Saturday, January 18, 2014

HCRP civil war emperils Dan Patrick, and the real threat to GOP survival

Not surprised and not feeling bad for anybody.

Over the last couple weeks, it has become impossible to deny that a civil war has broken out in the largest county Republican Party in America – and the way this fight plays out in Houston before the March primary could have serious implications for the political aspirations of Sen. Dan Patrick in his bid to preside over the Texas Senate.

Patrick, a Houston radio host and lawmaker who has given up his Senate seat, said in his announcement for higher office that the support he enjoys in the Bayou City is key to his statewide strategy. Simply put: Patrick is banking on Harris County in a way that the other three candidates in the race are not. The problem with that now is that Republicans there will also have to make a fundamental choice about who will lead the local party. This year’s challenge to six-term incumbent and conservative flamethrower Jared Woodfill is objectively the most serious one he’s faced but, at the same time, he’s never one to be counted out until the voting is done.

That's all Scott Braddock and Harvey Kronberg are going to give you.  Update: Republican activist Burt Levine posted the full article to his Facebook timeline; you can read it here Absent a subscription to read their take, I'll provide mine.  And I won't bury the lede.

The local chapter of Republickins just cannot determine whether to shit or go blind.

When you have the county judge and a county commissioner in a proxy duel with $10,000 checks over who is the better conservative, and the election is still two months away... well, you just know there's going to be a gunfight at the Not-OK Corral.

But there's a bigger picture, and while the TXGOP will very probably rise or fall on the backs of the winners and losers of their squabbles, that's small potatoes at this point.  Really.

Forget the flying-colors sideshow that is Judge Denise Pratt, and yes, disregard -- for the moment -- that her scandal is widening to include the fresh new district attorney, Devon Anderson.  Ignore that Judge Pratt has lost the endorsement of Republican Yoda Gary Polland (who has made a lot of money in her court) because she has become a "political liability".  Overlook that nasty little squabble over a gay precinct chair; both sides have kissed and made up for the cameras.

Pass over the most recent lamentations of Big Jolly, even.

If these people are the best that we Harris County Republicans have going for us, perhaps it is time to walk away from the whole mess. Putting the issue of abortion on the same level as that of gay marriage reduces it to nothing more than the political wedge issue that Democrats have been saying it is for us.

Update: Lone Star Q notes the gay/antigay fault line shaking up the HCRP as well as Patrick's reaction to Annise Parker's wedding, which sounds just like some of the vile comments I linked here.

Harris County Republicans are slowly coming to terms with the fact that no matter who wins the fight for their chair, we all lose.  Everybody.  And yet... this is still just a distraction from the main event.  They are certainly the symptoms of a more serious condition, which is the creaking obsolescence and rapidly approaching extinction of the Reagan Republican party.  And it will demonstrate itself most clearly as an electoral liability when the Texas GOP selects its lieutenant governor nominee in March's primary.  That's right; LG, not governor.

Enough has been written about the quartet of conservative morons running for the post, including the spin attached to their fundraisingSocratic Gadfly thinks that this contest will be the one where money makes the most difference, and I am inclined to agree just because of the difficulty in handicapping the race.  Polling suggests it will be Dewhurst and one other who emerges to run off in April, and again, who am I to disagree with polls?  (That's a joke.)

But if I had to bet today, I would put my money on Jerkin' Jerry Patterson, he of the bubble copter and boot pistol.  He's raised the smallest amount of money, but he's got the same statewide ballot name ID without the too-slick persona -- and freakishly large head -- of Todd Staples.  Patterson also has one the sneakiest persons ever managing his campaign, the former Safety for Dummies in Fort Bend County blogger, Chris Elam.

Patrick, for his part, is drawing criticism from the locals I overhear because of his *gasp* massive ego.  Staples is just too weird and incompetent even by the typical GOP standards.  It's still early enough, though, that all their warts could be washed away by the infusion of some of their millions of dollars into ubiquitous television advertisements, coming soon to a screen near you.

The two get reduced to one after the lightning round in late spring, and the lucky winner earns a trip to the fall classic in November, facing Leticia Van de Putte... and Libertarian Brandon de Hoyos, Green Chandra Courtney, and oddest of all, Maria Luisa Alvarado -- the 2006 Democratic nominee for lite guv -- running as an independent.  All those Latino/a surnames are surely going to diminish Sen. VDP's tally to some degree, an unfortunate circumstance for her prospects.

No matter what happens between now and then, the person sworn in on the South Steps in January 2015 gets to decide whether the state Senate will abandon its historical two-thirds rule, the last vestige of decorum in state politics (so says Kirk Watson, who lost the attorney generalship in 2002 to some dude in a wheelchair).  If it goes by the wayside, then the GOP will be poised to ram even more crap down every Texan's throat.

That's what's at stake, and these Harris County popcorn farts are just the undercard.

The real question is whether the sane people in the Lone Star State can toss a few cinder blocks to the dinosaurs in the quicksand, or whether the creatures will live to see one more presidential election cycle before they pass into history.  And that's an open question.

If you would like to see for yourself the four huge reptiles flailing about in the tar pit, the King Street Thugs are hosting them in Houston next week.  Be advised that security might not let you in if you're carrying an anvil.

I'm certain a concealed handgun is A-OK, though.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

I'm working on a follow-up — a snarky personality profile of each of the four.