The March 4 primary is right around the corner and early voting starts Tuesday.
This is the second in a series. (This first is here.) I cannot overstate the importance of your vote and the impact it has in the primary. Fair Disclosure: I support but am not working for Barry Smitherman in any way.
Texas Attorney General
This race is perhaps as hotly contested if not more so than others I’ve written about, as there are two genuinely conservative candidates, Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman and Senator Ken Paxton. Both have committed supporters I know and respect who have been “in the trenches” in the culture wars for years and even decades. While politics is sometimes described as a “blood sport”, especially when high stakes are involved, both campaigns have been run relatively cleanly thus far.
However, elections are about choices and when I compare the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates in light of the requirements of the Texas Attorney General’s office; I come down firmly on the side of Chairman Barry Smitherman.
Fit for Purpose: First, the Attorney General’s office is an agency, not a legislative body. It does NOT make law—it helps enforce it after it is made by the legislature. There are no “votes” at all. Barry Smitherman has unparalleled experience in doing this, having served seven years with the Public Utility Commission of Texas and now serving as Chair of the Texas Railroad Commission—one of the most influential agencies in the world when it comes to oil and gas production. In Barry Smitherman’s case, he has presided over the TxRRC during an unprecedented boom in the Texas oilfield stretching from South Texas to the Panhandle and West Texas to Louisiana.
Fighting Washington: While the feds are trying to stop oil and gas (and coal), Barry Smitherman has promoted Texas and National energy independence in a very tangible way. Permitting times (efficiency) and sheer numbers of oil and gas permits (productivity) have improved and increased respectively under Smitherman’s leadership. This is particularly noteworthy since concepts of efficiency and productivity do not usually get mentioned in the same sentence as government agencies. The result has been a booming Texas oilfield, with tens of thousands of new, good, high-paying jobs for Texas and Americans who are refugees from the over-reaching regulations of both Washington and the states they are fleeing such as California and New York. While those states have gone along with Washington, Texas leaders like Greg Abbott and Barry Smitherman have pushed back.
Current AG Abbott has often described his job as the best in the world—to wit: “I get up in the morning, go to work, and sue the Federal government.” While a great line, there is a lot of truth to it as the Federal government overreaches with both unconstitutional laws and out of control bureaucratic rulings. Barry Smitherman’s tenure at the Texas RRC has seen numerous RRC-initiated lawsuits pushing back on this Federal government overreach. His opponents have none of this type of critical-to-Texas experience in fighting Washington. Barry Smitherman has the RIGHT experience to step in and continue the work Greg Abbott and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz started.
Experience Running Large Agencies: Barry Smitherman is the ONLY candidate in the race who has ANY experience running a large agency such as the Attorney General’s office, which employs around 700 attorneys alone, not counting support staff. I am happy to report that while most candidates promise and pledge to “save you money”, Barry Smitherman has a proven track record of actually doing so! In fact, he saved about 20% of what the legislature had authorized while at the Public Utility Commission of Texas, translating into about $110,000,000 in savings returned to the Texas Treasury–$110 million dollars of your hard-earned money that was already authorized but he did NOT spend! Let that sink in. Don’t you wish ALL of our elected officials operated that way?
In his first year at the RRC, he saved taxpayers an additional $10,000,000 of what the legislature had spent. For his own personal office, he rejected increases and saved about 7% year over year—FY2014 will cost less than FY2012 did! If only all government would actually downsize!
But as they say on TV, there’s more. After becoming chairman of the PUCT, they actually reduced a fee levied by government on consumers to pay for access in underserved areas and redistributed to companies, including large ones, to subsidize service. This was a win for both the cell phone/cable industry and more importantly, consumers, resulting in an annual savings of $145,000,000 to Texas phone customers.
Net: Barry Smitherman has a sterling track record spanning nearly a decade of actually saving taxpayers and ratepayers’ money, adding up to well over $265,000,000 dollars and continuing! Can ANY of the other candidates show a record of saving taxpayers anything even close to this, or for that matter, anything at all? In contrast, his opponents were in the very legislature that was spending more than Barry, and that was blasted by the venerable Wall Street Journal with an editorial headlined“Texas Goes Sacramento” (stay tuned for Primary Colors Part 3 article)!
Pure Leadership Ability: While solid values are critical for the Attorney General, it is NOT a “voting” position—no voting at all—but a successful AG must above all know how to lead and be experienced at that skill. If you have ever met Smitherman, or heard him speak (especially side-by-side with the other candidates), you know that he is clearly the stronger leader of the three. While there are two clear conservatives in the race, Barry Smitherman is the one with the gift of strong leadership skills.
He’s completely ready to step into the shoes of Greg Abbott on “day one”!
He has a terrific wife and family (in part home-schooled) to support him, I count him as a friend, and I gladly endorse him in his race.
Mark is a State Republican Executive Committeeman, (SREC) representing Senate District 7, and has twice served on the GOP State Convention Platform Committee. One of the duties of the SREC is “to foster and encourage growth in the Party by promoting the principles as expressed in the platform and by electing Republican officeholders.”
My other choices are listed below. True to my engineering background, if more data becomes available that would change the result, I’ll advise that as well. My picks, along with some independent others’ whose opinion I value (not always agreeing with me) are also located at www.bluesheet.org. You may take them to the voting booth. And don’t forget your photo ID to vote!
– See more at: http://www.texasgopvote.com/issues/stop-big-government/primary-colors-part-2-continuing-strong-leadership-attorney-general-s-office-006386
U.S. Congressman, District 36
Chief Justice Supreme Court
Justice Supreme Court Place 6
Justice Jeff Brown
Justice Supreme Court Place 8
Court of Criminal Appeals, Pl. 4
Kevin Patrick Yeary
Court of Criminal Appeals, Pl. 9
David C. Newell
State Senate District 4
State Senate District 7
State Representative Dist. 16
State Representative Dist. 129
State Representative Dist. 132
State Representative Dist. 134
State Representative Dist. 150
1st Court of Appeals
Judge Russell Lloyd
District Judge 246th District
District Judge 247th District
District Judge 269th District
Co Crim Ct at Law No. 10
Tonya Rolland McLaughlin
Harris County Treasurer
Harris Co Dept Education
Harris Co Dept Education
Co Crim Ct at Law No. 10
Tonya Rolland McLaughlin
Justice of the Peace, Pct 4
Harris County Chairman
GOP PROPOSITIONS: I helped write and am strongly in support of all of these. There are CLEAR differences in the two parties! Educate your friends, relatives, and voters in your precincts!
1. Religious Freedom: Texans should be free to express their religious beliefs, including prayer, in public places. YES or NO
2. Second Amendment: Texas should support Second Amendment liberties by expanding locations where concealed handgun license-holders may legally carry. YES or NO
3. Franchise Tax: Texas should abolish the state franchise tax, also known as the margins tax, to encourage business growth. YES or NO
4. Welfare Reform: Texas recipients of taxpayer-funded public assistance should be subject to random drug testing as a condition of receiving benefits. YES or NO
5. No Lawmaker Exceptions: All elected officials and their staff should be subject to the same laws, rules, regulations, and ordinances as their constituents. YES or NO
6. Obamacare: The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” should be repealed. YES or NO