Posted by: reddiva | February 27, 2010

Known By the Company He Keeps

We have a very interesting Horse Race … uh.. make that House Race … going on in Texas District 7 for the Texas House of Representatives.

Tommy Merritt is known by the company he keeps.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this entry in the East Texas Review:

Rep. Joe Straus, speaker of the House of Representatives made East Texas his stomping ground Monday to rally for Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview and Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville.

The three of them and their families made visits to several towns around East Texas, including Longview, Kilgore, Henderson, and Jacksonville, where Hopson received the Texas Dental Association award.

Hopson said, “I am honored to have the support of TDA and its members,”
he said, “Dentists deserve all the tools they need to maintain beautiful smiles across

Hopson has two other opponents in the Republican primary, Allan Cain and Michael Banks.

Though Hopson acknowledges the effects of the recession, but remains optimistic about the future of

“Although many Texans have lost their jobs and are struggling to make it through poor economic conditions, it is widely known that Texas has not been hit as hard as most other states in our country,” said Hopson.

He noted that small business is the largest producer of new jobs, and its importance to not burden them with erroneous taxes.

Hopson said, “In 2003, I supported and helped pass the landmark tort reform legislation that was recognized nationally for protecting business interests in
Texas by protecting them from frivolous lawsuits.”

He added, “I believe both of these pieces of legislation have softened the recession for our area and will allow us to emerge from it much more quickly than other states.”
The three traveled to their last event Monday evening in
Longview for Merritt’s endorsement rally among his biggest supporters.

Merritt was in good company as family, friends, local officials and Rep. Straus raved about his accomplishments in District Seven and his dedication to them in
Straus said, “Tommy is a key leader in representing
East Texas most effectively.”
He said, “The reason we represent our people well is because we govern the way we campaign.”

Stop it!  I can’t control my laughter any longer!

Yeah, good old boy, Joe Strauss, the most Libertarian in the Texas House of Representatives.  In this article published on January 1, 2009, comes the most telling information I have seen anyone brave enough to write about Joe Strauss’s take-over of the Texas House.  How did he do it?  With the support of Tommy Merritt and Chuck Hopson. of course.  How liberal is Joe Strauss really?

Here in Texas there’s a Red Hot! race going on right now for Texas House Speaker. Longtime GOP Speaker Tom Craddick of West Texas is being challenged by Rep. Joe Strauss of San Antonio. Strauss (photo) is a moderate Republican; Craddick, a fiscal and social conservative.

A toss-up from the libertarian perspective, right? I thought so. Until I ran across this interesting comment by MJ Samuelson on a generally libertarian-friendly, TX conservative Republican blog, Blue Dot Blues:

Liberal Republican Joe Straus. Yes, I said it. If you vote for 3rd trimester abortions, for casino gambling, and for fiscally irresponsible legislation, then you are a liberal. Sorry, Joe.

As it stands, conservatives have to choose, quickly, if they’re going to back Craddick or another candidate (Gattis or possibly Smithee if he joins the race come Monday). They need to rally strongly behind whomever they choose. They cannot afford to be split on the issue.

Samuelson is right in part. Straus’s pro-3rd trimester abortion stance is troubling, even for moderately Pro-Choicers like myself. And his supposed support for “fiscally irresonsible” legislation, raises even more concerns.

But “for casino gambling”? Wait a cotton pickin’ second Texas Conservatives, that’s something we libertarians like! If y’all are trying to gain favor with libertarian Republicans, bashing Strauss for being Pro-Gambling, doesn’t cut it. In fact, it makes us even more likely to support the guy.

I did a little more research. Turns out Strauss scores rather well on libertarian surveys. Here’s a stunning find from the Libertarian Party of Texas:

In the Texas House we found that Representative Joe Straus of San Antonio
performed the best (PL-67 and EL-71), followed by Representative Carl
Isett of
Lubbock (PL-57 and EL-86) and Representative Bryan Hughes of
Mineola (PL-56 and EL-86). The Texas House as a whole was more
concerned with economic liberty than the
Texas Senate, but on personal
liberty issues, both bodies were equally disappointing.

In other words, Straus’s Personal Liberty score and Economics Liberty score was the highest! in the entire TX House.

Wait, there’s more…

According to the LPT, Straus was 1 of 5 sponsors of the Libertarian Party’s bill in the legislature to ease ballot access restrictions for third parties and independents. The bill if passed would allow those who voted in the Republican or Democrat primaries, to still sign petitions for the Libertarians for the Fall election.

And just who is Chuck Hopson?  Surely you remember.  It hasn’t been long since his name was in the news when he switched parties from Democratic to Republican.  In other words, he’s a RINO folks!

The Texas Democratic Party got a little miffed about the switch.

November 6th, 200911:20 am by Jenny Hoff

In light of Rep. Chuck Hopson’s intention to switch from the Democratic party to the GOP, the TDP has come out with some harsh words against the member:

“It takes strength and integrity to stand against the special interests – and while some members have that strength, others like Chuck Hopson, apparently do not,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie. “In the Democratic Party, there is room for members who are conservative and progressive – the only reason anyone would leave is for crass political reasons and a refusal to stand up to special interests.”

Richie is holding a press conference today to speak out more against the switch.

The Dems weren’t the only ones upset by Hopson’s switch.  This from the Burnt Orange Report by Phillip Martin:

Fri Nov 06, 2009 at 00:24 PM CST

A man who lives with honor says to your face what he says behind your back.

I used to think Chuck Hopson was that kind of man. Today, I learned the harsh truth that he is not.

I always knew Chuck was first and foremost about self-preservation, but I would have thought he would retire before becoming a Republican — a promise he’s told countless State Representatives, party officials, and local constituents. In fact, he had a fundraiser for himself no more than two weeks ago, taking money from Democrats.

Chuck’s decision to join the Republican Party shows that he has sunk to a level of political cowardice I never expected from him. As a former employee of Hopson’s, I feel betrayed by his lack of conviction — betrayed that I ever trusted someone who so clearly puts his own self-interest above that of those who support him.

My first job in the Texas Capitol was as a legislative aide for Hopson. I began working for him in the 2005 Regular Session, and stayed on through the school finance special sessions in 2006, after which time — in September 2006 — I went to work as Chief of Staff for State Representative Garnet F. Coleman.

His decision today to switch parties reflects the colder side of Hopson, the side most people never encountered but was always there beneath the surface. It is a side of a man whose principles are dictated by self-preservation, and whose positions on policy you could only count on once you’d convinced him that it was politically safe for him to take action.

I can remember countless times where I had to talk Chuck into doing the right thing, including…

  • Water Rights The biggest issue facing East Texas is water rights. The city of Dallas, for years, has tried to build the Fastrill Reservoir along the Neches River — water that no one in East Texas wants to lose to Dallas, and land that was promised to be built for the Neches River Wildlife Refuge.

    In what should be a no-brainer to any rural member with brains (Don’t give our water away to Dallas!), Hopson struggled. I wrote constituent letters, official letters to county and city officials, press releases and speeches where Hopson was straddling the fence — calling for “further study” on an issue where, during a local fair in Jacksonville more than “1,269 new people signed on in support of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge” in a single day in 2006. ( )

    Why wouldn’t Chuck speak up against the Reservoir? Because of the money. If he didn’t block the Reservoir, he would get political donations. So for months and months, he straddled the fence, refusing to take a position despite my constant urging that (1) it was the smart political decision, and (2) it was the decision his constituents wanted him to make.

    Since then, he has publicly covered his tracks. A person who always put himself first can do that pretty well.

  • Public Education – I Wrote His Education Plan for his 2006 Campaign

    Chuck was facing a tough race in 2006. He needed to speak strongly about public education, but since I’d done all the policy and press work for him, he needed me to write it. So, I put together most of the work I’d done on school finance in the 16 months I’d been there, put together a simple plan, and wrote press releases, a speech, and policy papers for him.

    He then — two months before his election, and five months before I thought I was going to get to be his Chief of Staff — fired me. But that education plan I put together for him ended up in mail pieces, and he used it as a crutch in his town hall meetings for the final weeks of his campaigns.

    I don’t think he ever even filed legislation on any of the policy proposals I created for him.

For me, it worked out in the end. I got hired on as Chief of Staff for a real Democrat, State Representative Garnet Coleman — another person who, throughout the years, did everything he could to get Chuck re-elected. But Hopson…

I was always okay with the fact the he fired me without any notice, and that he often worked harder to get himself re-elected than to do any real work in Austin. I remember some good work he did, too — but I also rembmer enough that I was never at ease with the way Hopson ran things, and with his kind of politics.

I thought I was just too young. I thought I didn’t understand politics. I assumed Chuck knew what he was doing, and was doing what was best for his constituents.

Turns out he was just doing what he has always done – what is best for himself.

The party of self-interests just got the most self-interested man I’ve ever had the displeasure of working for. Good riddance.

So this is the company Tommy Merritt keeps.  Is this REALLY the man we want to re-elect to go back to Austin and stir up more of the same?  We need not worry – he has ignored the conservative constituents from District 7 in the past and he will continue to do so in the future.  I think he has had long enough to make his mark on Texas history.

It is now time for a REAL conservative who cares about the issues that matter most to conservative voters here in our beloved East Texas area.  I ask your support for David Simpson on Tuesday, March 2 – Texas Independence Day.

Exert your independence, District 7 voters!



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