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Independent Conservative Republicans? Nothing Independent or Conservative About These Texas Republicans
Independent and Conservative Groups, Candidates
Dan Patrick's New Group
New Dan Patrick Group Represents State Senator's Broadening of Influence
Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Dist. 7) announced today the creation of a new organization he said would devote its energy towards supporting conservative principles.
Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas, Patrick said, provides Republicans in the Texas legislature with accountability outside of the Texas Republican Party.
“We recognize we are first and foremost accountable to the people who elected us. We have dedicated ourselves to these core principals and have said ‘this is who we are and this is how we will legislate," Patrick said.
Patrick's Invitation Only Club is a Power Grab
But, while Senator Dan Patrick might tell us this organization celebrates the independent-minded politics of the Texas Republican legislators invited to join, serious questions should be asked about how the ICRT could actually undermine the Republican Party and real Texas family values.
For example, in his introduction on the ICRT web site, Patrick says, "Members have made a commitment to stand by our 5 contract prinicples," which include:
- Stand for conservative principals and to put people before Party.
- Fiscally accountable, limit the size of government, and fight for free market principles.
- Protect our borders and to support a strong military.
- Protect life, support strong family values, and uphold the Judeo-Christian beliefs our nation was founded upon.
- Honor the Constitution and protect the sovereign rights of Texas.
While these are good values to have, I wonder what would happen to a Texas legislator who wasn't invited to Dan Patrick's invitation-only club, and whether they will be on the chopping block like another legislator, Corbin Van Arsdale, found himself in 2008.
For those unfamiliar with this cautionary tale, the short of Van Arsdale's trouble is that he pure and simply got in the way of Dan Patrick on his meteoric rise to power in the 7th Senate District, when the then Texas legislator supporter Patrick's rival, Rep. Joe Nixon.
At the time, I was a budding young journalist for the Sun Newspapers, and I can recall with almost near accuracy the events--and the butting heads between myself and the Patrick camp--as the KSEV radio mogul tangled with Nixon moreso than the other two Republicans in the primary race, Rep. Peggy Hamric and Houston City Council member Mark Ellis.
Nixon and Patrick's fight was bitter, and played out on the front pages and radio waves (particularly on Patrick-owned KSEV) each week throughout the GOP primary race.
Nearing Primary Election Day, Patrick hosted a live radio satellite at The Original Bake Shoppe and Cafe, where live on KSEV radio, Van Arsdale and the radio host-turned-politician fought over the District 130 legislator's alleged opposition to the same-sex marriage amendment on the Texas ballot.
While Van Arsdale ran unopposed in 2006, Dan Patrick put up Rep. Allen Fletcher, a "real conservative," Patrick touted, who could serve as District 130's voice in Austin.
With 58 members of the Texas Legislature signed on as founding members of the ICRT, could the organization actually serve as a launch pad for a Dan Patrick takeover of the Republican base?
By building an infrastructure to influence policy, I foresee Patrick using the ICRT to not necessarily support independent conservative values but to ensure that his endorsement carries weight statewide as he builds a political machine for personal gain down the road.
For Texas Republicans not on the ICRP list, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume Patrick has poor relationships or a poor opinion of otherwise good Republicans.
If you think otherwise, ask Van Arsdale if he ever thought his ouster might come at the hands of another Republican.
Patrick's Laughable "Independent" Label
While I believe the KSEV wing of the Republican Party will fall in line with Sen. Patrick's new organization (folks like Republican Precinct Chair Perky Savage, who won't think twice about attacking another Republican organization), for the thinking man, Patrick's insinuation that he and others in the ICRT are "independent conservatives" is something of a misnomer.
For example, while in 2006, Patrick's pick for Texas District 130 avowed himself to the belief the Texas border should be closed, Rep. Allen Fletcher failed to author a single bill on the Texas-Mexico border.
Instead, Fletcher co-authored HB 266, which supports largely eVerify to keep illegals from working, and gives police the authority to ask about immigration status only in the event of an alcohol-related crime.
Furthermore, Fletcher has been less than stellar in his service to fiscal conservatism, authoring five bills which would expand government bureaucracy in Texas District 130 and potentially increase taxes on small businesses.
Meanwhile, as a founder member of the ICRT, Fletcher has said he will uphold border security and fiscal accountability, according to Patrick's previously mentioned statements.
Does this mean Patrick got Allen Fletcher's original priorities wrong in 2008 when he put him up against Van Arsdale? Or, like Patrick's own constituents (which include Texas District 130), we're going to have to give these bums one more chance to fulfill their campaign promises?
Sen. Patrick's own record leaves much to be desired. The only evidence of Patrick's service in the Texas Senate are he words "In God We Trust" emblazoned across the Senate dais, an admirable development, but one which isn't even featured in within Senate District 7.
A short glance at Patrick's Pact with Texans on his campaign web site will illustrate what little good he has been.
All the while, Senator Patrick, Allen Fletcher and others who have fallen in line with the senator can now claim "independent conservative" status, only because Dan Patrick says so.
As I have said in previous reporting on this subject, just because a conservative group says you are a conservative doesn't necessarily mean you are effective.
Case in point: In the 2010 race for Texas Railroad Commission, one candidate marketing on Facebook wooed primary voters by stating he was "an anti-abortion, pro-family candidate for Texas Railroad Commission."
While I think these are good conservative values, his positions on these issues mean nothing to the voter who understands the Railroad Commission has nothing to do with abortion or family issues. (Or the railroad, for that matter...)
In short, the ICRP is just another way for Dan Patrick Republicans in Texas to use this conjecture that they are real conservatives.
Where Do We Go From Here?
First, believe it when I say Dan Patrick's influence will be broadened in this state, and as he continues to make inroads with Republicans like Fox News Contributor and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, the nation.
The ICRP presents its founder, my state senator and the drive-time radio star with a great advantage outside owning two talk-radio stations in Texas; this group can serve as a place to develop a base--and a bully pulpit--to assert his will on the Texas Republican Party.
While some may not seem to think that's a bad idea, I am reminded of the scandal-trodden yet unopposed Republican Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole's prediction:
"If that person is elected to Austin, it will be the single least-productive period in our State Senate district than ever," Eversole forewarned, as he announced his support for Peggy Hamric's run for State Senate.
As we have seen, since Patrick took the reigns in 2006, Eversole was right and has survived politically long enough to see this prediction come to pass. (Coincidentally, Eversole is still in office, which further illustrates Patrick's fued with other Republicans only hinged on their support of Joe Nixon).
Secondly, believe that even when a politician calls themselves a "independent conservative," it is untrue until you have looked at their record to prove it.
Too many times we elect candidates on words alone. We have many examples to point to today of this fact.
With fervor and urgency, Texans must stand up and play a role in not only voting, but they should also take the time to step away from the politics and the pundits (especially over at KSEV), and read the record.
The Texas Legislature tracks votes and bills on their web site, and with just a little effort--and a willingness to look into candidates (even your friends)--we might just elect some REAL independent conservatives, not just folks who present themselves as such.
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