Texas Media shake up, and Sarah Palin’s future

Sorry for the odds and ends post, but I wanted to share with you a couple things that are important, albeit unrelated.

First is what’s happening with Texas political media.  In case you’ve missed it, Evan Smith is leaving Texas Monthly to start the “Texas Tribune,” a non-profit news agency that will cover deep political issues of Texas.  I’ve heard some describe it as Texas’ own “POLITICO,” which would be incredible.  He’s amassed an impressive cast of characters from across the state to join him, including Texas Weekly’s Ross Ramsey.  From the Texas Tribune press release:

Incoming Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith announced today that the non-profit public media organization has acquired Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter for government and politics in Texas, and has hired longtime Texas Weekly editor and owner Ross Ramsey as its managing editor. Smith also formally announced the hiring of the first five reporters on the Tribune’s newsroom team: Brandi Grissom, Elise Hu, Emily Ramshaw, Abby Rapoport, and Matt Stiles.

Best of luck to the new organization!

In other news, Sarah Palin seems to be catching some eyes lately.  For whatever reason, a growing number of people seem to think she may break from the Republican party for form an independent third party.  These theorists claim that her resignation as Alaska’s governor was the first step toward that goal.

As a unique voice in the Republican party, Palin has both her supporters and detractors within the party.  I would imagine that most–no matter their thoughts of her–don’t want her leaving the party, though.  Former Gov. Mike Huckabee voiced his concern not long ago, as The Hill mentions:

Huckabee said that he hopes Sarah Palin is not thinking of “going independent,” as she brought electricity to the Republican Party in her run with John McCain. It might be worth wondering if she is thinking of running in 2012 as a candidate for the Alaska Independence Party (AIP).

Palin has been on eight trips outside her Anchorage base since announcing her resignation.

Palin leaving the GOP does, however, line up with her recent comments that she would gladly campaign for Democrats. If she’s trying to build a coalition of voters for her new party, whatever it might be called, that would be a necessary first step.  Keep your eyes focused Northward…  That might be where the action is, come 2012.


Will Rick Perry disrupt Senate election process?

Today’s Statesman has a commentary by Gardner Selby that might pop some eyes regarding statewide elections in the coming months.  According to his column, if Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison steps down from her senate seat to allow another Republican to gain experience until the special election, Rick Perry may declare an emergency and hold the special election whenever he chooses.

This runs contrary to what most other political reporters have said. They claim that if Hutchison resigns early enough, the special election will be in November.  But if it’s after a certain deadline, the special election won’t beheld until May.  In essence, this Selby piece throws that logic out the window.

As stated above, the law requires to the governor to claim that this election must be held for emergency reasons.  Selby seems to think Perry will certainly invoke this rule.  I‘m just curious what the “emergency” will be? Obviously with a Perry-picked replacement, he has who he wants serving the citizens of Texas in (that God-forsaken place) Washington.  What would spur the need for an immediate, long-term replacement?

Obviously this is all detail stuff, but it’s fascinating nevertheless.

Rick Perry takes stimulus, threatens secession

The Federal stimulus money seems to be a recurring subject in the Texas media.  Although Rick Perry rejected $555 million in unemployment insurance money, he accpepted about $14 billion in Federal stimulus money.  This often gets swept under the rug by his campaign, and for good reason.  First of all, it’s an incredibly large sum of money.  A 10th Amendment candidate, as Perry is attempting to brand himself, should not have accepted any Federal money.

The problem with this, as Jason Embry points out, is that the Rainy Day Fund” that Perry touts “went untouched,” could not have been so without Federal aid.  Embry gets his information from the National Conference of State Legislatures:

The national group asked states to say how they closed their budget gaps for the 2010 budget year, and 35 states responded. Of those, 25 said they used federal stimulus dollars to close budget gaps, and Texas reported that it relied most heavily on stimulus dollars, using those dollars to provide 96.7 percent of the gap-closing solution. Nebraska was next at 88 percent.

So if it weren’t for Obama’s stimulus, Perry would have had to deplete the Rainy Day fund, and probably also raise taxes to make up for the difference.  Because the mainstream media doesn’t make a habit of getting into details like this, you rarely hear about it.  Kudos to Embry for taking the time.

This “Please, sir, can I have some more?” Perry is rarely seen in public.  Rather, we get his opposite twin–the 10th Amendment posturing Perry.  On the Mark Davis show this morning, Perry claimed that if Obama’s healthcare plan became law, he would make the “not in my state” stand. Secession, anyone?  That’s the only plausible thing Perry could be referencing.  Otherwise, he’s obligated to comply with U.S. law.

And somewhat related to the “Two Perrys” theory, the Dallas Morning News notes that public and private Perry are very different, as well (“Democrats routinely mention they’ve talked to Perry about some issue or another, and suggest they get along just fine when it comes to most state-specific issues.”)

This, understandably, upsets many conservatives.  Bloggers at the RNI have noticed the disparity between Perry’s words and actions:

While Texas Governor Rick Perry assumes a populist tone at several Tea Party Rallies in the Lone Star State, even to the point of suggesting to reporters that State secession might happen if there is continued overreach in Washington, it is important to recall that he has been a “friend” of policies favoring amnesty for illegal immigrants, a Trans-Texas Corridor, and an emerging, de facto North American Union. If he has such checkered past on issues of national sovereignty, then his sudden interest in state sovereignty must be seen for what it is: a campaign gimmick and an act of brazen, political demagoguery.

A harsh critique, indeed.  But it’s not entirely unfounded.  Someone who has moseyed about the governor’s mansion for as long as Perry has is bound to have people who notice his political maneuvering.  To counter them, he’s become incredible astute at learning how to get elected.  As long as he can keep what happens in between elections fuzzy in the minds of Texas voters, he’s sitting pretty.

A blogger asks “Are Republicans gullible?”

I imagine that most Texas political blog readers–like you reading this one now–have a good handle on “who’s out there.”  But in case you missed it, I found a great post by a Texas Republican woman who does a good job analyzing the Perry-Hutchison race.

She brings up a great point about people who are on the fence in this race:

[T]he same short-sighted Republicans who gave us President Obama because of their refusal to support Senator John McCain could cause Texas to end up with a Democrat governor. Perry only got 39% of the vote in his last election. And he didn’t exactly have an impressive legislative session this time around.

A Democrat as the governor of Texas. At first thought, it’s almost hard to imagine.  But if you think about it, she’s right.  Perry barely escaped with his career last go-around.  Four more years of flirting with the TTC likely hasn’t gotten him very far.  A Perry vs. Democrat general election is a gamble for Republicans.

She continues her blog post by analyzing Perry’s conservative credentials, which she finds to be shakey at best.  (She makes the claim that his stances are mostly political pandering.)  It’s an interesting view.  I realize not all Texans share it, but as the race develops, we’ll see how the “Perry for 14 years” idea goes over with voters.

Kay and Cornyn defend 2nd Amendment

The NRA can’t be happy about this one.  The Senate voted today to not allow American citizens the right to carry a concealed handgun across state lines, if they have a permit to do so in their own state.  Our Texas senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, voted to defend the rights of gun owners I’m proud to say. The Houston Chronicle writes:

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a co-sponsor of the proposal, blamed Senate Democrats and President Obama for the defeat. He said the proposal “would allow law-abiding” citizens with concealed-weapons permits “to protect themselves while traveling to other states.”

“I’m disappointed with this move and certainly hope it is not a sign of things to come,” Cornyn said. “The Second Amendment guarantees law-abiding citizens the fundamental right to bear arms, and Congress should be working to defend, not weaken, these constitutional rights.”

Key defectors were Republican Sens. Richard Lugar (Ind.) and George Voinovich (Ohio).  Seems a little odd to me, since those are pretty strong NRA states, based on deer hunting alone.  Formerly NRA-backed Democrats who voted against it include Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).  The Democrats are facing loose cannon liberals in upcoming primary battles.

It’s a shame that responsible Texans who live near border states aren’t able to have their Second Amendment rights protected.  I’m just glad that I live in a state where both senators obvioulsy “get it.”

I’ve checked, and I see no word yet on the guys over at “A Keyboard and a .45“–a Texas-based blog that addresses gun owner rights.  I’ll keep you posted if I see anything.

We can’t exactly say this is shocking though.  The NRA knew what was coming when Obama got elected.

Cell phone jamming and Broadband proposed by KBH

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has been in the news lately for announcing her $6.7 million raised for the governor’s race.  But she’s also been busy getting legislation through the U.S. Senate.

Today’s Wall Street Journal is reporting on the cell phone jamming technology that Hutchison is pushing for jails.  Jails from across the country have reported that cell phones are being snuck in to inmates and used to continue illicit activity.  Dogs are brought in to cells to sniff out such technology, but the inmates are able to break them down and distribute the parts all over their cell, which throws the dogs off the scent.

Hutchison proposed that jamming technology be used to cut down on inmate cell phone use:

“When a single call can result in someone’s death, we have an obligation to exhaust every technology at our disposal,” said the committee’s ranking Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas at a Wednesday hearing.

A guard was killed recently because of an inmates cell phone call.

Hutchison also recently proposed expanding broadband Internet access to rural areas.  You can read her commentary at The Hill.  An excerpt:

More than any other technology this century, broadband has the potential to truly transform our lives. We cannot leave half of America behind in the process.

Texas shaping the future of the GOP

While the Republican party, both nationally and in Texas, is not in the disarray that the media might have you believe, it’s certainly in a soul-searching period.  It’s nothing to be alarmed about–it’s a natural evolution that’s happened to Republicans and Democrats alike in the past, and will happen again in the future.

The race for governor in Texas has become, for some, a potential early indicator of what’s to come for the GOP nationally.  The race pits Gov. Rick Perry of the conservative purist ideology against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of the big tent, broad party philosophy.  His tactics appeal to a narrower brand of conservatism, whereas Hutchison’s appeal is broadly embraced.  If you need any evidence of this, compare the approval ratings of the two.

As an example of what Hutchison has been saying, The Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers quotes Hutchison from her Monday press conference:

“If you disagree on some issue here or there, come in, let’s talk about it,” she said. “Let us try to make our position your position. That’s how you grow a party. That’s how you reach out and rejuvenate the grass roots.”

I think few would argue with the statements above.  But that’s not the game Perry is playing.  In the time Perry has been governor, the Texas House went from a commanding Republican majority to having one more Republican than Democrat.  His goal has never been to grow the party and there’s tangible evidence that shows this.  The Texas GOP is on a train headed straight for disaster, and the engineer is too busy whistling Dixie to pay attention.

But Texas isn’t the only place this discussion is popping up.  Although it’s a Texas-based blog, the Lone Star Times has a blog post up today about RNC Chairman Michael Steele and growing the party.

Writer David Jennings hits on an important point:  we are the party of Reagan, but Reagan is gone.  We must find a way to adapt his message and the core GOP principles to our current situation.  Once that has been established, we must evaluate who the Republican party has in its ranks to serve as spokesman and leader of the march back to majority status.  Every Republican should be focused on this task–not personal ambition or self-serving politics.  Says Jennings:

I think that Mr. Steele’s message is exactly what the Republicans need to stress. We are the party of freedom. We are the party of limited government. We are the party of fiscal conservatism. We are the party of opportunity. We are the party that is open and welcoming to all who share those simple principles.

If you want to see video of Steele’ statement, click here.

Change is, of course, difficult.  But it’s also necessary for suvival.  In politics, change is necessary for relevance. An irrelevant Republican party accomplishes none of its goals, and sees none of its core principles enacted as policy.

So the spotlight is again on Texas.  The race is obviously not a simple choice between black and white.  But distinct messages are beginning to form and Texans again will take the lead in this country to determine the future path it takes.