In the 2014 Republican primary in Texas, in many of the races we have lots of good choices. Our job is to pick the best candidates and tell you why. We will roll out endorsements on a weekly basis.
Lieutenant Governor - Dan Patrick
With four serious candidates for Lieutenant Governor, TCR had the task of determining which one was most qualified to provide the leadership and conservative solutions to the challenges facing Texas. Our choice is Dan Patrick, who has what it takes to get beyond the rhetoric and get things done. When Texas Conservative Review endorsed Dan Patrick for Texas Senate in 2006, we had no doubt that he would be not only a solid vote on conservative issues, but also a leader on them. Since his election to the Texas Senate Dan Patrick has fulfilled our expectations and been a leader on issues important to conservatives including education reform, protection of the unborn, fiscal responsibility and border security. Through a combination of gutsy leadership, coalition building and unrelenting determination, Dan has successfully helped pass over 100 pieces of conservative legislation that include the historic sonogram bill, a $172 million tax cut and advances in school choice. Dan Patrick is the fighter we need to advance the conservative agenda and he is the fighter who can beat the Democrat in November. For those reasons and for the future of our great state, Texas Conservative Review enthusiastically endorses Dan Patrick for election as our next Lieutenant Governor.
Comptroller - Harvey Hilderbran
TCR recommends businessman and current State Representative Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville for Texas Comptroller.
As the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the Texas Legislature, Harvey has time and again stood with businesses and taxpayers alike. He has led the effort to cut red tape in tax collection, reduce regulations for filing taxes, and provide significant tax relief to businesses and consumers, over $1.4 billion in 2013 alone.
Additionally, in his career in the Texas Legislature, Harvey served as chairman of two other committees, passing major reform legislation. He wrote and passed 1995's landmark welfare reform legislation. In 1997, he was instrumental in passing the state's most significant legislation protecting residents of Texas nursing homes.
He is the only candidate for Texas Comptroller to receive a 100 percent vote rating in 2013 from the Texas Association of Business.
He is the only candidate to receive a "2013 Legislative Champion" award from the Texas Oil and Gas Association.
Most importantly, Harvey is the most substantive conservative candidate running in regards to public policy. He has developed a ten-point Performance Pledge to the Voters, which may be reviewed at HarveyForTexas.com. The top priority of his plan is passing a Texas Taxpayers Bill of Rights, which will level the playing field between taxpayers and the state.
TCR likes that Harvey's vision of the role of Texas Comptroller is simple. He wants to be both an advocate and a partner with job creators and taxpayers to grow the Texas economy. He is the best choice here.
Harris County District Clerk - Chris Daniel
TCR endorses Chris Daniel for re-election as the Harris County District Clerk. Daniel, who was elected in 2010, is seeking the nomination on the March 4th Republican Primary ballot.
Chris Daniel was endorsed by us in 2010 and has provided effective conservative leadership at the office of Harris County District Clerk. Since taking office, Mr. Daniel has implemented many measures to increase the effectiveness of the office, improve access for constituents and cut costs to save taxpayer dollars. We believe that Chris Daniel's performance during the past four years has earned him TCR's support for re-election as Harris County District Clerk. Like so many primary races this cycle, this was not an easy choice as his primary opponent also brings a lot to the table. In the end we decided to "dance with who brung us."
Examples of Daniel's accomplishments include continued automation and technology implementation, expansion of services such as Passport filings, improvements to the Jury Service database, changes to the HCDC website that now allow citizens to reschedule Jury service online and an overhaul of office staff to direct more resources to customer service.
Harris County Republican Chairman - Jared Woodfill
TCR recommends incumbent Chairman Jared Woodfill for re-election. Jared is in his eleventh year as Chair and is getting better and better. An outstanding advocate for the GOP and its candidates, he has led the party to large victories, except in the 2008 Obama landslide, and even then we won many countywide races. In 2012, we swept Harris County except in a narrow loss for Mitt Romney!
These victories facing the undertow of weak Presidential or Gubernatorial candidates tells us all we need to know about Jared's effectiveness.
Jared's aggressive outreach program and the expanding footprint of the GOP are all wonderful incentives.
Jared also is on the front lines in support of the party's economic and social conservative agenda, most recently leading the fight against Mayor Annise Parker's partner benefits executive order.
His opponent is a perennial candidate for party Chair who was terminated as the HCRP general counsel over 13 years ago for abandoning his position when the liberal media attacked him and the party. He has done nothing for the party since that would lead one to believe he would be an improvement over Jared. In fact, he would be a major setback.
The GOP primary voters should thank Jared for his long, uncompensated, successful service to the party with a resounding re-election.
TCR Endorsements, Part 1
Obama Economy Continues To Sputter
With the release of last Friday's job numbers, unemployment declined from 7% to 6.7%! Of course if you look deeply, the reason was that 525,000 people (seven times the number of jobs created) dropped out of the work force.
This is year five of the Obama recovery, and unemployment and underemployment are still severe problems.
Secretary Gates' New Book
R.I.P. Obama's Administration
A new book by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War reminded us what a train wreck this Democratic President has been in foreign relations and national security affairs.
A few highlights! Gates writes in the book that the Obama White House "was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any I had seen since Richard Nixon..." Gates writes that "Domestic political considerations" became a factor "in virtually every major national security problem we tackled."
Gates also complains about the constant "micromanagement and operational meddling" by Obama staffers. "It became routine under Obama" for White House staff "to call a four-star combatant commander or field commander." Gates was also "offended" by the Obama White House's "determination to take credit for every good thing that happened."
On the war in Afghanistan, Gates said he "witnessed a good deal of wishful thinking" when it came to strategy. Obama was "incensed" by the request from top generals for a major military surge in 2009 and was "skeptical if not outright convinced" that it would fail. When dealing with top military officers, Gates writes that Obama was "deeply suspicious of their actions and recommendations."
In regards to Vice President Joe Biden, a supposed foreign policy expert, Gates says he "has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
As for a preview of the on-deck candidate Hillary Clinton and how she, as a United States Senator, responded to President Bush's 2007 decision to send reinforcements to our troops in Iraq, a.k.a. "the surge", Gates writes this: "Hilary told the president [Obama] that her opposition to the  surge in Iraq has been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary. ...The president conceded vaguely that [his] opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying."
The sooner the Democratic clown show is sent packing, the better off we will be as Americans.
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
Some of the world's most famous people became such by challenging conventional wisdom. Who does not know the name Galileo? He was scorned as a heretic in his day. Or what American does not know of Jonas Salk, who developed a nonconventional process and saved the world from the dreaded polio disease. Now comes along a man challenging conventional wisdom. The subject is not as lofty as curing polio or defining the center of the universe, but it challenges an accepted orthodoxy that has been beaten into our brains for decades.
Though campaign finance reform dates back to 1867 when Andrew Johnson was President, the real push started in the 1970's and has been drummed into the political psyche since then. What Americans have been sold is that big money interests have twisted the political system -- taking advantage of the poor, downtrodden elected officials. Americans may hold Congress in low esteem, but most think their personal Congressman is the reincarnation of Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). The poor befuddled representative has to claw and fight their way through a thicket of special interests trying to buy his/her vote.
Peter Schweizer dismantles the idea of the innocent Washington politicians in his book Extortion. In chapter after chapter he explains how the current system extracts millions from corporations and other interest groups by manipulating legislation to feed the elected officials various different funds. Schweizer told me "Politics is destroying money; not the reverse."
The entire system is organized to not fix problems. Schweizer details how our elected representatives are running basically a protection racket. As Schweizer stated, "The goal is to create more problems or let problems fester." Members of Congress go to special interest groups and tell them if they don't hand over big bucks then a bill which may have a small chance of passing or has been presented annually will be brought up at great detriment to the target's business interests. One of the favorite techniques of raising money is called a "double-milker." That is when a Congressman raises money from interest groups on both sides of an issue by telling one-side that they are working on passing the bill and the other side that they better cough up the dough or the dreaded bill will pass.
As Schweizer writes in the book, bills are brought up and then die after the fundraising is completed. He writes, "The bill might go away; the executioner might take away the guillotine for a time. But it will return. The bill will reemerge, and the money will be extorted again by both sides. Sometimes bills only finally pass after the donors have been wrung dry."
When I asked Schweizer what most surprised him of what he found from his research, he actually had two matters that set him back. The first is how, particularly in the House, committee assignments are principally made to members who agree to raise a preset amount that can exceed a million dollars to go to their political party. This practice was begun by both political parties in the 1990's. Certain committees like Budget or Ways and Means have high-minimum party contributions. Others like Foreign Affairs or Ethics have no constituency and thus the required contributions are low. Schweizer told me that the big dollar committees have little appeal to the Congressman's hometown constituents, so the money they raise principally comes from lobbyists or industries affected by the committee's potential legislation. The Congressman then twists the arms of whomever to extract the required funds to pay the party dues.
The second thing that surprised Schweizer was how many pockets our elected officials can pull money from to feed their operations. He said they have five or six legal sources. He was also stunned by how, with tools like Leadership PACs, our Washington officials use the funds they raise to pay for their personal expenses.
The most revealing statement in the book is a quote from the former President of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, which defines matters clearly and completely. He says, "They deliberately write ambiguity into the law. It's part of a career-building process. If you are a congressional staffer, you spend your career crafting complex legislative language. This equips you to leverage your postgovernment competence." Schweizer adds, "And complexity begets complexity"; then finishes with the Hofmeister's final words, "The whole system builds on itself." The reason these words are so revelatory is that business leaders typically keep their mouths shut and don't run to the press to express how they are being abused. After all, the entire idea behind extortion is that the victim does not allow anyone to know how they are being coerced because of the power the extortionist has to punish the victim for any public commentary.
When asked what the solution to the problem is, Schweizer offered two. First, he suggested no fundraising be allowed when Congress is in session. Many days senators and representatives run from committee meeting to fundraiser and back to committee meeting and then to another fundraiser. The other suggestion is to have single-issue bills. When there are omnibus bills like Dodd-Frank or the Senate Immigration bill, they are made purposefully complicated to extract funds from targeted pigeons who cannot say no.
Schweizer has put forth a highly readable book in Extortion that redefines how we should look at the political fundraising process and educates us on how it is done. But Schweizer and I agree in the end the best way to eliminate the fundraising sham is to limit the money flowing through the government's hands. That is truly the best way to end the shenanigans.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland, liberal commentator David Jones and moderator Linda Lorelle on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8.1, replaying Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8.1, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
Red, White & Blue returns on January 17, 2014.
Should marijuana be legal, featuring Pastors Roundtable head Dave Welch, and 2014 Primary Preview show with our power panel.
The current show as well as past shows are available on YouTube.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last twelve years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 10 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his twelfth year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.