Thursday, September 20, 2007

Legislator Scrapes Texas GOP Off His Boots

By Manifesto Joe

And I hope he gets them a good scrubbing, too. I've been waiting for this to start happening in Texas for quite some time. I've read that it's been happening recently in a few other "red" states, like Kansas: moderate Republicans realizing that, in many regions, the GOP has gone psycho. Texas is one of the classic examples of this pathology.

State Rep. Kirk England of Grand Prairie, a large Dallas suburb, announced Wednesday that he is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, and that he plans to seek re-election as a Dem. He wasn't very upfront about his reasons, but here's what the online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram quoted him as saying:

"After one session in the House, I found that the Republican leadership in Austin had no tolerance for the values and priorities of the folks I represent," England said ...

"I trust the voters in District 106, and I am confident that my friends and neighbors agree that doing what is right is more important than partisan politics," England said. He cited public education, the Children's Health Insurance Program and rising utility rates as key issues.

This is more significant than it may seem. England's father, Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England, is a longtime Republican. There's no particular reason Kirk would have done this unless he somehow found his future as a legislator questionable. It's very unlikely he had some progressive epiphany in recent months.

What happened to him, apparently, can be summarized in one name: Tom Craddick, the Texas House speaker. The Star-Telegram report continued:

Democrats were quick to connect England's switch to ongoing dissatisfaction with House Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland. ...

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said England's move is a sign that the Republican Party is losing its grip on Texas. Veasey said Craddick's heavy-handedness is facilitating that shift.

"I think that Craddick has a hard time letting people represent their district," Veasey said. "Kirk understands the changes taking place in that district, and I think Craddick never appreciated that."

I assume that most readers of this blog would be, at most, only vaguely familiar with Tom Craddick. I'll begin by explaining that he's been very tight with former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

And here's a link that provides more.

Anyway, Craddick, a Midland Republican, is a tin-pot Napoleon who has faced challenges within his party. And now, it appears, at least one of the more forward-thinking Republicans (Yes, I know; which ones are those?) is moving on. Not only are the demographics in this state changing rapidly -- we will be majority Hispanic before very long -- a lot of the swing voters may start to recognize what the GOP is really about. And that could end Republican domination of Texas, and of some other states as well.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

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