPAC, Friday night I turned on Bill Maher who was describing the Republican Party as the conspiracy-minded, conspiracy-guided party not just of Donald Trump but Alex Jones.
Answered Apr 12, 2016 · Author has 935 answers and 1.5m answer views
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s original line was “Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.” The saying comes from the “Maxims and Arrows” section of Nietzsche’s book, Twilight of the the Idols (1888). It is usually translated into English as “what does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Nietzsche used a similar line in Ecce Homo (written 1888, published 1908), the last book he wrote before going completely insane. In the chapter entitled “Why I Am So Wise,” he wrote that a person who has “turned out well” could be recognized by certain attributes, such as a knack for exploiting bad accidents to his advantage. Regarding such a man, Nietzsche said: “What does not kill him makes him stronger.” (“Was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker.”)
Today, English translations and variations of Nietzsche’s maxim are often used for ironic effect. But they are also frequently used in a positive way, to express optimism and determination in the face of adversity.
“I am constantly hearing this is going to be such an uphill battle. Please, tell me when I didn't have an uphill battle. I am getting darned good at uphill battles."https://t.co/oWZv6QqWj6
Andrew White, son of Gov. Mark White, but making his first run for elective office, proved to be a good candidate.
But, for the most part, Valdez’s undoing was mostly her own doing.
My first take on Valdez running for governor was that it was desperate, eleventh-hour (really 11:59 p.m.) gambit by the state party – which was officially neutral – to find a non-white, non-White candidate for governor after efforts to recruit a Castro-tier candidate failed.
Not so, said Valdez to me last week.
Let’s get something clear here. The party never asked me to run. Once I said I think I want to do this, they were excited, but they never asked me to run, never asked me to make my decision.
In January, when I went to Dallas to meet Valdez for the first time, I was impressed. Her life story is truly compelling and inspirational.
And, she’s simply an interesting person.
She's a little bit Zen and a little bit country. Lupe Valdez went on a silent retreat to decide whether to run for gov. And b4 she got 2 busy, "I would dance 5 hours a night" at the Round-Up, Dallas' gay country-western dance hall where she met her partner.https://t.co/xL95XzVl50pic.twitter.com/YtrJxiJIyD
But the campaign never really took flight, and it kind of hit a low point when at the end of April she managed to lose the endorsement of Jolt, an organization of young Latino activists, to White.
From my First Reading: Lupe Valdez talks Latinx activists into backing the White guy for governor
As of today, thanks largely to the forces of political inertia, Lupe Valdez remains the favorite to win the May 22 runoff and become the Democratic candidate for governor in 2018.
But, steadily, bit by bit, Valdez appears determined to chip away at her lead.
On Sunday it was an appearance, along with rival Andrew White, Miguel Suazo, the Democratic Party’s candidate for land commissioner, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso,the party’s candidate for U.S. Senate, at a town hall put on by Jolt, a barely year-old organization intended to mobilize younger Latinos as a political force in Texas (note that both Suazo and O’Rourke are both running against Hispanic Republican incumbents in Land Commissioner George P. Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.)
But somehow, on the strength – or weakness – of her performance, Valdez lost the endorsement of a passionate and energized group of Latinx (as I have learned, the gender-neutral term for Latinos/Latinas) Texans to a white man named White who is the son of a white man named Mark White who served as a centrist governor of Texas for one term from 1983 to 1987, and who is running in 2018 as a centrist Democrat for governor.
Earlier, back in February, I wrote another First Reading: Knocked for a Lupe: Morning News, Chronicle, Houston GLBT Caucus snub Valdez for Andrew White
It’s not like she had any chance of defeating Greg Abbott for governor to begin with. And I’m not saying that she won’t still end up being the Democratic nominee. But, after this weekend, that is less certain than it was before, and she is more likely to have to go to a runoff to secure the nomination.
But mostly, after this weekend, her chances of running a formidable campaign are severely diminished.
It’s not simply because the state’s two biggest newspapers endorsed Andrew White. It’s not just because the Houston GLBT Political Caucus chose White over Valdez, a groundbreaking lesbian sheriff. It’s because in each case, Valdez was found to be unprepared to be governor, or a good candidate for governor.
Most devastatingly, this is how the Dallas Morning News, her hometown paper, wrote of her in its endorsement of White.
We had high hopes for former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the only candidate who’s held elective office, having been elected in 2004 and re-elected four times since, and someone we’ve supported locally at various times. We were disappointed by her gross unfamiliarity with state issues, however, particularly an almost incoherent attempt to discuss state financing.
At one point, Valdez, 70, volunteered that she didn’t know whether the state was spending $8 million or $8 billion on border control. (It’s closer $800 million.) On college tuition, she first suggested the Legislature “and stakeholders” should set tuition rates, but then contradicted herself, and she later said the state should move to reduce local property tax rates, apparently unaware of those set by local jurisdictions.
Those two paragraphs will be hard to recover from.
No matter what she does from here on out, they won’t go away.
White, in his own campaign, may choose to rely on the positive things the Dallas Morning News had to say about him.
But those lines about Valdez will haunt her campaign if she faces Greg Abbott. The ad writes itself: gross unfamiliarity with state issues … almost incoherent attempt to discuss state financing … didn’t know whether the state was spending $8 million or $8 billion on border control.
White said it’s clear that Abbott sees Valdez as an easier mark and is focusing his attention on her in hopes of helping her win the nomination.
“He’s aware that I’m not the average person that has gone against him,” Valdez told the Statesman. “I think he’s just getting an early start. He’s starting earlier because he knows he’s got a challenge ahead of him. I’m not your everyday politician.”
But with an element of truth.
She may not have the Stanford and Harvard bona fides of the golden Castros.
But she speaks Spanish – it is essential to who she is – and she is, in her background, unlike any other candidate to have run for governor of Texas.
From my story:
LAREDO —Magda Gonzales has dreamt about Lupe Valdez.
In the dream, Valdez is campaigning in the border community of El Cenizo, a one-time colonia 16 miles south of Laredo where Gonzales lives, and Gonzales is vainly running all over the barely half-square-mile city of about 800 households trying to find Valdez and get a picture with her.
Wednesday night, at a lively rally at the Pan American Courts food truck park and beer garden in Laredo, Gonzales caught up with Valdez, 70, considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor, amid a final campaign swing that also took her to Corpus Christi, Kingsville, McAllen, El Paso and San Antonio. She is scheduled to end up Sunday at the Travis County Democratic Party Ice Cream Social at VFW Post 856 in Austin.
“Lupe’s story is like mine,” Gonzales said of growing up without sidewalks or indoor plumbing. “I said, `Yes, that’s the one.’ And Beto O’Rourke, he’s the one. He is so empathetic. He’s here, he’s there, he’s all over the place, and that’s what we need, people that are passionate.
But, despite her sometimes rough ride, Valdez’s appearance before a delighted crowd in Laredo is a reminder why she remains the favorite Tuesday and why, more than White, she has the potential to deliver crucial votes for O’Rourke and the rest of the ticket.
“We need to get the Latinos fired up and voting,” declared a fired-up Valdez. “My name is Lupe Valdez, and I have a voice, and I am going to put my name on that voice, and you are going to hear me very loud. We need to vote.”
At the Pan American Court, a cultural and political gathering spot, her audience seemed to love everything about Valdez — her recounting of her hardscrabble San Antonio beginnings as the eighth child of a family of migrant workers, her service in the military, as a federal agent for Customs and Homeland Security, her 13 years as the sheriff in Dallas County, her historic role as an out lesbian in Texas politics, and the way she weaves warmly remembered Spanish colloquialisms into her speeches.
“I can tell you that more people identify here with her than do with Beto, and I think it’s because she represents a cross section of everything that Laredo is kind of struggling to find,” said 23-year-old David Barrera, who recently organized a branch of the San Antonio nonprofit MOVE — Mobilize, Organize, Vote, Empower — in Laredo. “We love our vets. We respect our women. She’s Hispanic. It’s an interesting thing because I have not met anybody here who doesn’t like her – even the Republicans are like, `I like her.’”
Barrera, who founded the Webb County Young Democrats, will needle those Hispanic Republicans, telling them, “but she’s for abortion,” and he said they’ll respond, “Well, you can’t like everything about a person.”
“I think you’ve got a lot of people here who don’t know any other single candidate but who know who she is because of Hispanic media,” Barrera said. “You see a lot of coverage, especially here in a border town.”
Barrera was impressed when he walked with O’Rourke through a Laredo neighborhood during a campaign swing a couple of weeks ago with how he seamlessly moved back and forth between Spanish and English. But Valdez, he said, has a more intimate, organic way into the heart of voters here.
“I’ve heard Beto O’Rourke. He is such an eloquent orator, he has his points – A, B, C, D,” Barrera said. “She speaks very simply, very comfortably, but it resonates with her because she looks like somebody I grew up with. She looks like my grandmother, and I love my grandmother.”
“I just have to listen to her because if not, I’m going to get emotional because my grandmother didn’t get the chance to do X, Y and Z, because she was born into a machismo culture that held her down and she, to this day, still holds to those tenets,” Barrera said. But, he said, his grandmother has made it very clear, “I’m going to vote for her.
Valdez won Laredo’s Webb County, 81.5 percent to 18.5 percent..
Texas Democrats' strength this year seems to be in the suburbs. Republicans would like to turn suburban Republicans out in large numbers. what better than a big-city lesbian Latina who wants to raise your taxes and is a proponent of "sanctuary cities," whatever that means?
Well, with all the money in the world at your disposal, perhaps not.
But I would offer this caution
Four years ago, the Abbott campaign made much of the fact that his wife, Cecilia Abbott, would be the first Latina First Lady in Texas history.
The Abbott campaign also made great use of her mother in an ad.
From the campaign blurb about the ad:
For a frank assessment of a person’s character, look no further than his mother-in-law. Now, Texans have the opportunity to hear about Greg Abbott’s honesty, values and commitment to serving the people of Texas directly from his mother-in-law. Greg Abbott is proud of his multicultural family, and our campaign is proud to share their story with all Texans.
Wendy Davis was idolized by many of her admirers, but, for many Texans, she was a cold and aloof figure, and an ideal opponent for Abbott.
Lupe Valdez is not cold and not aloof. And beating up on her is going to be like beating up on a lot of Hispanic Texans’ grandmothers, only this one will fight back.
From my story Sunday:
Valdez expects the general election campaign to get ugly.
“He’s going to tear me down any way he can — this way and that way and that way and that way, he’s going to tear me down,” Valdez said of Abbott. “But when it’s over I’m still going to be standing.”
“‘It is going to be unpleasant,” Valdez said. “That’s the type of human being he is.”
Barring the very unforeseen, Lupe Valdez is not going to be elected governor, so her qualifications as a candidate are actually more important to Democrats this year than her qualifications to be governor, and, properly deployed, she could be an asset to the ticket, even, or maybe, especially if the Abbott campaign shows no mercy.
Valdez spoke in Laredo in front of light installation by local artist Poncho Santos – I Love U Chingos – a border take on Austin’s I love you so much wall, with chingos a Spanish expletive doing the work of so much.
Her crowd in Laredo that night loved Valdez chingos, and it was voters like them who’ saved Valdez’s campaign.
Which is why Lupe Valdez looked very, very happy last night.
I haven’t been here all that long (5.5 years), but for those of you who were here back at the turn of the century, somewhere between 1998 and 2001, I have a question.
Did you ever go to the Barton Springs Sno-Beach and order a Tigers Blood or Wedding Cake sno-cone and you were served by this pretty young UT student?
And then, maybe a couple of days later, you were at Tesoro’s on South Congress and you were
buying, say, a natural raffia/glass necklace from Burkina Faso for the price of two sno-cones, and you
thought, there’s something really familiar about the young woman handling your sale and you realized, it’s the same woman who sold you that sno-cone.
Yes? Well, that was Amy Chozick who spent four years in Austin, working at Sno-Beach and Tesoros, getting a dual degree in English and Latin American studies and writing mostly arts and leisure stories for the Daily Texan.
“Those were my people,” Chozick told me in an interview last week.
“I had a hard time fitting in at UT. I wasn’t a sorority girl. I wasn’t a getting-high-by-the-lake girl.”
But, she said, when, her second semester, she found the Daily Texan with its “scummy basement with its ratty couch and moldy newspapers, I kind of found my niche.”
On graduating, her Daily Texan clips in hand, she lit off to New York in search of fame and fortune.
Chozick, now a New York Times reporter, is back in Austin today, her Irish-born husband, Bobby, and their three month-old baby, Cormac, in tow (see, I Put Off Having a Baby to Cover Hillary Clinton’s Campaign—and I Don’t Regret It, Glamour magazine, Apri 2014).
She is back in Texas to see her family in San Antonio (where she grew up and her parents still live) and Austin, and, along the way talk with Evan Smith this afternoon for a taping of his KLRU show, Overheard, about her new book – Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns and One Intact Glass Ceiling – and be interviewed at 7 tonight by Texas Monthly’s Mimi Swartz at BookPeople, where she will also sign copies of her book.
If you can’t read the small print on the cover, Texas memoirist extraordinaire Mary Karr calls it a “breathtaking, page-turning masterpiece.”
I too loved the book.
It is a terrific read and very funny.
As someone who covers politics and wrote some about the 2016 presidential campaign, it also disabused me of the notion that doing so for the upper deck New York Times would somehow lift someone above the indignities suffered by the more plebeian press in steerage.
Apparently it does not, the slights and injuries are pretty much the same, only the stakes are higher.
“You actually get tortured on a whole other level,” Chozick said.
From Charlotte Alter’s review in the New York Times:
In her funny and insightful memoir, “Chasing Hillary,” the journalist Amy Chozick grapples with this question while also providing a much-needed exploration of Hillary Clinton’s antagonistic relationship with the press. Unlike “Shattered,” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, which provided an inside look at Clinton’s dysfunctional campaign, or “What Happened,” which was a personal reckoning from the candidate herself, “Chasing Hillary” doesn’t attempt to assess why Clinton lost the election. Instead, it’s a first-person account of Chozick’s failed 10-year quest to see the “real” Hillary, a quixotic mission that is as revealing in defeat as it would have been in victory.
The Impressionist Claude Monet never painted haystacks; he painted the rain, sleet and sunshine between his eyes and the haystacks. In “Chasing Hillary,” Chozick has written neither a raw personal memoir nor a biography of Clinton, but rather an account of all the elements that came between Clinton and the journalists condemned to cover her. Her impressions of Clinton are less about the woman herself and more about the brutally effective apparatus that shielded her from public view.
People who know Clinton often complain that the press, and therefore the public, never gets to see how warm and funny she is in person. “Chasing Hillary” is the best explanation so far of why that is. Chozick describes Clinton’s press shop (which she calls “The Guys”) as an anonymous gang of manipulative, unresponsive and vaguely menacing apparatchiks who alternate between denying her interview requests (47 in total, by her count), bullying her in retaliation for perceived negative coverage (“You’ve got a target on your back,” one of them tells her) and exploiting her insecurities about keeping up with her (often male) colleagues. The campaign quarantined the press on a separate bus and, later, a separate plane, often without even an accompanying flack to answer basic questions. It denied Chozick’s interview requests even for positive stories, like a piece about Clinton’s experience in the early 1970s going undercover to expose school segregation in the South, and refused to confirm the most minor details, like whether Clinton ate a chicken wing or not.
It seems clear from Chozick’s account that Clinton thought of her traveling press corps as more buzzard than human (although she did write Chozick a note when her grandmother died). Bill Clinton also had troubles with the press, but at least he would say hello at events or tell a long-winded story. Even Trump, who spent the campaign railing against the “fake news” media, seemed to intuit that a cordial relationship with reporters was essential to managing his public image. Trump once called Chozick out of the blue to provide a comment for an article, and they ended up chatting about “The Apprentice.” So grateful to be actually speaking to a candidate (in nearly 10 years, Clinton had never called her), Chozick made the mistake of telling him that Clinton hadn’t had a news conference in months. Shortly afterward, the Trump campaign began blasting that Clinton was “hiding” from the press
.In fact, Chozick spoke with Clinton so infrequently that their entire personal relationship can be summed up in a half-dozen interactions that are shockingly banal: the time Clinton said “hi” to her in Iowa, one 14-minute phone interview, the time Clinton accidentally walked in on her in the bathroom. The fact that Chozick interacted so rarely with Clinton over nearly 10 years of covering her for The Wall Street Journal and then The New York Times is perhaps the most damning evidence of Clinton’s self-destructive relationship with the press. “How could we communicate Hillary’s ‘funny, wicked and wacky’ side to voters,” she asks, “if we never saw it for ourselves?”
To her credit, Chozick opens up about her own attitudes toward Clinton more than most political reporters would. Despite the campaign’s skepticism of her, it’s clear that she admired Clinton. She is acutely aware of the sexist double standards Clinton faced (though readers may rightly wonder why this appeared so rarely in her coverage). She’s inspired by the historic nature of the campaign, and hurt by Clinton’s iciness toward her. Chozick recalls that the first time she saw Clinton at a town hall, when she was covering her for The Journal in 2007, she stood up and clapped (a huge faux pas among journalists). For her, Clinton’s loss is both a personal and a professional blow.
Their ambitions were aligned — had Clinton won, Chozick would very likely have been given the historic opportunity to cover the first woman president. But Chozick devotes only a few lines to exploring the broader significance of Clinton’s loss beyond what it means for her own career, despite the global implications of the outcome. She records the facts of her life as they occurred during that period (including personal details about her marriage and her fertility) but rarely grapples with the larger contradictions of being an ambitious woman journalist covering an ambitious woman candidate. And even as she documents a campaign that floundered because it had too much head and not enough heart, Chozick risks falling into the same trap: In trying to outwork her male colleagues and outwit The Guys, Chozick at times seems to lose track of the emotional arc of Clinton’s rise and fall.
“Chasing Hillary” is a portrait of two women with shared hopes and weaknesses, both driven and blinded by an ambition that could be possible only in the 21st century, bound by history but not by love. This book won’t make you know Hillary any better. But it will help you understand why you don’t.
OK. So here we have in Chozick,a reporter who stood and clapped the first time she saw Clinton at a town hall, whose ambition was to have that byline for the ages under the story on the election of the first woman president, who wanted to cover the first woman president, but who, because she did her job in ways that were not always pleasing to Clinton and the circle of men around her, was frozen out in a way that undermined Clinton’s ability to communicate who she was and to be elected president.
Meanwhile, it is Donald Trump who emerges as the candidate with a greater understanding and, yes, even appreciation of the press, the (not-so) failing New York Times (whose bottom line has very much benefited) very much included, and it is Trump who displays the more subtle and supple emotional intelligence when it comes to doing what it takes to be elected president of the United States – which he was.
There are countless examples in the book, but I will focus on one.
An excerpt from Chapter 50: Chekhov’s Gun.
Oct. 28, 2016
The day October delivered its final big surprise my colleague Mike Schmidt was visiting from D.C. He sat in the cubicle next to me in the newsroom as we both worked our sources. Twenty minutes after the Clinton campaign announced in a show of confidence that Hillary would hold an early voting rally in Arizona, a state that had gone red in eleven of the last twelve presidential campaigns, but seemed potentially in play, news broke that James Comey sent a letter to Congress stating the FBI found additional emails related to Hillary’s private server. Trump wasted little time in declaring, “This changes everything.”
Schmidt heard the emails had been unearthed during a separate investigation into Anthony Weiner’s sexting with an underage girl. He kept yelling into the phone, “They’ve got Weiner by the balls!” until I finally G-chatted him that he had to stop saying that.
The Times news alert went out that the emails had been found on a computer Huma had used. The Wiener connection was both unbelievable, and yet in some sad way, made perfect sense: Hillary, married to an alleged sexual predator, could lose to Trump, an alleged sexual predator, because of Weiner, an alleged sexual predator.
I mean, if Donald Trump gropes women the way he boasted about, but which he then said he actually didn’t, but then a bunch of women said he most definitely did, that is presumably a lot worse than Weiner’s consensual virtual sex with women (I know nothing about the latest Weiner charges, involving underage girls, but that too, I presume, is virtual.).
In fact, in the vast realm of personality types, Trump and Weiner seem if not on the same page than at least in the same chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Back to Chozick:
I thought back to 2013 when I first heard about the “Carlos Danger” scandal, to the stories I wrote about The Guys hoping to contain Huma’s personal life so that it didn’t spill into Hillary’s political future. They protected Huma as if she were a beloved little sister and a vital appendage of Hillary. Big donors were less sympathetic, imploring Hillary to put Huma in a less visible role. At least one stop donor confronted Huma directly, in 2013, pleading with her, for Hillary’s sake, to step down. “I’m good at what I do and that’s Hillary’s decision,” Huma replied.
Now, in the last act, with eleven days before the election, Huma’s problems exploded in one final, seismic, self-inflicted wound.
“It’s like Chekhov’s gun,” I said as we stood around discussing the news.
A colleague who overheard this said, “I didn’t know they knew who Chekhov was in Texas.”
Very Senior Editor came by my desk to ask, “She’s not gonna lose, right?”
I gave my extremely professional assessment of the situation.
“Brooklyn is freaking the fuck out,” I said. “Her trust numbers are already shit.”
In August, after the Pop Goes the Weiner cover in the New York Post, Trump told us, “I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such proximity to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told. It’s just another case of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been compromised by this.”
His statement had seemed so outrageous that Pat Healey and I took a fair amount of outrage from the #I’mWithHer contingent for including it in a front-age story (THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING”: DONALD TRUMP EXULTS AS HILLARY CLINTON’S TEAM SCRAMBLES)
But Trump had been half-right.
The FBI didn’t find any additional classified or incriminating emails on Weiner’s computer, the “bad judgment” line stuck.
Hillary was enroute to Cedar Rapids when the news broke, accompanied by her childhood friend, Betsy Ebeling, a sweet, gray-haired Midwesterner whom the campaign rolled out every time they needed a testament to Hillary’s warmth and down-to-earthiness, and the celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Robby Mook had been on board to brief the Travelers (Clinton’s almost entirely female traveling press corps) about Hillary’s trip to Arizona and how she’d expand the map. Hillary didn’t initially see the news – nor did most of the press – because of the planes shoddy Wi-Fi.
When the Strong Together Express touched down, disbelief, followed by alarm, spread throughout the front cabin. The Travelers bustled onto the tarmac hoping to scream a question: “SECRETARY! WHAT ABOUT THE FBI?” Hillary lingered on board. She had the photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz to finish. She’d later tell friends the development was “just another crisis” in a career full of them.
In the newsroom, we turned up the volume to watch Hillary’s brief press conference that evening. Part of me longed to be there shouting questions myself.
But mostly, I thought of Sara.
I’d spent the past year bringing chocolate babka and challah loaves to Sara Ehrman, the feminist firebrand whom Hillary had lived with after law school when she worked on the Watergate Committee. Forty-two years earlier, in August 1974, Sara drove Hillary, then twenty-six, to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to be with Bill Clinton. Sara tried to talk her out of the move the whole way down. “We’d drive along and I’d say, “Hillary, for God’s sake, he’s just be a country lawyer down there.” And each time, Hillary would answer the same way, telling Sara,”I love him and I want to be with him.”
Sara was ninety-seven but feisty, still dispensing tough love to her most famous protegé, Hillary, and a revolving door of women who came to her sunny Kalorama apartment, bearing gifts and seeking career advice. We’d become close over the many afternoons I’d try to woo her into talking on the record about the two-day, 1,193-mile journey that changed Hillary’s life. For over a year Hillary had turned down my many interview requests to do a piece on their relationship and Sara remained reluctant. After the election, Sara showed me emails for Brown Loafers (one of The Guys around Clinton) instructing her not to talk to me, basically saying that I hated Hillary and couldn’t be trusted to be fair – a warning Hillary had asked him to pass on. But Sara finally agreed to talk to me anyway, writing back to Brown Loafers, “For God’s sake, she’s just a nice Jewish girl from Texas.”
The road trip story – and accompanying video interview with Sara, sitting on the sofa in a sea-foam sweater set that brought out her eyes – was my favorite article that I ever wrote on the beat, maybe in my entire career. It was published on the Times website hours before news of the Comey letter broke. Hardly anyone read it. The story had been scheduled to run prominently on the next day’s front page but never even made it into print. Several months after the election, I would write Sara’s obituary. Hillary told the story of their road trip at the memorial service.
The Comey news would lead the entire front page – three stories, seven bylines (including mine), a four-column photo of Hillary, Huma standing over her shoulder, arms akimbo. The layout would live in infamy. proof to Hillary and the #StillWithHer crowd that the Times blew the email story out of proportion, the climax of its anti-Clinton vendetta.
Here is the top of the story, by Chozick and Patrick Healey, that day.
Everything was looking up for Hillary Clinton. She was riding high in the polls, even seeing an improvement on trustworthiness. She was sitting on $153 million in cash. At 12:37 p.m. Friday, her aides announced that she planned to campaign in Arizona, a state that a Democratic presidential candidate has carried only once since 1948.
Twenty minutes later, October delivered its latest big surprise.
The F.B.I. director’s disclosure to Congress that agents would be reviewing a new trove of emails that appeared pertinent to its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server — an investigation that had been declared closed — set off a frantic and alarmed scramble inside Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and among her Democratic allies, while Republicans raced to seize the advantage.
In the kind of potential turnabout rarely if ever seen at this late stage of a presidential race, Donald J. Trump exulted in his good fortune. “I think it’s the biggest story since Watergate,” he said in a brief interview, adding, “I think this changes everything.”
He promised to batter Mrs. Clinton as a criminal in the race’s final week and a half. And Republican House and Senate candidates gleefully demanded to know whether their Democratic opponents were sticking by Mrs. Clinton.
The good news, dear First Reader, is that, right here, right now, you can read Amy Chozick’s all-time favorite story as it appeared online. If you follow the link, you can also see the terrific video of Sara Ehrman.
What’s more, if the small note at the bottom of the online story is to be believed, A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2016, on Page P13 of the New York edition, a placement of such relative ignominy that Chozick can be forgiven for not knowing it ever appeared in print, or finding the prospect of seeing what version of her masterpiece made it onto page P13, too unbearable to contemplate.
In any case, here it is.
Oct. 28, 2016
Hillary Rodham gazed out the window of the beat-up ’68 Buick rolling down Interstate 81, and saw spruce trees, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the life she’d left behind.
Ms. Rodham, then a 26-year-old lawyer, had just finished working on the Watergate committee and wanted to be with her boyfriend, Bill Clinton, who was teaching law in Arkansas.
Her landlord, Sara Ehrman, who worried her bright young tenant was throwing away her future, offered to drive her down from Washington, and over the course of two days and 1,193 miles in August 1974, Mrs. Ehrman tried to talk Ms. Rodham out of her plan.
“We’d drive along and I’d say, ‘Hillary, for God’s sake,’ ” Mrs. Ehrman, now 97, recalled. “He’ll just be a country lawyer down there.”
Their journey had some of the ingredients of a classic American road trip — a cheap motel, tchotchke purchases, encounters with drunken strangers and deeply personal conversations. Mrs. Ehrman, a strong-minded career woman who had scrapped her way to becoming a senior congressional aide years before the feminist movement of the 1960s, believed Ms. Rodham could do anything — and could not believe that she was shelving her promising career for an uncertain future at Bill Clinton’s side in Fayetteville, Ark.
But each time Mrs. Ehrman would raise the issue, Ms. Rodham would politely respond: “I love him, and I want to be with him.”
The trip 42 years ago offers a glimpse at a Hillary Clinton the public seldom sees. She was not yet a self-assured lawyer, a powerful political wife or a tenacious presidential candidate, but a young woman, wide-eyed and eager, vulnerable and afraid, at the cusp of a momentous decision that would alter the course of her life.
And Mrs. Ehrman, then 55, had an unusually close-up view of the woman who would become the first female presidential nominee of a major party.
Young Hillary Rodham, Mrs. Ehrman recalled, was an intelligent, unstylish, hard-working woman, if an occasionally sloppy tenant, who had an infectious, throaty laugh and often failed to make her bed in the morning.
The two met in 1972: Mrs. Ehrman was working as co-director of issues and research for George McGovern’s presidential campaign in Texas, and the Democratic National Committee had sent Mrs. Clinton, a law student at the time, to help with voter registration.
“A young girl walked in. She looked like 18 or 19,” Mrs. Ehrman said of the first time she saw Mrs. Clinton at the campaign’s headquarters in San Antonio. “She had brown hair, brown glasses, brown top, brown skirt, brown shoes, brown visage, no makeup.”
‘They shared a cheap dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant in downtown San Antonio and didn’t speak again until 1973 when Mrs. Clinton, then a Yale Law graduate, got a coveted job on the Watergate committee and called Mrs. Ehrman for advice on finding a place to live in Washington.
“I said, ‘The kids are gone, you can stay with me. No cooking,’ ” Mrs. Ehrman recalled during a recent interview at her home in Washington. “So she moved in with all her junk.”
Mrs. Clinton’s room in the four-bedroom house quickly took on the feel of a college dorm room, with piles of clothes (mostly brown), books and even a bicycle strewn about
“She had all her stuff on the floor,” Mrs. Ehrman said. “I just remember she didn’t make her bed.” (Years later, Mrs. Clinton, who declined to be interviewed for this article, argued with Mrs. Ehrman that she did, in fact, make her bed.)
Mrs. Ehrman had a new job representing the Puerto Rican government, and she and Mrs. Clinton worked grueling hours. They would talk only occasionally in the rushed weekday mornings.
“We’d get up, eat yogurt, maybe have coffee, get in my car, I’d drop her at the Watergate,” Mrs. Ehrman said. “She’d come home at 11, 12 o’clock at night, exhausted, eat yogurt, go to bed and do the same thing over again.”
The living arrangement lasted about a year until one day, when Mrs. Clinton told Mrs. Ehrman her plan: “She said, ‘I’m going to go down to Arkansas to be with my boyfriend.’ ”
The word “boyfriend” looming in the air, Mrs. Ehrman reacted instinctively. “It was at that point that I said, very delicately, ‘You don’t want to go there. You could get any job you want,’ ” she recalled.
Then there was the matter of all that stuff.
Mrs. Clinton planned to take the bus to Fayetteville, where Mr. Clinton was teaching law and running for Congress. She was trying to figure out how to ship all of her clothes and books and bicycle. Watching this logistical spectacle unfold, Mrs. Ehrman said: “Get in my car. I’ll drive you down.”
So they piled her belongings into the back of Mrs. Ehrman’s banged-up Buick, nicknamed “Old Rattletrap,” and began the drive, with Mrs. Ehrman determined to change Mrs. Clinton’s mind.
Her chances were slim. Mrs. Clinton had failed the Washington, D.C., bar exam, but passed the Arkansas test, confirming her decision to join Mr. Clinton, she wrote in her 2003 memoir, “Living History.”
They headed for Interstate 81, which parallels the Appalachian Mountains through Virginia and into Tennessee. Mrs. Ehrman remembered the talks the two women had as they drove past poor towns in southwestern Virginia and stopped briefly at the historic Barter Theater in Abingdon, Va., which got its name during the Great Depression, when most theatergoers could not pay the full ticket price.
They stopped in Laurel Bloomery, Tenn., a town known for its fiddler conventions, and bought pottery — smooth ceramic dishes and mugs in earthy tones that both women still have. And in Memphis, they got stuck in a parade of inebriated Shriners who swarmed the streets in their distinctive hats.
The hotels were sold out in Memphis because of the Shriners convention, so they found a cheap motel just across the Mississippi River in Arkansas.
The women came from different backgrounds: Mrs. Ehrman was a secular Jew from Staten Island, Ms. Rodham a Methodist from Park Ridge, Ill.
But they talked, about life and careers and love, usually ending up in the same spot, with Mrs. Ehrman seeing talent and promise in Ms. Rodham, and little of the same in her boyfriend. “Every 25 or 30 miles, I would say, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ ” she said. “He may never get a job. He can’t make a living.”
Eager to start her new life, Mrs. Clinton didn’t want to waste time, so the two women pulled in at drive-throughs or stopped at food stands and barbecue joints. “I’m from Staten Island. We didn’t eat ribs,” Mrs. Ehrman said. “We ate pie, a lot of pie — pecan pie.”
Even as she urged her traveling companion to rethink her life plan, Mrs. Ehrman partly understood why the young woman was so smitten with Bill Clinton, having briefly seen him herself on a tarmac in Waco, Tex., in 1972 when Mr. Clinton was also working on the McGovern campaign.
“Standing at the foot of the steps of the plane was this drop-dead gorgeous young man in a white linen suit,” Mrs. Ehrman said.
“He was so beautiful, but young. He looked 21. And I said, ‘Who’s that kid down there at the foot of the steps?’ And somebody said, ‘He’s the state director,’ and I said, ‘Obviously, we’re not going to win Texas with a 21-year-old for a state director,’ ” Mrs. Ehrman said. “He doesn’t like that story, but it’s true.” (Richard M. Nixon defeated Mr. McGovern in Texas by 33 percentage points, and it is unlikely that even the most seasoned state director could have reversed that result.)
After they made their way deeper into Arkansas, bypassing Little Rock and curving through the Ozarks, the women stopped at a ramshackle restaurant for lunch. Mrs. Ehrman was growing more alarmed as she took in the surroundings.
“I said to her, ‘Hillary, you’re never going to get French bread here. You’re never going to get Brie,’ ” she recalled in a final plea, but by then Mrs. Clinton had made up her mind. “She wasn’t even listening to me at that point,” Mrs. Ehrman said.
They arrived in Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas, on one of the rowdiest weekends of the year. The hilltop town, with its canopy of oak trees, had become a swarm of drunken football fans, their faces painted red and their heads covered with hats shaped like the university’s hog mascot. The Razorbacks were playing a major rival at the time, the Longhorns of the University of Texas.
“It was then that I broke down and cried when I thought, ‘She’s going to live here?’ ” Mrs. Ehrman said. “I just cried. I just absolutely cried.”
Mrs. Ehrman took a plane back to Washington and paid someone to drive her Buick home. “I thought, ‘I’m getting out of here tomorrow morning. I don’t belong here,’ ” she said.
She has thought of Mrs. Clinton often after that, she recalled, sighing. “I certainly did think about her and feel, not that I had left her, but that her life had left her.”
When she dropped her off in Arkansas some 42 years ago, Mrs. Ehrman never dreamed that a young Hillary Rodham would be one election away from possibly becoming president herself. But, as the years went by, she came to see the wisdom of her young tenant’s choices.
In 1992, Mrs. Ehrman went back to Arkansas, this time to the governor’s mansion in Little Rock to help with Mr. Clinton’s presidential campaign.
On the day of his inauguration in 1993, Mrs. Ehrman even attended church with the Clintons. “I was sitting there right against the railing and I saw her, head bowed and I said to myself, ‘Jesus, she’s really praying. She’s a believer.’ ”
In 2008, Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Ehrman were reunited in Texas, this time for Mrs. Clinton’s own presidential campaign. And Mrs. Ehrman attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July to support Mrs. Clinton.
The passage of time has deepened Mrs. Ehrman’s understanding of the love-struck young lawyer who stared out the Buick window.
“Hillary is a very practical, pragmatic person,” Mrs. Ehrman said. “She wanted to be with him, but she also saw a future for him and herself.”
Now remember, this is the story that Hillary Clinton and her protective circle tried to keep from seeing the light of day, because she and they thought that Chozick would somehow diabolically twist what Ehrman had to say and turn it into a negative story about Clinton.
They really thought that?
And acted on it?
On the other had, as Chozick told me, “Trump would call me out of the blue occasionally. ”
From the chapter in Chozick’s books entitled,The Bed Wetters, a reference to how Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook viewed Washington insiders who were sounding the alarm that maybe the Clinton campaign might not know how to handle Trump.
Matthew Dowd, a former chief strategist to George W. Bush, who is not an independent, told me in late February, “Hillary has built a large tanker ship and she’s about to confront Somali pirates.”
Brooklyn blew it all off. The math was on their side. “It wouldn’t be a general election without some early bed-wetting from Washington insiders,” Robby said.
No caller ID flashed on my phone. I’d left the newsroom and was sitting in Bryant Park to soak up the early summer air and clear my head. It was June, days before Hillary Clinton would win the nomination. People with normal jobs spread picnic blankets and wine and Brie out on the lawn as a trio of flamenco guitarists set up on a temporary stage.
“Amy, it’s Donald Trump.”
Chozick had written a curtain-raiser on a very tough speech Clinton was delivering savaging Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements as, “not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
I reached to the Trump campaign for comment. I expected a statement from Hope Hicks, Trump’s competent and responsive spokeswoman. Instead, Trump called directly..
In this period, most of my colleagues had stories of standing in line at Starbucks or climbing onto the elliptical when the infamous “NO CALLER ID” Trump call came in. I’d spent months requesting interviews with Hillary. Always the answer from Brooklyn, no matter how positive or substantive the topic, was either stone-cold silence or a hard no. But there I was in Bryant Park picking up my phone to …
“Amy, it’s Donald Trump…”
I dug around in my bag for a pen and pulled out some loose scraps of paper. Trump repeated the phrase “America First” at least six times, attributing this pet phrase to “your very good, very smart colleague David Sanger, excellent guy.” (I agreed) He then laid out his plan to counterattack.
“Bernie Sanders said it and I’m going to use it all over the place, because it’s true,” Trump said. “She is a woman who is ill-suited to be president because she has bad judgment.”
We bantered about The Apprentice a little. (“Can you believe Schwarzenegger thinks he can do it?”) Then I said something I never should have said.
“Thanks very much for calling Mr. Trump. I’ve been covering Hillary since 2007 and she’s never called me.”
“Is that right?” The wheels were turning. “When was the last time she talked to you?” Trump asked.
I thought about it. “I don’t know. I guess it’s probably been five, six months since she had a press conference.”
Silence. The wheels turned some more.
“You know why?” Trump said. I wanted to say, Yes, Mr. Trump, because she hates us and thinks we have big egos and tiny brains. But I’d already said too much. “She doesn’t have the stamina,” Trump said. He raised his voice. “It takes STAMINA to talk to the press.”
I don’t know if I gave Trump the idea or he’d had it for weeks, but after that he started to tell crowds, “So it’s been two hundred and thirty five days since Crooked Hillary has had a press conference … ” His campaign started to blast out a daily reminder: HILLARY HIDING WATCH: DAY 262 SINCE LAST PRESS CONFERENCE.
Is the Republican Party under President Trump becoming a cult?
I ask, because of late, some of the behavior seems cult-like.
For a candidate running with #MAGA on his signs, not sure this plays too well with President Trump’s base. #TX21 candidate Matt McCall says he doesn’t want #POTUS to “watch” his daughters. pic.twitter.com/ybiFOKr9xK
Last week, the four candidates in the two party runoffs in the 21st Congressional District – Republicans Matt McCall and Chip Roy and Democrats Joseph Kopser and Mary Wilson – appeared at a League of Women Voters forum in San Marcos.
I wasn’t there, and it didn’t make the Rivard Report’s coverage of the event, but in the seven-second clip tweeted by Jason Johnson, McCall said this:
I support the president’s policies. I don’t necessarily want him to watch my daughters. But I support his policies.
It was intended, I think, as a funny line – McCall can be funny and people laughed – and perhaps as a bit of an ice-breaker in a bipartisan setting, but also with an element of truth: You don’t have to believe that President Trump is perfect in every way to support his politics, or even have MAGA on your campaign signs.
Only, it seems in the current political climate, and amid the 2018 midterm elections, maybe you can’t.
Jason Johnson was the chief strategist for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. He is a campaign consultant for Chip Roy, Cruz’s former chief of staff and the former head of a pro-Cruz super PAC in the presidential campaign, who is the front-runner in Tuesday’s runoff election. Johnson is also an adviser to Texans ARE, a super PAC formed to advance Cruz’s re-election to the Senate.
I emailed Johnson last week to ask about the tweet, in light of what Cruz had to say about Trump on the last day of Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016: “I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.”
For one, Cruz and Trump were competitors in the same race and Cruz’s comment was, to use Trump’s phrase, a counter-punch after being attacked. Furthermore, the Cruz comment referred to the possibility of his children repeating far from PG-13 language from the campaign trail. McCall is running in a GOP primary with #MAGA on his signs and for some reasons thinks it wise to talk about his discomfort with the notion of President Trump keeping watch over his daughters.
Yes, I suppose what Cruz said to reporters about Trump the morning of the May 3 Indiana primary loss to Trump that ended his candidacy was “a counter-punch.”
But it was much more than that.
It was Cruz, fueled by his own sense of honor and outrage and decency, offering a more thorough and devastating and personal attack on a political opponent than I had ever seen in politics.
As he said, prefacing his extended remarks to reporters in Evansville, Ind.: “I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign.I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.”
From Cruz on Trump and women:
He will betray you on every issue across the board. And his strategy of being a bully in particular is directed as women. Donald has a real problem with women. People who are insecure, people who are insecure about who they are — Donald is terrified by strong women.
He lashes out at them. Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who last week here in Indiana proudly touted the endorsement from Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who served three years in prison here in Indiana for raping a 17-year-old girl. And in Donald’s world, he said Mike Tyson was a tough guy.
I don’t think rapists are tough guys. I spent a lot of years in law enforcement dealing with rapists. Rapists are weak. They’re cowards and they’re bullies. And anyone that thinks they’re a tough guy, that reveals everything about Donald Trump’s character.
Donald Trump said Bill Clinton was targeted by unattractive women. You know what? I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my entire life.
Today’s voting day here in Indiana. The president of the United States has a bully pulpit unlike anybody else. The president of the United States affects our culture. I ask the people of Indiana, think about the next five years if this man were to become president.
Think about the next five years, the boasting, the pathological lying, the picking up “The National Enquirer” and accusing people of killing JFK, the bullying. Think about your kids coming back and emulating this.
For people in Indiana who long for a day when we were nice to each other, when we treated people with respect, when we didn’t engage in sleaze and lies — and I would note one of the lies he engages in, listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. This is not a secret. He’s proud of being a serial philanderer.
I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, and how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote, by the way, on the Howard Stern show.
Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity? Now, what does he do? He does the same projection. Just like a pathological liar, he accuses everyone of lying. Even though he boasts about his infidelity, he plants in David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” a lie about me and my family, attacking my family. He accuses others of doing what he is doing.
I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.
Trump’s defense of Mike Tyson was the focus of an ad during the Indiana primary by Trusted Leadership, a pro-Cruz super PAC.
Trump: You have a young woman who was in his room late in the evening at her own will who was seen dancing at the beauty contest, dancing with a big smile on her face.
Trusted Leadership PAC, one of the many groups backing Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for president, has announced a six-figure online Indiana ad buy that exploits an issue Donald Trump actually introduced to the race. In 30 seconds, the spot compares the backing of Cruz (R-Tex.) by Gov. Mike Pence (R) to the friendship between Trump and Tyson — which was tested when Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana and Trump defended him.
Tyson’s rape case dates back to July 1991, when a Miss Black America contestant was attacked by the champion boxer in an Indianapolis hotel room.One of the leaders of the effort to keep Tyson out of prison is Donald Trump.
“I love it, he sent out a tweet,” Trump said. “Mike. Iron Mike. You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, okay?”
Trump did not mention the context of the rape case, after which he said the boxer had been “railroaded” and suggested that the accuser had been exploitative. Still, his out-of-nowhere comment rumbled through Indiana media. Greg Garrison, who had been the lead prosecutor on the Tyson case, told audiences of his radio talk show that Trump had made an inexplicable mistake.
“Did nobody in that whole entourage of yours know that that snake raped a lovely kid in this town?” Garrison asked. “I think I’d beef up my intelligence operation a little bit.”
Carly Fiorina, Cruz’s newly minted running mate, took her own shot at Trump during a Friday news conference.
“Sorry, I don’t consider a convicted rapist a tough guy,” Fiorina told reporters. “And I think it says a lot about Donald Trump’s campaign and his character that he is standing up and cheering for an endorsement by Mike Tyson.”
The next day, Trusted Leadership PAC — which is not permitted to officially coordinate with the campaign — announced a $375,000 ad buy, of which the Mike Tyson ad, “The Company You Keep,” is part.
Chip Roy was executive director of Trusted Leadership.
That Cruz’s comments about Trump’s character were more than a counter-punch in the heat of battle is evidenced by his refusal, even under enormous pressure, to endorse Trump for more than four more months, until a Facebook post on Sept. 23, 2016 that begins as follows:
This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.
In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.
Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.
Six key policy differences inform my decision…
Nowhere in his endorsement does Cruz vouch for Trump’s character or his treatment of women.
Two weeks later, the Access Hollywood tape was made public, and it seemed possible that Cruz’s timing had been off.
Following is an unedited transcript of the tape in which Donald J. Trump repeatedly made vulgar comments about women. Mr. Trump was filmed talking to the television personality Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” on the set of “Days of Our Lives,” where Mr. Trump was making a cameo appearance. They are later joined by the actress Arianne Zucker. The transcription is by Penn Bullock of The New York Times.
Donald J. Trump: You know and …
Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.
Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.
Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.
Unknown: That’s huge news.
Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.
She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —
I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.
Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.
Trump: Whoa! Whoa!
Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!
Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.
Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.
Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.
Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —
Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.
Bush: Uh, yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.
Trump: Oh, it looks good.
Bush: Come on shorty.
Trump: Ooh, nice legs, huh?
Bush: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that’s good legs. Go ahead.
Trump: It’s always good if you don’t fall out of the bus. Like Ford, Gerald Ford, remember?
Bush: Down below, pull the handle.
Trump: Hello, how are you? Hi!
Arianne Zucker: Hi, Mr. Trump. How are you? Pleasure to meet you.
Trump: Nice seeing you. Terrific, terrific. You know Billy Bush?
Bush: Hello, nice to see you. How you doing, Arianne?
Zucker: Doing very well, thank you. Are you ready to be a soap star?
Trump: We’re ready, let’s go. Make me a soap star.
Bush: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.
Zucker: Would you like a little hug, darling?
Trump: O.K., absolutely. Melania said this was O.K.
Bush: How about a little hug for the Bushy? I just got off the bus.
Trump overcame the Access Hollywood tape. He survived and thrived. He was elected president of the United States.
President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.
The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. While pundits obsessed over tweets, he worked with Congress to cut taxes for struggling families. While wealthy celebrities announced that they would flee the country, he fought to bring back jobs and industries to our shores. While talking heads predicted Armageddon, President Trump’s strong stand against North Korea put Kim Jong Un back on his heels.
President Trump is doing what he was elected to do: disrupt the status quo. That scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.
OK. I understand the politics at work here.
But still, does this mean that Cruz is recanting those things he said about Trump’s character and his treatment of women? Does he no longer believe what he said then or think it matters?
It seemed before the midterms got into full swing that a Republican could hold the position that, Trump might not be perfect, but I love what he is doing in Washington.
But now, it seems, a Republican candidate must adopt the public posture that Trump is perfect, or suffer the consequences.
And nowhere is this more evident, or in its own way poignant, than in CD 21.
Roy and McCall are ideological twins – two peas in a Constitutional conservative pod. On the issues there is no telling them apart. Roy’s argument is that he is more experienced, battle-tested, electable and prepared to lead in Washington.
But, in order to defeat McCall, Roy and his allies are depending on depicting McCall as insufficiently loyal to Trump, not so much on policy, but in terms of the developing cult of personality around Trump that denies that Trump has any of the flaws that Cruz and Roy were at the forefront of identifying.
Indeed, the new paradigm is that Trump’s flaws are part and parcel of what Jeff Roe, who managed Cruz’s presidential campaign and is managing his Senate campaigns, described in the New York Times in March as the maddening brilliance of Mr. Trump.
It is undoubtedly difficult to differentiate Trump policies from the Trump persona, because the Trump persona dominates news coverage. But Republican candidates for Congress have to try. Tactically, that means being laser-focused on generating local news coverage of policy accomplishments, even when the national cable news fixates on the latest Trump outrage.
And guess what? Despite breathless coverage of the daily outrage generator in the White House, the economy is improving. The tax cuts will, and in fact already are, spurring growth, freeing capital for investment, creating jobs and returning overseas profits to our shores. There is a message to sell. So sell it.
I would go further and argue that it is the Trump persona so vilified in the media that has in fact made bolder, more sweeping reforms possible than would have been conceivable under almost any other Republican who might have been elected.
Which brings us to national radio host Mark Levin and his involvement in the CD 21 runoff.
For some time, Levin has been closely allied with Cruz and Roy.
He had Roy on his show when the CD 21 field was forming.
Roy was back on last week
In this interview, Levin said, “This is a race that’s bigger than Texas, it’s a national race.” And, of Roy, “he’s one of us.”
In summing up Roy v. McCall, he said, “One is a Reagan conservative and the other is a Gerald Ford RINO as far as I’m concerned.”
“Do I have that about right?”
No, not really.
If Matt McCall is a Gerald Ford RINO, Mark Levin is Anderson Cooper.
“I guess the establishment types have thrown a lot of money into this race,” Levin said to Roy. “Are they funding a lot of your opponent’s ads?”
Roy doesn’t directly answer, but the answer is “no.”
Before closing out his interview with Roy, Levin tells his audience, ” if his weaselly opponent wants to come on, we’ll bring him on.”
“I’m a fair guy. I really am, if his weaselly opponent wants to come on, I’ll give him a shot.”
It’s worth listening to. Here’s just a small sampling.
LEVIN:I’ve been trying to find out about you and I really can’t find a lot.
I went into Texas often, I worked with the tea party movement in Texas often, and I just don’t remember you. Were you involved in the tea party movement?
What have you done for conservative causes?
MCCALL: What did President Trump do before he was president?
LEVIN:Now you’re President Trump?
Did you work on the Cruz campaign or the Trump campaign?
MCCALL: Why is that a prerequisite for anything?
LEVIN: I didn’t say it was a prerequisite, I asked you a question. Why are you so defensive?
And I’m trying to know you and the whole country’s trying to know you and you won’t tell me.
McCall asked Levin why he couldn’t ask him the same issue questions he posed to Roy?
LEVIN: Because I’m interviewing you and I’ll do it anyway I damn please and I don’t know who the hell you are?
Pause here to flash back to Mark Levin warning about Trump – way back in 2011.
During the last two years when many of you were spending your resources and time caring about your country, engaging, trying to deal with an out-of-control president and out-of-control Congress that was destroying your country, spending your own money to go to rallies, spending your own money to set up websites, you the Paul and Paulette Reveres, what was Donald Trump doing? Did he go to a single rally? Did he contribute to a single Tea Party cause?
Well he was spreading his contributions around and we’re supposed to believe that every businessman does that. Really? Every businessman man gives money to Chuck Schumer? Anthony Weiner? Really? Every businessman. I’m not aware of that.
Well, as recently as Feb. 2010, a little over a year ago, right in the teeth of the tea party movement, Mr. Trump gave $2,000 to Anthony Weiner in his primary. In 2009, in the teeth of the tea party battle, he gave $400 to Schumer in his primary battle, and $1,600 to the Schumer campaign for the general election. In November ’09, he gave $2,300 to the Hillary Clinton campaign for president campaign, I guess to help pay off her debt, I don’t know. As well as another $1.700 the day before. He gave $2,400 in October 2009, right into teeth of the Florida battle, to Charlie Crist for Senate. I don’t see any contributions to Marco Rubio. In the primary he gave $2,400 to Charlie Crist, so he bet against Marco Rubio twice …
He goes on about other contributions Trump made, about how Trump said he supports universal health care, and how he wanted to impeach President Bush for the war in Iraq.
Levin recalled Trump saying how impressed he is by Nancy Pelosi, though he was disappointed she didn’t pursue the impeachment of President Bush.
Conservative talk radio host and Ted Cruz supporter Mark Levin devoted ten minutes of his Thursday radio program to laying out the case that Donald Trump is not a true conservative, and that his willingness to compromise on basic issues is a bad omen for a potential Trump presidency.
Levin begins describing Trump’s apathetic reaction to North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’. “Leave it the way it is,” Trump said. “People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.”
Levin disagreed. “This should be a no brainer for a conservative,” Levin said about supporting the state bill forcing people to use the restrooms corresponding to their biological birth gender. “This should be a no brainer for any rational person.”
Ted Cruz was similarly perplexed today by Trump’s support for the transgender right to go to the bathroom of their choice, wondering: Have we gone stark raving nuts? Grown adult men, strangers, should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls…
Levin said that Trump’s willingness to compromise on such a basic issue proves that his talk about being a conservative was just an “act,” put on to win the Republican primary, and now that the primary has moved on to “liberal states” like Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania — Trump is going to start “acting” nore liberal.
“I’m just telling you folks something. Should he be the nominee, I honestly believe we’re going to get crushed. This is just my opinion. His negatives are so damn high. Even with white males… But should he win. Many of you are going to be very disappointed. He will resort to the dealmaking. And dealmaking without principles is a very dangerous thing,” Levin concluded.
Talk radio host Mark Levin, who has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz, declared, “I am not voting for Donald Trump. Period” and “count me as never Trump” on Friday.
Well, never is a long time.
Back to Levin’s interview with Matt McCall.
LEVIN: I’m looking here. You were in front of the League of Women Voters. Did you speak in front of the League of Women Voters?
MCCALL: (laughing a laugh of foreboding) Yes, I certainly did.
LEVIN:This is all over the internet. You know what I’m talking about.
MCCALL:I don’t know if it’s all over the internet.
LEVIN:Oh, it’s all over the internet, I can tell you that right now.
So you’re in this liberal forum. The League of Women Voters. They don’t much like me by the way. And you say you wouldn’t want Trump to watch your daughters.
MCCALL: Yes sir.
LEVIN:Is that true? You wouldn’t’ want Trump to watch your daughters?
What is remarkable here is that Levin says this with an air of incredulity, as in, how could any father not leap at the opportunity to have his daughter watched by a man who has been accused by multiple women of unwelcome sexual advances, who bragged about how one of the perks of owning beauty pageants was being able to see the contestants naked in the dressing room, who it appears had an affair with a porn star to whom he, in one way or another, paid hush money, and who has even said very odd things about his attraction to his own daughter.
In other words, how could any self-respecting defender of conservative values hoping to win a Republican seat in Congress possibly suggest that there was any plausible reason not to want his daughter to be watched by the Supreme Leader, whose virtue has been sanctified by the power he holds?
And yet, I wondered as Levin talked about this, would his daughter have any say about being presented to the Supreme Leader to be watched?
Back to the interview and McCall’s attempt to explain his blasphemy.
MCCALL: It’s kind of paraphrase of what Ted Cruz said.
LEVIN:I’m not worried about Ted Cruz, I’m talking about you.
MCCALL: Exactly right.
LEVIN:Well, what are you worried about? What are you worried about?
MCCALL: I wouldn’t want Brad Pitt watching my daughters either.
LEVIN:I didn’t ask about Brad Pitt.
What are you worried about. You think Trump would hit on your daughter?
MCCALL:Would you want Bill Clinton to watch your daughters? Do you have daughters?
LEVIN:I wouldn’t want Bill Clinton watching my daughters in any respect and yes I have a daughter and I wouldn’t mind Donald Trump watching her.
MCCALL:May I give the quote? May I give the quote?
LEVIN:Go ahead. I watched it. Right on the internet. But go ahead.
MCCALL: I said I completely support President Trump and his policies. I don’t necessarily want him to watch my daughters but I completely support the president and his policies. It was a joke, and I think the president probably has a pretty good sense of humor too.
LEVIN:I don’t think he’d care for that, but it doesn”t matter.
The Chip Roy campaign got exactly what it wanted from McCall’s interview with Mark Levin.
Watch my opponent in #TX21 unable to answer @marklevinshow's simple question: "What conservative things have you done?"
A frustrated McCall has given up on trying to explain to Levin what he did for the tea party movement aside from run against Lamar Smith.
And yet, one would think that Levin would have admired McCall for putting it all on the line, against all the odds, to take on, when others wouldn’t, Lamar Smith, the embodiment in both the Levin and McCall worldviews of the stayed-too long, superannuated Republican leadership that is precisely the problem in Washington.
Isn’t that a higher level of service to the movement than attending tea party rallies and posting on Facebook?
In his best moment in the interview, McCall notes for Levin that, on average, it takes a candidate two-and-a-half tries before being elected to Congress.
I don’t know if that is true, but Levin seems to buy it.
“Really,” said Levin.
If so, McCall is on his way to Congress. What is unmistakably true is that if McCall had not run twice before, he would not have emerged from the primary field of 18 to be in the runoff with Roy today.
And, of course, there are the creepy parts of the interview that are not in the clips being distributed by the Roy campaign.
Yeah, this was totally a “courageous stand” and not just a small bit of virtue signaling to soften an entire speech of vociferous Trump support
Yeah, I don’t really like that it’s being used as an attack. I think Roy and McCall are probably exactly the same in their politics, but Roy is far more qualified. They’re both just trying to grab onto whatever small differentiators they can find.
The Club for Growth, the limited government advocacy group that was pivotal to electing Cruz and key allies to the U.S. Senate, has poured more than half a million dollars through its super PAC, Club for Growth Action, into helping Roy, the most so far for the group in any congressional district nationally, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, with more to come.
“We think Chip will be the better, reliable conservative, both in his votes but also in his tactics, and knowing, from the day he gets to Washington, how to represent those values in Congress,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former congressman, told the American-Statesman.
McIntosh said the super PAC will launch a TV ad blitz, first on satellite and then cable, starting Monday, opening with positive portrayals of Roy and then going negative on McCall as needed.
“Once we make an endorsement, the club is all in, and we’re going to support that person hopefully all the way through to victory in November,” McIntosh said. “In the closing days we’ll probably try to make the contrast that Chip can win and hold the seat, and we’re not sure with Matt’s record of losing a couple of times, he would.”
For his part, McCall says he’s being unfairly attacked.
“They just did a mailer that tried to pair me with Nancy Pelosi, which is absurd,” McCall said of a Club for Growth mailer.
The mailer features darkly sinister photos of McCall and the House Democratic leader.
“What’s the difference between Matt McCall & Nancy Pelosi,” it asks. “Nancy Pelosi is honest about being anti-Trump,” it answers.
On the flip side, it says, “Matt McCall claims he supports President Trump’s agenda, but on the campaign trail he cynically dredges up the same false conspiracy theories that liberals use to try to discredit Trump’s historic election victory.”
“It’s a straight-up lie that I am anti-Trump,” McCall told the Statesman. “Who would ever think that that’s ever heard me? I’ve been running on Trump’s policies since before he was running on them.”
“They just made it up out of thin air,” McCall said. “This is who they are. He is part of the swamp. This is what the swamp does. These are his supporters.”
Asked to explain the mailer, McIntosh said, “the liberal press and Nancy Pelosi were trying to lump Trump with Cambridge Analytica and all the problems they had on Facebook, and McCall had tried to do that to Chip in one of the debates, that he had worked with Cambridge Analytica, sort of taking the same kind of personal swipe at Chip the way Pelosi and liberals do every day up here in Washington against Trump.”
“It’s the type of political swamp-type maneuver that the Democrats use against Trump and it looked like McCall was willing to do that against Chip,” said McIntosh, who said he stood by the fairness of the attack on McCall.
The only clue to what the mailer is talking about is, in small print at the bottom, the citation of an April 12 tweet by Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune — which the person receiving the mailer would have to search on Twitter — in which Svitek reported an exchange between McCall and Roy, apparently informed by a Gilbert Garcia story in the San Antonio Express-News that said that, “as the person in charge of Cruz’s constellation of Super PACs at a time when Cambridge Analytica’s abuses were publicly known, he should bear some accountability for the continued funding of those abuses.”
The company was launched on the strength of a $15 million investment by hedge fund billionaire — and Republican mega-donor — Robert Mercer. Mercer threw his support behind Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential race and served as the primary financier for the pro-Cruz Super PAC, Keep the Promise I.
The Cruz campaign organization and Keep the Promise I pumped millions into Cambridge Analytica for voter data that the campaign hailed at the time as revolutionary in its ability to micro-target potential supporters.
By late 2015, however, Cambridge Analytica faced public accusations that it harvested personal information from millions of Facebook users without their consent, using the innocuous, deceptive pretense of a personality questionnaire for which participants received a dollar.
When The Guardian approached Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler at that time, he dismissed any concerns by saying the Cruz campaign had “done our due diligence.” He added, “My understanding is all the information is acquired legally and ethically with the permission of the users when they sign up to Facebook.”
That statement was false and the scope of the problem became more obvious over the past week, with a New York Times story revealing that Cambridge Analytica’s illicit data harvesting affected more than 50 million Facebook users.
That’s where Roy comes in.
With Cruz’s network of Super PACs lacking strategic cohesion, Roy left his job in the Texas attorney general’s office in March 2016 to become executive director of Trusted Leadership, an umbrella organization that oversaw the activities of Cruz’s Super PAC network. Two months later, Cruz withdrew from the presidential race after losing the Indiana primary to Donald Trump.
Mercer shifted his support to Trump, Keep the Promise I rebranded itself Make America Number 1 and Cambridge Analytica joined a Trump digital operation led by San Antonio web consultant Brad Parscale.
The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal has been massive and swift.
Facebook, which is facing threats of a user revolt, suspended Cambridge Analytica last Saturday. Robert Mueller, special counsel for a Justice Department investigation into Russian campaign meddling with the 2016 election, has requested the emails of Cambridge Analytica staffers who worked on the Trump campaign.
The revelations also have focused new attention on the Cruz campaign, the initial beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s transgressions.
Roy joined the Cruz campaign team fairly late in the game. But as the person in charge of Cruz’s constellation of Super PACs at a time when Cambridge Analytica’s abuses were publicly known, he should bear some accountability for the continued funding of those abuses.
“I think I voted for Cruz in the (2016) Texas primary,” McCall said. But he said he quickly became a “Trump guy,” unlike Cruz, who denounced Trump in those extraordinarly blunt terms on the last day of his presidential campaign, and refused to back him to a cascade of boos in his speech to the Republican Naitonal Convention in July, not endorsing him until two months later.
“I was very very turned off by what Cruz did at the convention,” McCall said. “It proved me wrong and a lot of my friends who said, `It’s all about Ted,’ right. I was trying to defend Ted as a constitutionalist, but it does seem to be all about Ted.”
Here is McCall’s response to the Pelosi mailer on Facebook.
McCall likens the Club for Growth mailers to an episode from the Cruz campaign the night of the Iowa caucuses.
As Iowa Republicans headed to the caucuses on Monday night, Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign left recorded messages for supporters with “breaking news” that Ben Carson would drop out of the race, and told them to “inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead.”
The false report, echoed in an email and in a text message sent to campaign volunteers, was trumpeted by at least some Cruz precinct captains when they addressed their caucuses. When Mr. Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, arrived at two precincts to speak on his behalf, she was furious to learn that speakers for Mr. Cruz had suggested moments earlier that her husband was quitting the race.
The Cruz campaign on Friday acknowledged it had made a coordinated effort to spread the story. But it defended its actions as an honest mistake based on “reports,” namely CNN anchors echoing Twitter messages from a reporter saying that Mr. Carson was heading home to Florida after Iowa, rather than to New Hampshire or South Carolina, where the next contests were to be held. However, those messages were followed almost instantly by another from one of the reporters stating that Mr. Carson would remain in the race “no matter what.” A senior strategist for Mr. Carson, Jason Osborne, had reiterated on Twitter: “Not standing down.”
The Carson campaign, which has angrily accused Mr. Cruz of dirty tricks, escalated the feud on Friday by using the audio recording of the message left by Cruz supporters in a fund-raising email. “Hello,” the call began, “this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses.”
Mr. Cruz, who won the Republican caucuses, apologized to Mr. Carson this week. At a news conference in Washington, Mr. Carson said that Mr. Cruz had not gone far enough in addressing the situation and called on him to fire the staff members who spread the false rumors.
Mr. Carson’s fourth-place showing in Iowa, where he got 9.3 percent of the vote, was equal to or slightly better than his support in polls before the caucuses, raising doubts about whether the Cruz disinformation swayed many voters. Nonetheless, the issue has become a distraction to Mr. Carson ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and it has raised questions about the tactics of the Cruz campaign.
“It’s really demoralizing. People are angry,” Mr. Osborne said. “Every day, as more information comes out, he’s getting more animated about it,” he added, referring to Mr. Carson.
The Club for Growth has doubled and tripled down on its McCall-Pelosi campaign.
.@VoteMattMcCall last night: "Now they’re saying that I’m somehow magically the Nancy Pelosi guy, which is a bunch of hooey. Nancy is going to sue for defamation, I understand, because I’m the constitutionalist — I’m the Pro-Trump policy guy." #TX21https://t.co/oNLnRG5fXP
Club for Growth Action Unveils “Pelosi” Ad in TX-21
Washington, DC – Today, Club for Growth Action announced the release of a 30-second ad that will begin airing on broadcast throughout Texas’s 21st Congressional district; the ad exposes the weakness of Matt McCall’s candidacy. This is an additional $140,000 expenditure on top of an existing ad buy.
Upon release of the ad, Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh remarked, “There is a reason that Matt McCall was decimated the past two times he ran for Congress. He has demonstrated he’s not a viable candidate. Given how close Pelosi and the Democrats may be to gaining control of Congress, Republican voters simply cannot afford to leave this race in the hands of a weak candidate like McCall.”
Matt McCall just might make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.
McCall has run for Congress twice before. He got swamped.
With Democrats so close to controlling congress, if McCall loses again… Hello, Nancy.
And McCall must know he’s weak, ‘cause now he’s using the same fake news attacks against Chip Roy that liberals use against Donald Trump.
McCall for Congress? Pelosi for Speaker.
Club for Growth Action is responsible for the content of this message.
From The Hill on Oct. 21, 2016, just a couple of weeks before the presidential election (which Donald Trump won):
Club for Growth President David McIntosh on Friday defended the conservative group’s decision to spent millions of dollars in its failed bid to defeat Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary.
“Knowing what we know today confirms the problems we saw early on with a Trump nomination,” McIntosh said during an appearanceon C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday.
McIntosh, a former GOP congressman from Indiana, was referring to recent polling that shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with an enormous advantage over Trump in the electoral college.
“I think it was a good call,” he added. “I think we called it right on what would happen if Trump were the nominee.”
This cycle marked the first time the free-market, limited-government group had waded into a GOP presidential primary. The Club waged a $7 million assault on Trump, arguing that the Manhattan business mogul and reality TV star was no fiscal or social conservative.
Some of that money, McIntosh argued, helped propel the club’s preferred candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to victory in the Iowa caucuses. But the Club and other anti-Trump forces couldn’t compete with all the free air time Trump was receiving on cable TV.
David McIntosh, the group’s president, argued that “momentum is shifting away” from Trump following his losses to Sen. Ted Cruz(R-Texas) over the weekend in Kansas and Maine. Cruz and Trump also tied for delegates in Louisiana’s primary.
“Republican voters don’t want a big-government liberal like Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket,” McIntosh said.
“They know that Trump would cost Republicans the White House, the Senate majority, and, ultimately, the Supreme Court. It will be no surprise to see the numbers tighten in tomorrow’s primaries and caucus.”
McIntosh then called the front-runner out for his “far-left positions on taxes, health care, bailouts and the abuse of eminent domain” before making a reference to Trump’s satement in Thursday’s debate that he was changing his position on green cards for high-skilled workers.
“And now he sounds like the worst kind of politician, warning voters that he will change positions when he feels like it,” McIntosh said.
“The shell game that is the Trump candidacy needs to be stopped.”
Donald Trump repeatedly has accused Club for Growth of airing attack ads against him because he refused to give the conservative group a $1 million donation – or what Trump calls “a form of extortion.”
Club for Growth tells a much different story. It claims Trump offered to make a donation – or what the group now calls “a setup.”
It’s impossible to know for sure who is telling the truth. But at the least, those who have heard Trump’s anecdote should know there is another side to his story, and that there is more context and history to the rift than Trump lets on. We’ll lay out some of that history, and the facts where possible, and let readers make up their own minds.
I last saw McCall Monday night at a TX21 Indivisible forum in South Austin.
McCall was there, his sense of humor dangerously intact, offering a civil defense of his Constitutional conservative values, though I am sure his very willingness to be at an Indivisible event invites suspicion from Trump cultists.
`.@VoteMattMcCall, in not so friendly territory at Indivisible CD 21 forum in Austin with Democrats Mary Wilson and @JosephKopser (but no @chiproytx) says,"I know you guys love me because I ran against Lamar Smith twice, and I showed up."
.@VoteMattMcCall Occupy Wall Street was right about the phenomenal disparity of income, which grew rapidly under @BarackObama That's not capitalism, that's liberal fascism and socialism. The answer is to reduce the size of government. #indivisible21
At #Indivisible21 forum, @VoteMattMcCall says, "Let's have a civil conversation and quit throwing knives." Says for all the talk of how far right the GOP is, Democrats should recognize they have moved "left and lefter. I challenge you to think about that and not just scoff."
Antoinette was there, if anyone from the Austin resistance wanted a yard sign.
As we said goodnight, McCall offered a parting shot:
The Club for Growth spent $15 million attacking Trump and now they are attacking me. And Chip Roy ran the largest super PAC against Donald Trump, trying to defeat him, and now he’s after me. And he’s telling me I’m a non-Trumper. Are you friggin’ kidding me?
On Saturday, one week to the day after he was narrowly elected to the City Council in the little Tarrant County city of Euless – population about 55,000 and half white – Salman Bhojani and his supporters gathered at one of the parks that are the city’s pride to celebrate his victory.
Bhojani spoke and then delivered some of the 140 awards he had prepared for the many folks who, in one way or another, had helped with his winning campaign.
Here is what Bhojani had to say:
We have made history here in Euless. There has never been a Muslim candidate for City Council. No member of an ethnic minority has ever been elected to office in Euless. And, to the best of my knowledge, no other City Council candidate has had to run not only against their opponent, but also against their own representative in the Texas Legislature.
To prevail against these odds truly is a historic achievement. That’s why stories about our campaign continue to appear daily in local papers, in the statewide press, and now in the national news media.
Folks, this is a big deal, and I’m glad you’re all here to experience this with me and my family.
Friends, when people refer back to this historic race, I hope they will not just focus on the victory itself, but our journey and the values we displayed. The great people of Euless voted for us because they saw something in our campaign. Chances are they were drawn to our values. These values underpin every piece of communication that came from our campaign, whether it was a Facebook post, a tweet, a mailer, a press interview or a conversation with a voter, and in my humble opinion, there are three important values that we displayed.
Number one: Hard work. Boy, have we worked hard on this campaign. We knocked on more than 5,000 doors. Made thousands of phone calls. Sent out at least three mailers. And were out at the polls every day from dawn to dusk.
Second: Resiliency and perseverance. We received a lot of hateful speech and anti-Muslim bigotry. But we persevered through it and always brought back the focus of my love and passion to serve this great city. We did not give up.
Third: Honor and humility. We took the high road. We did not let negativity and hatred drag us down. But instead, we made it help us pull upwards. As Michelle Obama aptly put it, when they go low, you go high.
And these are the values that I have grown up with in my family, in my faith and in my community, and these are the values I will continue to display in the coming months and years as I work to improve our city.
For my Ismaili friends, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of this victory during the year when millions of Ismailis are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of our beloved leader, his Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims. For the past 60 years, the Aga Khan has worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life of people around the world and he is my role model. Hence, this is doubly historic for me and the entire Ismaili community, and I wish everyone Diamond Jubilee Mubarak.
(Note: From the official website of the Ismaili Muslim community: The Shia Ismaili Muslims are a community of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries around the world, united in their allegiance to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan (known to the Ismailis as Mawlana Hazar Imam) as the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader), and direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family.)
Friends, I’ve been congratulated many times in the last week – in person, on the phone, in text messages, and on social media. I’ve been especially moved by people who wrote to say that this win restored their hope in America, or in democracy, and in their neighbors. I do think that people have been losing hope. The man who is now president of the United States launched his campaign by declaring, “The American dream is dead.” Well, the American dream is not dead here in Euless. It’s alive and well in this cities and cities like it, here in Texas and all across the nation.
I knew nothing about Euless politics a few days ago. Since then I have learned something about the recent municipal election and I think what happened there provides a useful microcosm of Texas politics, and where it may be headed. At its crux is the state’s changing demography and the political meaning of diversity, which can be the most benign even insipid of terms, or most the most loaded and charged in the modern American political vocabulary.
Euless is also interesting because Bhojani’s opposite number – his own representative in the Texas Legislature – is Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, who lives in neighboring Bedford.
Neither Bhojani or Stickland have ever met or talked to one another.
But I’ve spoken to them both at length in the last few days, both to try to figure out what happened in Euless, but also because I felt some obligation as, I would humbly submit, a leading Sticklandologist.
One of the first stories I wrote after moving to Texas to cover politics for the Statesman was a Jan. 16, 2013 piece about the huge incoming class of newly elected Republican representatives. It began as follows:
State Rep.-elect Jonathan Stickland is 29. He left high school early and got a GED. He had never held or run for office before. His local elected officialdom was virtually unanimous in its preference for his Republican primary opponent. If he has a charisma it’s in his super-ordinariness. And he doesn’t even have the “r” in his last name that everyone assumes is supposed to be there.
And there, in brief, are the keys to Stickland’s stunning success. Every strike against him, he marvels, turned out to be an advantage in what turned out to be a crushing, 20-point primary victory. Each provided a way for people to remember and identify with him. He just had to own it, live it, be it.
Now, Stickland is one of the reasons why the new Texas House, when it convenes Tuesday for its biennial session, will be swollen with freshman – 43 in all. Together with 24 sophomores, the new and the near-new will make up close to half the 150 members of the House.
“It’s an incredible number,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.
Much of that has to do with places like Stickland’s home turf – Tarrant County – a tea party stronghold where voters gave one well-tenured Republican after another the boot.
Said Stickland, “Tarrant County lost a lot of seniority in this wave – Northeast Tarrant Tea Party. They won every single race they endorsed in.”
So, as Stickland proclaimed to huzzahs at a well-attended NE Tarrant Tea Party gathering in December, “Tarrant County just sent the most conservative group down to Austin that this state has ever seen.”
And Stickland said in an interview, “I plan on having the most conservative voting record in the entire House of Representatives.”
Later in the story, I explained that:
Stickland was “discovered” by Julie McCarty, president of the board of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, who was especially impressed with the way he confronted U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound, at a town hall meeting after Burgess voted in 2011 to raise the debt limit.
“Jonathan was so well spoken, and it wasn’t just that he had good points to make. They were so well-thought out and easy to understand,” said McCarty. “It was truly the voice of the people.”
“Honestly, I never considered running until I got an email from Julie McCarty at 11:45 at night, sitting in front of my home computer eating a bowl of ice cream,” recalled Stickland. “My wife was leaning over me and started laughing. Then she said, ‘Crap, you might be able to do that.’”
Suffice it to say, Stickland has more than fulfilled the promise that first Julie, and then I, saw in him.
So it was not at all surprising on Thursday, when Stickland came up at Evan Smith’s interview of Austin’s Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and the author of, among many books, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2007, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, and his newest, God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State.
EVAN SMITH:Which is more in inscrutable, impenetrable institution: Al-Qaeda, Scientology or the Legislature?
LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Well, I spend a lot of time studying cults.
SMITH: I was asking about the people. Bin Laden, L. Ron Hubbard or Jonathan Stickland? Who’s a better character to write about?
WRIGHT:If they had a swap, you might not notice some of the differences.
Let me put this in a more sober way. These are all people that believe in what they are doing.
These three entities are filled with true believers, and depending on what they believe they can act for good or ill.
We first met Jonathan Stickland on page 233 of God Save Texas.
Which brings us to the recent Euless City Council election in which Hubbard, who died of a stroke in 1986 played no role, and Bin Laden, having been killed by the chancellor of the University of Texas, makes only a cameo, but Stickland is the looming tower.
Bhojani, a Pakistani immigrant, moved to Carrollton 18 years ago. He moved to Bedford in 2007 and in 2010 he bought a home in Euless after reading an article in the Dallas Morning News about how it was the best place to raise a family in North Texas.
An attorney, he has served on the Euless Park & Leisure Services Board for four years.
Last year, he ran for council, challenging Place 2 City Council Member Jeremy Tompkins. He lost.
In March of last year, as he wrote, “For the first time in Euless history, a verse of the holy Quran (and its English translation) was recited to start the City Council meeting. Blessed to be part of this momentous occasion (with Amir Makhani) and hope to bring more diversity in the Euless City Council! #VoteBhojani”
Bhojani, a Boy Scout leader, was invited to the ceremony by the affiliated Cub Scout troop, which had been the ones invited to recite the pray.
“I got a lot of heat for it,” Bhojani said.
But, he said, the concerns were unfounded.
“For decades, or for a century, for more than a century, we’ve read a Christian invocation before City Council and I have not taken offense at that. Every single Park Board meeting I have attended starts out with a Christian invocation, and I have not taken any offense at that,” Bhojani said.
That, one time in a century, the Quran was recited, should not have been cause for alarm.
“What’s wrong with it?” Bhojanni said. “Even the words that were recited were about unity among faiths.It was a proud moment for all the City Council members. Everybody that was there commented on it.”
But the Cub Scout invocation had roiled the waters, Stickland said, not so much the event itself but, he said, Bhojani’s touting of it in his campaign.
There’s foreign media doing this big international story – `It’s great we’re reading from the Quran for the first time in the city of Euless.”
It totally freaks out the establishment, energizes my people. This guy’s got an agenda here way bigger than I wanna fix the roads or help out the police officers, just the way that he did it.
It was that that was the centerpiece of his campaign. Nobody campaigns on, “Oh we need t to change the prayers at City Council.”
It’s, “we’ve got roads to fix.”
That’s the normal stuff. This guy’s running a hard-core crazy campaign, this is what he is about, this is what he wants, to turn the city of Euless into a news story,
This is a little small bedroom community, this is suburbia, people move out of Dallas to get away from this sensationalized stuff.
And then there is cricket.
Theres a major park here in Euless and he started campaigning on changing the park and turning it into a cricket field and people are saying, “No one plays cricket except a small, small portion of people and then we are going to get all these cricket players coming into Euless taking up our park.”
Bhojani didn’t win in 2017, but he ran a strong second.
Stickland said, it was a rare local election in his district since he’s been elected, that he didn’t get in the middle of – with, he acknowledeged, uniformly disastrous results.
I literally, especially when I was first elected, came in with guns ablazing. I had candidates, a conservative, tea party candidates, running in every (city council and school board) spot in the district and I got crushed. I have never, ever backed a candidate who won any local election.
Why? Stickland said he has clout in partisan election, but not the ultra low-turnout non-partisan elections.
Of Bhojani’s 2017 campaign, Stickland said:
It was under the radar, it wasn’t on anyone’s radar, this guy comes out of nowhere, spends a bunch of money and nearly takes out the establishment which, frankly, we had been trying to do for years, unsuccessfully. Anyhow, I had a lot of people who support me voting for him just because they’re so used to voting for whoever is running against the establishment. It’s usually a conservative, but we didn’t run anyone.
So he nearly wins, the Euless Council folks frankly freak out a little bit, come to me behind the scenes and say, “Hey we almost lost and we’re a little bit worried about this guy,” and I’m, “Ah, whatever, I’m not going to help you guys, you guys don’t like me, whatever.”
Fast forward, and about six months later, he is, “I’m going to run again,” and he totally does a 180 on who he is and what he’s doing, and he starts exposing himself as a hard-core progressive liberal hanging out with some of the known Democratic leaders in the area, and starts getting active on Facebook and it’s all centered around this one theme that we didn’t hear in the first race, Oh, we need diversity. We’ve got enough white Christian types, Euless is diverse, which it is, and he makes it all about this racial diversity and religious diversity that we need.
They don’t have a candidate, usually the establishment has their little hierarchy, they’re like, “Hey, do you have anybody who could run?” And I’m going through my Rolodex and there’s this sweet little old lady, Molly Maddox, retired teacher who’s kind of political, lived in Euless for like 42 years, lot of people know her, she still substitutes up at Trinity High School up to this day, regularly, so we convince her to run and I promise to help fund the race.
And frankly, when they didn’t have a candidate and were wiling to take mine, I was like, maybe I can sneak a conservative on there. Win-win.
(I was in contact with the mayor and three members of the Euless council who dispute Stickland’s version of events. More on that later.)
Meanwhile, the Texas Democratic Party endorses Bhojani, even though the election is non-partisan.
From a March 12 release:
Texas Democrats Endorse Local Candidates
Austin, TX– Today, the Texas Democratic Party endorsed progressive candidates enrolled in our Project LIFT (Local Investment in the Future of Texas) program for the May 5th elections.
Project LIFT works with local party leaders and progressive partners to recruit, train, and support candidates – with a special focus on winning local, non-partisan races.
Meet the Texas Democratic Party’s Project LIFT endorsed candidates:
Salman is a young, but experienced, progressive leader with a passion for connecting citizens with their local government. In addition to being a lawyer and having worked at one of the nation’s top law firms, he is a successful business owner. Salman has taken a leadership role in various community-focused organizations and currently serves on the Euless Parks and Leisure Services Board. Salman has lived on three different continents, he calls Euless his home, where he lives with his wife Nima, two children, and his parents.
It got to the point where we felt like, hey, we need to put out the alarm and we put up that first Facebook post.
If you go back and you look at it, it’s all about, this guy’s a Democrat, he only votes in Democrat primaries, he’s only donated to these Democrats, these are the issues he is campaigning on, and up at the very top of the stupid thing I described him as a “Muslim, lawyer, liberal Democrat,” because that’s the way he’s described himself all over this deal, and on it I put a link to a video on his campaign Facebook page to this news article about how great it was that for the first time we were reading from the Quran and I just regurgitated it back out to the public
And then, oh man, the gates of Hell open up and it’s like, `Oh, he’s anti-Muslim, he’s an Islamophobe, he’s a racist bigot”, all that stuff starts, and it blows up, and it kind of shocks you to be honest with you, because in my own head, I’m he least Islamophobic guy in the Legislature being a Ron Paul Republican. I’m the only guys who has spoken out publicly against the wars in the Middle East. I’m the only guy who endorsed Shahid Shafi for Southlake City Council.
Stickland said he’s been a big backer of the very diverse Harmony Public Charter School in Euless.
I have been a hardcore advocate for these people in the community and taken a ton of heat for it. I spoke at their graduation ceremony. I teach there like three times a year. It’s very diverse, got a lot of Muslims there.
As a libertarian-leaning Republican, I’m not anti-Muslim at all. In fact, that’s the main platform of me being a libertarian is I hate all that crap.
I could care less about how he prays to or any of that kind of stuff. My problem is I don’t want to turn the city of Euless into a circus, trying to bring in media and everything else. And I don’t like his politics.
I agree we have great diversity in our district. I spent thousands of dollars last session to sponsor and charter a bus – we’ve got a large Tongan community in Euless – and we had our first Tongan Day at the Capitol, and I chartered a bus and we had a Tongan celebration at the Capitol and recognized them, I paid for every cent of it because I think that’s great. But when you stand up and say, vote for me because of my skin color, that’s a problem. He literally made campaign videos about this issue.
There’s a difference between, “Vote for me because I’m diverse,” and celebrating diversity.
The second you say this matters, you are at the same time casting out the white folks.
I think it became a problem when he said it was a reason to vote for him. “Vote for me because I am this.” If I stood up in a crowd and said, “Vote for me because I’m a white Christian,” I think that’s a problem.”
If I sand up and say I’m Christian conservative and use that in my speech and talk about my values, that’s completely fine. If I stood up say, “Vote for me because I’m the only Christian,” or, “That person’s not a Christian, that’s when it becomes a problem.”
I don’t care, like Joe Straus for instance, if people are like, “I don’t like him because he’s a Jew,” that’s ridiculous, I never cared about that all, because you know what, I cared about his positions on the issues. I would vote for Craig Goldman for speaker tomorrow if I had the chance to and he’s a Jew. It’s completely irrelevant.
I think it’s fair to talk about who you are as a person, because I really do think your faith determines values in a lot of instances, but his faith is not what I had a problem with. What I had a problem with, what I thought was offensive, was that he was using this as a way to create a schism in the community.
Bhojani said that is a complete mischaracterization of his campaign.
(Stickland’s Facebook) comments were very hurtful and excited people in a very negative way. Those were Islamophobic comments just deliberately set up to rile up people and rile up support for his investment in Molly Maddox.
A lot of people who had Islamophhobia in their minds, they turned them out, that’s why it was close. We ran a very positive campaign and tried to talk about the city issues.
My kids (9 and 12) are getting an education of a lifetime because they would not get this education anywhere, in any college, any university or any school, so I was very blessed to run a positive campaign that was away from hatred and negativity.
Bhojani said he and his wife were at the Euless Library every day of early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., talking to voters.
Some people would say, `America is for Americans, you need to go back to Pakistan.’
I would be telling them that, with all due respect, I am an American citizen as well. The United States government has issued a passport to me. I have two kids that were born here. Where else would I go. `No, you’ve got to go home to your country.” But this is my country. “No, you’re not born here.” By your definition, only American Indians would be Americans. “You’re not a true American. I won’t vote for you.”
That’s one rhetoric.
Another rhetoric would be about religion, They would ask, “What religion do you follow?”
First I would answer back and say religion has no place in politics. There is no religious test to run for office . But they wouldn’t want to hear that answer and they’d spit out hatred, “No, you’re a Muslim, we are not going to vote for you.”
For others, I would say I am a Muslim, and they would say, “We don’t vote for terrorists.”
Another man told his wife that if he were elected the crime rate would soar and there would be retaliation against him.
She was really concerned.
They said, “We like Euless he way it is right now. We don’t want any change.”
A couple of people, really educated, talked about friends they had who were Muslim, and at the end asked, “What do you think of Osama Bin Laden?” I said, “What do you mean?”
They wanted to know if I thought the Pakistani government had harbored Bin Laden. I said that’s a good question, I have no idea, I have no ties to the Pakistani government I left Pakistan when I was ten-years-old. I have no idea.
He said. “You’d be very naive to think I should not hold you accountable for that.”
Hold me accountable for being on the Park Board for four years. Hold me accountable for being a Boy Scout leader.
A Texas A&M professor asked my wife whether I wanted to bring Sharia .aw. She said absolutely not. I came in and said I vowed to defend the Constitution twice, once when I became a citizen and then when I became an attorney. The Constitution is the law of the land. Sharia law is not. I don’t practice Sharia law.
There are millions of moderate Muslims that live their lives and are contributing citizens of the United States They give so much back, more than they take and they have the true American values and ethics.
It was disheartening, but a lot of people came from Colleyville, McKinney, Plano, Bedford, they couldn’t even vote for us but they’d bring a snack, a sweet, and they brought their kids as well saying, “You’re fighting the good fight. and we want to celebrate and we want to show our kids that when you have adversity, negativity and hatred, this is how you fight, you keep your chin up and shrug off all the negativity and fight with a smile.”
That’s what we did and it worked out.
During my first campaign, a person asked what kind of pork do you eat? I said I’m not sure I heard you correctly. I didn’t know here were different kinds of pork but I don’t eat pork and I’m not sure how that’s relevant to serving on the City Council. He said, “It’s important for me to know. If you don’t eat pork, you don’t have my vote.”
I don’t go out and tell people that I’m Muslim. There’s no need for telling people that. There’s a lot of Islamophobia that’s out there already.
We all know that Islamophobia is rampant in our country. We know how our president feels about Muslims. it’s just given them a license to speak, however they choose to speak about Muslims.
Why was there a need (for Stickland) to say that and not say, “He’s a father, he’s a son, he’s a Boy Scout leader, he’s an SMU graduate?” There is a reason why, he had basically made a $15,000 investment in my opponent and now he was trying to make his investment pay off, and he’s trying to make other people worried about me, and where does he get this idea of a scary agenda or a dangerous agenda?
How could I have a sneaky agenda? Show me where I”ve gone wrong. There is no basis for that.
There are lot of Nepalese people that play cricket. I have not played cricket for like decades. I don’t even watch cricket. (My wife is from India, so our marriage is already sort of taboo. Luckily we don’t watch cricket so we have a harmonious marriage.)
They had told me there are a lot of baseball fields, soccer fields, why is there not a cricket field? And I mentioned that in my speech to the Nepalese people at their Holy Festival (in March). Remember, these guys don’t come out to vote. They are in their own world. I’m not saying hat in a bad way. That’s a reality.
I’m trying to talk to them, you guys don’t come out vote and then you complain to me. Oh nobody listens to us, we don’t have a cricket stadium. Well, they’re not going to listen because you don’t go out to vote. If you guys want something to happen, you’ve got to petition your City Council and I want to serve on that City Council.
Stickland said that it was Bhojani and his supporters who inflamed matters by focusing on him as a purported symbol of intolerance, and successfully selling that story to a willing media.
What he did was wrong, first of all. And we did not call the media, the media called us and he media saw that he was wrong and the media wanted to call him out on that. I did not call people to say come interview us or come see what Jonathan had to say.
It’s crazy that I have not only my opponent to run against but I have a Jonathan Stickland to run against, my own state representative. OK, that’s a challenge I have to surmount.
State Representative Jonathan Stickland wrote a Facebook post referencing Bhojani’s religion. In it, he speaks against “progressive liberals” stepping into a non-partisan council race and points out that Salman Bhojani is a Muslim and what he calls a “lifelong Democrat” responsible for having a passage from the Koran read for the first time at a council meeting. The passage referenced having an openness to different religions and was read by a local Boy Scout troop.
“I don’t think that by itself is something that means he’s unfit for office,” said Rep. Stickland. “But what I think is this is just a foreshadowing of some of the massive changes that he would like to see in the city of Euless.”
Representative Stickland points to Bhojani’s own speeches calling for diversity on the council.
“He can’t have it both ways,” Stickland said. “If he wants to use it as a plus, he has to be OK with other people thinking it’s a relevant issue as well.”
“I think that’s totally inaccurate. I have not brought my religion public,” Bhojani countered. “He should have come and asked me about my beliefs because I’m also one of his constituents.”
Bhojani said religion would never influence his council decisions but he does want a fresh perspective. He would be the council’s only minority.
“Any time you have a homogenous group of people who came together and make decisions for people who are not like them I think you can be blindsided by your own tunnel vision,” Bhojani said.
From a Texas Democratic Party April 30 email.
Austin, TX – Last week, Texas Republican Jonathan Stickland found it pertinent to mention that Project LIFT candidate Salman Bhojani is a Muslim and ‘lifelong Democrat’ on Facebook.
Salman Bhojani is a father, successful lawyer and running for Euless’ City Council Place 5.
Bhojani had spoken to Anchia of his concerns for the safety of his family amid the rancor after Stickland’s Facebook post and Anchia negotiated a rhetorical cease-fire between Bhojani and Stickland.
But it quickly broke down with each accusing the other of not abiding by it.
Bhojani had gotten to know Anchia when he worked as a summer associate at Hayes and Boone, Anchia’s law firm.
He’s a great guy and I really respect him and we had a conversation and he said, “I can help turn the volume down on this thing and if you don’t post anything on him he won’t post anything on you.”
Bhojani said he held to the agreement until he saw Stickland was back at it on his personal Facebook page.
I forwarded it to Rafael and said, “I thought we had a cease-fire.”
It’s just not worth it. How can I trust that guy? I said Rafael, let’s forget it, he’s done the damage already. He should pay for not having a filter. So I called Rafael and told him that he could call Stickland and tell him the deal is off.
We tried to amp it down and I agreed to do it, but this is what he wanted the whole time.
Bhojani won, but not by much.
When we received the early voting results at 7:00, 7:15, we we were only 74 votes behind so that assured us that we would win. because we felt we had 75 to 80 percent of the votes that were counted on Election Day..
Surprisingly, we were only 112 votes ahead (in votes cast on Election Day), which is really, really surprising. I’m not sure how that even happened. I said, “It’s a win, we won fair and square. We don’t want to ask a lot of questions about what happened inside.”
People truly told us as they were going in, we’re here to vote for you, we’ve read what happened in the newspapers, we’ve read about all that negativity that was thrown at you by Stickland. A lot of people came in and said, “We hate Stickland. We don’t like him. Why is he messing with a City Council election? We don’t like that. We’re here to vote for you.” So that’s what made us feel like we had a huge lead, at least 200 or 300 votes for sure. So i was very surprised by the election results. It came out much closer than we had thought.
I went out door-knocking every night after early voting, because that’s the way to get votes. To tell our story. Because once they heard our story it was the American dream, it was very consistent with American values and ethics and so they really resonated with people regardless of their skin color or faith.
I will be he first minority elected in the history of Euless to the City Council. That is a very powerful end in itself. You see a lot of people of color, but the City Council is not reflective of that diversity.
Also I will be the only City Council member with young children. All the others, their children are grown.
About a thousand people usually come out to vote. in local elections.. Last year there were 3,084, so I brought out at least a thousand first-time voters that never voted in their lives before. And then this year we surpassed that with about 4,201.
Historically, usually minorities don’t come out to vote as much in local elections especially. They don’t know about it. Some people come from countries where politics is a corrupt profession.
A lot of people come from Tonga. I think Euless is home to the second largest Tongan population outside of Tonga. It has a lot of people from Nepal, Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. I think 24 percent of Euless is Hispanic, there’s a big African-American population as well, that may or may not be immigrant. There’s a Nigerian and Sudanese group as well.
The Texas Democratic party crowed about Bhojani’s victory
It was the perfect twofer for them, electing an up-and-coming minority candidate and casting Stickland as the diabolical heavy.
Project LIFT Candidate Salman Bhojani Wins in Euless Defying the Hate Campaign Led by Rep. Stickland
After an attack on his faith and integrity, led by Texas Republican Jonathan Stickland, Salman Bhojani, a Project LIFT Candidate, was elected to city council in Euless by a margin of 37 votes. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 5, 2018]
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Salman Bhojani faced down hate and brought his community together to march forward and fight for progressive solutions for the city of Euless.
“Never let anyone tell you your vote doesn’t count. By a margin of a few dozen votes, the people of Euless elected a candidate that is qualified, hard-working, and a family-man deeply rooted in his community. Americans across the country are rejecting Trump style hate and fear-based politics. Congratulations on a well-deserved win, Salman!”
The whole point of Project LIFT is to groom candidates to take out folks like Stickland.
Look, I’m going to win my race, it’s a Republican district, but they are definitely making a concerted effort in my House district fort the long-term. This is the first legitimate candidate they have put-up. He’s raising money, he’s block-walking, he’s a smart guy.
The Democratic candidate Stickland is referring to is Steve Riddell, who, with his wife, were among those Bhojani gave an award to for their help at Saturday’s victory celebration.
They’re building the infrastructure for a serious run.
I think it’s trouble when you let your enemy get their foot in the door, but I don’t think they’re going to go through it.
If you look at any of my posts I have never, ever stated any party affiliation or said I’m leaning this way or the other because that’s not needed in city politics. I may favor one side or the other, because that’s my right, but when I’m looking at the city I’m independent. And the issues that the parties are (focusing) on, don’t matter in city government. It’s bascially you have your police, fire, water, streets, park and library.
People ask me about abortion or gun rights, all stuff that doesn’t come into play in city elections. I’m not a lifelong Democrat. It’s weird for anybody to be a lifelong anything.
“He’ll be a good fit on the council,” Mayor Linda Martin told me. “We will work very well together.”
Martin said that Stickland ran a candidate against her in the past and the idea that she would have asked him to find a candidate to run against Bhojani is “patently false,” and she can’t imagine any of the members of the council approaching Stickland either.
“We do just fine on our own,” said Martin, who said that Stickland always says he’s going to stop messing around in local non-partisan politics, and never does.
She said Stickland’s contribution to the campaign was unfortunate, “because we celebrate out diversity.”
She said her grandson is in the first grade at a school where 42 different languages and dialects are spoken.
“He has friends of every different race. They just love each other. They are crazy about each other.”
I talked with Place 1 City Council member Tim Stinneford:
When Perry Bynum announced that he wasn’t running for re-election, I was home with the flu and strep throat and I guess Salman had already filed and Jonathan called me and said, “Do you have anybody to run against him?” and I said, “I’m home sick right now and I don’t know of anybody running against him but the guy’s a pretty nice guy, I don’t really see an issue.”
And he said, “Well, I’m going to find somebody.” And I said, “Fine, OK.”
And it’s kind of funny that he would say anyone would have called him because two re-elections ago, the first time I had ever spoken with Mr. Stickland, was when he came out on an election Saturday campaigning for my opponent, and he walked up to me and said, “Hello,”and I said, “Rep. Stickland, it’s nice that after all these years being a representative the first time you speak to me is to try to get somebody else elected in my place.”
We’ve gotten along fine since them. When he said he was going to find somebody, “Fine.” I of course didn’t realize he was going to contribute that much money. There was more money spent in this election than I spent in four elections combined. It’s crazy.
I can’t speak of the other council members, but I can’t imagine anybody called him
As I told Molly, the candidate that he was supporting – I’ve known Molly for years, I volunteer with Molly on a lot of things – and I told her, “Molly if I were an undecided voter, and I read what Stickland put out there, I would have immediately voted for Salman, no matter what because that was such vitriol, hatred, anger, I just don’t know how to describe how awful that was.”
We are non-partisan, that’s the only reason I run. I am a Republican but in every election I’ve run the Mid-City Democrats have supported me. I’ve gone to their meetings and gone to their dinners that they have once a month and I’m introduced as a Republican. On our council, we’re not Republicans or Democrats, we’re Euless citizens, and our only agenda is what’s best for the city of Euless, and that’s why I have no interest to go beyond this because then it becomes all about party and not about what’s right.
Tompkins, the council member who defeated Bhojani last year, emailed me, “I had several inquiries from Euless Citizens for the open seat of Place 6, and sat down and talked with 3 persons. Molly Maddux was one of the persons. There was not a call out for recruitment from me.”
Place 4 Council member Linda Eilenfeldt, who I believe is the only Democrat already serving on the council, was among those receiving recognition for her support at Bhojani’s victory party Saturday. She told me that she can’t imagine any of her colleagues seeking Stickland’s help to field a candidate against him.
Bynu, the retiring Place 6 incumbent, backed Maddox.
The establishment folks begged me to find and fund a candidate for them to get behind and then as soon as race got interjected into it, none of them followed through with their public endorsement. I’m never helping the with anything again.
My effort going forward is how to unite the city behind the outcome and make sure that I can lead and represent those who voted for me and those who didn’t vote for me and those that gave me hatred because it’s not personal, they don’t even know me and once hey see my actions they will really respect me for who I am.
I really hope for a tolerant Euless where people can respect each other’s faith, their ethnicity, their national origin and say we can all work together behind a united goal and make Euless a better place.
I think (Stickland) hurt the city of Euless because it is divided by him injecting politics in this race. He made people see black and white instead of shades of gray and we need to focus on shades of gray and not say, this is white, this is black in all kinds of different ways.
It never helps to bring negativity.
I last spoke to Bhojani just after his victory celebration Saturday.
One of my supporters, a Republican, said today, “Let’s go buy a cake and let’s go to Stickland’s office, Let’s go and let’s thank him and say, `We couldn’t have done it without you.'” He was serious. And I was like, I haven’t met him and I don’t feel the need to meet him.