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Where Do Indies Go Now that Rick Perry’s Party is Over

Riddle: What unites conservative and liberal Texas voters?

Answer: Booting Rick Perry and disarming both parties of the power to draw their own district lines, a practice called redistricting.

Many political pundits just don’t get it about Rick Perry and his relationship to independent voters who will likely decide the outcome of the hot Texas Governor’s race in November. In the view of Texas independents, Rick Perry did not do well on Tuesday, while securing his party’s nomination. The Governor was doing so badly he was forced to viciously attack one of his own, Kay Bailey Hutchison. Moreover, the all powerful Rick Perry was forced to pull a Glenn Beck on opponent Debra Medina, an unknown Republican insurgent over whom the Tea Party was split, and who was outspent by 30 to 1.

The real question is what did Rick Perry have to do in order to win his party’s 51%? The result that may well count the most is the continued exodus of voters out of the Republican Party who can no longer stand the political stench created by the Governor.

How do we know this? Four days prior to election day, volunteers from Independent Texans including yours truly, were on the phone calling independent voters in House District 92. These voters had backed Carole Keeton Strayhorn or Kinky Freidman as independents for Governor in 2006. We asked them to kindly vote in the Republican primary for Debra Medina and to help reelect their Texas House representative Todd Smith. On Saturday, I received a call from Smith’s opponent, Jeff Cason, who claimed he didn’t really know who Bob Perry was, though he had just taken $25,000 from him. Ironically, on Monday a jury awarded a Mansfield couple $51 million in a case against Perry Homes. Maybe now Cason knows who Bob Perry is.

Bob Perry’s connections to Rick Perry and the Governor’s appointees to the Texas Residential Construction Commission had been a big issue back in 2006 when Smith asked then State Comptroller, Carole Strayhorn, to review the agency. This investigation eventually led to the abolition of the agency by the Sunset Commission.

Mr. Cason seemed to think that, as an independent, I would be angered if I knew the ‘truth” about Smith’s failure to pass the Voter ID bill. I might have caught him off guard when I said that from the vantage point of Texas independents the real failing of Voter ID was its dominance of the last session. I further pointed out to Cason that about 4 million independent, non-aligned Texas voters have been disenfranchised for about 40 years. We were much hotter to trot on real reforms like Redistricting Reform” taking the redistricting weapon out of the hands of both parties.

I wouldn’t, for one minute, claim we saved Todd Smith, though we were happy to help. My point is the same as Will Lutz of the Lone Star Report. There is a growing lack of decency and honesty in Texas politics. Political honesty is a prerequisite for any true reform. Cason’s temerity in sending out a mailing implying that Todd Smith was soft on sexual predation deserved a smack down – which HD 92 voters likely figured out for themselves.

I got a note from a member of the Texas media (one of the few who likes Rick Perry) who wrote to me, “Why don’t you just get over it” referring to Perry’s penchant for privatized toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor. Our grudge against Rick Perry goes way deeper than the resentment Texans naturally feel for the Governor’s attempt to grab 500,000 acres of prime, private farmland for the TTC. It goes to the structural problems in our electoral system which breeds more and more polarization. This creates opportunities for likes of Rick Perry despite the fact that they actually enjoy minority (no pun intended) support. An example of my point is the defeat of Victor Carillo, Republican incumbent Railroad Commissioner. It appears that Mr. Carrillo’s only “sin” was his Hispanic last name.

One out every two of those voting in the Republican primary voted for Debra Medina (18.6%) or Kay Bailey Hutchison (33.3%). Kay’s concession speech came with less than 20% of the precincts having been counted. It was clear that regular Republicans, out of weakness in the face of the Medina insurgency, needed to circle the wagons. If we, at Independent Texans, have anything to say about it, the wagons will be re-routed somewhere else in November. We can start with the political reform that gets to the heart of partisan power over the next two years of redistricting.

Prediction: If Bill White figures out how to reach out to independents with real reform propositions on redistricting and more, he will beat Rick Perry. If he doesn’t, Rick Perry will keep fueling the rise of independent politics in Texas and some day we will win.

Message to Texas Tea Partiers: You have an important decision to make. Are you really independent, or will you patch things up like Kay did with Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, who are out to use and then crush you? It’s your choice.

Message to Bill White: Pledge to move redistricting to a special session and have the Governor’s Call contain this simple message “legislators should not be allowed to draw their own district lines”. This is an example of what it means to be a small independent (and, as you say, inclusive) Governor.

PS For to those wanting to be knowledgeable: The new online Texas Tribune newspaper is providing excellent followup coverage of Texas races, including a nifty tool to search for where candidates are getting their contributions:

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