Tuesday, November 20, 2018

#TXLEGE: Campbrell and Watson outline the 86th


"A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
But a faithful ambassador brings health."
Proverbs 13:17

We attended this afternoon's Trib event with Donna Campbell and Kirk Watson.

The TL,DR version is that untying the school finance/property tax knot is going to be the primary focus this next session.

Watson correctly pointed out that state formulas have pushed education funding down the local level in recent years, while Campbell correctly pointed out that any increase in state funding needs to be tied to performance metrics.

The recent election and health care were also discussed.



Highlights:

  • Bonnen's a St. Ed's alum.
  • Watson cites school finance and infrastructure as longstanding challenges.
    • Public wants "better priorities."
    • Note: Kirk Watson isn't wrong that these are longstanding challenges the public wants addressed, but Kirk Watson's preferred solution (pouring more money into the status quo) won't fix them,
  • Watson: More "early childhood translation education in traditional public schools."
    • Cynical interpretation: Brainwashing them younger and younger
    • Non-cyncial interpretation: Misguided idea that history has shown to be ineffective at promoting lasting academic gains.
  • Campbell: "Depends what we're going to do with it" re: More state-level education funding.
    • Have a conversation about "funding good performance."
  • 30 minutes in before Evan brings up rollback.
Bottom Line: School finance needs to be dealt with eventually.  Now is as good a time as any.  It'll be interesting to see how conservatives approach what is shaping up to be a "must pass" bill....

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rick Perry does what Rick Perry does


"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?
Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil."
Jeremiah 13:23

San Antonio Express News over the weekend:
AUSTIN — U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry left the Texas governor’s mansion four years ago. But he is still tapping his Texas campaign account to fly wife Anita Perry around the globe for nuclear talks and to speak at international energy meetings, records show.

In Paris last year, Anita Perry spoke at a women in energy event. She also appeared alongside her husband in South Africa on a panel about natural gas, social media accounts show.

Most recently, the campaign paid $17,000 to fly Anita Perry to and from London last March for Saudi nuclear meetings, finance reports show. It’s not clear what role Anita Perry — a nurse — played at the closed-door talks, though campaign finance reports said she went for government related activities.

....

Rick Perry is one of several Trump cabinet members who have come under fire for racking up expensive bills on chartered jets and first-class flights.

When Anita Perry has accompanied her husband on international trips, the Department of Energy says taxpayers aren’t paying the bill. State campaign finance records show that Texans for Rick Perry — the campaign account that bankrolled the Republican’s runs for governor — has picked up the tab for at least $60,000 worth of her flight costs.

....

During 2017, the campaign paid roughly $50,000 to cover her travel to Vienna, Cape Town, Rome and Paris for events including Africa Oil Week, a G7 meeting and an International Atomic Energy Agency conference, records show.

Anita Perry traveled to Rome in April 2017 for a G7 energy ministers meeting as part of the official U.S. delegation. There, she spoke at a side event called “Africa 2030: Empowering the continent through innovation, green tech solutions and capacity building,” according to Politico.

In Paris last year, Anita Perry delivered a speech at a Women in Clean Energy event, where she was listed on the program as the former first lady of Texas and a “health, women and economic development advocate.”

Anita Perry flew to Cape Town in October 2017 as part of the department’s official delegation to Africa Oil Week, according to trade publication E&E News. Rick Perry’s campaign account reimbursed the U.S. Department of Energy for the cost of her flights, campaign finance reports said.

....

Texas candidates who leave office with leftover campaign money can give it away to charity and political campaigns or use the money to cover officeholder expenses. In past opinions, the Texas Ethics Commission has said the money can cover those costs when a candidate moves to federal office. Spending on a spouse is OK, so long as it’s in connection with the officeholder’s duties, the commission has said.
Of course, this should surprise precisely nobody who has observed Rick Perry over the years.

But it's still funny.

Bottom Line: Don't ever change Rick Perry....

Sunday, November 18, 2018

#DKR500, #HookEm: A Senior Night to Remember


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Confession: It was the first time we've ever cried on Senior night.

Kris Boyd, Charles Omenihu, Davante Davis, P.J. Locke, Jerrod Heard, Patrick Vahe and, of course, Breckyn Hegar (in pigtails, no less!).

We've always had a soft spot for Charlie Strong's 2015 recruiting class. That was the year talent began to return to the forty acres after the drop-off in the late Mack Brown years. It's had to believe they've played their last home game at DKR.

As for the game itself, it was the most dominant performance the Longhorns have turned in all season.  Following Oklahoma State's upset over West Virginia, Texas controlled its own fate.  They responded accordingly.

Sam Ehlinger continues to play like a monster.  He passed for one touchdown and ran for another.  His early game rhythm with Colin Johnson was a sight to behold.  Unfortunately, he sat out the second half due to injury.

But Shane Buchele didn't miss a beat.  He literally didn't have an incomplete pass the entire night.  Where Sam connected with Colin, Shane connected with Lil'Jordan Humphrey (including for one touchdown and several other impressive plays).

Speaking of Lil'Jordan, that guy's a superstar.  He needs to come back for senior year.  Right now, he's probably a mid-round draft pick, but a monster senior season would catapult him into the first or second round.  He should learn from Malik's mistake, wait a year, and make real money.

Tre Watson and Keontay Ingram deserve credit.  They've become a phenomenal duo.  Having a pair of backs who can bust 25 yards on any given play does wonders for your passing game.

Also, Breckyn totally had a sack in the second quarter.

Beyond the game was the atmosphere at DKR.  Electric doesn't cover it.  Unreal might be the place to start.

During the fourth quarter, they played "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  Beginning with the student section, everybody used the flashlights on their phones to light up DKR.  Unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying the moment to capture video.  To understand what it was like, check out this author's twitter feed and watch any video we retweeted with the phrase "chills."

Bottom Line: This season has had its ups and downs.  But it's had a lot more ups, and a lot fewer downs, than any recent season.  With one game to go, we're masters of our own fate.  And it feels good.

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Westlake High's Finest: Breckyn and Sam embrace
 following their final home game as teammates.



























Saturday, November 17, 2018

Early Season Promise


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Yeah, we get it. You're supposed to blow out the Citadel in an early season non-conference home game. Well, guess what?!? These are exactly the type of games that have given the Longhorns fits in recent years.

Last night's blowout win came from a level of team play we haven't seen in ages.  In addition, there's a level of depth that allows the team to compete regardless of who's on the floor.  There's a world of difference between a seven man rotation and a ten man rotation.

The biggest change is that there now appears to be a legit inside presence on offense.  In addition to last season's breakout star Dylan Osetkowski, Jerico Sims and freshman Jaxon Hayes are stepping up.  And having a real inside game frees things up at the perimeter.

Speaking of the perimeter: What a night for Snoop Roach.  In addition to scoring his 1000th point in Burnt Orange, his second half dunk was the final momentum shift in the Longhorns favor.  Could be on his way to a monster senior season.

Elsewhere in the backcourt, sophomore Matt Coleman continued his solid play from last season.  Sophomore Jase Febres' scoring ability continues to improve.  That being said, Junior transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long (#55) might be this season's breakout star.

Obviously, Shaka Smart's tenure has been inconsistent (at best).  Still, his recruits are now sophomores and juniors.  The team chemistry that emerged down the stretch last season appears to have grown.  It'll be interesting to see where Shaka can take it.

Bottom Line:  You still need to play the games.  But there are no obvious red flags.  That's more than we can say about other recent seasons.



Snoop Roach's dunk up-close 


Dylan Osetkowski dunk


Friday, November 16, 2018

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Appeals Court Buys Time on "Sick Leave" Entitlements


"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?"
Matthew 20:15

From TPPF:
AUSTIN—Today, the Texas Third District Court of Appeals rendered its judgment in the paid sick leave case brought against the City of Austin by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 
The judgment holds that the City’s paid sick leave ordinance violates the Texas Constitution because it is preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act and orders a temporary injunction to be put into effect immediately by the lower court. 
“Today’s ruling by the Texas Third Court of Appeals is cause for celebration,” said TPPF’s General Counsel Rob Henneke. “The ruling is an unequivocal win for our clients, whose rights were violated by the City’s ordinance. With today’s ruling, the case is remanded to the district court, who is ordered to enter a temporary injunction preventing the ordinance from becoming effective.”
This is a positive step.  That being said, we shouldn't kid ourselves.  Last week's election has made this lawsuit's path significantly more challenging.

Still, today's ruling buys time for either the legislature or SCOTX to act.

Bottom Line: We're not out of the woods yet, but today's ruling is a significant step in the right direction.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"More Sarah Davis" is NOT the solution for Texas Republicans


"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
2 Timothy 3:5

The Resurgent has a piece this morning about the GOP's national challenges this past election revealed.  We agree with a lot of what the author had to say.  But it gets bizarre when the author turns to Texas:
Let’s look at a few success stories of moderate Republicans surviving in blue country.

1) Sarah Davis, a Texas state representative in Houston’s inner suburbs, survived 2018 even as the Republican Congressman went down to defeat:
Meanwhile, Culberson’s most problematic precincts relative to 2016 also fell inside House District 134, where Republican state Rep. Sarah Davis staved off Harris County’s blue wave to win re-election by almost seven points.
While Davis was winning by seven, Culberson lost by 5. She did that with a record of good governance while chairing the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services as well as the General Investigating & Ethics Committee.

Notably, Davis doesn’t thrill many GOP activists, including as she:
was on this year’s list of Texas Monthly’s best legislators (not for any partisan or ideological reason, but because she was an effective lawmaker). Davis has called herself a “rational Republican,” and if you look at Rice University political scientist Mark Jones’ Texas House liberal/conservative ranking, you’ll find that there is no Democrat to the right of Davis and no Republican to her left. She is the very definition of purple in the Texas House. [emphasis added in original]
She’s clearly no Trump Republican. Governor Greg Abbott helped lead an effort defeat her in her primary, including because of her Investigations & Ethics work. He failed.

​What’s more notable perhaps in her win amidst a tide of suburban blue was her platform:
“I have been a leading champion in the Texas House for women’s health, including providing more funding for cancer screening and preventive care,” said Davis. “I passed bills to make government more transparent and accountable to taxpayers, and supported a balanced budget that improves our roads and schools, invested a record amount in border security, and set aside $11 billion in the state’s ‘Rainy Day Fund’ in the event of a fiscal emergency.”
Notably not on the agenda: immigration, tax cuts, culture war issues, or even a hint of Trumpiness.

Not only did it work electorally, Davis survived in a district that the Houston Chronicle noted in its endorsement of her:
[she] fits well with her wealthy, highly educated constituents, who have a habit of voting for candidates instead of parties. In 2012 the district went for Mitt Romney by 15 points. In 2016 Hillary Clinton won by 15 points — and Davis did about as well.
Davis might not be at the critical mass of the Republican party under Trump, but she’s exactly the kind of suburban Republican the party needs nationally to retain a governing majority in Congress.
Moreover, there’s something to be said for running on a platform that appeals broadly to your constituents, not just the base…let alone a Trumpy one.
Yeah, not so much.

First things first: It's cute to hear Sarah Davis of all people bragging about protecting the Rainy Day Fund when she led the charge to raid it last session.

It's absolutely true that Republicans have to do a better job talking about immigration.  It's also true that, while they should oppose excesses of PC/woke culture, Texas Republicans have fallen into an intellectually lazy rut over culture war issues.  But Sarah Davis is the answer for neither of those issues.

Sarah Davis claims to be "fiscally conservative/socially moderate."  But she's not.  Property taxes are a gigantic issue in Harris County.   And Sarah Davis has never lifted a finger to address them.

Technically, Sarah Davis has filed a few CYA bills related to property taxes.  But those bills never go anywhere (because of the leadership Sarah Davis has supported).  We didn't even know Davis had filed those bills until we checked while writing this blog post.

Beyond property taxes, Sarah Davis consistently supports:
Sarah Davis is a GIGANTIC phony; gigantic phonies are no foundations upon which to build a movement.

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The only reason Davis won as comfortably as she did was because Abbott botched the primary as badly as he did.

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Bottom Line: There are definitely things that need to be done differently in suburban areas; turning a blind eye to property taxes while promoting more government involvement in health care are not those things....

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

#TXLEGE: Patrick, Bonnen, start off with Kumbaya


"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,"
2 Corinthians 5:18

OK, THIS is different:



Wow; you certainly never had Joe Straus and Dan Patrick issuing these sorts of statements heading into a session.

Bottom Line: It's still going to be a long, challenging, session. But at least it looks like Dennis Bonnen is prepared to negotiate in good faith with Dan Patrick. That's more than we can say about Dennis Bonnen's predecessor.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

#TXLEGE: School Finance Reform and Economic Growth


"Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

Obviously, school finance is going to be a MAJOR topic next session.  It's been a major problem for a long time, and now is as good a time as any to address it.  This can be either a good thing or a VERY bad thing.  Devil's in the details.

Yesteday, TPPF released a paper about the relationship between the school finance system and statewide economic growth.

TL,DR version: Texas' inefficient school finance system is a drag on economic growth.  This is primarily due to overreliance on local property taxes.  Getting school taxes under control will lead to more jobs and a lower cost of living.

Specifically, TPPF examined two scenario where new funding sources were used to buy down school district taxes.  In the first scenario analyzed doing so through spending restraint at the state level.  This is the school district tax proposal TPPF released earlier this year.

Both scenarios increased economic growth, while producing other good outcomes.  Keep in mind, these numbers are compounding.  Small annual changes build upon each other, which produce big changes over time.  Specifically:



Bottom Line:  There are better ways to do school finance, and they could lead to significantly greater economic growth....

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Monday, November 12, 2018

#TXLEGE: So it's Bonnen....


"Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old."
Isaiah 43:18

This afternoon, Dennis Bonnen announced he has the votes to be the next speaker:



It's tough to know what to make of this (besides, obviously, the fact that there's NOTHING anyone can do about it).

On the one hand, Bonnen was the least bad person with a realistic chance.  He's on the record supporting the Governor's property tax plan.  He's known at the Capitol for having a good relationship with the Governor.  As Empower Texas points out, someone with an inconsistent record might be better than someone who's consistently bad.

On the other hand, he's Dennis Bonnen.

One interesting tidbit: Neither Donna Howard nor Celia Israel were on Bonnen's list.  Neither were any of the Hays/Travis/WillCo D's who flipped seats last Tuesday.  That might create an interesting dynamic on local bills.  (Note: Eddie Rodriguez and Sheryl Cole were on Bonnen's list.)

Bottom Line: Regardless of the speaker's identity, this is going to be a very challenging session....

Saturday, November 10, 2018

About Ted Cruz's act of Political MALPRACTICE


"If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."
1 Corinthians 3:15

Yesterday, we said that Ted Cruz's failures this cycle "deserve their own blog post;" consider this that.

Cruz's campaign was godawful.  While there were structural national/presidential factors that would have made this race closer than what Texans have grown used to, Cruz's unforced errors made those problems infinitely worse.  Or, at least, 2.5% worse.

Where to begin?!?

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Presidential Campaign Baggage:

Let's start with the biggie: Lots of people, including lots of Texas voters, first paid attention to Cruz during the presidential campaign.

They did not like what they saw.

Cruz's primary problem, before any others, is that he's been all over the map on Trump: First he was for him.  Then he was against him.  Then he dissed him at the convention.  Then he caved on the convention diss.  Then he spent the past two years getting as close to Trump as possible.

That doesn't look good.

Those decisions made sense at the time.  But they've combined to create a bad impression (especially among those who don't follow politics closely).  That's reality.

If you're a member of the original #CruzCrew, you have to understand most of the public never met the Ted Cruz you got to know in 2012.  In all likelihood, they've never met Ted.  If you've known the junior U.S. Senator from Texas long enough that you call him by his first name, you're not a typical voter.

And the whole convention diss/cave has proven disastrous.  If you're going to do something like that, stick with it.  If you're not going to stick with it, don't do it in the first place.

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Bad non-verbal communication:

This is another one that people who interact with Ted Cruz personally have trouble grasping: He doesn't come across well on TV or in a large group setting.

A lot of the time, Ted Cruz is physically tense.  HE'S LITERALLY A STIFF.  It's just part of who he is, but it's a big problem.

It's why he gives so many people (who've never met him) the heebie-jeebies.

Against a candidate like O'Rourke who, whatever his other flaws, is clearly comfortable in his own skin, this was almost fatal.

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An arrogant, insular, campaign:

Who gets into a two week argument with your strongest supporters over yard signs?!?

The 2018 Ted Cruz re-election campaign, that's who!!!

It would be impossible to list the number of complaints we've heard from core, longstanding, supporters over the past year.  These are the people who will bring voters to the polls on your behalf on their own time and dime.  Ted Cruz has plenty of them in Texas.

And the Cruz campaign forced them to waste time arguing with them.

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Failure to effectively define O'Rourke:

The Cruz campaign defined O'Rourke as an "open borders socialist."  That's not wrong.  But to the average person, it's a bunch of buzzwords.

Furthermore, those type of buzzwords only strengthened O'Rourke's connection with his own supporters.

During this campaign, we pointed out over and over and over again that O'Rourke has been nothing more than a typical Texas politician throughout his career.

Had the Cruz campaign pushed this narrative, it could have shattered the idea that O'Rourke was anything "fresh" or "new" or "post-partisan."

While Cruz's campaign did use the El Paso eminent domain story, it did so with a fraction of the effectiveness that could have been.  Imagine the wedge issue this could have been with O'Rourke's younger supporters.  O'Rourke literally used the power of government to take the houses of poor/middle income Hispanics to give to his rich Daddy-in-law.

Speaking of O'Rourke's daddy-in-law, how come we only found out that guy's worth $20 BILLION from Glenn Beck less than a week before election day?!?

It was the worst failure at defining your opponent since McCain and Obama.

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Borris FRIGGIN' Miles:

Obviously, this one's a personal pet peeve; it combines the insularity of the campaign with their failure to effectively define O'Rourke.

On September 24, this website discovered that O'Rourke had recently held a campaign event with Borris Miles.  Yes, THIS BORRIS MILES.  For those unaware, Borris Miles is one of the best known skeezballs in the Texas legislature (see previous hyperlink).

This was another opportunity to drive a wedge between O'Rourke and his younger supporters.  We told the Cruz campaign.  They did nothing.

Most infuriating: Ted Cruz was asked a direct question about the #MeToo movement during the final debate.

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Health Care Freedom:

Over the past year and a half, we have pointed out over, and over, and over, and over, and over again that Cruz was missing opportunities on health care.

When he discusses it, Ted Cruz is one of the GOP's best spokespeople on health care.

At any point during the presidential campaign, last year's Congressional debate, or this year's re-elect campaign...if Ted Cruz has put together a "health care freedom" plan, we wouldn't be in the mess we currently find ourselves.

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We've seen and heard (*) talk about shortcomings of various campaign staff.  There's probably some truth to some of it.  It's probably also true that a lot of is score-settling by consultants looking for future business.  Regardless, all final decisions on a campaign rest with the candidate.

* -- And EXPERIENCED (see previous section on Borris Miles).

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Barring some sort outside event that changes public perceptions, Ted Cruz is DONE as a presidential candidate.

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Bottom Line: This DISASTER was completely preventable....

Friday, November 9, 2018

About Tuesday Night....


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;"
Proverbs 3:5

Well it's done.

By now, you know the damage: 2 congressional seats, 2 Texas Senate seats, 11/12 Texas house seats.  Dozens of Judicial Races.

We've been analyzing and reflecting for several days, and we're starting to reach some conclusions.

It's impossible to know how much of a role each of these factors played, but together they combined to produce the results described above.

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Before we begin, let's clear up one myth (with two flipsides) that we've seen pop up in the media and in other discussions.

Tuesday's results had nothing to do with whether the GOP was either a) "Too Conservative" or b) "Not conservative enough."

Republicans from all over the ideological spectrum lost.  When Matt Rinaldi and Tony Dale both lose, it ain't ideological.  It might, however, have something to do with the similarities between their districts.

Anyone using Tuesday's results as an excuse to settle scores from the primary should be ignored.

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ANY Republican President:

On Tuesday night, we called Trump "toxic."  Having had several days to research history and talk with sources, we think that statement was a shortsighted exaggeration.  Trump definitely made it worse, but a lot of this would have happened under any Republican president.

Over the past three decades, down ballot races in Texas have tended to go against the party of the president.  This is especially true in the second half of the decade.  This was true in the 90's under Clinton (to the R's benefit).  It was true in the 2000's under both Bush and Obama (first for D's then for R's).  It's been true this decade under Obama and Trump (first for R's then for D's).  The only exception was during Dubya's post 9/11 honeymoon.

A lot of those districts had been blue in the not too distant past.  They only flipped in 2010.  If anything, our biggest mistake was to assume Obama-era partisan splits would continue indefinitely.

On Wednesday morning, Republican data guru Derek Ryan tweeted:





While Ryan was making a separate point about gerrymandering, his data is still consistent with our observation that these races tend to go against the party of the president.

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Trump:

While a lot of this would have happened under any Republican president, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the current Republican president made it worse.

Donald Trump causes a lot more people to vote.  2016 was the all time record for any Texas election.  2018 was the midterm record.  Across the political spectrum, turnout is up.

Here's the problem: While both sides are drawing more voters, this proportionally helps Democrats because they're starting from a lower base.

Consider the case of Glenn Hegar.  Glenn Hegar is probably the closest thing you've got to "generic Republican" on a statewide ballot.  The relationship between the raw vote totals and the percentages in Hegar's two elections is instructive.

2014:

2018:

In 2018, Glenn Hegar got approximately 1.7 million additional votes over his 2014 total.  His 2018 Democrat opponent got approximately 1.8 million additional votes over his 2014 opponent. While those raw vote totals are comparable, because the Democrats are starting from a lower base, that means it benefits them proportionally.

More people are voting on both sides.  But they're voting in a way that proportionally benefits Democrats.  It's worth a five point shift in the generic ballot.

Then there's the unprecedented DEBACLE in the judiciary.



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Cruz:

While any Republican President would have dug a hole, and this one dug it deeper, Ted Cruz kept digging.  What kind of campaign gets into a two week argument with its top supporters over yard signs?!?

Cruz's biggest problem is baggage from the presidential campaign.  While each move made sense at the time, Cruz has been all over the map as it relates to Trump.  It's hurt him.  Badly.

Cruz's failures deserve their own blog post, but where national/Presidential factors cost the GOP 5 points, Cruz's personal failures cost him an additional 2.5 points in his own race.

It was the type of campaign David Dewhurst might have run.

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Godawful messaging:

Off the top of your head, what was the Texas GOP's message this year?!?

We can come up with two things: Abbott's MS-13 ad and the U.S. Senate's race's detour into the NFL protests; Chris Hooks has a longer list of some of the dumber aspects of this campaign here.

In recent years, the Texas GOP has run intellectually lazy general election campaigns against the boogeyman du jour.  They've stopped making a proactive case for liberty.  It's the old adage: Tell me what your for, not what you're against.

Not very long ago, it wasn't this way.  In 2010, Rick Perry campaigned on the tenth amendment.  In 2012, Cruz campaigned on restoring the federal government to its constitutional role.  In 2014, Abbott campaigned on the sanctity of life and fixing traffic.

In 2018, we got a lot less of that.

Imagine, instead, a world where Abbott spent the final months of the campaign talking about property taxes while Cruz spent the final month talking about health care freedom.

We suspect a lot of down-ballot Republicans wish they had.

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Voter Fraud:

We have no specific knowledge of specific cases.  But only a fool would discount the possibility.  Especially in the close races (look at Florida and Arizona).

As Hugh Hewitt famously wrote: "If it's not close, they can't cheat."

Unfortunately, for the reasons listed above, Republicans let it get close.

Who knows?!?

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Corrupt/Atrophied GOP leadership/infrastructure in Williamson and Hays Counties:

For many years, Republicans in Williamson and Hays counties have been more interested in crony capitalism than conservative governance.

For many years, activists warned the GOP leadership in those respective counties that such a course of action would wipe them out if a Democrat wave emerged.

That happened on Tuesday; especially in Hays.

Both county parties have needed a housecleaning for years.  Now they might get one.
They should both follow Montgomery County's lead.

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O'Rourke:

Given the myriad GOP failures, it's tough to know how much he created for himself.

At a minimum, he recognized the opportunity early and went for it.

There's no denying his fundraising haul was impressive.

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Bottom Line: There are any number of reasons why things went down the way that they did.  We need to address what we can.  But the scary part is how much was beyond our control.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

#TXLEGE: How to EXPAND FREEDOM and Lower Health Care costs (even with more D's)....


"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,"
Ephesians 3:20

One of the realities imposed by Tuesday is that we're going to have to get creative.  This afternoon, TPPF's discussion "Empowering Advanced RN's can save Texas lives" offers one such possibility.  Scope-of-practice reform.

The short version of scope of practice reform is that not every medical issue needs to be treated by a licensed physician; we wrote a longer description last February:
Texas currently has a shortage of health care providers across the state. 36 counties have zero physicians. 80 counties have five physicians or fewer. While this is often a problem in rural areas, there are parts of the cities that aren't much better. East Austin and East Houston are the two most obvious examples.

Given the geographically dispersed nature of the issue, a broad based coalition is emerging to promote "scope of practice" reform. TPPF has been joined by the AARP and the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities. The proposed reforms would enable nurse practitioners to perform many functions currently limited to licensed physicians.

Supporters made fairly standard free-market arguments in favor of the reforms. Fewer regulations will mean more providers. More providers means more competition which means more options at lower prices for health care consumers.
This is an interesting issue for next session.   As we made clear back in February, and as today's event reinforced, there's support for this across the political spectrum.  Therein lies opportunity.

Several months ago we spoke with a senior Democrat in the Texas house.  She expressed support.  Given the reality of vote totals next session, that's worth considering.  In some communities, increasing the supply of medical providers is literally a lifeline.

It's worth noting, though it might not mean much, that the Texas "Medical" Association representative on today's panel was less obstinate than members of that organization we've seen discuss this issue previously.

Finally, from a macro-political perspective: If we want to cut off support for a Bernie Sanders style single payer/medicare for all type proposal, we really ought to start taking modest steps taking

Bottom Line: If you can take a modest, but tangible, step to lower health care costs, you should.  That's especially true next session.  Scope-of-practice reform is a lower profile issue, but it's one that could be powerful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Texas GOP needs (a lot) more Dan Crenshaw's and Van Taylor's


"The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
Proverbs 11:9

We're still sifting through the wreckage of last night.  We'll have plenty to say sometime soon.  For now, however, we want to focus on something positive.

On a night when Republicans in suburban districts got ANNIHILATED, two solid conservatives had relatively easy victories: Dan Crenshaw and Van Taylor.



It's worth pondering why.

Our hypothesis: They're both better at tying abstract principles together with tangible results in voters lives than the average Republican candidate.  As we've remarked previously, Dan Crenshaw is off-the-charts good at this.  But Taylor is also above average.

We've been complaining for awhile about messaging.  Far too many of our candidates do far too much robotic repetition of stale, cliched, talking points.  Last night, two of the candidates who don't do that had two of the easiest wins.  That's not a coincidence.

Bottom Line: There will be plenty of time to re-hash what went wrong.  But the model for how to do it the right way is staring us in the face.  Whether or not we pay attention is up to us.