Thursday, March 8, 2012

Texas House race a shoot-out on the plantation


Challenger said “time to step aside”

Whiskey's for drinking; water's for fighting about. - a Texas proverb


Waco – There is nothing unusual about a challenger approaching an incumbent before filing in a party primary, but Chris DeCluitt took the unusual step of telling the veteran GOP state legislator he wants to replace exactly what office he should run for next.

When he went to see District 56 Representative “Doc” Anderson in his Waco office, Chris DeCluitt told him, “Doc, the clock is ticking...I think it's time you step aside and run for (McLennan) County (Republican) Chair.”

Strong.

Straight out of the Garlic Sandwich Department in anybody's deli.

In a debate sponsored by GOPIsForMe.com and NewsTalk1230 Wednesday night, Rep. Anderson told his interlocutors, “That's a decision made by the voters – and here we are now going into a primary race.”

Mr. DeCluitt, fresh from a 6-year stint as chair of the uberpolitical, ultrapowerful Brazos River Authority, defended his actions in a follow-up statement.

He characterized Waco's political fortunes since the mid-term elections of November, 2010, by saying, “We have fallen off the map...The political climate has changed in Austin.”

Then he proceeded to attack Rep. Anderson's support of House Speaker Joe Straus because the San Antonio legislator has appointed a large number of Democrats to key committee chairmanships.

Said Rep. Anderson in rebuttal, “I've earned a reputation as a proven conservative community leader.”

Then he patiently explained to the crowd in University High School's state of the art auditorium that it's impossible to pass a budget without the cooperation of the loyal opposition, no matter which side of the aisle holds the majority.

Unsatisfied with his answer, Mr. DeCluitt responded by saying that the representative signed a pledge card vowing to support chairmanships by Republican legislators. “I don't think his (Rep. Anderson's) statement was quite accurate,” he said.

The overwhelming Republican victory “should have prompted a change in the landscape of the House leadership...It was time for him to become the elder statesman.”

A key fact went unmentioned in the dialogue.

The political landscape changed in McLennan County at the same time it changed in Austin.

A political novice, refuse hauler Jimmie Kerr defeated Mr. DeCluitt's bid for re-election to the District 22 State Republican Executive Committee by signing up Precinct Chairs in ballot boxes traditionally ignored by establishment GOP types, key elected positions usually filled by default by election judges.

An unknown Army officer, Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell, handily defeated all comers, including Baylor basketballer and hometown favorite veteran legislator and lobbyist Sen. David Sibley in his bid to replace veteran State Senator Kip Averitt. Senator Birdwell is a decorated veteran wounded by extensive burns in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

Mr. Kerr put together a coalition with Janet Jackson, an activist with the Hispanic Republican outreach club, GOPIsForMe, who ran unopposed for the corresponding slot on the committee.

Rep. Anderson defended his positions by explaining that he is the representative for all the constituents of District 56, regardless of their party affiliation. He said, “I will fight for their right to address concerns” by sponsoring legislation and seeing that Wacoans get a chance to testify before legislative committees.

And then came the question everyone was awaiting.

It may be found at 26:20 on NewsTalk's recording of the debate.

How will the State Water Plan largely devised by Senator Kip Averitt of Waco be funded? With only one new reservoir proposed in a state desperately needing water resources, it's the most crucial business factor facing Texans today, other than the gloomy national economic picture.

“It's going to be able to be funded privately,” said Mr. DeCluitt.

Rep. Anderson goes the other way, defending the bond credit rating of Texas agencies and advocating lower interest on the resulting debt service.

It's a subject that will receive hot and heavy interest in the coming years with a $230 billion master water plan in the balance and water the key factor regulating the future growth and economic viability of the most business-friendly state in the U.S., Texas.

(please click here to hear a recording of the entire debate captured by Clear Channel NewsTalk1230:) http://www.newstalk1230.com/player/?station=KWTX-AM&program_name=podcast&program_id=TheSWMSCandidateInterviews.xml&mid=21888024

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