I have refrained from regularly posting on BJP for the last 3 years out of concern that anything I might write could be attributed to the local Republican Party, because I held an office with the HCRP. Now that I have stepped-down from that position, however, I plan to resume my regular posting here. Although my friend, David Jennings, pleaded with me to write something about the remarkable World Series and the Astros’ championship, I will postpone sharing my thoughts about this season, and my beloved Baseball, for another post (or two) before Spring Training starts. Instead, I want to jump back into BJP with some thoughts about the future of our State and our party.
But, before I do so, I want to publicly thank Paul Simpson for giving me the opportunity to serve our local party since the summer of 2014. When Paul and I first ran against the incumbent Chair of the HCRP in the 2010 primary, the party infrastructure was in abysmal shape. I presented a 10-point plan for rebuilding the party finances, management and organization, and for growing the party base—and Paul and I agreed on most of those points. I am proud to say that, through Paul’s leadership and the combined efforts of so many local activists, so much of what he and I fought for in 2010 were successfully implemented under Paul’s leadership. Today, the party has a strong organizational and fiscal foundation upon which it can continue to grow by identifying and mobilizing voters to elect our Republican state and local candidates. Thankfully, those reforms came just in time, because, as we saw in the last election, Harris County is now so politically competitive that we need the effective organization he has built to continue to elect our candidates. As a result, I whole-heartedly endorse Paul for another term as Chair of the HCRP—he’s earned it.
As we saw during this last election, though, we cannot rest on the foundation Paul established, for even though our down-ballot local candidates did better than the top of the ticket in both 2014 and 2016, such performance will not be enough if the top of our ticket is not supported by our local voters. And the strength of that ticket next year will depend on the ability of our incumbents for the U.S. Senate, Governor and Lt. Governor to address the long-term needs of Texas, and on the unified effort of our party activists to support this ticket.
It is because these challenges are so immediate and obvious that I was distressed to see that some of the early endorsement emails recently circulating have left out the most obvious incumbent at the top of our ticket: Governor Greg Abbott. I am not sure whether this was an oversight, an intentional delay to focus a later email just on him, or (what I fear) a desire by some in our party to recruit a challenger, but I am concerned that more than one endorsing entity has done the same thing before the filing deadline.
So, let me be clear where I stand: I happily, fully, and unconditionally endorse Greg Abbott for re-election as Governor. I believe he is still the right man for this job at this time, and that his best days as Governor lie ahead.
I don’t say this out of blind loyalty to either the Governor, or my party. Like any other independently thinking conservative, there have been issues on which I have disagreed with him, or feel he has not yet done enough. But, he is still the best man to lead this State at this time as it addresses the long-term challenges we face in Texas.
What are those challenges?
Regardless of whatever pet issue drives your political interest, there are at least six over-riding and obvious priorities that our state government must address over the next four years—some by itself, and some with through collective efforts with our business community, local leaders, and our Congressional delegation:
- Structural and financial reform of our K-12 public school system and our state-university undergraduate system;
- Modernization and expansion of our roads, bridges, ports, and flood control and coastal-storm surge protection systems;
- Reform of our public-employee compensation/pension, and municipal finance, systems;
- Re-imagination of our local and state public health delivery systems, including how we address mental-health care;
- Implementation of a more effective sunset-process for unnecessary or duplicative agencies; and
- Adoption of zero-based budgeting at each level of government.
You will note that I did not include property-tax reform on this list. As important as that issue is, we cannot begin to reform our tax system until we truly know how much money our state and local governments need to properly meet these challenges. Only after we address these reforms can we effectively change our property-tax system.
These are not easy issues to address and to solve; but solve them we must if we are to continue to grow as the most free and conservative state in the Union. For instance, we have a K-12 educational system, and a flood-control system, that are both over 70 years old, and they are wholly incapable of meeting the needs of Texas today, let alone for the next generation. As for our public university system, we have imbalanced the use of public resources by diverting too many resources to building world-class research institutions and away from the support of undergraduate education. Our cities and school districts have become too debt burdened and are approaching insolvency. And our state and local governments are too ossified in the status quo to reform themselves to meet present and future needs.
I love our citizen legislature that meets regularly for 140 days every two years, but this is not enough time for our legislators to address these long-term needs. So, as Governor Abbott recommended to the last special session to address educational reform, we need a Governor who is willing to appoint and work with special commissions while the legislature is not in session to investigate and develop long-term plans to present to the legislature, similar to the Perot Commission in the 1980s, and modeled after the successful bi-partisan effort of civic and political leaders to address Houston’s pension problem during the last legislative session.
Governor Abbott is the one statewide official with the breadth of experience at the state and county levels to lead this effort, and I believe he sees these challenges and is ready to lead Texas to find solutions.
But he needs our unified support to do so. So, our party—at every level—needs to not only support his re-election, but also support him, and the rest of our elected officials, to meet these challenges consistent with our principles of liberty, free-markets, and limited government. As part of this effort, we need to reach-out to every neighborhood, build relationships and trust with voters, and persuade them that our agenda and principles will produce effective government throughout Texas for years to come.
Again, the best leader we have at this time to address these issues is Governor Abbott, and I endorse his re-election. I challenge the rest of you to unify and do the same.