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Endorsement watch: DMN drops the ball

The Dallas Morning News got off to a good start as it wrapped up its election endorsements by making the crystal-clear case for Leticia Van de Putte.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte

There are a couple of ways to keep your house warm this winter. You could choose the reliable heater you’ve known for years. Or you could keep gasoline and matches handy next to a fire pit you dig in the living room.

Most of us are going to pick the heater. The other choice seems … reckless.

Your vote for lieutenant governor isn’t so different. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat, has been a steady legislative hand for two decades. Her opponent, Republican Sen. Dan Patrick, is potentially explosive, impact unclear.


It’s often hard to know whether Patrick, 64, says what he means and means what he says. He’s a great talker, even a fast talker. Many Democrats find him distasteful, but even some prominent Republicans describe him as untrustworthy.

And when he says things like he pushed to restore funding for Texas schools, double-check. Patrick did seek to restore $1.5 billion of some $5.4 billion in education funds lost in 2011. But when the Senate passed a budget that restored $3.4 billion to Texas’ schoolchildren, Patrick voted no. Tommy Williams, the Senate’s Republican finance chairman at the time, concluded that Patrick was looking out for his political interests over the state’s policy concerns.

Texas’ most conservative voters might be attracted to Patrick’s tough talk about illegal immigrants and his anti-government image. But business-minded Texans might ask what they are really getting in him.

Big talk might be impressive. Quiet results are better.

It would be nice to think that “business-minded Texans” might view this race in that fashion, but as is typical of them the Texas Association of Business has endorsed Patrick, because of course the promise of tax cuts – any tax cuts – easily trumps whatever bromides they tend to burble on about regarding education or immigration reform. But hey, the choice is yours, and no one can say we won’t know what we’re getting.

And then the followed it up with this:

Texas Republicans’ hard-right swing in recent years is troubling. Too many Texans feel alienated by a ruling party that seems indifferent, for example, to the plight of the working poor, the uninsured or youths caught through no fault of their own in immigration limbo.

As governor, Abbott must be a moderating influence and guide a realignment of his party. He has outlined plans that could advance that effort. Where Davis would be likely to encounter ideological battles at every turn, Abbott has the best chance to inspire legislative progress.

Davis has fought valiantly. But for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.

Wayne and Noah have appropriately indignant responses, so I’ll leave that part of this to them. What I will add is that this smells exactly like the DMN editorial board realizing they had endorsed Democrats in the other three top slots and deciding they didn’t want to deal with the blowback that would come from going with their preferred choice. This election, more than most, comes down to “stay the course” versus “it’s time for a change”. One can certainly make an honest and consistent case for staying the course. I’ll argue with you till our faces turn blue if you do, but that’s politics. What the DMN did here doesn’t even rise to the level of sophistry. It’s pure cowardice, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Intellectually, it’s on par with endorsing Ted Cruz in 2012 on the hope that he might forsake everything he said on the campaign trail and turn into Kay Bailey Hutchison 2.0 once sworn in. They know it’s a pile of crap, everyone reading it knows it’s a pile of crap, and yet there they go printing it anyway. How proud they must be of that endorsement.

I didn’t expect Davis to dominate the endorsements as VdP, Sam Houston, and Mike Collier have. Seeing this turd from the DMN makes me think we might be in for a long weekend of more of the same, for the same reasons. On that note, here’s the Star-Telegram’s endorsement of Van de Putte.

Van de Putte is better suited to be lieutenant governor.

Patrick could very well be running for Texas secretary of defense, if there were such an office, since his emphasis in the campaign is to “defend” his fellow Texans — against threats on the border and in sanctuary cities; dangers on college campuses due to guns being banned there; intrusions from Washington, D.C., particularly by President Barack Obama; and those who threaten “life and traditional marriage.”

He says his top priority will be to protect the state’s southern border, which he insists is being overrun not only by illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America and by vicious drug cartels, but also by Islamic State terrorists who “threaten to cross our border and kill Americans.”

Van de Putte, who proclaims herself a “pro-business Democrat,” describes her opponent as practicing the “politics of fear.”

A mother of six with six grandchildren, Van de Putte criticizes Patrick for wanting to increase the state sales tax as a way to bring down property taxes, and for voting against more funding for public schools while advocating state-supported vouchers for private schools.

“Where Dan Patrick sees our schools and students as an expense, I see them as an investment,” she told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.


Texas deserves a strong, reasoned, hardworking and fair individual serving in this top administrative and legislative position.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor.

As with the others, they go this one right. What will the four non-DMN papers do with the top race? I recommend they read what the Austin Chronicle has to say before they begin typing, but I won’t hold my breath in anticipation.

Elsewhere, the Chron makes its biennial plea for someone, anyone, to rid them of the curse that is John Culberson.

District 7: James Cargas

After seven terms in the congressional seat once held by George Bush, John Culberson remains a backbencher in Washington, more follower than leader. The 58-year-old congressman has marginalized himself by clinging to an antiquated view of government and being more right-wing bomb-thrower than builder. The self-proclaimed “Jeffersonian Republican” has pandered to Obama-hating “birthers,” cavalierly supported government shutdowns and taken up Tom DeLay’s mantle as chief saboteur of Houston’s light rail system. In the 7th district, which goes from Bellaire through the Galleria to the Energy Corridor then north to Jersey Village, it’s time for a change. We endorse Democratic challenger James Cargas, who also ran in 2012. Cargas, 48, is a reasoned moderate more interested in working for the common good than scoring empty political points. He has worked in Congress, the White House, the Department of Energy and currently is Mayor Annise Parker’s “energy” lawyer. He supports light rail, reasonable immigration policy and energy development, including fracking, a big issue in a district thick with oil companies. Unlike Culberson, he’ll be a constructive force in Congress, which would be a welcome change.

Clip and save for 2016 and beyond, that’s my advice. And finally, to end on an even more ridiculous note than the DMN’s hare-brained endorsement of Greg Abbott, I give you this. You’re welcome.

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