Texas GOP electing minorities

Mar 16, 2013 by

texas wide open for businessThere’s nothing Texas Republicans enjoy doing more than reminding Texas Democrats that the state GOP has put more blacks and Hispanics into statewide office than the Democrats have.

This chaps Democrats just like the fact that it was a Republican president (the first one) who abolished slavery and it was many Democrats (southern ones) who fought civil rights legislation.

The Texas GOP recently brought up the facts about Texas minorities in statewide office in a response to the latest attempt by Texas Dems to end their statewide election losing streak dating back to 1994. The e

ffort is called Battleground Texas and the Democrats’ goal is to turn Texas blue by 2016. They might have a better chance of turning the UT Tower maroon.

Steve Munisteri, the former boxing manager who’s now the Texas GOP chairman, meted out some sage advice for the non-Texas Dems who moved here to run Battleground Texas. Among my favorites: “Don’t sit cross-legged while wearing spurs” and a reminder about pre-consumption dehusking of tamales.

But I’m sure the last one on the list is the one that most sticks in the craws of Democrats, whose party is the traditional home of a solid majority of the state’s black and Hispanic voters:

“Texas Republicans have elected more minorities to statewide office in the past 19 years than Democrats did after controlling the state for over 100 years. The list includes Al Gonzales, David Medina, Eva Guzman, Wallace Jefferson and Dale Wainwright to the Texas Supreme Court, Elsa Alcala to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Victor Carrillo and Michael Williams to the Texas Railroad Commission. And, Texas’ first U.S. senator of Hispanic descent, Ted Cruz.”

(For some reason, the list left out Tony Garza, who became the first Hispanic Republican elected to Texas statewide office when he won a Railroad Commission seat in 1998.)

It’s true that some of the folks on the list initially got their statewide jobs through gubernatorial appointments to fill vacancies (and Carrillo was voted out of office in a GOP primary), but facts are facts and the GOP is right on this one.

Here’s the complete list of Hispanic or black Democrats elected to statewide positions in Texas: Raul Gonzalez, Texas Supreme Court, first elected in 1984; Morris Overstreet, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, first elected in 1990; and Dan Morales, attorney general, first elected in 1990. Gonzalez, like some of the GOP minorities who won statewide races, initially was a gubernatorial appointee. Morales, after leaving office, did time in federal prison.

Overstreet’s 1990 victory made him the first black elected to Texas statewide office. He did so by beating a black incumbent, Louis Sturns, who had been appointed by Gov. Bill Clements to fill a vacancy. Sturns, now a Tarrant County state district judge, is the judge in the court of inquiry involving former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson’s role in the improper murder conviction of Michael Morton.

(The late Lena Guerrero, an Austin Democrat, was appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission by Gov. Ann Richards in 1991 but was ousted by voters in 1992 after she acknowledged she had lied about having a college degree).

The GOP record in electing minorities to statewide office in Texas cannot be discussed without mentioning the challenge some Hispanics have faced in GOP primaries. Railroad Commissioner Carrillo lost in the 2010 primary to relative unknown David Porter. In 2002, Supreme Court Justice Xavier Rodriguez, who’d been appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, was defeated in the primary by Stephen Smith, an unknown who spent almost nothing on his race.

The primary losses by Carrillo and Rodriguez to relative unknowns with non-Hispanic names have been fuel for the notion that Texas Republicans, in down-ballot races that attract lesser attention, are not prone to back Hispanics. That’s something they’re working on as the state’s Hispanic population continues its march toward becoming a majority.

via Herman: Texas GOP trumpets its record in electing minorities | www.statesman.com.

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