Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why Colorado Turned Blue (and the future of Texas) -- The Missing Link

"Colorado, what kind of pansy girls have you become?!?....We need some MEN in Texas."  Glenn Beck, Radio, March 5 2013, Bottom of the First Hour.

Last night, this diary on Redstate made the rounds.  It is a warning to Texans that Democrats can turn Texas blue the same way they turned Colorado blue in the mid-2000's.  There is another aspect of this story, however, that Texas Republicans would be well served to remember.

In 2002, National Review named (then) Colorado Governor Bill Owens America's Best Governor.  At the time, Owens had established a track record as a conservative reformer and he was re-elected by the largest margin in Colorado history.  At the time, Colorado had a strict spending cap known called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR); more on that in a minute. Then came the budget battle of 2003 and, specifically, a fight over school finance.  During that battle, the left savaged Governor Owens.

Following that budget fight, Bill Owens lost his nerve.  In 2005, Bill Owens sold his soul to the Democrats and backed Prop. C, which gutted TABOR.  Gutting TABOR opened the floodgates of big government, and Colorado has since been hopelessly blue.

So, what does this mean for Republicans in Texas in 2013?!?

It means that money matters.  Beyond the obvious flaws, big government is also a money laundering scheme for the Democrat party.  When Colorado Republicans caved to the grow-government crowd, they signed their death warrant.

Ten days ago, we outlined big-ticket items for the 83rd Legislature: Texas Budget Compact, School Choice, Medicaid, Transparency, and Margins Tax Elimination.  The reason these five reforms are big ticket items is that, over they long-run, each keeps money in the hands of citizens and out of the hands of government.  Credit where its due, Texas Republicans had a good start to the week.

The key is to stay on public-policy offense.  If Texas Republicans do that, they'll be fine.  If they don't, they'll deserve what they get.

Update: A longtime Texas Political Observer writes in to add:

It's good to have outsiders such as the folks from Labor Union Report writing  articles, if only to create a sense of urgency for action. However:

 1) Unlike previous Democratic efforts in Texas that were built around remnants of Martin Frost’s congressional operation, Battleground Texas is almost entirely  out-of-state talent. Texas’ political culture is unlike DC or virtually any other state. If you don't understand the history and the nuances, you're going to make a fool of yourself. Even a couple of weeks in, it's obvious that these folks don't get Texas.

2) The Right already has the seven capacities in place in Texas. In fact, once we saw what the Left had done in Colorado, our side immediately moved to ensure that those seven capacities existed in Texas. Colorado was their proof of  concept, Texas is ours.

3) Texas Republicans have done far better with Hispanic voters than the party in most other states. If we can hang on to 35-40% of the Hispanic vote going forward, we'll be fine. Plus we're beginning to develop a good bench of Hispanic Republican officeholders throughout the state, including in heavily Hispanic regions.

4) To become the majority, Democrats have to make up 17 points at the statewide level, pick up 4 Senate seats when the only vulnerable one is theirs, and flip 21 House seats when their only real opportunities are in the cities of Dallas and Houston, which are declining in influence compared to their suburbs which are heavily Republican. They’ve maxed out in Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso, and the rural areas north of IH-10 are wholly conservative.

5) The Democrats have won zero statewide races since 1994 and have zero infrastructure outside the urban counties. Heck, there were close to 20 counties last year where they didn't conduct a primary because they couldn't find anyone willing to have their name listed as a county chairman. (The Republicans had primaries in all 254.) And the potentially viable statewide candidates in the Democrats’ pipeline can be counted on one hand.

6) The latest survey data indicates that 47 percent of Texans have “strongly unfavorable” opinions of the President.

If conservatives totally mess things up, Texas could turn purple in 2022. But it would have to be total. 

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