The Abbott campaign may show Lupe Valdez `no mercy,’ but will Latino voters say, `No más.’

Good morning Austin:

Lupe Valdez looked very, very happy last night.

And why not.

As they say,  what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Who says that?

Kelly Clarkson.

Friedrich Nietzche.
From Quora:
Charlene Dargay, word maven

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.

The race was closer than it should have been.

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.

I thought she had potential as a candidate.

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.

But last Wednesday I traveled to Laredo to see Valdez in the midst of a campaign tour across that overwhelmingly Latino stretch of Texas along the border, from end to end, where she overwhelmed White.

New York Times

In Laredo, I saw the potential I had seen in that original interview realized.

Her bio was no longer just background. It was fresh and meaningful.

As I wrote:

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.”

Bluster, perhaps.

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..

If you wonder what the Abbott campaign would have done if White had somehow defeated Valdez, you need not wonder, per chief strategist Dave Carney last night.

But, Dave, what about Lupe?

But, embedded in the fun, there was this reflective moment

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.

And why not.





`For God’s sake, she’s just a nice Jewish girl from Texas.’ How Hillary Clinton misunderestimated Amy Chozick

(Earl Wilson, New York Times)

Good Monday Austin:

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?

6/21/11 Mike Sutter/American-Statesman.

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.

As I wrote in First Reading at the time:

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.


Will Matt McCall be cast from the house of Trump for not wanting Trump to watch his daughters?


Matt McCall and his daughter, Antoinette

Good day Austin:

Is the Republican Party under President Trump becoming a cult?

I ask, because of late, some of the behavior seems cult-like.

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.”

Johnson replied:

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.

From the Washington Post’s David Weigel on April 30, 2016:

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.

Here’s the transcript from the New York Times:

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.

Unknown: Whoa.

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.

As Cruz recently wrote of Trump for the TIME 100:

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.”

And he does. Sort of.

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.

Levin was certain in his judgment of Trump.

Five years later, here Levin was, via Real Clear Politics,on Trump.

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.

From Breitbart in April 2016:

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?

(Matt McCall and his 16-year-old daughter, Antoinette, at a CD 21 Indivisible candidate forum on Monday night in South Austin.)

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.


It is effective.

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.

But, the heavy assault on McCall is not on his disinclination to have Trump watch his daughters, but on, well, read on …


From my May 4 story on the race:

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.”

From Garcia’s March 28 story

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.

From the New York Times”

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.



And from Tuesday:

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.”

Club for Growth Action
:30 TV

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.”

And there’s this from in April 2016:

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.

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?


In Salman v. Stickland, a celebration of diversity in Euless is tested


Good Monday Austin:

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.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, right, talks to a lawmaker in the House Chamber at the Capitol on Wednesday January 11, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

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.”

CREDIT: Jonathan Tilove, American-Statesman.
Freshman legislator Jonathan Stickland of Tarrant County, December 2012.

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 Bhojani, Euless City Council Place 6

    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.

On cricket.

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.

Democratic State Representative Rafael Anchia came out in Bhojani’s defense, “Religious tests were something that our founding fathers rejected when we revolted against the crown. The only thing that matters in this election is each candidate’s vision for Euless and North Texas.”

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.

Hostilities resumed

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.


Trump-West 2020: Why Trump will dump Draggin’ Energy Mike for Dragon Energy Kanye on the ticket




Good day Austin:

I was there at the NRA annual meeting in Dallas Friday to hear Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump, in that order, speak.

By the time Pence and Trump were finished I wondered how Trump would deliver the news to Pence that he was replacing him as his running mate in 2020 with Kanye West.

A tweet a/la Rex Tillerson would be the traditional way to go.

But who knows with what kind of flourish Trump will send Pence back home again to Indiana.

I figure, though, that Pence has been elected to office a bunch of times. He is vice president of the United States. His political antenna must be in good working order. So I’ve got to believe that he left Dallas knowing he was doomed.

In his introduction, Pence lavished praise on President Trump, going so far as describing Ronald Reagan as “my second favorite president.”

I don’t remember what if anything Trump had to say about Pence.

But I do remember what he had to say about Kanye West.


Kanye West must have some power because I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 [percent] to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye. Thank you. When I saw the number, I said, ‘That must be a mistake. How can that have happened?’ Even the pollsters thought that must be a mistake.

From The Wrap:

Kanye West’s total embrace of President Donald Trump may be starting to have real-world implications beyond Twitter.

According to the results of a Reuters weekly tracking poll released this week, support for the president among black men doubled from 11 percent, for the week ending April 22, to 22 percent, for the week ending April 29. The approval numbers are the highest Trump has enjoyed in the survey among black men all year.

The timing is noteworthy since the rapper began to go public with his pro-Trump views on April 21, first tweeting support for right-wing pundit Candace Own on April 21. Four days later, he proclaimed “love” for POTUS and his “dragon energy” — and posted a selfie in which he wore a MAGA hat.

Pence must know he’s about to go the way of  Henry Wallace and Nelson Rockefeller, vice presidents who got dumped by the presidents they served – FDR and Gerald Ford – for presumably more dependable and  useful running mates, like Harry Truman and Bob Dole, and now, Kanye West.

At first, the idea sounds cracked.

But think about it.

There is simply no reason for Trump to hang on to Pence.

He served his purpose, such as it was, but he doesn’t serve it any more.

It can be asked of Pence as it was of war –  What is it (he)  good for? And the answer is exactly the same:  Absolutely nothing.

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he  good for?

Absolutely nothing

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he good for?

Absolutely nothing

Say it again, y’all


Is there a single American voter, not named Pence, who is more likely to vote for Donald Trump for president because Mike Pence is on the ticket?

I don’t think so.

Pence was added to the ticket to assure conservative, mostly evangelical Christian voters that Trump, the candidate from Sodom and Gomorrah, could be trusted, and to keep an eye on him.

But Trump, who carried the evangelical vote running against Ted Cruz, didn’t turn out to need any vouching for.

Evangelical Christians seem, by and large, to love him.

And, ever since he’s been president he has only solidified his standing with those voters.

Every odd and aberrant aspect of Trump, right down to having an affair with a porn star and paying her hush money, is simply evidence that God works in mysterious ways.

Trump is now so secure with his base, there is nothing I can think of that would shake it.

I guess there might be some white nationalist Never-Westers, who would balk at a Trump-West ticket as a betrayal. But not too many, and many times more voters might vote for Trump with the addition of Kanye than would depart on his account.

I mean, if you’re Donald Trump, how can the draggin’ energy of Mike Pence compete with the dragon energy he shares with fellow master of the universe Kanye West?

And if you think a Trump-West ticket is just too crazy, it is clearly less crazy than Trump getting elected in the first place, and to pick, in West, his brother in narcissism and branding, is the logical, inevitable outcome of Trump’s presidency and politics.

And, have you heard Ultralight Beam?

I mean, President Obama’s Amazing Grace in Charleston, S.C., was quite something.

But West is next level, and Obama’s performance is precedent that there is no reason that Kanye couldn’t continue to tour and perform as Veep.

As West raps in Ye vs. the People:

I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President.

Or vice president.

In any case, you think we’re going to go through the Trump administration only to Return to Normalcy with Mike Pence, like Warren G. Harding after those chaotic Woodrow Wilson years?

Now, you might ask, will the Grand Old Party accept dumping Pence for West?

Here’s the real-time thought process on that: No, of course, well  …. Hell yeah!

Why wouldn’t they?

Apart from those scattered party poopers like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Neocon Czar William Kristol, most of the rest of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in America has thrown its lot with Trump, overlooking every shocking and bizarre permutation of his presidency in favor of an awed allegiance to what Jeff Roe, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager for president and for re-electionto to the Senate, recently described in a New York Times op-ed, as the maddening brilliance as Trump.

If somehow Trump’s choice of a black man as his running mate is the one thing Trump has done that they don’t fall in line behind, well …  they can’t do that.

Vice does indeed do  a comprehensive job of identifying the right-wing losers who suddenly love Kanye.

The only critique I would offer is that these right-wing losers won in 2016..



On Friday, Alex Jones snuck a little time at home before the start of his daughter’s first birthday party to deconstruct what was going on with Kanye and Trump.


I don’t pay attention to pop culture. I really should because that’s where the brainwashing is going on. And I saw like the gay fish stuff, whatever, five years ago, but I listened to (Kanye’s) music, and I’m thinking, this is some pretty good, relaxing rap. Every Kanye song is good, not great, some are great, but they’re all good. Some music, like Metallica, Led Zeppelin – some’s great, all of it’s good. Kanye’s in that class. That’s my opinion.

But I’m not into celebrities. I’ve already seen it. I’ve already done it.

OK. Let’s skip ahead.

Jones doesn’t like what Snoop Dogg had to say about Kanye.

Snoop Dogg, Jones says, is like Urkel, and a fraud.

Kanye is real folks, Urkel is not.


You know why people love Trump so much? It’s about the energy. He doesn’t care what color you are.

Oh, if I even told you, they would go crazy with that.

Trump likes black people. He likes their energy, but I’m gonna leave it at that.



Then there’s Dilbert cartoons Scott Adams, a leading Trumpologist and the author of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

Scott Adams Tells You How Kanye West Showed the Way To The Golden Age

What follows are notes, not the complete text, of what is on this video:

Scott Adams:

We keep seeing things that don’t seem possible based on our old way of thinking.

We’re seeing more signs of the Golden Age  …. when all the big stuff is going right, heading in the right direction … the tealization many of our problems are psychological, not physical.

A President Trump comes on the scene. One of the things that defines him more any … he doesn’t see limits on what he can do. His marriage. What level he can rise to. How much money he can make. What he can say on Twitter.

“You can’t do that. You can’t say that.”

Hold my Diet Coke. I am going to do this in front of you. I am going to give this nickname. I am going to insult this person.

And it all seems impossible. Until it works out.

The economy is blazing. North Korea is starting to go in the right direction. And if North Korea goes it will be the biggest signal of the Golden Age. It will be the biggest success in history that was a psychological problem that was solved by psychological means, short of war.

It feels like there’s something big happening.

People are breaking out of their mental prisons, things that used to hold us back.

The best example of that recently …  Yes we are going to the white board.

President Trump is not in a mental prison. He knows that history doesn’t repeat itself. Where did he get that. Same place I did. Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking.

Another mental prison – the problem has to be the solution.

With slavery, white people were the problem and white people were the solution.

Same with civil rights. White people are the problem and the solution.

But now you get to this “last mile fog,” where things are much better but could be better still, and people don’t agree what the problems are.

We are coming to the point where we are separating the problems from the solution.

And what I mean by that is you are sort of seeing the philosophy represented by Candace Owens.

And you can Google her if you’re not familiar with her. She is a conservative African-American woman who has become a very important voice, because she represents a point of view that you don’t see as much as you will in the future.

The conservative view ,which Candace holds,  is that society has done what it can do, meaning that white people have done what they can do to make the laws as close as possible, to enforce the laws, and the last mile, no matter who causes the problem – doesn’t matter whether white people are the cause or not the cause of the last-mile problem, they can’t fix it. They can do what they can do but they’re not really the solution.

So Candace’s realization is the problem and the solution are disconnected.

Only the people who have the problem can fix it. Not the people who did cause it you think they caused it. Even if they wanted to, which they probably do.

Candace says we’re in the Golden Age already, because the biggest problem is the way we think about the problem. If we think about it differently we can get to a better place.

What was the big news of the last week? Kanye West, who is famous for saying things like, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

For getting on stage with Taylor Swift and making the statement that Beyoncé  should have won and racism was probably part of the voting, somebody who has strong credentials for being an advocate for black people and against racism.

So Kanye probably has good credentials from that point of view, and what did he tweet? He tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” Seven words. And he ripped a hole in reality with seven words.

Because Kanye is supposed to be over here. And Candace is supposed to be over here. And they are never supposed to say the other one said something right. That’s not supposed to happen

But Kanye did it anyway. Kanye knows history doesn’t repeat. He is not a prisoner of the mind. He knows the problem is not the solution. Whatever you want to say about Kanye’s politics, and I don’t even know what his preferred politics would be, I’m not even sure what party he would run for if he ran for president at this point.

Whatever else you want to say about him, and I don’t know enough about his actual management skills or political ability, but he did something that you could rarely see. He actually just altered reality. He just made the entire conservative twittersphere go WRUMP.

What did I just see? Did I really see this?

Forget about if you think Candace has everything right or everything wrong. That’s not the story. The story is  that these two people that shouldn’t be in the same conversation, and Kanye just changed that, in seven words. And he just freed a lot of people from a mental prison. Kanye unlocked a mental prison, and is bringing you to the Golden Age.

But then, of course, there was this contribution to the public dialogue from Kanye.

A little background

The big difference between a white liberal and white conservative is the liberal has some sense of guilt.

The best thing ever for some white conservatives is when some black people say they have absolutely nothing to be guilty about.

(Maybe it’s Jewish thing, but I associate religion with guilt. Yet it seems for some, confessing sin and begging forgiveness is way better than feeling guilty about it.)

So, per Kanye, or at least the soundbite of Kanye, if slavery was a choice that slaves somehow accepted – who are white people to get all judgmental and say that black people made the wrong choice.

I am sure that a lot of people at the NRA annual meeting would have been pleased with the shorthand of what Kanye had to say.

Otherwise, they might have considered giving posthumous life memberships to John Brown and Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey who sought to use guns in the name of freedom..

Instead, here, in segments tweeted by NRA-TV, so you know they thought they were especially choice, are Trump superfans Diamond and Silk, dropping some really lame but crowd-pleasing lines of argument.


Kruse is a Princeton historian who is pretty active on Twitter.

In the meantime, Kanye and T.I. have put out Ye vs. the People (starring T.I. as the People), in which Kanye explains what he is up to with Trump and MAGA and is cross-examined by the rapper T.I., playing the part of the skeptical Kanye faithful.

It’s at a far higher level than Diamonds and Silk.

Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
I had for us
You turned my dreams into dust

KW: I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President

TI: Yeah, you can, at what cost though?
Don’t that go against the teachings that Ye taught for?

KW: Yo, Tip, I hear your side and everybody talk, though
But ain’t goin’ against the grain everything I fought for?

TI: Prolly so, Ye, but where you tryna go with this?
It’s some shit you just don’t align with and don’t go against

KW: You just readin’ the headlines, you don’t see the fine print
You on some choosin’side shit, I’m on some unified shit

TI: It’s bigger than your selfish agenda
If your election ain’t gon’ stop police from murderin’ niggas, then shit

KW: Bruh, I never ever stopped fightin’ for the people
Actually, wearin’ the hat’ll show people that we equal

TI: You gotta see the vantage point of the people
What makes you feel equal makes them feel evil

KW: See that’s the problem with this damn nation
All Blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain’t made it off the plantation

TI: Fuck who you choose as your political party
You representin’ dudes just seem crude and cold-hearted
With blatant disregard for the people who put you in position
Don’t you feel an obligation to them?

KW: I feel a obligation to show people new ideas
And if you wanna hear ’em, there go two right here
Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y’all simply questionin’ my methods

TI: What you willin’ to lose for the point to be proved?
This shit is stubborn, selfish, bullheaded, even for you
You wore a dusty-ass hat to represent the same views
As white supremacy, man, we expect better from you
All them times you sounded crazy, we defended you, homie
Not just to be let down when we depend on you, homie
That’s why it’s important to know what direction you’re goin’ now
‘Cause everything that you built can be destroyed and torn down

KW: You think I ain’t concerned about how I affect the past?
I mean, that hat stayed in my closet like ’bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, “Fuck it, I’ma do me”
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me
Not worried about some image that I gotta keep up
Lot of people agree with me, but they’re too scared to speak up

TI: The greater good of the people is first
Have you considered all the damage and the people you hurt?
You had a bad idea, and you’re makin’ it worse
This shit’s just as bad as Catholic preachers rapin’ in church

KW: Y’all been leadin’ with hate, see I just approach it different
Like a gang truce, the first Blood to shake the Crip’s hand
I know everybody emotional
Is it better if I rap about crack? Huh? ‘Cause it’s cultural?
Or how about I’ma shoot you, or fuck your bitch?
Or how about all this Gucci, ’cause I’m fuckin’ rich?

TI: You’ll deal with God for the lack of respect
Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that
What’s it mean to gain the world if you ain’t standin’ for shit?
Okay I gotta say it, Ye, you sound high as a bitch
Yeah, genocide and slavery, we should just try and forget
And all that free thought shit, find a better defense
But if Ye just stuck in his way, he can leave it at that
Fuck it

KW: Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

Returning to Kevin Kruse, the Princeton historian, here is an extensive thread: Since @kanyewest’s tweets have apparently made this topic unavoidable, some thoughts on the history of the parties’ switch on civil rights.

First, it’s important to note that, yes, the Democrats were indeed the party of slavery and, in the early 20th century, the party of segregation, too.

(There are some pundits who claim this is some secret they’ve uncovered, but it’s long been front & center in any US history.)

Indeed, as @rauchway once noted, one could argue that *the* central story of twentieth-century American political history is basically the evolution of the Democratic Party from the party of Jim Crow to the party of civil rights.

At the start of the 20th century, the Democrats — dominated by white southern conservatives — were clearly the party of segregationists.

President Woodrow Wilson, for instance, instituted segregation in Washington and across the federal government. (See @EricSYellin’s work.)

That said, both parties in this period had their share of racists in their ranks.

When the second KKK rose to power in the 1920s, it had a strong Democratic ties in some states; strong GOP ones elsewhere.

There’s a meme purporting to show the 1924 Democratic convention was known as the “Klanbake” but — wait a second, you should sit down for this — that internet meme is not in fact historically accurate.

See @pashulman & @CleverTitleTK for a breakdown:…
This, then, was a period when the two parties’ IDs were in flux.

Democrats still had a base of segregationists in the South, but increasingly some liberals in the North.

Republicans, liberal & even radical in Lincoln’s era, had more conservatives joining, often in the West.
With the New Deal, FDR brought new big-government liberalism to the Democrats, but found sharp resistance from southern Dems on two issues: unions and civil rights.

(Among dozens and dozens of great books on this, see Ira Katznelson’s Fear Itself:
‘Fear Itself,’ by Ira KatznelsonIra Katznelson examines how Franklin D. Roosevelt won approval for the New Deal, and at what cost.

Importantly, despite some small gestures, FDR’s brand of liberalism was purely focused on economic issues.

Though some in the administration (Eleanor Roosevelt, progressive Republican Harold Ickes, etc.) were racially liberal, the Democrats as a whole were not.

As Nancy Weiss Malkiel and others showed, African Americans began voting Democratic not because of the New Deal’s record on race, but in spite of it.

Blacks stayed loyal to “the party of Lincoln” in 1932, but shifted in massive numbers to FDR in 1936. (~76% of northern blacks)

Over the next two decades, Democrats had an uneasy coalition that combined white southern conservatives and African Americans in the north, plus a growing number of white liberals.

This tension came to a head in the 1948 election, under the leadership of President Harry Truman.
Outraged at reports of black WWII vets being assaulted, Truman launched a presidential commission on civil rights in 1946-7.

Then — to the nation’s shock — he pressed hard for all its recommendations, including protecting black voting rights and desegregating the military.

Liberal Democrats rallied around Truman’s call, with then-Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey urging the 1948 DNC “to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After Humphrey’s speech, the convention adopted a strong civil rights plank.

It was a turning point for the party, the first major fight on civil rights in which northern liberals beat back southern conservatives and took control of the party on race relations.

Famously, of course, Southern Democrats bolted the party in anger, forming the States Rights Democratic Party — “the Dixiecrats” — under the leadership of avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond.

Thurmond and the Dixiecrats took four Deep South states (notably, all places where local allies kicked Truman off the ballot) but Truman still won re-election that fall.

The Dixiecrats came back into the coalition, but increasingly saw that they were on the losing end of things.

The Democratic Party was still the only party in the South, where the Republicans — “the party of Lincoln” — were still reviled and, as a result, virtually non-existent.

In his classic 1949 study, the famous political scientist V.O. Key judged that the Republican Party in the South “scarcely deserves the name of party. It wavers somewhat between an esoteric cult on the order of a lodge and a conspiracy for plunder.”

In fact, Republicans were so rare in the South that in the 1950s they told a story in East Texas about a sheriff who threw out the only two votes for a Republican candidate on the assumption that the candidate himself must have voted twice.

Both parties vied for the southern white vote during the 1950s, and thus took a fairly hands-off approach to civil rights.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, his Dem opponent in 1952 & 1956, both tried to duck the issue whenever possible. As president, Ike sympathized with southern whites.

After Brown v. Board, he said appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren had been “the biggest damfool mistake I ever made.” He refused to urge compliance with Brown, allowing southern Democrats to wage “massive resistance” to it.

Eisenhower reluctantly intervened in Little Rock, but only belatedly, when Democratic Governor Orval Faubus’s defiance of the Supreme Court — and, by extension, Eisenhower’s own authority — got dangerously out of hand.

JFK was a lot like Ike on civil rights. He made symbolic efforts in the 1960 campaign, calling Coretta Scott King when MLK was in jail and winning key black votes in the North.

But until the Birmingham protests in 1963 he was generally reluctant to act, just as Ike had been.
In June 1963, after the Kennedy administration secured the desegregation of the University of Alabama — over the objections of Democratic Gov. George Wallace — JFK issued this stirring call for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act.

When JFK was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t simply continue to push for the Civil Rights Act, but went further, making it even stronger than originally planned.

He signed it into law in July 1964 with Martin Luther King at his side:

Now, Republicans were pivotal in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It *was* a Democratic admin’s bill, but Southern Dems in the Senate blocked it at every turn, so Democratic leaders reached out to Minority Leader Everett Dirksen to get GOP votes to help pass it.

Despite that GOP support for the Civil Rights Act, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, voted against it.

Personally, Goldwater wasn’t a bigot. He opposed not integration itself, but federal intervention to achieve it.
For most Southern whites, however, the nuances of Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he stood against it, while LBJ stood for it.

Goldwater carried four Deep South states that fall, with segregationists rallying to the GOP.
Notably, Senator Strom Thurmond — the original Dixiecrat — bolted from the Democratic Party to join the ranks of the Republicans.

Importantly, he secured a rare deal with the GOP whereby he’d keep his seniority, and all the congressional power that came with it.

The Goldwater/Thurmond moment was transformative in how Americans understood the two parties on civil rights.

Until 1964, it seemed clear that Democrats were the party of economic liberalism and the GOP economic conservatism, but civil rights had been left out of the picture.

Indeed, as @edsall has noted, as late as 1962, polls asking which political party was “more likely to see to it that Negroes get fair treatment in jobs and housing” showed that Americans saw virtually no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

But in 1964, when asked the same question, 60% said Democrats were more in favor of fair jobs and housing for blacks; just 7% said Republicans.

Asked which party was more likely to support school integration in 1964, 56% pointed to Democrats while 7% did so for the Republicans. There was a stark change in popular perception about the two parties on civil rights.

But, that said, there was *not* an immediate, massive change in party affiliations for elected officials in Washington. The “realignment” that scholars write about didn’t happen overnight.
Strom Thurmond’s deal — in which he kept his seniority and thus, in the era of strong committee chairs, his real power — proved to be a one-off.

Most of the other old Dixiecrats in Congress didn’t switch parties themselves, but oversaw a transition for the next generation.

Take former Senate Maj. Leader Trent Lott. He served as an aide to Rep. William Colmer (D-MS), head of the House Rules Committee.

When Colmer retired in 1972, he handpicked Lott to fill the seat — but told him to run as a Republican. He did & won.

Returning to Kruse’s thread:

Or consider Jesse Helms. He’d grown up a southern Dem, getting his first taste of politics helping Democrat Willis Smith run a race-baiting campaign for a NC senate seat in 1950 (see the ad below).


When Helms ran on his own in 1972, though, like Lott, he ran as a Republican.

Ah yes, Jesse Helms.

From Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post, on September 14, 2013.

Ted Cruz: ‘We Need 100 More Like Jesse Helms’ In The Senate

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that the country would be better off if the Senate was full of people like Jesse Helms, the late senator who was ardently opposed to all kinds of civil rights measures and even tried to block the Senate from approving a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

During remarks at a Heritage Foundation event dubbed the “Jesse Helms Lecture Series,” Cruz told a story of Helms receiving a $5,000 political donation from actor John Wayne, who apparently later told Helms he liked him because “you’re that guy saying all those crazy things” and that there needed to be 100 more of him.

“It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

Helms, the conservative North Carolina Republican who served in the Senate for 30 years, was known for his efforts to stop progressive polices relating to gay rights, abortion and race. He opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he referred to as “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.” When the Senate acted in 1983 to create a federal holiday honoring King, Helms staged a 16-day filibuster to try to block it. He ultimately caved in exchange for action on a tobacco bill.

In 1988, Helms opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill, stating that there “is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

Helms passed away in 2008.

Cruz said the first political donation he ever made was to Helms — $10 — and praised the late senator for his outspokenness. If Helms were alive, Cruz said, he would be taking a more aggressive stance against “radical Islamist terrorism” than President Barack Obama has been taking.

“If Jesse Helms were still with us, he would not shy away from this fight,” Cruz said.

Cruz spoke at the NRA meeting after Pence and Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

The tone of the NRA meeting was angry and defiant, at once crowing about how gun owners have never enjoyed as many rights and privileges as they have today, thanks to the NRA, but also haranguing that gun rights have never been more imperiled and under siege.

In his column, Ken Herman, who I went to Dallas with, wrote:

The part I don’t get about gun culture is the part that says I should have one to defend myself against my government. I feel no such need.

Well, that’s easy for Ken to say.

He probably knew all along that the (Alex Jones fueled) conspiracy theory back in 2015 about the Jade Helm military exercises being a prelude to the Obama administration declaring martial law in Texas was really early evidence of beta testing by the Russians of a disinformation campaign in the United States.

But, the NRA, it seems is always on Jade Helm alert.

From Ken’s column:

dStrategically placed throughout the convention center are big (really, really big) banners featuring the meeting’s slogan — “A Show of Strength” — and a challenging, menacing, come-and-take-it oversized visage of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

His welcome message in the program reminds NRA members, “Forces from the extreme left in the political class to anti-Second Amendment extremists in the academic community to the ever more aggressive, deceitful national media have joined together in a massive conspiracy to seize control of the U.S. House and Senate in the next election.”

The goal of that cabal, he says, is nothing less than “to pervert our great nation into their European-style socialist utopia.”

It made we wonder about staunch defenders of the Second Amendment who might not necessarily buy into the whole LaPierre agenda – there must more than a few of them – which seems to go well beyond defending the Second Amendment.

If not as stern of visage as LaPierre, Cruz was also combative in his remarks:

We understand the Second Amendment right is not about hunting,” Sen. Cruz said. “It’s not about target shooting. The Second Amendment is about the fundamental, God-given right each and every one of us has to defend our lives, to defend our homes, to defend our children, to defend our family, and when the Second Amendment says ‘shall not be infringed’ it means exactly that: shall not be infringed. That’s what the men and women here are standing up and defending.


In 1776, 56 patriots affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. Signed their lives, fortunes and sacred honors. When they made that commitment those were not empty words. Those were the words that launched a revolution, the greatest experiment in freedom that the world has ever known. Today, in this gathering, we are once again in the presence of patriots. From the minutemen at Lexington and Concord to civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Americans have long understood that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental for preserving our liberty. And the men and women here are committed to standing up for freedom..

Suffice it to say that Jesse Helms would not have thought to recruit Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both of whom were assassinated with guns, nto the campaign against gun regulation. Nor, I suspect, would Jesse Helms have welcomed Kanye West to a national Republican ticket, as I’m sure Cruz, when the time comes, will.

Fourteen years ago, I covered Kanye West at a hip-hop political summit at Ohio State University.

Forty years after Freedom Summer and the murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi, there is a nascent effort to rouse a new generation to activism by transforming hip-hop from a cultural force into a political movement – to bring bling bling to the ballot box.

It was evident in early June at the celebrity-driven Hip-Hop Summit at Ohio State University, credited with adding some 10,000 new voters to the rolls. And it will be in further evidence beginning Wednesday at the three-day National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, N.J., an issues-driven, grass-roots affair (delegates were required to register 50 new voters to be credentialed) that will try to define just what a hip-hop politics would look like.

“There’s a phrase in hip-hop _ `show and prove,”’ said James Bernard, 39, a pioneering figure in hip-hop journalism who is now devoted to political organizing. The field director for the Newark convention, Bernard has raised $1.4 million for the Hip-Hop Civic Engagement Project, a registration and get-out-the-vote drive that he will direct in 14 key states. “I think we are about to show and prove.”

Freedom Summer flowered amid one of the most fertile periods of social change in American history. Black voting rights were secured, and the voting age was lowered to 18. But in 2000, nearly two-thirds of blacks ages 18 to 24 did not vote, and the turnout among young whites was hardly any better (especially considering how many young black males cannot vote because they are in prison or, once out, in states that deny ex-felons the vote).

Some rappers, like Kanye West, 26, who headlined the Ohio State summit, are pointedly mindful of both the legacy and burden of history for a generation more used to commemorating the black freedom struggle than advancing it.

West’s father was a Black Panther. His mother is a professor of English at Chicago State University who, as he raps in “Never Let Me Down,” was taken by her grandfather to a sit-in where “at the tender of six she was arrested.”

“With that in my blood I was born to be different,” he continues. “Now n—-s can’t make it to ballots to choose leadership, but we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership.” (Jacob is the jeweler designing West’s line of diamond-studded Jesus pendants.)


In his own conversation with reporters at the summit, Damon Dash, co-chair of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records, the major label whose artists include West, admitted that political rap does not sell and that rappers have to slip wisdom into more commercial work.

“Sometimes it’s not in our best interests to let people know how smart we are,” Dash said.

“That says it all,” observed Mark McPhail, a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he is conducting a course on Freedom Summer on the very campus where civil rights volunteers were trained before being dispatched to Mississippi.

So, it appeared Kanye was using 400 years of slavery to sell an album by selling out his people.

As T.I., as the people, put it:

Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that

But, as West replies, Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man.
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

So maybe he is just getting the conversation going, per Scott Adams, to liberate some minds and usher in the Golden Age, though I suspect is has more to do with his own Golden Age.

For better or worse, it is world-class branding, something that Trump understands and at which Trump, like Kanye excels.

Think of the ratings potential.

A Trump-West inaugural in 2021 might actually draw the biggest crowd ever.

They are a perfect match.

Bye bye Pence.

P.S.  From PAULA ROGO at Essence:
It appears that President Donald Trump is prepared to start a national discussion on race — and he wants Colin Kaepernick and Kanye West involved.

Cleveland-based pastor Darrell Scott, who is an outside adviser to the president, told PEOPLE that the president had signed off on a series of meetings on race that will include athletes and artists.

“He is 100 percent for it,” says Scott, who said he had spoken with Trump. “He was very enthusiastic about it.”

He added: “It’s not going to be a black-only event. It will be a melting pot.”

Scott also confirmed that Kanye, who has shared his admiration for Trump, has been invited. Though the idea of the summits has been in play for a while, Kanye’s recent controversial tweets may have sped up the process, Scott says.

Kaepernick, who Trump once vilified for his position to kneel during the national anthem, has also been asked to attend. 

“Maybe he should find a country that works better for him,” Trump said of Kaepernick last year, adding that players who kneel for the anthem should be fired.

According to Scott, who will be apart of the organizing team, invitations will also be extended to Jim Brown, Evander Holyfield, Herschel Walker and Mike Tyson. 

Trump also plans to be in attendance, a move that Scott says will help people understand the president better.

“I want them to see and know the Donald Trump I know and they will say, ‘This guy isn’t who I’ve been lead to believe he is.