Monday, July 09, 2007



Fighting Dem Rick Noriega in Afghanistan

Although Utah, Idaho and Wyoming are the only states where Bush still has a positive approval rating, it is Texas that has become the center of gravity for the modern Republican Party. Until the Democratic deluge last November, not only was the White House a Texas outpost, but so was the House of Representatives, with 32 Congressional seats (21 of them Republican and 6 of the Democrats-- Solomon Ortiz, Henry Cuellar, Chet Edwards, Silvestre Reyes, Ruben Hinojosa and Gene Green-- dependable votes for the GOP agenda. But a report in this morning's Wall Street Journal claims trends-- and boneheaded political missteps-- indicate that Texas may be slipping out of the grasp of the GOP.

With the state legislature and the senate seat of mediocre rubber stamp backbencher John Cornyn up for grabs next year, this would be a bad year for the Texas Republican Party to implode-- bad unless you want an end to the Iraq occupation and bad unless you think government can play a positive role in making the lives of ordinary people better and bad unless you oppose gratuitous bigotry and feel certain that whatever you hear on Hate Talk Radio is the gopsel.

As Bush's job approval ratings have steadily and precipitously plummeted, the fortunes of Crawford, Texas' trinket economy has gone into the toilet. Now it looks like the Texas Republican Party is following Crawford down the drain. If last year's local elections in Dallas were any indication, Republicans have seen their glory days already. "Democrats ended decades of GOP dominance last fall by winning the county judge's seat, the district attorney's office and 41 out of 42 contested judicial races--election results the Dallas Morning News dubbed a 'Democratic deluge.'" The Texas Republicans also lost two congressional seats, the one previously held by Tom DeLay and another previously held by Henry Bonilla, two examples of extremist politics and extreme corruption.

Although the Republicans firmly control the state legislature and the Democratic Party hasn't won a statewide race since 1994, there are indications that a change may be imminent. The pure hatred and bigotry spewed out by the GOP during the immigration debate means a lot more in Texas than in many parts of the country. In fact, it means as much in Texas as it does in California, where the GOP is barely competitive after a similar xenophobic outburst under Republican Governor Pete Wilson in the 90s.
In June several national polls found younger voters are turning away from the GOP. One of them, conducted by CBS News, the New York Times and MTV, found that 54% of 17- to 29-year-olds would vote for a Democratic candidate for president, while only 32% would vote Republican.

Many Republicans would like to believe that they are only experiencing a temporary downdraft caused by the unpopularity of the Iraq war and President Bush-- conventional wisdom that seems to forget that Mr. Bush's success in gubernatorial and presidential elections is a large reason why the GOP completed its domination of state politics. It was only in 2002 that the party won control of the Legislature.

Not everyone, however, is buying this assessment. Royal Masset, a political consultant and longtime political director for the Republican Party of Texas-- who played a key role in organizing the grassroots support that took the GOP from marginality to an overwhelming majority--has been predicting a reversal for years.

"There's a certain inevitability in demographics," he told me. "We knew that if we could win 40% of the Hispanic vote," as Mr. Bush did in 2004, "we'd control Texas until 2030." But in 2006, the number of Texas Hispanics who voted Republican fell to between 30% and 35% (depending on the poll).

This shift alone spells trouble for Republicans. Many conservatives may not want to hear it, but Mr. Masset puts the blame on talk radio and cable TV reaction to immigration reform. He says an uncompromising attitude toward comprehensive reform and appeals to fear sometimes carry a whiff of racism that alienates Hispanics. "Houston is no more than six years behind Dallas," he warns.

And if the demographic shift continues to gain momentum, there's a real possibility that Democrats could achieve a majority in the Texas House by 2010. In 2003, Tom DeLay helped redraw the state's congressional districts to give Republicans six new seats in Congress. In just a few years, Democrats could turn the tables. Mr. Masset sums it up this way: "This thing with the Latino vote is deadly serious."

Old white folks in the suburbs still favor the Republicans. But Hispanics and young people-- more demographically compelling-- have turned away from the Republicans in droves and are ready to support a Democrat. John Cornyn's voting record has been one of the most outstanding examples of mindless rubber stamp extremism in the entire Senate. His shameful role in the Iraq catastrophe is undeniable. Of the 25 votes that were taken on Iraq since he was elected he differed with Bush and Cheney on exactly one, S 762, a bill supported by a bipartisan coalition to provide food assistance to starving Iraqis in 2003. (Only 26 Republicans voted against it.) Other than that one bill, Cornyn has been an unquestioning supporter of the Bush Cheney agenda, an agenda that most voters in Texas no longer support. If the Democrats run a high quality candidate, like Rick Noriega it is very possible that Texas will join New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico as the battleground states that will determine if the Republicans will be able to continue thwarting the will of the voters through nonstop obstructionism in the Senate.

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At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the attention, Howie. I have felt for the last three years that Texas was trending back to the left. I speak to more and more people who are fed up with Republicans. I began noticing in '05 that there were fewer and fewer Bush stickers and "support the troops" magnets on cars around town. I live in Arlington, by the way.

Cornyn and Hutchison are both an embarressment. Hutchison just parrots the party line no matter what it is and Cornyn has proven himself to be a reactionary bigot who hates brown people and threatens judges. We haven't forgotten that here.

There's apparenty something happening in the state house that could be the icing on the cake. I don't know all the details but it has something to do with the Speaker behaving like a dictator and possible breaking the law in process. Not to mention people (kids) dying in our correctional facilities.

Texas is a mess right know and the Republican party is to blame. I just hope my fellow Texans wake up from their slumber soon but be prepared if they do. Texans don't like being used and I have a felling it could get really ugly down here.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Deece said...

Great post, Howie. A Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Texas faces an uphill stuggle -- which will be affected by who's at the top of the ticket, of course -- but John Cornyn's low approval ratings are not accidental. He's got nothing to say on health care, making middle-class ends meet, or protecting the environment. Instead, he's wasted his time and the taxpayers' money on wedge issues like flag-burning and gay marriage. On the few substantive issues where he gets involved, he's on the wrong side: the war and immigration. He's been a huge disappointment to every Texas except, I suppose, Bush and Rove.

At 11:39 AM, Blogger TSop said...

Texas Democrats looking to unseat Cornyn should never let him forget Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff. When Cornyn was the AG of Texas, the Lobbyist and the Preacher wanted Cornyn to do their bidding against the Native Americans and he gladly obliged.


In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church in Houston, would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston. He said Young would back up the request in writing. "We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso (where the Tigua casino was) and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston."

I know Texans pride themselves on being independent thinkers and don't take kindly to being "choreographed."

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Matt Glazer said...

Thanks for the Texas sized attention. The progressive blog-o-sphere has joined up to talk about all the candidates poised to defeat Cornyn at a brand new website, "".

We are watching Cornyn like a hawk, getting the latest candidate news out there and soon we will be running polls.

Come check us out!


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