Most elections these days are effectively decided in the primaries; more legislative races are over once the primary winners are determined in the spring than in the November general election. When did this become the case — and why?
In Texas, two watershed, off-cycle (non-presidential) elections in 2002 and 2010 confirmed in the House of Representatives what was already evident in the Senate and statewide offices — Texas is now solidly (if not overwhelmingly) Republican. Those Republican landslide elections made the party margins in both chambers about 2-to-1 Republican over Democrat.
Texas State Capitol building – photo by istockphoto
Both elections were followed by redistricting — just as the Democrats did when they were dominant (if not the only party); the winning Republicans drew new district lines to their advantage. Republican incumbents were not just protected, but also their seats were made safer. As House and Senate districts became more “packed” and even more solidly partisan, each party worked on their most valuable virtue — partisan purity trumped pragmatism. Republicans became redder and more conservative, while Democrats became bluer and more liberal.
Super-majorities, such as those in 2003 and 2011, raise expectations for the “party faithful” so they can do anything — pass any new law they want and govern any way they see fit. They also ensure competing visions of which new laws are a higher priority and create fights over various governing options — all the while under the same party banner. Who runs “the only game is town” becomes more important than how it’s being run — or why things are done the way they are.
For the sake of brevity, let’s label the Republican’s two major factions as the “Business” (Establishment) and “Liberty” (Tea Party) wings. The former accepts a duty to maintain an adequate infrastructure and healthy economy by using the governance system currently in place. The “Liberty” folks are focused on reducing the size of government, cutting spending, passing more on “red meat” issues (i.e., anti-abortion, pro-2nd Amendment, immigration/border reform, etc.), and a tax policy that is important only if it reduces spending or to eliminate property-based taxes. What the architecture profession considers important proposals are almost automatically met with a “NO” response, because they spend money on public schools, public transportation, etc. or are carried by legislators considered “Establishment insiders.”
The 2016 election has a number of races that are clear contests between Business and Liberty candidates.Early Voting runs Tuesday, February 16th, through Friday, February 26th. General Election Day is Tuesday, March 1, with any run-off elections that are needed decided on Tuesday, May 24.
Trustees of the Texas Architects Committee (TAC), the architecture profession’s only state political action committee, voted recently to support those who are identified as “Business” candidates in contested races, in the hope of promoting legislative balance and a positive commitment to governing.
Here are the candidates approved to receive 2016 TAC primary contributions:
District 19: (i) Carlos Uresti—D [San Antonio-West]
District 26: (i) Jose Menendez—D [San Antonio]
District 27: (i) Eddie Lucio, Jr.—D [LRGV]
TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
District 1: (i) Gary Van Deaver—R [NET]
District 2: (i) Dan Flynn—R [NET]
District 5: Jay Misenheimer—R [NET]
District 7: Jay Dean—R [NET]
District 8: (i) Byron Cook—R [Dallas]
District 11: (i) Travis Clardy—R [NET]
District 12: (i) Kyle Kacal—R [Brazos]
District 14: (i) John Raney—R [Brazos]
District 17: (i) John Cyrier—R [Austin]
District 20: (i) Marsha Farney—R [Austin]
District 47: (i) Paul Workman—R [Austin]
District 55: Hugh Shine—R [Waco]
District 58: (i) DeWayne Burns—R [Ft. Worth-Waco]
District 59: (i) J. D. Sheffield—R [Abilene-Waco]
District 60: Kevin Downing—R [Abilene]
District 64: Lynn Stucky—R [Dallas]
District 65: (i) Ron Simmons—R [Dallas]
District 71: Stan Lambert [Abilene]
District 73: (i) Doug Miller—R [San Antonio]
District 75: (i) Mary Gonzales—D [El Paso]
District 81: (i) Brooks Landgraf—R [West]
District 84: (i) John Frullo—R [Lubbock]
District 99: (i) Charlie Geren—R [Ft. Worth]
District 110: (i) Toni Rose—D [Dallas]
District 112: (i) Angie Chen Button—R [Dallas]
District 113: (i) Cindy Burkett—R [Dallas]
District 114: (i) Jason Villalba—R [Dallas]
District 115: Bennett Ratliff—R [Dallas]
District 121: (i) Joe Straus—R [San Antonio]
District 124: (i) Ina Minjares—D [San Antonio]
District 127: (i) Dan Huberty—R [Houston]
District 128: (i) Wayne Smith—R [Houston]
District 131: (i) Alma Allen—D [Houston]
District 134: (i) Sarah Davis—R [Houston]
District 137: (i) Gene Wu—D [Houston]
District 148: (i) Jessica Farrar—D [Houston]
District 149: (i) Hubert Vo—D [Houston]
District 150: (i) Debbie Riddle—R [Houston]
Incumbents are designated by (i); districts in italics are those where we are contributing to non-incumbents. Two of those seven races (HD 55, HD 115), TAC is supporting someone running against the incumbent.