August 12, 2003
Is David Beckwith, spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a loose cannon? Given some of the things he's said since the Democratic walkout, I wonder if his boss keeps much of a rein on him. He's got all of the Democrats riled up over a comment he made today.
Senators said a spokesman for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst made inappropriate comments in a published report by suggesting the Democrats consider themselves akin to Rosa Parks, whose refusal to yield her seat at the front of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama contributed to the civil rights movement.
The spokesman, David Beckwith, was quoted by Scripps Howard’s Austin bureau today saying of the absent Democrats: “After they got” to New Mexico “thinking they were going to stay a few days and then declare victory or whatever they thought they were going to do, they got captured by the Democratic National Committee blowing smoke up their rears and telling them what great Americans they were. So now they’ve gone from making a statement to ‘doing the right thing.’ They think they are Rosa Parks II.”
Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, who is African American, said he was “personally offended” by the comment and contended the comment reflected a history of similar lapses by Beckwith, who once worked for Vice President Dan Quayle.
“He owes the entire state of Texas an apology,” Ellis said.
Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin said Beckwith deserves a kick in the rear.
“He’s pulled the race card,” Barrientos said. “He’s dealt himself a very bad hand.”
Sen. Royce West of Dallas said he started to give Beckwith “a sheet and a hood” but decided that was too reactive.
Beckwith, informed of the criticism, said today he was simply telling Scripps Howard that the Democratic flight was “not a historic event. I’m sorry if anybody is offended.”
For what it's worth, I do think that the Dems overreacted a bit, but given that every Democratic Senator is black, Hispanic, or representing a majority black/Hispanic district, and every Republican Senator is white and representing mostly white districts, there is a racial aspect to this standoff whether we like it or not. It's okay to raise the subject, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it, and this was not the right way.
The problem that I have with Beckwith is not that he's made one silly remark, but that he seems to have a history of doing so. Last year, while acting as spokesman for John Cornyn's Senate campaign, Beckwith called the Democratic top of the ticket "based on a racial quota system", a remark that Cornyn specifically disavowed. I've reproduced the Chronicle article from April 13, 2002, under the More link for reference.
As I've said before, once is a mistake and twice is a habit. David Beckwith has a habit of saying strange things about race. Someone in the Lt. Governor's office ought to put a leash on him before his habit makes this standoff even more heated than it already is.
Cornyn disavows aide's comment about Democrats
By CLAY ROBISON, Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN - Republican U.S. Senate nominee John Cornyn on Friday disavowed a campaign spokesman's remark that Texas Democrats had used a "racial quota system" to put together their general election ticket.
Cornyn , the Texas attorney general, said his campaign against former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk , the Democratic Senate nominee, "will be based solely on the issues."
He said he has "great respect" for Kirk 's accomplishments in Dallas.
"I believe he would join me in declaring that race should not play any part in this campaign. I certainly can make that promise from my side," he added.
Cornyn was responding to remarks made Wednesday by campaign spokesman Dave Beckwith , who told the Dallas Morning News that the Democratic ticket was "cynical."
"It is based on a racial quota system. In the end, it will not work because most people vote on issues and philosophy, not on race," Beckwith was quoted as saying.
Democratic leaders took pains to assemble a racially diverse ticket with an eye toward increasing their party's appeal to a broad range of voters in November. And they have repeatedly touted that diversity.
Kirk is the first black ever nominated for the U.S. Senate from Texas, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee is Hispanic businessman Tony Sanchez, and John Sharp, an Anglo running for lieutenant governor, rounds out the top of the party's ticket.
Cornyn said he was "shocked" when he read Beckwith 's comments. He called the remarks "inappropriate."
"I just want to make it absolutely clear that race is not going to play any part in this campaign, not on my part, not on the mayor's part, I trust," he said.
"We do differ on the important issues that I think confront this state and this nation, and that's the kind of race that I think Texans expect and Texans deserve and the kind of campaign that I expect to run," he said.
Beckwith , who was in Washington, didn't attend Cornyn 's news conference. But Cornyn said he had discussed the remarks with him, and "he knows I'm unhappy."
Asked if Beckwith 's involvement in the campaign would change, Cornyn replied, "At this point his status is not changed."
He said Beckwith had "expressed regret" over the comments.
Beckwith declined further comment.
Kirk spokesman Justin Lonon said it was "encouraging that Mr. Cornyn recognizes the distasteful and divisive nature of his own spokesman's remarks."
"We hope that he is indeed committed to focus on the issues important to Texans in this campaign," Lonon said.
Cornyn said he wasn't going to characterize the Democratic ticket "other than to say this is going to be an historic election."
Beckwith was a spokesman for former Vice President Dan Quayle and for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison during her 1994 campaign.
He also was a spokesman, for a time, for then-Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign, but he lost that job after speaking too freely with reporters.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 12, 2003 to Killer D's
>> Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, who is African American, said he was "personally offended" by the comment
What a typical Ellis comment! He is particularly bad about playing the race card every chance he gets. You, Chuck, at least made rational statements about race and backed it up with facts. But whenever I read Ellis in the papers, I wonder how much time he spends at night trying to figure out how to raise the indignation of blacks in his district.
I don't like my Congressman much, Ms. Jackson-Lee, and she sometimes plays the race card as well, but I'm used to her casting things more along economic class lines. It's a kind of politics I can appreciate much more. Perhaps I've simply heard one kind of thing from her and a different thing from Ellis, but that's my impression.
I see nothing wrong with Beckwith's comments. He was simply pointing out that the Democrats are behaving as if this is a civil rights issue, which it isn't. It's an issue of partisanship. They are inaccurately portraying themselves as the equivalent of Rosa Parks, and considering their true motives, I find that disgusting.
The 'Texas 11' have spoken of redistricting as, and I quote, 'blatant racism by Republican leaders.' THAT's race-baiting Charles. What moral authority do they have to condemn Beckwith when they make such stupid and reckless charges of racism? How was Beckwith's comment tastless in light of the Democrats' STATED VIEW that the Republicans are racist?
Seriously, get the plank out of your own eye before picking at the splinter in ours...
Sorry, but that won't wash. Beckwith, not Ellis, brought the name of Rosa Parks into this.
Discussions of whether a given map does or does not help or harm the interests of various ethnic groups are fair game (just as discussions of whether this whole process should be taking place at all are also fair game).
But Beckwith's analogy is so strained that one can only conclude that he spoke it with the premeditated intent of defaming one of the saints of the civil rights movement in the same breath as he derided the Texas 11. It was a sharp stick in the eye of his opponents, not an effort to justify the racial effects, or lack thereof, of Republican maps. It was raw meat for his base... Trent Lott style, maybe even Strom Thurmond style.
I'm as white and middle-class as anyone around... and I find the statement offensive to its core. Ellis had every right to react as he did.
The Democrats didn't just say that the redistricting plan adversely impacted minorities, they said that Republicans who drafted it were racists. That's nonsense; as if the Democratic Senators honestly believed that they were like Rosa Parks, challenging racist politicans in a civil rights struggle.
So tell me where the analogy is wrong. Don't just fume about it, tell me what's inaccurate about noting that Democratic arguments paint the redistricting battle as 'Rosa Parks v. Evil Racists' when it's really just 'Democrats v. Republicans.'
Rodney Ellis called the fine a "poll tax" and Juan Hinojosa said he wouldn't pay a fine imposed by Anglos on blacks and hispanics.
When the Dems stop playing the race card, I'll take these sorts of complaints seriously.
Again, folks, Beckwith is the one who introduced Rosa Parks's name into this whole sorry mess. That was playing the race card.
Umm, how exactly? Beckwith saying that legislators, who claim they are fighting for the rights of blacks and Hispanics, "think they are Rosa Parks II" might be rather impolitic, but it certainly seems a valid comparison.
Over at my blog this morning, I chastised the Republicans for pulling this fining business. Even though the AG opines that it's legal, it sure doesn't seem kosher to have a non-quorum vote on something. The Democrats almost got my sympathy until they started comparing the fines to a poll tax..
What about 'THE DEMOCRATS ACCUSED REPUBLICANS OF RACISM FIRST' don't you understand? It was the Texas 11 that brought race into this, not Beckwith. This isn't a matter of opinion; it's cold, hard fact.
I stand on my assertion that Beckwith's introduction of the name of Rosa Parks, an icon of the civil rights movement, into a public duologue (there's not much dialogue going on that I can see) that previously had nothing to do with race, was a deliberate and likely premeditated invocation of a racial dynamic that appeals to the worst of the Republican base... not all Republicans, mind you, just the worst. There was absolutely no rational basis on which to drag Ms. Parks into this.
By the way, easy on the all-caps, Owen. Shouting doesn't advance your case.
Doug, I appreciate your public acknowledgement that the fining business is probably invalid. I agree.
As I've already proven beyond any doubt, the Texas 11 injected race into this debate first. You can believe otherwise, but you're just being stubborn, because it isn't a matter of opinion -- the Democrats accused Republicans of racism prior to Beckwith's comment.
If you can't get that through your skull, I'll certainly repeat it for you in all caps until you stop being a zealot and accept the facts as they exist. The Democrats accused the GOP of racism and labeled the redistricting debate a civil rights issue; Beckwith responded that the Democrats were painting themselves as if they were Rosa Parks.
There's your rational basis. You're factually incorrect on both counts, and you don't control facts. You could just as well assert that the Earth is flat; IT DOESN'T MAKE IT A VALID VIEWPOINT.
Wait a tic - if the Democrat 11 are representing a majority that is Black and Hispanic, and this redistricting is going to eliminate their district by incorporating it into a district that will have a majority white population - well, how is that not bringing race into the equation?
Pointing out that someone is going to damage the representation of minority groups is nowhere near as bad as actually damaging the representation of minorities.
More power to the Killer D's! If the Republicans were really the majority party, they wouldn't have to cheat to maintain their power.
If the intent is partisan, and not racial, then race doesn't have squat to do with it. And if you want to appeal to 'disparate impact' theories of discrimination, then I suppose that you believe the Democratic Party is anti-Catholic for opposing pro-life judicial nominations as well, right? Or does this convenient little bit of illogic only apply to race?
The charge of racism against Republican leaders was baseless and inflammatory. Until I hear a Democrat admit this, I've little other choice than to think Texas Democrats are behaving as mindless zealots following the pied piper than is the 'Texas 11.'
Circulated by Rep. Barton's Leg. Counsel to various hill staffers:
From: Joby Fortson [ mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2003 12:55 PM
To: Joby.Fortson@mail.house.gov; firstname.lastname@example.org;
email@example.com; greg.Facchiano@mail.house.gov; Turner, Robert
(Allen); andy.Halataei@mail.house.gov; Andy.Napoli@mail.house.gov;
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Thomas, Ryan (Appropriations); boulangerT@gtlaw.com;
Subject: R's will pick up 6-7 seats now in Texas
The maps are now official. I have studied them and this is the most agressive map I have ever seen. This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House
no matte the national mood.
A quick rundown
1 - Sandlin - it gets more republican by throwing Tyler into the district. The heart of Turner's district goes to this distrioct. A solid state rep or senator could bat Sandlin/Turner in a tight race. The district is over 60% GOP but Sandlin has roots. (prediction lean staying Dem)
2- Turner - the distrcit is moved to the Houston area in an open Republican seat in northeat Harris County. It is new territory made of Brady, Lampson and a little Turner land.=
but over 60% Republican (switches to Republican)
3 - Johnson - this Plano based diestrict stays the same (remains R)
4 - Hall - Hall will win this distrcit again IF he runs. However, having the area around Texarkana instead of Tyler ight discourage him. If he retires (as inidcations are he will) this will flip. (switches to R)
5- Hensarling - the district is shrunk and becomes more urban picking up East Dallas and becomes more republican (stays R)
6 - Barton - my boss actually was drawn into a district with both Frost's and Turner's homes however, if they would like to commit political suicide, be my guest. The district has gone from 57% R to 63% adding more Republican territory in Tarrant County. (remains R)
7 - Culberson - the Houston Memorial "old money" dsitrict remains the same (remains R)
8 - Brady - Brady keeps staunch Republican Montgomery County as his base north of Houston and goes north tyo chop off the other half of Turner's rural district that the 1st gobbled
up. Montgomery County keeps this VERY republican (remains R)
9 - Lampson - This is a new majority minority african American district drawn for Rep Wilson around Houston Hobby Airport. Lampson is not in it and Bell is effectively drawn out
in favor of Wilson (Remains D)
10 - Doggett - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - The district goes from North central Austin (NOT liberal Hyde Park but more north conservative Plugerville area) and stretches to Katy Texas outside of Houston. Robert called this the 290 district. It is very Republican
and will be where my friend Brian Walters will be likely running. Littelfield already is a consultant. (sweitches to R)
11 - Edwards - This is the "new" Midland seat drawn for Speaker Craddick protege Connaway who lost a close one of Neugebauer in the Combest open seat. This is very Republican.
(Switches to R)
12 - Granger - Granger's district continues to be a dafe Ft. Worth R seat (remains R)
13 - Thornberry - Thornberry remains pretty muich the smae but the map is very wacky at points to appease Speaker Craddick and State Senator Duncan. (remains R)
14 - Paul - Ron Paul and Nick Lampson are drawn together in a republican district. This could be trickier than thought given Paul's unusual behavior. It IS republican
though centered around Lake Jackson south of Houston, but Brandon can attest that Galveston is a lean D area. Lake Jackson and points south though are HEAVY R. Tus, the district is 60% R. (remains R)
15 - Hinojosa - I do not know if if Hinojosa will take this one or another of the "stripe" districts. One of these is new and part of the voting rights protection element. They run
from Austin area to the border side by side. (remains D)
16 - Reyes - this El Paso seat remains relatively unchanged (remains D)
17 - Stenholm - Really its the one Chet Edwards will run in and . . . bye Chet. Chet loses his Killeen-Ft. Hood Base in exchange for conservative Johnson County. They will not
like the fact he kills babies, prevents kids from praying and wants to take their guns. State Rep Arlene Wohlgemuth come on down, you are the next Congressman from Texas. To be fair, while Edwards will likely lose, at least he has a fighting chance as Waco is the population center (but hasn't he been LOSING Waco lately - yep!) (switches to R)
18 - Jackson-Lee - as much as we despise her, she cannot be drawn out. She still has the 5th ward and downtown Houston. The Queen lives!!!! (remains D)
19 - Neugebauer - thsi is easily the wackiest district and evidently was the last one drawn. It places Stenholm and Neugebauer in the same seat but most of it is Neugebauer's
Lubbock based territory. Stenholm has a chnace because it is very Ag oriented. Abilene just simply replaces Midland as the other population center. Once you see the map, you will shake your head at this one. The overwhelming R nature of it gives the freshman the edge, but Tim Holden in Pennsylvania showed that is not necessarily all it takes. (remains R in a close member-member battle)
20 - Gonzalez - The Alamo still will keep its rep in a similar district. Tony Zafirini's boss is safe (Remains D)
21 - Lamar Smith - this district still has Alamo Heights (rich San Antonio), Westlake (rich west Austin) and San Marcos - (remains R)
22 - Tom DeLay - DeLay, the supposed architect of this map according to Dems, still has his strong R base in Sugarland but gives away enough R's to give Paul and even greater edge
in the 14th. (remains R)
23 - Bonilla - half of Webb County (laredo) goes to Hispanic districts and he gets more of Bexar Copunty (north San Antonio) in return to shore up this slowly more Dem growing
seat. (remains R)
24 - Frost - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hello Congressman Marchant (a state Senator). His distrcit disappeared as Burgess takes inner city Ft. Worth, Eddie Bernice Johnson takes his
part of inner city Dallas, Sessions takes his hispanic voters in central Dallas and Barton takes his home in north Arlington. It simply disappears in a Coppell centered district in the VERY republican mid-cities area between Dallas and Ft. Worth. This is the D's best legal challenge as inner city Ft. Worth will now be outnumbered in a Rpublican suburban
district (see CD 26). However, the creation of a new african american seat in Houston so that new map should pass the challenge. (switches to R)
25 - Bell - this seat is removed from the Houston area (in its place is the new african american district) and this is one of the new "stripe" districts running from Austin to the
border. It takes hispanic east Austin and runs to the border. (remains D)
26 - Burgess - the old Armey seat takes on 150,000 inner city Ft. Worth residents but is paired with 450,000 fervent republicans in Denton County. Lewisville, Denton and
other VERY republican areas north make it, over 60% R despite the presence of inner city Ft. Worth. (remains R)
27 - Ortiz - This district still has the Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Brownsville in the beginning of the strpie districts. (remains D)
28 - Ciro Rodriguez likely will still run in the final "stripe" district that runs from Chinagrove (the little town outside of San Antone from Doobie Brothers fame) all the way
to the border. (remains D)
29 - Gene Green - this is still a hispanic seat that gets even more hispanic in Houston. I expect Gene Green to keep it but watch for the primary challenge (remains D)
30 - Eddie Bernice Johnson - she takes Frost's african American population in Dallas and lets her republican precincts (like las colinas) go. Her district finally for the first time make perfect sense geographically.
31 - Sessions - still has the Park Cities (rich Dallas) and north Dallas. However, he pciks up some hispanic voters from the old Frost district. This is still a VERY republcian seat as people from the Park Cities vote in great numbers. remember this is the infamous 75225 zip
code which raise alomst 20% of Bush's presidential money and voted in the largets precinct 97% Bush-3% Dukakis. This district does not just have people who vote republican but people who ARE republican. (remains R)
32- Carrter - the final district is another gem. Edwards loses the republicans that suppiort him and they now are with John Carter in a Williamson County centered district. This is made for Carter and is still very safe republcian territory. (remains R)
Looking at this, how can one fail to notice that officials are efficiently racializing the politics, with their racial-voting privileges and so on. The objective must be to precipitate intense racial and ethnic conflict if these officials know what they are doing. If this is democracy in action, why can't they be pro-majority enough to leave the racial angles unexploited, or not exploited in a manner conducive to such conflict?