Monday, July 29, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bonnen forgets first rule of holes

"Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall."
Proverbs 16:18

[Note: We'll be travelling out of state the rest of this week and into next.  Cahnman's Musings will resume publication on Wednesday, August 6.  That being said, we will be available in the event of MAJOR breaking news.]


Update II: The DMN has A LOT more, including a statement from Ernest Bailes, here.


Update: Bonnen keeps digging....



Bonnen Letter by Cahnman on Scribd

A few thoughts:
  • It really is astonishing the degree to which house members believe their own BS.
    • Note: You could say that about a lot of people/institutions in politics, but we still find the Texas house's groupthink to be a sight to behold.
  • Bonnen never denies targeting the legislators in question, which shows the hollowness of his earlier "no campaigning edict."
    • From a member's perspective: Even if you weren't on Bonnen's list, for Bonnen to talk out of both sides of his mouth in the way that he did means you could easily end up there in the future.
  • Media credentials may or may not be a nice thing to have, but to suggest they're anybody's "long term goal" is silly.
  • Reading between the lines, it appears that Bonnen's real frustration is that Sullivan seems to expect Republicans to actually do something with their majorities.
Bottom Line: In the short-term, Bonnen remains overwhelmingly likely to ride out this storm.  But the short term will inevitably pass.  What happens next has become a much more interesting question....

Saturday, July 27, 2019

#TXLEGE, #TXSEN: Royce West, Borris Miles, and a test of oppo research

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

[Note: Just for fun, imagine the reaction if any Republican candidate in a similar situation had secured an endorsement from Charles Schwertner.] 

Texas Tribune, Thursday:
[Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Royce] West has suggested he is optimistic that he can be more than just a Dallas-centric candidate by tapping into his legislative relationships throughout the state. He wasted little time proving that after his announcement as he earned endorsements from state Sens. Carol Alvarado and Borris Miles, both from Houston. And state Sens. Jose Menendez of San Antonio and Jose Rodriguez of El Paso attended the announcement itself.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
We remarked shortly thereafter:

It's now been two full days, and nobody has commented.

In case you've forgotten why an endorsement from Borris frickin' Miles might be considered a big deal:
Lauren*, a Texas legislative intern, was standing underneath the bright blue-and-red neon sign of The Continental Club, a famed Austin bar frequented by schmoozing politicians, lobbyists, and reporters.

That week in May 2013 was filled to the brim with end-of-session (“sine die”) parties, and Lauren was with a group of other interns on South Congress when Democratic state Rep. Borris Miles pulled up.

According to Lauren, Miles leaned out of the carriage he was riding in and pulled out a large roll of money. He handed “maybe $500” to an intern and then looked at Lauren.

“You know how you have the roll of hundreds that you see on TV? It was like that,” Lauren told The Daily Beast.

“I said, ‘Hi Representative, how are you?’ Then he slowly looked me up and down, counted out more money, reached out his hand and said, ‘Bitch, you want to fuck with me tonight?’

“I said ‘No, thank you’ and physically stepped back,” Lauren recalled. “I didn’t want to be rude to him. I remember his intern pacifying him and saying, ‘It’s time to go.’

“Everyone was just shocked that he said that—that he cussed at me and that he was offering me money. It was outrageous,” she continued. “I just remember thinking, ‘I need to go, and I need to not be here anymore.’”
And this:
One time, Chris said, he “witnessed [Miles] catcalling women in Downtown Austin on the way back from a Spurs game, and there had to have been at least 15 or 16 other members that were there because it was a member event.”

The Spurs had played the Lakers that April, and the lawmakers went together to San Antonio to watch one of the games. “As we’re driving back towards the W, he’s hanging out of the open door of the bus and shouting at women,” said Chris.

Chris could not recall the catcalls specifically but said, “It was not something that I would want shouted at anyone.”

Chris’ chief of staff confirmed to The Daily Beast that he heard about the alleged catcalling the next morning.
And this:
Ben*, a former staffer who recently worked in the Capitol and “spent a lot of time with Miles,” said he witnessed the then-state representative “forcibly kiss” at least one woman at the W Hotel.

“He offered to buy her a drink, kept trying to kiss her, and she kept trying to push him away,” said Ben. “He kept laughing about it.

“It was so creepy, and he had this big smile,” said Ben. “Borris loves the W Hotel, and he has a tendency to force himself upon women at bars and kiss them or grope them. He’ll tell them that he is a higher elected official than he actually is.”


“He also has a tendency to call women out of their name when they turn him down,” he said. “‘Bitch,’ ‘ho,’ ‘whore.’ He doesn’t like being told ‘no.’
And this:
When Heather* first covered the Texas Legislature as a journalist in 2011, she was repeatedly targeted by Miles, she told The Daily Beast in a story published last month.

Late one night when the legislature was in session, Heather was reporting on HB 400, which would have scrapped Texas’ law mandating class size ratio. Miles famously used a point of order to defeat the bill, landing him the title of Star of the 2011 Legislative Session by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

Heather said she had been trying to get details about the bill negotiations, when that night, around midnight, Miles cornered her in a hallway and forcibly kissed her outside the House chamber.

“It happened quickly,” Heather said, noting that Miles laughed afterward. “I think he thought it was hilarious.”

“He’d said several times already, ‘If you go out to dinner with me, I’d be happy to give you the details,’ and I’d sort of laugh it off but it was weird and obviously gross.”
You can read the full report here.

So, yeah, that guy made an endorsement in the current U.S. Senate race.

Yet neither MJ Hegar nor John Cornyn seem to care.


Obviously, this is a longstanding beef for this author.

Last election cycle, we discovered that Beto O'Rourke likewise did a campaign event with Borris Miles.  In addition to writing a blog post, we also passed that information along to both the Cruz campaign and the RPT chairman.  Unfortunately, neither did anything with that information.

This time around, the difference is that this author doesn't particularly care who wins the U.S. Senate race.  So we're not going to tell any campaigns.  But we mentioned them by name, so they'll get the Google alerts.

Bottom Line: Any campaign that allows an opponent to get away with touting an endorsement from someone with Borris Miles' "alleged" record is completely incompetent and deserves to lose....

Friday, July 26, 2019


"Talk no more so very proudly;
Let no arrogance come from your mouth,
For the Lord is the God of knowledge;
And by Him actions are weighed."
1 Samuel 2:3

Late yesterday afternoon, Michael Quinn Sullivan made some INSANE revelations.  You really ought to read the whole thing for yourself.  Here's the main part:
Bonnen insisted: He would ensure Texas Scorecard reporters received House floor access in 2021 if we would lay off our criticism of the legislative session, not spend money from our affiliated PACs against certain Republicans, and—most shockingly—go after a list of other Republicans in the 2020 primary elections.

Spending political money was the issue, Bonnen said. Not just refraining from spending it against his pals. He wanted us to spend it against Republicans he saw as not being helpful.

If we could “make this work,” he would put the Texas Scorecard guys on the floor next session.


The list of targets Burrows named off included 10 Republican Reps—Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Ernest Bailes, Travis Clardy, Drew Darby, Kyle Kacal, Stan Lambert, John Raney, and Phil Stephenson.
There are two noteworthy aspects about this: Bonnen's arrogance AND Bonnen's stupidity.



More than anything, one aspect stands out: How much Bonnen wanted Sullivan to give up, and how little Bonnen was offering in return.

It's insane.

Bonnen wanted Sullivan to give up everything. credentials?!?  NO (obviously).

There is no deal that's worth cutting that involves blanket bans on criticizing elected officials.  NoneWhatsoever.

To accept this sort of an offer would be to permanently forfeit one's credibility, thus Sullivan's response is self-evidently correct.

Here's the really crazy part: If it were presented in a less heavy-handed manner, and if Bonnen were offering more in return, then thepart of Bonnen's request isn't entirely unreasonable.

The members Bonnen wants gone represent mostly safe Republican districts.  Even in a bad national environment, they're unlikely to flip.  Thus, there's a certain logic to focusing on them.

Imagine if, instead, Bonnen had said something like this: "I know you're frustrated.  I know the grassroots are frustrated.  But, in this political climate, I think it's best for everyone involved to focus on rural districts.  BTW, here are the members who were truly problematic...."

We'll say this: If the speaker wants to give us a clean shot at Drew Darby and Dirty Ernie in exchange for going easy on Charlie Geren and Dan isolation, that might be a deal worth taking.

But Dennis Bonnen didn't make that offer.  Dennis Bonnen made a very different offer.  The offer Dennis Bonnen actually made was one no self-respecting human being could accept.

Arrogant...insanely so.



Beyond the arrogance, however, is the stupidity.

The speaker serves at the pleasure of the members.  Most members hate Sullivan.  Thus, for Dennis Bonnen to consider even working clandestinely with Sullivan risks the wrath of Dennis Bonnen's electorate.

Ross Ramsey elaborates:
The politics are dangerous for the first-term speaker, no matter which version of the story is right.

Sullivan has been an outspoken critic of the Republican leadership all year, carping about what he saw as a lack of attention to issues he cares about most. Sullivan's Empower Texans also helped fund primary challenges against several House incumbents in past years. It’s fair to say that a number of Republicans have reason not to think kindly of Sullivan, his organizations and his financial patrons as political allies.

They’ll be wanting to know why Bonnen met with him at all, no matter what they were talking about. Up to this point, Bonnen has been outspoken in his defense of the 149 other members of the Texas House.
Pretty much.


Bottom Line: Bonnen remains overwhelmingly likely to retain the speakership, but nevertheless this interim just became a lot more interesting....

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Federal Courts Deny Latest "Voting Rights" Shakedown

Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.
Luke 3:14

Federal judges on Wednesday denied a request to put Texas under federal redistricting supervision, a process known as preclearance.

The panel in San Antonio ruled that intervention was not warranted while at the same time expressing "grave concerns" about the state's past conduct in drawing maps.

District Judge Xavier Rodriguez cited Texas lawmakers’ enactment of a voter ID rule, a failed voter-purge attempt and state mapmakers’ practice of slicing up minority communities into voting districts designed to restrict the political influence of minority voters as examples of concerning activity.


However, the Supreme Court's decision last year to uphold the state's maps redrawn in 2013 ultimately meant the judges ruled ordering preclearance "would be inappropriate."
In other words, the status quo continues.

All things considered, this is a reasonably decent least until our Congressional delegation grows a pair.

Bottom Line: There are going to be A LOT more lawsuits coming, but yesterday's ruling was probably a good sign....

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

#TXLEGE: "Lone Star Agenda" a good start

"So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

We were not part of the drafting of this agenda.  But we were asked to sign on.  We have done so:

Most of these are pretty self explanatory.

Our four major unresolved issues from the legislative session are all on the list:
  • Taxpayer funded lobbying
  • Union dues
  • Municipal Employment Ordinances
  • Election integrity
As for the mental health and parental rights stuff: Due to bandwidth issues, we might not discuss those issues frequently, but we're fully on board with coalition efforts.

One interesting note: We're not going to throw shade, by we find it interesting that none of the issues we feel have been mishandled in recent years made the list.

Bottom Line: In a Republican majority legislature, none of this should be controversial....

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

#atxcouncil: Following ban on Short-Term Rentals (and #TXLEGE preemption failures), black market predictably develops....

"I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
And you shall have no soothsayers."
Micah 5:12

In the least surprising news story ever:
In the City of Austin, more than 10,000 Austin properties advertise themselves as short-term rentals, a new city memo notes. But only 2,500 of those are licensed and paying fees to the city. A number of the unlicensed rentals have been the subject of repeated complaints and violations.

In a memo to the City Council, the Austin Code Department director estimated it will take 35,568 staff hours for license administration and enforcement on short-term rentals in the city by the end of the year. About 5% of staff time is spent on enforcement of the properties that are highlighted by the city as repeat offenders when it comes to breaking Austin’s rules for short-term rentals.

“The department projects that an additional 200 properties will be licensed this year, raising the total number of licensed properties to 2,700—a 59% increase in the number properties licensed over the last two fiscal years. If the total number of STR operations across the City is in fact 10,000+, licensed properties by year end will only represent 27%,” the report said.


The city memo came after Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Tovo brought a resolution last November asking the Austin Code Department to quantify how much time enforcing short-term rentals is taking and whether the city needs to do more to hold problem property owners accountable.
Who'd'a ever seen this coming?!?

Bottom Line:   When you "ban" something, it doesn't actually stop the activity. It just drives it underground. Shocking, we know....

Monday, July 22, 2019

Davis continues repeating mistakes from last campaign

"Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them."
Proverbs 5:6

She makes it official:

From a personal perspective, here's what's amazing: We just, two days ago, wrote a blog post about Wendy Davis repeating the mistakes from her last campaign...and she's doing it again!!!

In the video, Davis discusses her family (especially her father) extensively.  She discusses (her version of) her story.  What's missing, however, is any substantive discussion of public affairs or any compelling reason for her candidacy.

When she ran for Governor in 2014, Wendy Davis tried to make her biography one of her primary selling points...and it blew up in her face.

You'd think she'd learn.

Bottom Line: Wendy Davis' primary political problem will always be that her views on public policy are not aligned with the constituents she seeks to represent.  Fair or unfair, however, she also comes across as entitled.  Today's announcement video will help cement that perception.  If Wendy Davis uses the same playbook to run her congressional campaign that she used in her race for governor, she should expect the same result....

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Davis already repeating mistakes from last campaign

"Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them."
Proverbs 5:6

We first started hearing that Wendy Davis might run for Chip Roy's Congressional seat in January.

Almost two months ago, there was another boomlet of "will she or won't she?" speculation.

She didn't pull the trigger either time.

Now, national political operatives linked to Nancy Pelosi are leaking that...this time...Wendy Davis is totally, totally, TOTALLY going to run!!!

She might.  She might not.  Regardless of her final decision, however, she's already squandered the first six months of any potential campaign.  If Davis does choose to run, she's already waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the 8-ball.

She's done this before.  In 2013, Wendy Davis' infamous filibuster was in June.  She didn't announce her campaign for Governor, however, until October.  Whatever initial momentum she may have had was squandered through indecision.

Bottom Line: This isn't the first time we've seen an extended Hamlet act from this particular individual....

Friday, July 19, 2019

Texas by the Numbers

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—"
Luke 14:28

If you want to understand the data behind the current state of play in Texas, then this episode of the Luke Macias show is a must listen.  Luke interviews Derek Ryan, of Ryan Data and Research, a former RPT data analyst who is widely respected across the political spectrum.  We'll post the interview and our notes below.

Before we do, however, we need to point something out: Derek Ryan's data backs up three points we've been making for awhile.

  1. Glenn Hegar as a proxy for generic Republican vote -- Following the 2018 election, we calculated the "Trump effect" by comparing Glenn Hegar's 2018 result to his 2014 result.  We came up with a five point shift to the Democrats.  Ryan's, meanwhile, did a detailed statistical analysis that shows a four point shift to the Democrats.  Obviously, his analysis is far more complete than ours, but ours was a lot less work.  Both point to a mid-single digit sized shift.
  2. Underperformance in Urban Areas has statewide consequences -- Apparently, there are over 500,000 Republican Primary voters who didn't vote in the 2018 general election.  When asked about the geographic distribution of these voters, Ryan specifically mentioned Travis, Bexar, Dallas, and Harris counties.  It's almost like we wrote about that last week, or something....
  3. The utter, total, and complete incompetence of the Hays County GOP -- Ryan tells a story that's absolutely bonkers.

    According to Ryan, now state representative Erin Zweiner once allegedly wrote a blog post where she claimed responsibility for low-level acts of ecoterrorism in Western Travis County.  Furthermore, apparently, Ryan discovered this well before last year's election.  Ryan uses this as an example of how national events overwhelmed down ballot races, but we have a different hypothesis.

    What if the Hays GOP is incompetent?!?
    This author consumes a large amount of political news.  Furthermore, as a blogger, we're always on the lookout for local stories that are undercovered.  Yet the first time we hear this story is on a podcast almost a year after the election.

    We don't necessarily cover everything he hear.  However, between formal and informal sources, we usually have a good idea about major activity.  Yet this (alleged) factoid slipped not only this author's radar, but local activists' as well.

    That is a failure across all levels of the party.

    Of course, we specifically highlighted the Hays GOP's failures in our analysis of the 2018 debacle.
You can hear the full podcast below:


  • Serious discussion of political data begins at the 10 minute mark.
  • Generic R votes has gone down by approximately four points under Trump.
  • Suburbs are "changing significantly."
    • Collin - 7.7% shift to D's
    • Denton - 6.6%
    • WillCo - 5.7%
  • 2018 had higher under 20 turnout than 2016.
  • In 2018, lots of people voted "that we didn't already know."
  • 548,000 Republican primary voters didn't vote in November.
  • "2018 was kind of a perfect storm for the Democrats."
  • Voter registration ahead of 2016 pace.
  • 17 state rep district GOP < 55% in 2018.
    • D's are registering like crazy in those areas.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Burton and the Texan team are clearly doing something right

"saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
Luke 4:34

It's now been a few months since Konni Burton launched the Texan.  Obviously, we're glad she's doing this and we're glad The Texan exists.  More voices, not fewer, and all that.

If readers will allow us a confession, however, the truth is that we haven't been paying close attention.

Until yesterday:
IN 2015, ON THE OPENING DAY of the 84th Texas Legislature, newly elected Republican Konni Burton, a former Tea Party leader, stepped onto the Senate floor wearing a pair of black cowboy boots with the words “Stand for Life” inscribed on them. The sartorial choice signaled that Burton would be the polar opposite of her predecessor Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat who made national headlines for her 13-hour filibuster against an abortion bill, which she delivered wearing pink running shoes.

Last November, as a blue wave swept Texas, Burton lost her seat—in an area previously considered to be among the country’s most conservative—to a Democrat. She has since turned her attentions to journalism, which she feels does not respect the beliefs of hardcore conservatives. She has started a new digital media outlet called The Texan—which, she says, without recognizing any contradiction, is both right-wing and unbiased.


The outlet will always use “pro-life” instead of “anti-abortion,” White says. (The site Texas Right to Life praised the launch of The Texan.) They also use the term “illegal alien,” which is no longer in wide usage because it is seen as both pejorative and inaccurate, because Burton rejects the word “migrant.” Headlines speak of “religious liberty.”

The Texan focuses on state-level politics, and currently publishes about a dozen stories a week. Reporters there have recently framed a House bill to protect Dreamers as “granting citizenship to illegal aliens.” (The story cites NumbersUSA, a known anti-immigrant group which the Southern Poverty Law Center identified as nativist.) There’s also an exclusive on the website with state representative Ron Wright, who made national headlines after a video by an abortion rights group showed him saying women should be punished for having an abortion.

The full piece is snarky and derisive. That's to be expected. What's noteworthy, however, is that it's being written at all.

[Note: If you're looking for a good laugh, contrast what the Columbia Journalism Review said about the Texas with what they said about the Texas Tribune when it launched.]

Somebody's scared.

So, yeah, good deal on Konni Burton and the staff of the Texan!!!

Bottom Line: Sometime the reaction to something tells you more than the original thing it self.  Clearly, this is one of those times.  Kudos.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Marchant and Olson are LOSERS and the GOP should Break Up with Them BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

"The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
Proverbs 3:35

Hoo boy:
Two potentially vulnerable Texas Republicans in Congress were outraised — and a few others saw seriously funded challengers — as the first major fundraising deadline passed in a cycle where national Democrats have built an expansive battlefield here, targeting six seats.

In the second quarter, Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, fell short of Democratic challenger Sri Preston Kulkarni, $378,000 to $421,000. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, raised less than Democratic opponent Kim Olson, $225,000 to $279,000, before making a large loan to his campaign.
Not good.

This combination of energized opponents and lethargic incumbents sounds...a lot like two congressional seats the GOP lost in 2018.

In March, we wrote a long piece examining Congressional races.  In that piece, we crunched a bunch of numbers related to 2018 election results.  The relevant section is too long to quote in full, but the TL,DR version is that lazy incumbents with a bad record and a sense of entitlement should be avoided like the plague.

Meanwhile, Republicans held EVERY.  SINGLE.  OPEN.  SEAT.

Finally, as we said last year about a certain now-former congressman:
Pete Sessions is a liability that should have been dealt with YEARS ago
That liability was never addressed. Eventually, the Democrats had a good enough year that Sessions lost. Given yesterday's news, Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson are officially liabilities.

The good news: Filing deadline is still five months away.

The bad news: Everybody's whistling past the graveyard.

Bottom Line: Lazy incumbents with a bad record and a sense of entitlement are TERRIBLE general election candidates.  There's still time to avoid that fate.  If these two incumbents retain the party nomination, however, don't be surprised when they lose.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

#TXLEGE: Why Bonnen's Political Gambit is Irrelevant

"Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter,"
Ezekiel 16:20

We said our piece yesterday about the big 3's latest fundraising.  Pretty self-explanatory.  That being said, it's worth exploring why Dennis Bonnen's latest effort won't make a difference to which party controls the Texas house next session.

To refresh, from yesterday:
Republican Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has launched a political action committee to help defend the GOP majority as Democrats push to take the lower chamber in 2020.

Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, has started the group, Texas Leads, with $3 million from his campaign account, his team announced Monday. The political action committee will focus exclusively on reelecting GOP members to the House — a move consistent with Bonnen's insistence that incumbents do not campaign against one another.
Obviously, Bonnen is refusing to play offense.  As we explained yesterday, that's the #1 reason why this isn't a serious effort.  You can't win a war playing defense 100% of the time.

[Note: Good defense helps, but the Texas GOP is hardly the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and Dennis Bonnen is certainly no Trent Dilfer].

Beyond that, however, control of the Texas house will hinge on two factors:
  • The National Environment -- Like it or not, 85% of next year's outcome will depend on what voters think about Donald Trump compared with what voters think about whomever the Democrats nominate.

    That's it.

    If the national environment stays where it is right now, the GOP will be fine statewide (although Pete Flores is toast).

    If the national environment moves a few points in Trump's favor (aka. voters decide they hate the Democrat more), the GOP will gain back a good chunk of the ground they lost in 2018.

    If the national environment moves a few points in the Democrats favor (aka. voters decide they hate Trump more), the bottom will drop out for the GOP.

    You tell us the national environment on Wednesday of the second week of early voting, and we'll tell you the outcome of the election.

    [Note: The GOP could have used this past legislative session to develop its own identity separate from Trump...but that ship has sailed.]
  • How hard individual candidates work -- Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that national factors create a down-ballot environment where effort matters, responsibility for that effort will fall on individual candidates.

    Partisanship is the #1 factor in determining election outcomes, personal contact is #2.

    Some campaigns do it, other campaigns don't.
Against those two factors, the speaker's team sponsoring another mailer or another robocall makes no difference.

Bottom Line: 24 hours ago, a wide range of outcomes was possible in legislative races.  Today, a wide range of outcomes remain possible in legislative races.  Which of those outcomes ultimately materializes will depend almost entirely on factors outside of our control.  Dennis Bonnen's announcement changes none of that.

Monday, July 15, 2019

#TXLEGE: Big 3 commit to full employment for campaign consultants

"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent [a]perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them."
Ecclesiastes 5:8

July 15 campaign finance reports are out.

Gov. Greg Abbott raised a staggering $12.1 million over two weeks last month after the legislative session ended and he was free accept contributions again, his campaign announced Monday.

It is the most the Republican governor has raked in during the traditionally dayslong fundraising sprint following the legislative session. The latest haul brought his cash-on-hand total to $26.3 million, according to his campaign.
HOUSTON TX – Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick will report raising over $3 million on his July 15, 2019 Texas Ethics Commission report, bringing his campaign war chest total to over $11 million.

“I am grateful for all the support I have received and proud of this strong and clear endorsement of the conservative policies I am fighting for — life, liberty and Texas values, lean and efficient government and pro-business policies that are keeping the Texas economy strong.

“I have spoken to hundreds of grassroots and business leaders across the state since the legislative session ended in May and they are counting on me to continue the fight to shrink the size of government, reduce taxes and oppose the job-killing agenda put forward by liberals. I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve as Lt. Governor and I look forward to continuing the work we are doing to make the greatest state in the nation even greater.”
Republican Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has launched a political action committee to help defend the GOP majority as Democrats push to take the lower chamber in 2020.

Bonnen, an Angleton Republican, has started the group, Texas Leads, with $3 million from his campaign account, his team announced Monday. The political action committee will focus exclusively on reelecting GOP members to the House — a move consistent with Bonnen's insistence that incumbents do not campaign against one another.
[Note: If Bonnen's gambit were a serious effort, he'd go on offense. He's not. That tells you everything.]

This is dumb.  It accomplishes nothing.  Except that Dave Carney, Allan Blakemore, and whatever hacks are advising Bonnen get paid.

Also: Mailers!!!

Lots of campaign mailers!!!

Bottom Line: Conspicuous fundraising when not facing competitive races is a great way to build fiefdoms....

Saturday, July 13, 2019

#TXLEGE: (Because of Dade Phelan) San Antonio employers forced to sue city

"For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again,
But the wicked shall fall by calamity."
Proverbs 24:16

Given where we're at, this was unavoidable:
The City of San Antonio may face a lawsuit over its upcoming Paid Sick Leave ordinance.

The ordinance takes effect on August 1. It was a citizen driven petition allowed under the city charter and was required to be approved by the San Antonio City Council, which it did last year.

It requires San Antonio businesses to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked by an employee. The requirements of how much time can be accrued vary based on business size.

It’s been met with push back from businesses owners and now a lawsuit may be on the table.
[Note: This author has no specific knowledge, but logic suggests a similar lawsuit will soon be filed in Dallas.]


There's a strong legal case to make against so-called municipal "sick leave" ordinances.  So-called municipal "sick leave" ordinances clearly conflict with the Texas minimum wage act.  Nevertheless, lawsuits cost money and take time.  They're inherently uncertain.

Of course, had the legislature passed the preemption bills, this wouldn't matter.

As we recently wrote:
On April 11, the Texas Senate passed SB’s 2485-88 to pre-empt sick leave ordinances along with other local wage and benefit mandates. Yet these bills died in the Texas House.

In an effort to appease frivolous objections from left-wing interest groups, House State Affairs Committee chairman Dade Phelan, a Republican, slow-walked them past the point of relevance.


Meanwhile, employers in San Antonio are at the mercy of the courts.


And completely preventable.

Bottom Line: Unless something changes, these so-called municipal "sick leave" ordinances are going to haunt Texas for a long time.

Friday, July 12, 2019

An underappreciated difference between Rick Perry and Greg Abbott

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Obviously, we've said our piece about this situation between Abbott and council.  Abbott making empty threats is the worst of all worlds.  It inflames and emboldens council, but the rest of us see no relief.

It's incredibly frustrating.

Earlier today, however, we realized something: Rick Perry would have never put up with this crap.

Don't get us wrong: There's a very good chance Rick Perry might have ignored it.

However, had Rick Perry chosen to engage, he would back up his talk.  Following the level of insolence and lip Abbott's received from council, had Rick Perry been in a similar situation Perry would have called a special just to remind everyone he could.  Manhood, whipping it out, and what not....

The truth about both Perry and Abbott, of course, is that they both were/are absentee governors.  Both were/are more interesting in grandstanding on national issues than doing the job of governor.  But at least Rick Perry, bless his heart, played to win on the days he showed up as governor.

Bottom Line: Win the fight.  Or avoid the fight.  That's a lesson our current governor could learn from his predecessor.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Cornyn's Actions Continue to Undermine Cornyn's Own Case for Cornyn's re-election

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
1 John 3:18

Via Powerline:
Politico reports that President Trump and Senate Republicans “are moving quickly to back up beleaguered Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.” They are doing so in the face of “rising pressure. . .from other corners of the White House, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney privately urging the president to dismiss him.”

Unlike Trump and Senate Republicans, Mulvaney has direct knowledge of Acosta’s performance at the Labor Department. He knows that Acosta stalled the implementation of important deregulatory initiatives and, through his agent, lied to him about the reason for the delay.

Mulvaney also understands, as everyone with an ounce of sense does, that Acosta is a political liability because of the sweetheart deal he made with serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — a deal that a federal judge says violated the law because it failed to provide notice to Epstein’s victims.

Yet Sen. John Cornyn intones, “I would point out that nothing new has come out, and we ought to reserve judgment until any new information is revealed.”

What new information does Cornyn need? We know the plea deal was scandalously lenient. We know it was reached between Acosta and a former colleague (and Washington power player) at a remote location, instead of at the U.S. Attorney’s office where plea deals are always negotiated. We know the deal has been adjudged illegal.

What is Sen. Cornyn’s standard of conduct? Is he waiting to see whether Acosta was bribed? He wasn’t. He was seduced by a Washington power player — the kind of guy who could help him down the road become a Cabinet member and/or a judge.
[Note: The full Politico story is insane.]


There's a lot you could say about this in the context of national politics.  There's a lot you could say about this in the context of the Epststein case [Note: That we even have to type that sentence].  But let's limit the discussion to the context of John Cornyn's re-election campaign.

John Cornyn makes two claims while campaigning:
  1. John Cornyn supports Trump.
  2. John Cornyn is good for the national economy.
Cornyn's actions belie both.  It doesn't take a genius to see how Cornyn's undermining the President.  As for the national economy...does anyone seriously believe Labor Unions are good for it?!?

That this is all being done to the benefit of an apparent deep state operative with ties to Jeffrey Epstein is just the icing on the cake.

Credibility, eventually, dries up.  We have no idea of the timing.  It may or may not be during the current election cycle.

But it's inevitable.

Bottom Line: We have no idea how the current election cycle plays out, but anyone who thinks this nonsense is sustainable much longer is kidding themselves.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#TXLEGE: Nepotistic Twit (LSAT Score: 147) to seek his Daddy's Old Job

"but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors."
James 2:9

You have GOT to be effing kidding:

That's the "Young Man" from this story:
The loudest voice in the Legislature calling for Hall's head, Waxahachie House Republican Jim Pitts, turned out to be the father of a young man whose admission to the law school was at the center of the controversy. Pitts has since announced he will not seek re-election.


On August 21, 2013, Kevin Williamson, a reporter writing in The National Review, a conservative semimonthly publication founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr., published a story based on a phone call to House Appropriations Committee chairman Jim Pitts. In that call Williamson bluffed Pitts into admitting that his own son Ryan Pitts was one of the low entrance exam scorers who got into the UT Law School through the back door, after Pitts himself had interceded for him.

Pitts launched a vituperative attack on Hall, accusing him of leaking legally protected information about a student, his son, to Williamson, which Pitts insisted was a crime. But the day after Williamson's story appeared, Pitts announced he was retiring from the Legislature.

A week later a story by Reeve Hamilton in The Texas Tribune provided Pitts a podium from which to make an unchallenged defense. He admitted writing a letter asking the law school to admit his son, but he told the Tribune, "Did I ever call for my son -- or the over 100 people I've recommended over the years -- and ask for special treatment? No, I did not."

The Tribune story said Pitts "added that writing such letters has long been standard practice for lawmakers at the Capitol." And there The Texas Tribune, which has received six-figure gifts from the university system, let the matter rest.

Eight months later in a triumph of virtuoso investigative reporting, Jon Cassidy, writing for, an online news service sponsored by a conservative foundation, laid out the real back story of the law school admissions racket. Pitts had told the truth about one thing: It was standard practice.
It gets better:
Two of the students are known to have LSAT scores well below UT standards. James Ryan Pitts, son of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, has now failed the bar exam three times since graduation (*) after scoring a 155 and a 147 on the LSAT, which is scored on a scale of 120 to 180. Those scores rank in the 64th percentile and 33rd percentile nationwide, and are well below the scores in the mid-160s that UT usually requires.
* -- According to a trusted Capitol source, that number was up to nine by January 2017.

Now Ryan Pitts wants Daddeh's old gig.

This is the swamp.

Bottom Line: This is some old skool good ol' boy Texas politics right here....

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Two Questions Texas Republicans OUGHT to Ask Themselves

"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."
Philippians 2:3

[Note I: We outlined a more comprehensive forward looking policy agenda back in January.]

[Note II: In terms of redistricting, it's not quite as clear what will happen in the DFW area.  Thus, the situation there is a little more complicated.  But the basic principle about urban areas still applies.]

To be honest, now is a wildly premature time to discuss the RPT chair race.  There will be plenty of opportunity for backbiting, gossip, and place intrigue once precinct conventions start.  Nevertheless, if the discussion is going to be forced upon us, we might as well use the time productively.

Thus, we suggest the following two questions.
  1. How do you compete in urban areas?!?
    Like it or not, Texas is urbanizing.

    Travis, Bexar, and Harris counties are all going to gain seats in the next redistricting.  While a favorable map can delay the day of reckoning, by the middle of next decade there will be no path to 76 seats that doesn't include better performances in the three counties mentioned above.  Those better performances, by definition, will have to include territory inside those respective cities' limits.

    The good news is that Democrat-controlled local governments give plenty of material with which to work.  The bad news is that, blessed with such a bounty, Republicans either a) Completely ignore the opportunity or b) Engage it so buffoonishly that it's counterproductive.  That being said, a serious, non-buffoonish, approach to urban governance could produce results faster than most people suspect.

    As we explained to the Texas Senate in 2017, in the context of legislation protecting the property rights of those who want to use their investment properties as short-term rentals:

    If the GOP wants more days like March 14, 2017 in the Texas Senate, they're there for the taking.

    There are those who will take the need to compete in urban areas as an excuse to go soft on so-called "social issues."  Nonsense.  If anything, smart discussions of life and religious liberty will help with older members of the African-American and Hispanic communities.

    That being said, so-called "social issues" are largely irrelevant.  What's needed is an intelligent conversation about gentrification.  By the way, it just so happens that gentrification is 100% caused by government.

    Unfortunately, this is the point where the second question becomes unavoidable.
  2. How do you break the logjam in the legislature?!?

    We just wrote a cute little essay about how a future-oriented GOP could conceivably become more competitive in urban areas...but the dirty little secret is that those bills ain't goin' nowhere in this legislature.

    That cute little schpiel we gave about residents of Austin thanking the Texas Senate?!?

    That bill died.

    That's the case on many, many, issues.

    While it's great to discuss growth and future opportunities, none of it means anything if the legislature refuses to pass the relevant legislation.

    Organizations that don't have credibility can't grow.  They might survive, for awhile, by being modestly less crappy.  But the reckoning will come.  Eventually.

    The only real question is whether the economic reckoning or the political reckoning comes first.
Obviously, this author has our own opinions about answers (*).    This isn't about us, or our "6-point miracle plan to save Texas."  If we had one of those, we would have offered it a long time ago.

But it is to say that those are the two questions we believe should guide the discussion.

2024 and 2026 are eventually going to show up.  When they do, this author doesn't see a path to 76 Texas house seats without better performances in Travis, Bexar, and Harris counties.  Within city limits.

Bottom Line: These are our thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em....


* -- Housing costs on the urban issue, abolishing taxpayer funded lobbying/union dues collection on "how to fix the lege."

Monday, July 8, 2019

#TXLEGE: This hemp/marijuana mix-up illustrates MUCH DEEPER Problem with Legislature

"He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer."
Proverbs 18:9

Statesman has a really good editorial on this industrial hemp/marijuana situation:
In their enthusiasm this legislative session to open up Texas fields for hemp farming, lawmakers ended up sowing a bumper crop of confusion among police, prosecutors and the public.

Now hundreds of marijuana cases are getting dropped across the state, and Texans are receiving mixed messages: Pot remains illegal, but you may or may not get charged for having it, depending on which county you’re in.

It’s the kind of bungled plot we’d expect from a stoner movie, not the state Capitol.

Legislators and Gov. Greg Abbott failed at one of the most basic aspects of passing a law: Making sure the tools exist to enforce it. In this case, House Bill 1325 by Rep. Tracy King, and sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry, defined legal hemp as having less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, but no one checked to see if police labs around the state were equipped to distinguish hemp from marijuana, which has a greater concentration of the euphoria-inducing THC.

Turns out, most agencies don’t have such testing available.

For years, law enforcement relied on simple field tests and drug-sniffing dogs to detect the mere presence of THC, not a certain concentration of it. Prosecutors also relied on the testimony of experienced officers that the substance they seized was consistent with marijuana. All of that is out the window now, because none of those methods can distinguish lawful hemp from outlawed pot.
Obviously, this story is amusing. The stoner jokes write themselves. Furthermore, the policy outcome is one this author has long supported.

That being said, there is a serious angle to this story: Legislative sloppiness.

While the hemp/marijuana slip up is humorous, the policymaking environment that enabled it is NOT.

The legislature routinely passes massive, complicated, bills without having a clue what they'll actually do.  Sometimes those bills have real world consequences.  Unfortunately, half-assed policymaking is a predictable consequence of the legislature's culture of entitlement.

Bottom Line: Routine failures at the basic blocking-and-tackling of legislating should disgust all Texans, even if the outcome in this specific case was funny.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Howard redirects boondoggle to a reasonably useful purpose

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Longer term readers know that the so-called "Capitol complex" project is one of this author's pet peeves.  The TL,DR version is that it's silly to build luxury office towers for state employees on prime real estate that should be sold for residential/commercial development.  Making matters more infuriating, council granted the state a gigantic fee waiver on the project a couple years back.

Last night on Twitter, however, we learned that that last part has now been addressed:

Clicking through the KVUE story, we learn:
In fact, the City and state have struck real estate and construction deals for more than 100 years. Most recently, in 2017, the Austin City Council voted to waive $6.8 million in fees, expedite permitting and aide in road closures and conversions so the state can transform Congress Avenue, north of the Capitol, into a massive green space called "The Texas Mall."

That deal in particular led Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin) to file House Bill 2977. The bill allows real estate deals between the state and City to have more flexibility and let Austin negotiate a credit with the state for the Texas Mall deal. The bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last month.

She also filed and passed House Bill 2978 to let Austin cash a credit in and gain an easement on land owned by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. That easement will soon become a bridge connecting the mixed-use community The Grove at Shoal Creek – which is currently under construction – to the trail.

"The state legislature approved an easement on the State Archive tract, which is on the other side of Shoal Creek, to allow us to build a bridge over Shoal Creek. That bridge will connect the Shoal Creek Trail and Shoal Creek Boulevard to the project," said Robert Deegan, the landscape architect and planner for The Grove at Shoal Creek.

"This hike-and-bike bridge is a significant element of the Shoal Creek Trail Plan and we look forward to it happening," said Ted Siff, Board President of Shoal Creek Conservancy, in a press release. "It will be a wonderful benefit to the Grove residents, the surrounding neighborhoods and all Austinites who walk or bike."

The Grove developers will foot the entire bill and build the pedestrian and bike bridge and part of the trail.
Essentially, Howard's bill makes city taxpayers whole while state taxpayers break even.

All things considered, not the worst solution.

Bottom Line: While the original shady real estate deal between the state and the city has not been undone, it's now relatively benign.

Friday, July 5, 2019

#TXLEGE: John Wray Departs (one term short of pension vesting)

"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge."
Hebrews 13:4

State Rep. John Wray, a Waxahachie Republican, announced Wednesday he will not run for reelection to the Texas House in 2020.

"These elected jobs are not meant to be lifetime positions," Wray said in a news release. "It is time for me to return full time to Ellis County and join my fellow citizens to elect the next conservative state representative."

Wray was first elected to the lower chamber in 2014 to represent House District 10, a safe Republican seat that includes Ellis County and parts of Henderson County. During this year's legislative session, he served as vice chair of the House Public Health Committee.
There's nothing inherently wrong with a member deciding against reelection.  Still, the timing is...oddWhy make such an announcement over a holiday weekend?!?

Furthermore consider: John Wray is one session away from having his state pension vest.  Yet, he's walking away.  Strange.

Bottom Line:  It takes a man of strong moral character to walk away from a public pension.  Perhaps John Wray is such a man.  Or, perhaps, there's more to this story....

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Florida Man Brings Racket to Texas Republicans

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
Matthew 7:15

We had planned to take Independence Day off, then this happened:

Apparently, a single term former congressman who lost to a Democrat wants to be the next RPT chairman.

Your guess is as good as ours as to why.

Florida man's "announcement video," is a hot mess of patriotic cliches.  Apparently, today is America's birthday and the preamble to the constitution uses the phrase "more perfect union."  Florida man spent time in the military.

Beyond buzzwords, however, Florida man offers little rationale for his candidacy.

Florida man seems to be running as Dan Patrick on steroids.  Florida man has twice Dan Patrick's ego with half of Dan Patrick's wits.  Basic algebra thus suggests Florida man is a quarter-wit.

Unfortunately for Florida man, Texas Republicans only consider quarter-wits qualified for agriculture commissioner.

That being said, the biggest shame in all this is the missed opportunity.  RPT desperately needs an intellectually serious discussion about the mess in which our state currently finds itself and the path forward.  Unfortunately, Florida man seems clueless about what genuinely ails Texas.

As one example: During his 'announcement video,' Florida man talks about "defending the spirit of the Alamo" while name dropping William Barrett Travis.  That's all good.  Florida man might get a 'C' in 8th grade Texas history.

Unfortunately, the biggest current threat to the Alamo comes from a Texas Republican.

For Florida man to spout platitudes about the Alamo while ignoring George P. Bush tells you everything you need to know.

Bottom Line: No.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

#atxcouncil: If the Austin Police Association is serious, NOW is the time to Recall Casar

"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time."
Colossians 4:5

By now, we assume you've seen the Facebook post heard round the state:

Note: APA doesn't allow embedding from their FB page, so a screenshot will have to suffice.

The Facebook post has got us thinking....

One of the worst kept secrets at City Hall is that APA has wanted to launch a recall campaign against Greg Casar for several years.  The history is complicated, but it created the current reality.  The Austin Police Association hates Greg Casar's guts and have wanted him out of office for several years.

Well, NOW's their chance....

APA will never have a cleaner shot at Casar.  He stepped in it with this homelessness ordinance.  APA has manpower to pull it off.

Bottom Line: The current situation sucks.  But it does create opportunity.  Those who are in a position to take advantage of said opportunity ought to do so.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Abbott needs to call a Special Session or SHUT UP re: New Homelessness Ordinance

"A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back."
Proverbs 29:11

Soo...this happened:

Abbott has zero credibility on this topic.  Like it or not, Greg Abbott allowed the so-called "sick leave" entitlement to stand.  If Greg Abbott wants his credibility back, he needs to call a special session.

The ironic thing is that Abbott now has all the grounds he needs.  While he recently said he wouldn't call a special, nobody anticipated this homelessness ordinance.  If Abbott were to call a special session now, the public would support him.

Because, right now, Steve Adler and Greg Casar are laughing at him:


Bottom Line: There's a reason why nobody takes Governor Chick-fil-a McFoxNews seriously....

Monday, July 1, 2019

Rats Flee Sinking Ship of Paxton Prosecution

"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

Having had their taxpayer shakedown denied (all over again), Lauren McGaughy reports the predictable shoes dropping:
AUSTIN — One of the three attorneys pursuing criminal charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has stepped down from the case.

Last week, Nicole DeBorde filed a motion to withdraw from the case just a week after the state's top court thwarted the special prosecutors' attempts to retain their $300-an-hour pay rate. The presiding judge, Robert Johnson of Harris County, granted her request on June 26, according to court documents.

"As a result of a series of professional obligations over the past several months, the undersigned can no longer devote the requisite time and attention to discharging her duties as an Attorney Pro Tem in these matters," DeBorde wrote. "The undersigned has obtained the consent of her fellow Attorneys Pro Tem to her withdrawing in these matters."
This should surprise nobody.  Ken Paxton has already been cleared on identical federal charges.   We already know there was no underlying crime.  The only reason this case has continued to this point is because of the perverse incentives created by the special prosecutors fee structure.

With the fee structure removed, the special prosecutors have no incentive to continue the case.

Bottom Line: Lawyers who are confident in their case aren't afraid to work on a contingency basis....