Thursday, February 28, 2008


Major GOP contributors and party activists have devised a strange new strategy for failure: When you find yourself in a hole, dig deeper.

Twice in the past ten years, Republican turnout in the primaries exceeded Democratic turnout. In 1988, at a time when the GOP was emerging to make Texas a true two-party state, more than a million votes were cast in the R primary. Twenty years later -- after a complete political realignment, twelve years of total Republican domination, and massive population growth -- expect about 600,000 Texans to ask for a Republican ballot.

You can spin this baby all you want. But backwards is backwards is backwards. And that's precisely where Texans Republicans are heading. And some of the biggest donors and consultants are the mechanics rolling back the odometer.


The best explanation your man Billy Clyde can offer comes from a conversation I had with a big-time GOP contributor at an Associated Republicans of Texas dinner about seven years ago. This fellow explained the gameplan like this: "First we get the majority, then we purify."

Purify, of course, means going after those pesky liberal Republicans. I bet people in places like New England and the Great Lakes states would be mortified to learn that there are people to the right of Charlie Geren, Pat Haggerty, Brian McCall and Jim Keffer.

The current House map was drawn to create about 93 Republican districts. Entrenched conservative Democrats like David Farabee, Robby Cook, Jim McReynolds and Mark Homer can't be beat. Rs will just have to wait for retirements. But even taking that into consideration, 93 is a long way from 79, the number of seats currently held by House Republicans.

Democratic strategists can pat themselves on the back all day long, but it doesn't change the fact that this mini-re-realignment is the product of Republican self-tacklezation. The smartest thing Democrats could do is pack a picnic basket, be quiet and watch the opposing team trip all over themselves.

Here's a good anecdotal example of how average Texans think. One of my best buddies is a coach in a suburban Houston school district. His wife practices law part-time in a small insurance defense firm. They have three kids, a dog and a golf cart. They aren't very political, but they always vote. I talked to him on the phone earlier this week.

He recited a litany of things that the Legislature had (or hadn't) done, and I acknowledged that he got it about right. "So," he asked, "why do we keep voting for the Republicans?"

Man, BC was stumped. When the best answer you can come up with is that the Democrats would f*uck it up even more -- well, that's not much of an answer. And certainly a far cry from a ringing endorsement.

I don't foresee Democrats winning a statewide office this year. And the partisan makeup of the Legislature won't change much. But at some point, Republicans better put on their favorite pragmatic hat and quit eating their own. That, or else go back to meeting in a phone booth.

(editors note: Billy Clyde will be making his House predictions tomorrow. Or maybe the day after that. So stay tuned.)


dmw/p said...

I always love reading your posts, because I learn things. Like new words: tacklezation.

Billy Clyde said...

That comes from an old Spike Dykes story.

The coach was scouting a game somewhere in your Golden Triangle area. The PR announcer describes a running back who breaks through the line and has nothing but clear sailing between him and the goal line. But he falls over.

"He's down by self-tackleazation," the announcer said.