In re Sid Miller

The Texas Agriculture Commissioner is a powerful, Statewide elected position that traces its roots back over 100 years ago. During the era of Democratic dominance, the office was occupied by larger-than-life men who became national figures. There was James McDonald, a bitterly conservative Democrat who fought with Franklin Roosevelt over crop subsidies. He served for twenty years until a 25 year old man named John White defeated him and held the office himself for twenty-six years. White, a liberal, would later go on to serve as President Carter’s deputy Secretary of Agriculture as well as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Then, of course, there was Jim Hightower, a folk hero of the left who held the office for close to a decade.

Since Republicans first took over the office, however, it has been career politicians most prevalent in this post. Rick Perry, then a State Representative, unseated Hightower in 1990. He was succeeded in 1998 by Susan Combs, the incumbent Comptroller, who was –in turn– succeeded by Todd Staples in 2006, the incumbent.

In the race to succeed Staples, it is the career politicians who finished best. Sid Miller and Tommy Merritt, two fiercely conservative former State Representatives, finished first and second, respectively. They will therefore advance into a runoff election in May. Two other conservative activists, Joe Cotten and Eric Opiela, also finished strong, while J Allen Carnes, the Mayor of Uvalde and a self-described pragmatist, finished dead last.

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Bob Perry, 1932-2013

The Texas Tribune reports that GOP super donor Bob Perry died this morning in his sleep. He was 80.

Bob Perry had amassed a large fortune over the years from his large development company, Perry Homes. Eventually, the focus turned to philanthropy of a political nature. Perry was one of the biggest donors to politicians in the State, mainly giving to the GOP. Among his recipients were George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Sylvester Turner, Mario Gallegos, George P. Bush and Carol Alvarado. A Houston resident, he worked tirelessly to support candidates, both left and right (but mainly right), from his hometown.

Additionally, Perry was invaluable in silencing the far-right from dominating the Republican Party’s immigration policy. He was one of the key reasons the cruel Sanctuary City bill did not pass, and for that, liberals like me will always be grateful.

I do not believe I ever had the pleasure of meeting Mr Perry in person, but I wish I did. He will be missed and I was saddened to hear of his passing.

Texting ban to be voted on in House

Huzzah! The Dallas Morning News tells me, this afternoon, that the texting while driving ban will be voted upon in the State House. The Calendar Committee (<–what the heck is that?) recently moved the bill forward and out of its super-duper secret proceedings.

Anyways, the entire House of Representatives will now consider and vote on the bill on Wednesday April 17. The Morning News discusses how 100 Reps and 21 Senators need to agree on the legislation to override Governor Perry’s veto. According to them, “Word is that former House Speaker Craddick has the votes.” The Senate is a little bit more tricky, but then again, it voted 28-3 to pass a very similar ban back in 2011.

As I have said before, it probably won’t be much of a problem to get this put into law so as long as the Legislature deals with it before it goes out of session. Rick Perry’s pocket veto seemed to be the deathmark last session, so an early start to this (passing everything by the end of April) would be a good first step to avoid the embarrassment from 2011.

Texting Ban, take two

Former House Speaker Tom Craddick has once again introduced a bill to ban texting-while-driving. I have some complicated views on the Texting ban, but if I were in the legislature, and it was the ban or nothing, I would be supportive.

Anyways, this proposal seems to be DOA because of Governor Perry almost certain to veto it. Now, this didn’t make sense to me, because vetoes may be overridden, so I did some research. In 2011, the Texas House voted 124-16 to ban texting while driving, and then the Texas Senate voted 28-3. But then, I found that, in accepting the Senate version, the House voted only 80-61. I don’t understand the huge swing. Anyways, it seems that the greatest obstacle towards passing the ban is the lack of time. The bill was sent to the Governor on May 31st, right as the regular session ended. About two weeks later, Perry vetoed it. I’m not sure, but the Legislature might have had to restart the entire process to move the bill forward in the Special Session.

Anyways, it is certainly possible to override Perry’s veto, so as long as movement on the bill occurs early enough in the session.