February 08, 2016

Republican Primary Endorsements -- 2016

Here are my endorsements in contested races in the upcoming primary. I did not endorse in a couple of state representative races, justice of the peace races, and constable races. I did list one race in which I made no endorsement and offer an explanation for that decision, and another with only one candidate where I believed it better to leave the ballot blank.

* * * * *

President of the United States: Marco Rubio – Marco Rubio may be the best hope for the Republican Party to win the presidential election this fall. A solid conservative with roots in the Tea Party movement, Rubio is among the most conservative members of either house of Congress. At the same time, Rubio has what both of his major rivals (Cruz and Trump) lack – a warm personality that voters find attractive. That may be why polling data shows him consistently beating Hillary Clinton in head-to-head match-ups while Cruz is in a dead heat and Trump consistently loses. While Rubio may not be the perfect candidate (something that doesn’t exist), he is the best of a good bunch and deserves the support of Republicans.

Congress District 7: James Lloyd – There appears to be a groundswell for change among constituents in CD7. While John Culberson may have done excellent work during his years in Congress, it appears that Republican voters want change. With that in mind, it appears that James Lloyd is the better of the challengers in the race seeking to unseat the incumbent.

Congress District 8: Kevin Brady – Let’s say it – Kevin Brady is a conservative who has worked his way into leadership in Congress, earning the respect of his colleagues along the way. He deserves to be reelected.

Supreme Court Place 3: Debra Lehrmann – Justice Lehrmann has earned the respect of legal professionals in her time on the Texas Supreme Court. There is no good reason to replace her.

Supreme Court Place 5: Paul Green – We have a solid conservative justice with an impeccable record running against a politician with a confusingly similar name. Stick with Paul Green.

Supreme Court Place 9: Eva Guzman – The daughter of immigrants who has worked hard to climb to the top court in the state of Texas, Guzman’s story is the American Dream lived out before us. We in the Houston area have watched her rise through the ranks as she has become one of the state’s most respected jurists. Her opponent is a pretender, trying to capitalize on his daddy’s name – and a Democrat besides. Eva Guzman is the easiest endorsement on this list.

State Representative District 128: Briscoe Cain – Briscoe Cain is one of the finest men I know. Committed to public service and conservative principles, I can think of no better person to replace the incumbent, who is a part of the Straus gang in Austin.

State Representative District 150: Valoree Swanson – At one time, Debbie Riddle was a model conservative legislator. Her time in Austin, however, has led her to become an arrogant member of the establishment. Between Trump-like appeals to xenophobia during her last campaign, loyalty to Joe Straus rather than conservative principles, and a growing arrogance towards those who question her actions in Austin, it is clear she has become the worst sort of insider. That may explain why there are so many challengers in this conservative bastion. Valoree Swanson is a solid conservative who has risen from the grassroots to challenge the incumbent, and deserves the Republican nomination in HD 150.

Railroad Commissioner: John Greytok – In a race full of well-qualified candidates which is certain to go to a runoff in May, I endorse John Greytok.

14th Court of Appeals Place 2: Kevin Jewell
– Our state’s courts of appeals need conservative jurists who recognize that their role is to apply the law rather than make it. Kevin Jewell fits the bill perfectly.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2: Chris Oldner – An experienced judge and former prosecutor, Chris Oldner has shown the legal acumen and integrity that a judge on the state’s highest criminal court needs. This has been displayed of late in the case he has overseen regarding Attorney General Ken Paxton, where he has made rulings that were not politically popular but were legally correct.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5: Sid Harle – Sid Harle has been a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a judge, excelling in all three roles. We need such men (and women) on our state’s highest criminal court.

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6: Michael Keasler – Michael Keasler has written and taught extensively, and has also been active in numerous judicial organizations. He is a well-respected judge who deserves to remain on the court until he reaches mandatory retirement in four years.

80th District Court: Ken Shortreed – Despite having criticized Shortreed a couple of years ago for his legal work on behalf of one of the local pay-for-play slate makers, I find myself endorsing him in the race for the 80th District Court. He is an excellent attorney whose varied work experience, knowledge, and training will make him a positive addition to our local courts.

125th District Court: L.A. Olson – This is the sort of race where picking the best candidate is hard because of the quality of the candidates. In the end, though, Leif A. Olson is a candidate with a superb education, experience as a law clerk to a federal district judge, and a practicing attorney both with a big law firm and his own private practice. Of a conservative legal temperament, he will certainly be the sort of judge that Republicans want to place on the bench.

151st District Court: Jeff Hastings – As I’ve spoken to folks about this race, I have yet to find a single person who offered a negative assessment of Jeff Hastings as a candidate, as an attorney, or as a person. That is a rare thing, and made it easy to endorse him.

178th District Court: Xavier Alfaro – This is a difficult race to make an endorsement in this year. There are multiple candidates who merit serious consideration and who would be a credit to the bench. With experience as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Alfaro appears to be the best qualified of all the candidates. He is also committed to clearing the backlog in this felony court, which is a pressing concern for advocates for both victims and the accused.

339th District Court: Mary McFadden – McFadden has been a conscientious and respected prosecutor for years here in Harris County. She will undoubtedly be a credit to the bench.

Harris County District Attorney: LEAVE IT BLANK – Yes, I know there is only one candidate on the ballot in this race – but the notion of offering even an implicit endorsement of Devon Anderson by way of silence leads me to encourage all Republicans to cast a vote of no confidence in her administration of the office by intentionally undervoting in this race. Her office’s bungling of two abortion related cases in the last 2 ˝ years and her indictment of those seeking to uncover wrongdoing in one of them is evidence that we can do better – even if that means letting the office fall to someone who is not a Republican this fall.

County Civil Court at Law 1: Clyde Leuchtag – Judge Leuchtag was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on this bench and has served creditably. His opponent is a Democrat who crossed parties in the hope of setting up a race in which either she or her husband (a candidate in the Democrat primary) would be elected. Don’t reward that behavior when we can keep the experienced Republican in place.

County Attorney: Chris Carmona – Chris Carmona is one of the young guns of Harris County (and, indeed, Texas and national) politics, and will be one of our party’s rising stars in years to come. In his first race for office, he is seeking to take back the office of County Attorney from the Democrat incumbent. I view a vote for Carmona as a two-fer – not only a chance to put someone with integrity in this important office, but also the opportunity to invest in the future of both our county and our party.

Harris County Sheriff: Carl Pittman – Many of us in the grassroots believed that Carl Pittman should have been the choice to become sheriff after Adrian Garcia resigned. We were not listened to then; let’s make them listen to us now.

Harris County Tax Collector-Assessor: Mike Sullivan – Sullivan’s opponent recently asked if voters want an activist or an administrator for this position. Personally, I vote for an administrator, and therefore endorse Mike Sullivan.

Harris County School Trustee Position 1 Precinct 2: Marvin Morris – Marvin Morris has shown himself to be a man concerned about the education of the children of Harris County since being elected to this position. While some claim that this entity needs to be eliminated, Morris correctly points out that the taxes that fund it will simply become a part of the general budget for the county rather than go away. As such, we are better off with those who will oversee its operations with an eye towards efficiency than those who seek to undermine it.

Harris County School Trustee Position 2 Precinct 4: No Endorsement – It pains me to not endorse Eric Dick on this one, as I view him to be a man of great integrity and would support him for almost any position. That said, I believe that Danell Fields is correct in observing that the Harris County Department of Education provides economies of scale save local ISDs money. Unfortunately, Dick wants to abolish HCDE (which, as noted in my endorsement above, is unlikely to result in tax savings) while Fields seems to be unprepared for the office, suggesting that she will wait until in office to decide what about priorities. In both cases, Harris County students and taxpayers deserve better.

Harris County Commissioner Precinct 3: Steve Radack – An experienced incumbent or a candidate running an amateur campaign with no real vision. The choice is obvious.

Harris County Republican Chair: Paul Simpson – Paul Simpson ran with the goal of making Harris County Republicans competitive in every part of the county. In two years, we were nearly able to take two top spots in the city of Houston – something we never imagined happening. We’ve seen an increase in the number of precinct chairs and expanded outreach to every community. What he is doing is working—let’s not mess up a good thing.

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February 05, 2016

A Proposed Shorter RPT Platform

For the consideration of my fellow Texas Republicans, here is my latest revision of a proposed six page platform for our party to replace the 40 page document that now exists. It is easy to read, based on principle, and designed to be used not just by elected officials in setting legislative priorities and Republicans looking to judge candidates' fidelity to GOP priorities, but also as a tool for drawing people into our party.

Please consider seeking to adopt this resolution at precinct, senatorial district, and county conventions in coming weeks, so that it (or something like it) can become our state platform. You may make it a single resolution, or you may put each section in a different resolution. You may, of course, choose to edit portions of it in order to strengthen it or achieve consensus. And I would recommend also adopting a resolution requesting that the 2016 RPT platform committee not use the 2014 platform as a template for the 2016 platform.

* * * * *

We, the Republican Party of Texas, STILL hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We affirm our continued support for limited government based upon a moral and spiritual foundation, as enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. We affirm freedom for every individual as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and protected by the Constitution. We recognize that the traditional family is the strength of our nation. It is our solemn duty to protect life and develop responsible citizens. We understand that our economic success depends upon free market principles. We believe that citizens' needs are best met through free enterprise, private initiative, and volunteerism. We support the “Rule of Law” and believe in upholding the law of the land. If we fail to maintain our sovereignty, we risk losing the freedom to live these ideals. As a party we adopt this platform and expect our elected leaders to acknowledge its principles in both word and action.

We believe government exists by the consent of the governed and that it must be restrained from intruding into the freedoms of its citizens. The function of government is not to grant rights, but to protect the unalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

We believe that government must strictly adhere to the original intent of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Constitution of the State of Texas. The 13 original Sovereign States in Constitutional Convention created the Constitution of the United States of America and subsequently ratified that document creating a Federal Government and granting to that Government limited and enumerated powers. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States defines Federal powers as those enumerated in the Constitution and reserves all other powers to the States and to the People. We oppose congressional, judicial, and executive abrogation of the principle that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People. We oppose unreasonable and intrusive federal mandates. This is essential to the preservation of the sovereignty of the state of Texas and its sister states.

We recognize the rights of the individual to own property. We resist any effort by government to take private property without an overwhelming need for public use. We reject the taking of private property by government for purposes of facilitating private development. We strongly oppose civil forfeiture of private property absent the conviction of its owners for a crime involving its acquisition or use.

We demand honesty, integrity, morality, and accountability of our public officials. We will work to expose and stop corruption. We reject the buying and selling of endorsements in all elections. We support efforts to improve the security and sanctity of the ballot, including the requirement that voters show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot. We oppose public financing of election campaigns, limits on political speech, and efforts by government entities to influence the outcome of elections.

We honor all those that serve and protect our freedom. We support a military force of sufficient strength and readiness to deter any threat to our national sovereignty or to the safety and freedom of our citizens. We support the Constitutional mandate to protect and secure our national borders. We oppose placement of United States troops under any foreign command, including the United Nations. We support lawful efforts of local law enforcement agencies to protect citizens in their homes and in their communities. We urge reform of the legal system to accomplish a swift and balanced administration of justice, including consideration of rights of the victim. We support capital punishment when appropriate. We hold in abhorrence all schemes for disunion, come from whatever source they may; we hold it to be the highest duty of every American citizen to maintain against all enemies the integrity of the United States and declare that it must and shall be preserved.

We believe that Americans have the right to be safe in their homes, on their streets, and in their communities; and the unalienable right to defend themselves. We support the individual constitutionally protected natural right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes. We encourage personal responsibility for the care and use of these firearms. We support the Castle Doctrine and the right of individuals to stand their ground when confronted with criminal violence, and reject the notion that law-abiding citizens have a duty to retreat rather than defend themselves from criminals.

We claim freedom of religion for every citizen and expect the protection of government in securing to us this unalienable right. We affirm the right to religious expression, including prayer, in both private and public. We reject efforts to limit the free exercise of religion to the four walls of a house of worship. We support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

We recognize the traditional family, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman, as the fundamental unit of society. We affirm that parents have the fundamental right and primary responsibility to direct the upbringing of their children and to provide nurturing care, discipline and training in moral values.

We believe all human life is sacred from conception to natural death, regardless of age or infirmity. We therefore we oppose abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and the public funding of any of these abhorrent practices. We reject government efforts to force employers to pay for these practices directly or indirectly under the guise of "health care benefits".

We believe that the primary responsibility for meeting basic human needs rests with the individual, the family, and the voluntary charitable organizations. We recognize, however, that there are special social needs that must be addressed through state human service programs. We support requiring welfare recipients to work towards self-sufficiency. We reject the notion that the federal government may mandate the purchase of any insurance product or penalize the failure to do so, as well as federal regulation of insurance products offered for sale.

We believe that no individual is entitled to rights that exceed or supersede the natural rights of others guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Texas. There shall be no discrimination by government in favor of or against any individual due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. We reject efforts to sanitize history out of political correctness.

We believe that all children should have access to quality education. Parents have the primary right and responsibility to educate their children, and we support their right to choose public, private, or home education without being subject to coercion in that choice by government. We support incentives to promote competitive excellence. We encourage cooperative initiatives to help all Texans become literate in English. We support the distribution of educational funds in a manner that they follow the student to any school, whether public private, or home school. We reject federal imposition of educational standards and the tying of federal education funding to adopting federally mandated standards. We reject zero tolerance policies that mindlessly impose punishments that lack a rational relationship to the supposed offense.

We accept the necessity for limited taxation in order for government to perform and administer those services that meet essential public needs. However, we recognize that the power to tax is also the power to control, and believe that the best way to control government is to strictly control the amount of taxes imposed on the people. We encourage further simplification of tax systems, the elimination of the estate tax, and broad-based rate reduction where possible. We reject the imposition of a state income tax and support a meaningful cap on increasing property taxes so that homeowners need not fear being taxed out of their homes.

We recognize that government regulation can be a major impediment to productivity and to competition. We must rely more on market forces and less on government. Regulatory power now exercised by the federal government must be eliminated or returned to state and local governments to the degree that it is practical to do so.

We support a free enterprise economy unencumbered by government interference or subsidies. We believe that a strong, diversified economy based on a positive work ethic, a well-trained and well-educated work force, a business-friendly environment, and safe work place will help Texas compete in the global marketplace. We believe that developing our human resources is essential to the future of Texas. We support the Texas Right to Work Law.

We appreciate the quality of our environment. Our air, water, and land are at the heart of our existence and must be protected through balanced management. We support reasonable laws and volunteer efforts to improve air and water quality. We continue to seek responsible solutions to controversies surrounding uses of our wilderness. We seek to preserve the environment while serving the best interests of our Texas citizens. We oppose as unconstitutional the declaration by any President without approval from Congress of any large tract of land as a national monument. We call on the State of Texas to use the resources at its disposal to challenge any such declaration in the courts of the United States.

The jury is a fundamental institution of liberty, because it is the only anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution. The jury has the right and the authority to acquit if jurors feel justice will be served.

We recognize that America is a nation built on immigration, and celebrate the contributions made to our quality of life by men and women who have come to this country from around the globe. America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of legal immigrants, and the Republican Party honors them. We believe that control of our borders is critical to both national security and national sovereignty. We oppose illegal immigration and amnesty for illegal immigrants. We oppose granting government benefits to those illegally present in the US. We believe that current laws against employing illegal immigrants should be vigorously enforced, particularly to stem the now too common crime of identity theft in obtaining employment. We support the imposition of civil and criminal penalties for employers that knowingly employ illegal aliens. We support the mandatory use of E-Verify so that employers can determine whether job applicants are legally entitled to employment in the United States.

The Republican Party is the party of the people, by the people and for the people. We appreciate the productivity of our citizens, affirm the infinite worth of all individuals, and seek the best possible quality of life for all. We invite all Americans to join us in working together for a better America and a better Texas.

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