Warning: If you don't follow Texas politics, then you probably should skip this post. Unless, of course, you want to read about my public humiliation on network TV.
I'm not an avid follower of politics, but something about this year's Texas gubernatorial campaign has energized me. While it could be that I get to type "gubernatorial" so many times - it simply rolls off the keyboard - the fact is that the surfacing of a viable candidate who's not a charter member of the Entrenched Incumbents has interjected a new degree of excitement into the campaign. I'm referring, of course, to Debra Medina
, who started the state's silly season as a footnoted afterthought but who has now pulled into a statistical dead heat on the Republican ticket with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and continues to build momentum.
I was impressed with Medina's performance during one of the early televised debates, where both Governor Rick Perry and Hutchinson viewed her primarily as a foil with which to attack each other. That tactic backfired on both of them, as she not only helped each of them make their points that the other was a doofus (that's a sophisticated term I picked up in poli sci class at A&M), but came out looking like she had more substance than either of them.
I was impressed enough to make a small financial contribution to her campaign, something that I last did when Reagan was in office. That was early enough in the campaign that my $25 contribution stimulated a phone call from a reporter with the Austin newspaper wanting to interview me, I suspect much as one might want to better understand the motivation of someone who's taken up flagpole sitting while watching an oncoming tornado. I declined to return his phone call (I never have entirely trusted those legacy media types).
Medina was one of the speakers at today's Midland Country Republican Womens' luncheon, along with Senator Hutchinson and a representative from Perry's campaign. (Perry was in Odessa on Monday, so I guess he figured two days in the Permian Basin was one day too many.) Also on the speaker list was Representative Mike Conaway, running for re-election against businessmen Chris Younts
and Al Cowan
. Both Cowan and Younts did good jobs of explaining why they were running, but this is Conaway's 'hood and they got a polite but cool reception. One will not make up any ground trying to attack Conaway's conservatism, despite his vote for the first TARP bailout. They tried, but Conaway went on last and calmly dismantled their accusations as he explained that vote. I certainly came away mollified.
Mike did make a point of informing the audience that while he had a Facebook page, he didn't Twitter because he thought it sounded dumb to "twit" [sic]. That got a half-hearted laugh, but not from me. Both of his opponents have Twitter feeds for their campaigns, and Medina is also doing a great job of using hers (@debmedina
) to push her agenda. (I was going to tweet the proceedings but the cellphone police shut us down. Afterward, I decided that they really were targeting actual cellphones and that I could have "twitted" my way through the luncheon.)
Then, the real show began, the reason for the packed ballroom. Debra Medina spoke first, and I have to tell you that if she doesn't win the nomination, it won't be because she's failed to explain what her priorities are, and why she thinks they're important to the state of Texas. She made a great case for why the 10th Amendment
of the US Constitution allows for "nullification and interposition" of federal legislation which encroaches upon the sovereign rights of states.
Medina also unleashed a scathing commentary on Rick Perry's job creation claims, pointing out that while it was true that Texas has had a net increase in jobs over the past year or two, they've all
been government jobs; the private sector has actually had a small decrease.
The Perry rep and Kay Hutchinson spoke next. I don't recall either of them directly addressing Medina's comments or issues, although they both seemed to go out of their way to assure us that they, too, were big proponents of personal property ownership. Perry's representative trotted out the same statistics that Medina spoke to regarding job creation, but, of course, declining to make the distinction between public and private sector employment.
Hutchinson spent most of her allotted time criticizing Perry. It was almost as if she doesn't really believe she's in a dogfight with Medina, but that works to Medina's benefit. To her credit, KBH did acknowledge Perry's role in getting tort reform passed in Texas, but hammered him on private property rights (the Trans-Texas Corridor will be Perry's Issue That Haunts Forever, and rightly so).
Medina is what I had hoped
Sarah Palin would be, but, sadly, isn't. She's done her homework; she's got her agenda; she wants to get it done and then get out of the way. I came away more impressed than ever. Heck, I even grabbed a yard sign, and let the local ABC-TV affiliate interview me on-camera, and this time it didn't seem to be a novelty interview. The Medina signs were going fast.
Yeah, I was feeling pretty cocky about being a political pundit and all, until I got home and saw the big hunk of lettuce plastered over one of my front teeth. Surely, they would have pointed that out before the interview, if it was noticeable. Surely. Well. No, they probably decided I was just having a bad dental day, and were too polite to mention it. So much for my future as a political analyst.