Monday, September 05, 2011

"Governor" Steve Ogden: 'politics is bad'

Peggy Fikac from Texas on the Potomac:

The Bryan-College Station Eagle spotlighted a speech by state Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, mentioning the effect of political ambition on the legislative session:

“He said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was ineffective because he ‘made it clear early that he wanted to be the United States senator from Texas rather than lieutenant governor.’

“‘If you’re elected to a job you don’t really want, and you’re trying to use that job for something else,’ Ogden said, ‘you’re pretty miserable while you’re in that job and everybody else around you is pretty miserable.’”

When I caught up with Ogden last week, he said the comments about Dewhurst were part of a bigger point he was making about politics in the legislative session (the newspaper also reported other remarks in that vein) and added, “I’m sorry I said it. I’ve endorsed him” for U.S. Senate. Ogden said he didn’t find the endorsement inconsistent, saying, that Dewhurst “is the most qualified candidate in the race and knows more about finances and health care reform than anybody else.”

Steve Ogden is one of three state senators mentioned in this Texas Tribune straw poll of political insiders who would likely be selected governor and/or lieutenant governor if Rick Perry is elected president and David Dewhurst is elected US senator. I say 'selected', because it's the Texas Senate -- 31 men and women, two-thirds of whom are Republicans -- who do the 'electing'.

Hand a bunch of insiders a list of 31 senators and ask what's going to happen next, and you turn them into outsiders. The most insider deals of all happen when legislators meet amongst themselves to choose their leaders. It happens in the House every session. In the Senate, it only happens when the lieutenant governor leaves in mid-term. With David Dewhurst running for U.S. Senate, the game is afoot; if he wins in 2012, the Senate will pick his replacement. If Rick Perry leaves the governor's office, the lieutenant governor — Dewhurst or otherwise — would get his job.

That's the setup. We asked the insiders to forecast what might happen if the senators were to meet to choose new high officials. Who would win? Would the Democrats have any say in a Republican Senate? While we were at it, we asked the insiders which senators won't return in 2013, either because of retirement, defeat or the search for another office.

The results? No clear winners. If senators were picking a new lieutenant governor, the insider money is on Kevin Eltife of Tyler, with 36 percent, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, 26 percent, and Steve Ogden of Bryan, 18 percent. Only one other senator — Tommy Williams of The Woodlands — broke 5 percent. No Democrats made the list.

Picking a governor? Duncan led, with 26 percent, followed closely by Ogden, at 24 percent. Eltife came in at 11 percent, followed by John Carona, R-Dallas, at 9 percent. Nobody else crossed the five percent line.

Who's Steve Ogden, you're still wondering? He's the fellow who sneered at Texans when they came before his committee last June to protest the legislature's budget cuts to Texas education.

After hearing several witnesses urge lawmakers to use the reserve Ogden pointed his finger and told them to forget it.

"Hope is not a plan," Ogden said shortly before the bill passed the committee.


Ogden also said he doesn't believe what he called threats of "draconian" cuts to local schools.

"We're not cutting school budgets," Ogden said. "We're just not giving them as much money as they think they are entitled to."

To hear him tell it, though, Steve Ogden stands above the fray, making the difficult and important decisions about the future of Texas without regard to politics or ambition.

Do you believe that?

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