Monday, May 27, 2013

Recent Texas History: Rick Perry's 2001 "Father's Day Massacre"

The 83rd Texas Legislature is (mercifully) over.  Legislators have done their part.  All eyes now turn to Governor Rick Perry.

There is a lot of bad legislation floating around.  Cahnman's Musings will detail some of it in the coming days.  For today, however, we want to remind readers about a recent piece of Texas' political history.

In June 2001, following his first legislative session as George W. Bush's successor, Governor Rick Perry vetoed 79 bills in one day.  At the time, it was dubbed the "Father's Day Massacre."  This so-called "Father's Day Massacre" established Rick Perry as the dominant player at the Capitol.

The best part of the Father's Day Massacre is that it gave the usual suspects around Austin a conniption fit; as Lou DuBose reported a decade later:
Perry's vetoes came from out of nowhere. The governor's legislative staff didn't attempt to get in the way of the bills. Legislators didn't get courtesy calls.

"This was mean-spirited," a lobbyist told me. "This was the governor getting even."

"There was no playbook that he was working from," said a state employee who had been chief of staff for a legislator at the time.
(Author's Note: Did you notice that the lobbyist and the state employee didn't allow themselves to be quoted by name?!?)

 During Rick Perry's Presidential campaign, NRO's Katrina Trinko observed:
The dramatic gesture paid off.

The Austin American-Statesman analyzed over 500 e-mails and letters that were sent to Perry’s office in the aftermath of the vetoes, and found the response overwhelmingly positive. Perry, the American-Statesman reported, “appears to have energized people who support the death penalty, oppose abortion, are wary of more government — and whose turnout at the polls is necessary for him to win a full term in the 2002 election.” Winning the trust of conservatives was important for Perry. Before the vetoes, he had signed a hate-crimes bill that was opposed by many conservatives — his office was inundated with calls the days before the bill hit his desk — and was the Democrats’ “top priority” that session, according to Texas political analyst William Lutz.
 The 83rd Texas Legislature was EXTREMELY disappointing, but Rick Perry remains Governor.  That office has a lot of power, including sole discretion over vetoes.  Cahnman's Musings encourages Governor Perry to use it extensively.


Contact the Governor:
Phone: (512) 463-2000
Twitter: @GovernorPerry

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