State Senator Creighton


In the special election for District 4 of the State Senate, vacated by Tommy Williams, the results are in and it is a decisive victory. State Representative Brandon Creighton (R-Montgomery County) has defeated State Representative Steve Toth (R-Montgomery County). The seat is remarkably conservative, centered around The Woodlands and its surrounding right-wing neighborhoods. As such, in the original preliminary election in May, all four candidates were Republicans. When it comes to special elections in Texas, a blanket primary is used, so Creighton and Toth advanced into tonight’s runoff election. Creighton will serve out the remainder of Williams’ term, which stretches until the end of 2016.

Williams, for his part, had always been far more moderate/pragmatic than his Republican constituents may have been. He fought tirelessly time and time again in recent sessions on behalf of bipartisan legislation, and he was an infamous Dan Patrick-hater. Thus, when he revealed last year that he was resigning the State Senate to take a job at Texas A&M University, most observers assumed the chamber would take a rightward tilt irrespective of who his opponent might be.

At the time of Williams’ resignation, Creighton was in the middle of a bid for Agriculture Commissioner. Interestingly enough, when Creighton announced his candidacy for that post in August (Texpatriate was on hand for the event), Toth was among the dignitaries who supported his candidacy. However, once Williams resigned in October, Creighton switched races. Toth soon followed suit.

While Creighton is not nearly as centrist as his predecessor, he is still leaps and bounds above his opponent. While both are undoubtedly beholden to Tea Party and nativist groups and are significantly more conservative than I am familiar therewith. But only Toth is mean hearted about it.

Creighton, at heart, is a representative for his constituents. His support, at its core, is grass roots and reflects the same neighborhoods he grew up in and has worked in. I saw this last year when he held his kickoff event for the Agriculture Commissioner run. Myriad local officials were present, and the cheerleaders from the local high school even held an event. He is a man of the people, albeit very conservative people. Toth, on the other hand, is just all about ideology. His support is astroturfed.

This was the same sentiment expressed by State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas County), a freshman who is quickly becoming the most renowned moderate Republican in the Legislature.

No surprise that Empower Texans endorsed against the Reagan Republican, Brandon Creighton, who is winning by 72% tonight,” Villalba wrote on his Facebook. ” Empower Texans and it’s leadership have no credibility whatsoever.”

It’s a trap!

The Texas Tribune reports that a gaggle of Republican politicians, lead by State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor, have began pushing for Governor Rick Perry to call a fourth special session of the Texas Legislature to deal with border security.

The Washington Post provides the needed background on this issue. There have been tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the border, with some evidence that they are coming here because of deferred action programs delaying the deportation of minor undocumented immigrants. Anyways, the powers-to-be have quickly realized that something needs to be done. Breitbart notes that Perry has said that, given current budget constraints, he can do little over the issue.

Accordingly, enter State Reps. Jonathan Strickland (R-Tarrant County) and Steve Toth (R-Montgomery County). The two pushed for the Governor to call a fourth special session specifically devoted to border security. By the end of the day, Patrick had publicly signed onto the matter. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, now a lame duck but still President of the Senate for the time being, also supported the measure via his Facebook page.

Click here to read more!

Statewide shakeup

Simply put, there have been some entrances and some exits in recent Statewide Republican primaries. Namely, in the races for the positions of Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner.

Brandon Creighton, a State Representative from Magnolia who took his sweet time to announce his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, is out of the race.  As far as I could figure, Creighton was the hands-down favorite in the race thus far, and his exit opened up a vacuum. Politics, of course, abhors a vacuum, and therefore a small stampede of candidates rushed into the primary, which now lacks a clear frontrunner. I never got around to writing about this last week, but Sophia discussed it in the week in review this past Sunday.

Now, the Texas Tribune reports that State Representative Stefani Carter, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner, has dropped out of the race. Carter, in stark contrast to Creighton, was not doing especially well in the race. Malachi Boyuls, George P. Bush’s business partner, has by far the most money in that race, and thus was crowned as the frontrunner by the Tribune. Carter, therefore, most likely felt her candidacy was not worthwhile.

Click here to learn who the new candidates are and what the former candidates will now run for!

Creighton for Agriculture Commissioner


This morning I attended Brandon Creighton’s announcement for his bid for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in Montgomery, Texas, where his family has resided for over 170 years. Immediately preceding his speech, Reps. Steve Toth and Cecil Bell, both Republicans of Montgomery County, spoke on behalf of their friend Creighton and their personal excitement over Creighton’s announcement.

Touching on their strongly conservative and anti large federal government platforms, they finally yielded to the Representative Creighton. He then delivered a fiery speech for the crowd of supporters and locals. Creighton also spoke favorably of both Rick Perry and Todd Staples. Accompanied by his family on stage, Representative Creighton spoke of his conservative credentials and strong background in agriculture. He also touched on his pro life and anti Obama stance, wanting to keep Texas out of the hands of the federal government. This was echoed by a round of applause from the largely homogeneous crowd diversified only by gender.

While the speech served its purpose in gaining support, it failed to be full of substance regarding plans for the future of Texas Agriculture. More than a few comments about an agricultural platform would have sufficed at that point. In the end, a passionate speech was heard but little knowledge was gained.

The position of Agriculture Commissioner should not simply be a platform for higher office, or one for Tea Party rebel-rousing. As ridiculous as Todd Staples’ (the current Agriculture Commissioner) horse commercial was, it provided a great insight into the role of the Agriculture Commissioner. Sadly, Creighton did not give any concrete path as to how he would lead in that new role.

Sophia Arena is Texpatriate’s newest Staff Writer.

Gun Day

The Texas House passed some major legislation yesterday. Among these are the good, the fair, the bad, the horrible and the blatantly unconstitutional and possibly treasonous. Okay, maybe not treasonous, at least not yet, but all the other superfluous adjectives. All of these passed by voice vote, so I am not sure what the crossover was on any of these bills, but let me go down the line on them real quick.

First up, the infamous “Campus Carry,” or as I call it, “Guns on Campus.” It sounds meaner. Anyways, it was among the bills that passed, and you can read what it does here. The only differences from the Committee version was that this bill has incorporated a substantial amendment that essentially adds Hegar’s bill from the Senate as a rider (Guns in Cars), as well as changes private schools from “opt-out” to “opt-in.” The “opt-out” that applies to both Public and Private would have to occur every year. Finally, “bio-harzard” zones would be exempt, so Medical Schools (Craig Eiland [D-Galveston] offered up this amendment with regard to UTMB).

Next, the “School Marshall” program. HB 1009, proposed by Jason Villalba (R-Dallas). The bill would essentially create anonymous, well-trained individuals with handguns whose responsibility it would be to protect some school districts, much like the current Air Marshall Program. Officers would require 80 hours of training (in comparison, the CHL is 8). I really like this bill, as I have no problem with letting trained, competent individuals posses deadly weapons.

Next, HB864, proposed by Donna Campbell (R-Bexar). The bill reduces the training time for a CHL from 8 to 6 hours. The problem with this bill is that it keeps loosening our already ultra-soft laws in regard to gun licensing. The point of these tests is that it keeps the psychos away from the deadly force. If you keep reducing requirements, you make that failsafe less and less likely.

HB 485, by Sarah Davis (R-Harris), my Rep, was also passed. The bill would sharply reduce the fee for a CHL to $25, for honorably discharged members of the armed forces or reserve peace officers. Again, I have no problem with this, because honorable discharges and peace officers are usually the type of levelheaded people who can handle a gun. The only drawback is it would decreased the amount of revenue the State raises.

Then, there is the Toth bill. Steve Toth (R-Montgomery)’s bill passed, which “nullifies” federal gun regulations, and a bill by Brandon Creighton (R-Montgomery) that punishes federal officials who try to enforce federal laws. Here’s the problem, the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected “nullification” multiple times (most recently in 1958, Cooper v. Aaron). And arrested a federal official for enforcing federal law might just be a tad bit illegal. As Gene Wu said, it’s called the Supremacy Clause. For a faction of politicians who claim to be such mighty “constitutionalists,” this seems to run pretty counter to their big message

The Texas Tribune and Houston Chronicle have more.

Lotto dies–whoops–I mean, lives

The Texas Tribune has the best article on this, hands down. Anyways, long story short, the Texas House voted to sunset the lottery, then, after realizing what they had just down, performed an epic about-face with amazing alacrity.

I remember the first time I (legally) purchased a lottery ticket. It was slightly after midnight on my 18th birthday, as I was coming home from dinner with friends. The gas station attendant didn’t even card me, which actually sort of disappointed me. Anyways, shortly thereafter, I started a tradition of buying a scratch-off at my local grocery store every Friday after school. I think the most memorable clerk reaction was “Is this a joke? Like, am I on candid camera?” Ouch.

But essentially, my opinion on the lotto is similar to my opinion on soda taxes or any sort of social issue, which is I have a pretty stubborn libertarian streak. People need to have personal responsibility, if they lose their money gambling, it ain’t the government’s fault, don’t blame the government lottery.

Accordingly, I was shocked and appalled at the House vote this morning to extend the life of the state lottery failing on a vote of 65-81. The Tea Party members came out in full force, and their constituents rallied to their Facebooks, congratulating them on a good “well done,” especially stopping the “evils of gambling.” Remarked one woman on Rep. Steve Toth’s page, “WE DO NOT WANT GAMBLING IN TEXAS [sic] of any kind.” I’ve always found such sentiment to run quite counter to my idea of what these people allegedly stand for, that is, small government and personal responsibility.

There is another element to this drama too, though, and that is that the State Lotto raises over $1B in revenue each year, with most of it going to education.

Then, after a few hours, the House reversed itself and voted 91-53 to save the lottery. The drama calmed down after that, so the program looks as though it will live another day.