Updated: Jan 9
In 2006 I was hoping we could beat Rick Perry and elect the first independent Governor since Sam Houston. Instead, Carole Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman split the independent vote, yet garnered a whopping 1.3 million combined votes (32%). That huge "failure" could have been turned into success, but the independent movement failed to build off the failure.
I have spent the last two months since the 2022 election trying to figure out what I want to do “when I grow up.” I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m only 72. 😊
I still can't get over it. How major media totally missed a huge political story in Texas. THE STORY: Legendary political predator, former Governor Rick Perry and Trump Administration Cabinet member (Dept. of Energy), was working his lobby donor list to raise $700,000 to buy the GOP nomination for his employee, Stan Gerdes for Texas House District 17, home of the "water wars." I had to write the dang piece myself, "Rick Perry's Poodle." Then, I jumped in to run in a three-way race for the seat in November.
I’m so grateful to those who helped me live out my fantasy to run as an independent candidate to carry the banner of the decades of efforts to “Stop the Water Grabs” in Texas House District 17 – Bastrop, Burleson, Caldwell, Lee and Bastrop counties. It was my weird kind of fun pointing the finger at the politician that has “led” Texas to a place most Texans, I believe, revile. I wanted to call attention to how rural Texas is being hollowed out for the almighty dollar to line the pockets of Rick Perry’s lobby friends in big energy and big development, and how that is putting all Texans, urban and rural, at risk.
It was also pure pleasure to bring forward policy solutions developed by my longtime all-volunteer independent colleagues to many more people. I hope to see these used in the future. They will remain on my campaign website here.
I am equally grateful to the 2388 people (4%) who voted for me. Some of you really surprised and delighted me that you voted independent!
I am fully aware that I failed to get the traction I needed to force Stan Gerdes to talk about our issues BEFORE the election. That said, it was good to see Gerdes at the swearing in of the new Lee County Judge, Frank Malinak last Sunday. Both of them were talking about Lee County's water as an absolute priority. I sincerely wish them both well, no pun intended! (Photo credit: Giddings Times.)
Now the real race begins.
Gerdes has asked Texas House Speaker Phelan to be appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee. The Speaker donated $50,000 for Gerdes to seize the contested GOP primary in HD17, so perhaps this will happen.
The legislative session begins on January 10th and ends on May 31st. You can bet your bippy there will be treachery around every corner on big ticket (big money) issues where "the lobby" will be working it! That's water, energy and elections. It's because the GOP is beginning to get a clue about their survival in Texas; they can't keep screwing rural Texas. Independent voters are key in the battle unfolding.
To make my point, I steal a quote from Texas analyst, Harvey Kronberg of Quorum Report, "General elections are national referenda and the 15% of Texas voters that call themselves independent (but still typically break to the right) are in play."*
But, will Texas independents learn how to use our numbers to force the changes to protect all Texans from the dysfunction and greed we face? Read more of Harvey's stellar advice to new legislators.
We're going to talk about it on Monday, January 16th at 7 pm in an LIV Forum. I invite you to join us on January 16th with national ballot access expert and publisher of Ballot Access News, Richard Winger. Go here to sign up to join us.
My political partner at Independent Texans PAC, Bill Rhodes (also Whistle’s wrangler) and I have updated our new home page. It tells you more about what we are prepared to do for and with your participation.
I hope you will get involved with LIV and/or Independent Texans PAC this year!
"Growing up", for me, means never giving up our ideals for a fair, open and competitive electoral system and for the protection of the resources upon which all life depends.
Gratefully and independently yours for a truly Happy New Year!
* I believe Harvey's number of independents is low. This Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler poll suggests that Texas Dems' ID is about 34%, Texas Repubs is about 39% and Texas independents is 27%. If that's right, Texas Indies are at about 3.8 million Texans.