November 11, 2002
"Like the dog chasing the pickup"

As I alluded to yesterday, the state GOP realizes that it is taking control at a tough time:

After years of good times and budget surpluses, the now GOP-controlled House, Senate and Governor's Mansion will be forced to tackle multiple major crises, any one of which could cause a backlash.

"It's kind of like the dog chasing the pickup. What happens if the dog catches the pickup?" quipped Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock. "Does he get run over?"

The road promises a bumpy ride, anyway:

Homeowners have either lost their insurance or feel they are being robbed by policy premium hikes.

The budget shortfall could hit $12 billion, but new taxes are taboo.

The "Robin Hood" school finance system is stressing out more school districts and property taxpayers alike, but lawmakers never seem to agree on the solution.

"Yes, we're nervous, and rightly so. It's a very difficult time to take over," said Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston. "Some things you aren't given the choice on. You just bite the bullet and do the best you can."

While I do believe that it will be important for Democrats to hold the Republicans responsible for the inevitable pain of next year's session, I don't expect there to be all that much fallout (though of course I'll be hoping). The Republicans have two big things in their favor: One is the nature of Texas' legislature, which meets every other year. Whatever rending of garments and gnashing of teeth results from the budget, it will all happen in 2003. A full year will pass before the next election, which will give people time to get used to it. They may resent and they may want revenge, but more likely they won't remember the details.

Second, of course, is the redistricting itself, which helped give the GOP such a wide advantage in each chamber. Debra Danburg may have been a sore loser (scroll down to the bottom), but she really did get screwed, going from a district in which she won reelection in 2000 with 67% of the vote to one that was majority Republican.

I'm sure there'll be opportunities for the Dems to bounce back in 2004. I can't say for sure where the most tempting targets will be yet, but it's too early for that. Get the message ready first. Everything else will follow.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 11, 2002 to Election 2002 | TrackBack