- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Feb. 23, 2014.

We’re not electing Alamo defenders against Satan

If there’s one question Texas voters should answer for themselves before casting ballots in the primary election, it’s this:

Does Candidate (Fill In The Blank) really think we’re that stupid?

A troubling pattern has emerged in several prominent campaigns - the message has nothing remotely to do with the job description. It’s as if the candidate never bothered to read it.

Don’t be fooled. The candidates know what the job is, but choose the message they think will make the biggest splash. Never mind whether it has anything to do with the job. Show them an opponent unwilling to sacrifice principle to play this game and they’ll show you a loser.

Take, for example, the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, the most interesting of the statewide contests because it’s a powerful position and there’s not a single no-name among the four candidates. The lieutenant governor’s job is to preside over the Texas Senate and appoint committees. Other than that, there’s the occasional stand-in duty when the governor has left the state to go insult Californians to their faces.

The lieutenant governor is NOT the state’s bulwark against illegal immigration. But a voter would never guess it from the ads and rhetoric. Candidate Dan Patrick claims to be the hardest-line of the four. The recent revelation that he employed undocumented immigrants in the 1980s notwithstanding, voters should have dismissed him already for bringing border security up in the first place. Ironically, the Dan Patrick described to The Dallas Morning News and Houston’s KTRK-TV by a formerly undocumented former employee possesses redeeming human qualities we’ve never seen in the demagogic Dan Patrick portrayed by candidate Dan Patrick.

Another of the popular off-point campaign themes is gun rights. It’s one thing for candidates for governor or the Legislature to talk gun policy. They actually can affect it. But it has managed to seep into the comptroller’s race. The comptroller is the state’s chief financial officer, accountant and collector and distributor of revenue - last we checked.

Maybe we should be impressed that comptroller candidates are courageous enough to collect taxes from a polite society of armed taxpayers. Candidate Glenn Hegar in particular has a video of himself at a gun range shooting a semi-automatic handgun and an AR-15 rifle. Knowing his way around Excel would seem more germane.

Hegar also wants the electorate to know that he’s vehemently anti-abortion, as does Railroad Commission candidate Wayne Christian. It’s pointed out often that the Railroad Commission has nothing to do with regulating railroads. It has even less to do with regulating abortion.

It used to be a traditional ruse by all candidates for attorney general to campaign on a lock-‘em-up law-and-order platform when the attorney general’s main purpose is to provide legal guidance and represent the state’s legal interests. The law-and-order shtick was a lot more honest than what is going on nowadays.

The tendency is to blame far-right preening on the tea party for pushing already far-right Republicans farther right. It’s true that a lot of pragmatic right-leaning politicians are playing this game as a survival tactic.

But the way we see it, the tea party is a group of voters who vote. That means voting in the primary, which a lot of so-called voters don’t bother to do. The ones who DO bother will make many if not most or all of the key decisions in this election.

So, don’t blame the tea party. Blame voters.

Story Continues →