Thursday, March 8, 2018

#TXLEGE: Incoherent Electorate Re-Affirms Status Quo

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort"
2 Corinthians 1:3

Lotta spin coming out of Tuesday night.

Empower Texas is giving one set of absurd spin that Tuesday night was some allegedly great conservative victory.  On the other hand, the Austin lobby is giving another set of equally absurd spin that Tuesday night was some allegedly great victory for crony capitalism and good ol' boy politics.  Honestly, they're both full

While conservatives did enjoy a few modest gains (especially in congressional races), the truth is that the 2018 primary was basically a draw.

The Good:
  • Patrick BLOWS OUT opponent - For as much as the Austin lobby hates Dan Patrick's guts, they also know they can't lay a finger on him.
  • Freedom Caucus all win - Likewise, for as much as the Austin lobby hates their guts, they can't lay a finger on them.
  • Cruz cruises - Seriously, he won more votes than all three Democrat candidates combined.
  • Congressional Races - From Bunni Pounds in CD 5, to Ron Wright in CD 6, to either candidate in CD 21, to Michael Cloud in CD 23 solid people qualified for runoffs.  Van Taylor won outright.  In ALL of those districts, the possibility exist for significant upgrades.
    • If you'll give us a second, we'd like to brag on CD-21: Between Chip Roy and Matt McCall, you have two fabulous people in the runoff.  While they have very different personalities, they're virtually identical on issues.  Either one will be a tremendous upgrade over the lousy incumbent they're replacing.
  • Bob Hall wins - This was supposed to be the great "message" that the Austin lobby was going to send to Dan Patrick, and it failed spectacularly.
  • Angela Paxton wins - The negative campaign backfired.
  • Christi Craddick wins - Speaking of negative campaigns backfiring. #ijs
  • Fallon defeats Estes - This will make getting to 19 votes on any particular issue immeasurably easier (also, you know, this).
  • Cruz and Patrick have long coattails (longer than Abbott) - Every Senate candidate Patrick endorsed won; the overwhelming majority of candidates Cruz endorsed either won or qualified for runoffs.
    • Note: Did we mention the contrast with Abbott?!?
  • Jason Villalba loses - It's better to have an additional vote than to not have one, but it's hard to take joy in beating up the retarded kid.
  • Jonathan Boos wins - Solid pickup.
    • Note: This seat is NOT a gimme in the general election.
  • Steve Toth returns - PARTY!!!
  • Mayes Middleton wins - He worked his tail off and won this campaign on his own; endorsements he received were irrelevant.
  • Dawnna Dukes gets popped.
  • Local election in Montgomery County - Some very corrupt people got popped.
The Bad:
  • George P. Bush survives - Lots of money and 100% name ID.  Jerry Patterson got in too late and didn't raise enough money.  None of the challengers made effective use of earned or social media.
  • Too many AWFUL house incumbents survive - In some cases, they successfully lied about their record.  In other cases, the challengers didn't put in the necessary work.  In other cases, combined with the Senate and Congressional races in the same geographic area, the results are incoherent and don't make sense.
  • Too many AWFUL house incumbents weren't challenged in the first place - Drew Darby, Todd Hunter, Gary van Deaver, Jay Dean, John Wray, Kyle Kacal, John Zerwas, Geanie Morrision, Justin Holland, John Keumpel, Doc Anderson, Trent Ashby, Tan Parker, Drew Springer, and Angie Chen Button to name just a few.
  • Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life inexplicably failed to return reporters' phone calls - We don't know that the "West Texas billionaires" line or the contretemps with the Catholic Bishops was necessarily fatal.  But when reporters are writing stories about those subjects, and you fail to return their phone calls, it makes it look like you've got something to hide.  Stupid self-inflicted wound.
  • Seliger survives - We're not sure that this is a particularly big deal.  Seliger moved both of the bills in his committee that we cared about last session.  Next session, Seliger will have to choose between being a thorn in Dan Patrick's side or passing his local bills.
    • Note: There's a reason why we didn't pick any fights with Seliger this cycle.
The Ugly:
  • Greg Abbott looks FOOLISH - The guy picks a fight with three incumbent state reps and loses two of them.  And, in the third campaign, the candidate who won didn't need the Governor's help.  Meanwhile, there's no reason to believe that the candidates he endorsed who helped stymie his agenda will do anything different.
    • Note: There's a reason why we asked Sarah Davis a softball question at the Trib event a couple weeks ago.
    • Note II: Again, see our comment above about the contrast between Abbott's coattails vs. Patrick & Cruz.
  • DEMOCRAT.  TURNOUT.  FAIL - It was up, but it still wasn't anything special.
  • "Beto's" Debacle - LOL.
  • Ferdinand Frank "Trey Martinez" Fischer - Because if there's one thing the Texas house needs, it's another race baiting Democrat.
  • Hays county - What a mess.
  • Philip Huffines - Sad.
It looks like the voters are incoherent.  Sure, they re-affirmed the good ol' boy status quo in the house.  But they also re-affirmed the conservative status quo in the Senate (to say nothing of the congressional races).

What does it mean?!?

We don't know, but to understand the incoherence of the results, consider the results in house district 2 and Senate district 2 (which have significant geographic overlap):

There is no way those results happen unless a significant portion of the electorate that voted for both Dan Flynn and Bob Hall.  People who vote for Bob Hall in one race, then vote for Dan Flynn immediately down ballot are sending "mixed messages" at best.  It might be a pro-incumbant message, but it's not philosophically coherent.

Bottom Line: The grassroots and the Austin lobby remain locked in a stalemate.  The Democrats remain irrelevant, except to the degree they pull the Austin lobby to the left.  We know that we've been saying for years that the status quo isn't sustainable, but maybe it is....

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