On Friday evening, I attended the Liberty Forum sponsored by Republican Liberty Caucus, Libertarian Party, and Liberty on the Rocks. This event was an outstanding example of the good work being done by Harris County’s young conservative leaders.
John Baucum, President of the Houston Young Republicans, invited me to the event. Baucum thought that I should attend the event as a follow up to my story on the drug policy forum held by the HYR in July. Baucum is involved in RAMP with Ann Lee, one of my favorite local republican stalwarts. Ann’s husband, Bob, has suffered a stroke. Thankfully, Bob is soon to return home. God bless the Lee family – they are in our prayers.
Journalist Ben Swann served as the moderator. His questions were on point and he left the attendees chockfull of information. The King Street Patriots building was standing room only with a great mix of folks. It fills my heart to watch the younger generation republicans embrace the liberty and freedoms professed by our founding fathers. All republicans can rejoice in their enthusiasm for our country and the great state of Texas.
The evening began with James White, State Representative of District 19 in East Texas. White focused on the Tenth Amendment. He suggested that, if President Obama can use his pen and paper, so can Texas legislators.
The next interview was with Dwayne Stovall, candidate for US Senate against John Cornyn. Dwayne continued White’s discussion of the Tenth Amendment. Both White and Stovall insisted that the power belongs to the states.
Todd Staples was the next speaker and discussed his immigration policy. Todd received polite applause.
Next up was the only debate of the evening – Jared Woodfill v. Paul Simpson. Say what you will but there is a difference between an oil and gas lawyer and a trial lawyer and Simpson isn’t the trial lawyer. When we speak of Ted Cruz’s oratory skills, we must recognize that Ted is a Harvard educated national debate champion. So, coming off the last election cycle, we now recognize those with oratory skills and Jared certainly possesses that talent. When Paul Simpson accused Jared of taking credit for the Pasadena Republican outreach office, Jared respectfully pointed out that the party signed the lease, not the San Jacinto Republican Women. Both candidates agreed that they are ideologically aligned; so, focusing on presentation, Jared was leaps and bounds above Paul. Overall, Jared’s presentation was sound and representative of the party’s principles and Paul was condescending and his smirks were distracting.
Kathie Glass, a Houston lawyer and Libertarian candidate for Governor, was given the opportunity to speak with Swann. She ran for Governor in 2010 and received 2.2 percent of the vote. Her campaign theme is nullification.
Debra Medina visited with Swann about her race for Texas Comptroller. She told the crowd that she became interested in politics while living in Ron Paul’s congressional district. She said that she would like to end property taxes; but, at this time, is not sure of a solution.
Steve Munisteri spoke to the crowd about his life-long involvement in the Republican Party. He spent most of his time on the party and convention rules and told the crowd about his efforts to involve the grassroots members.
Jerry Patterson was a hit with the crowd. He discussed his record and his endorsements, which most recently include Ron Paul, Tom Pauken, and Dick Armey. You may remember that Ed Hubbard also endorsed Jerry back in October. Jerry spoke about his commitment to liberty. He also discussed a bill that he promoted during the last legislative session. The bill would have allowed penalties against cities and counties that prohibited concealed carry license holders to carry firearms in government buildings where firearms should otherwise be permitted. In the Senate, Dan Patrick allowed Senator Carona to add a special provision to the bill to allow legislators to carry a gun anywhere in the state and the bill was soundly defeated in the house, 103-38. Senator Birdwell’s reason for voting against HB 508 likely provides the best explanation of the situation:
Senator Birdwell submitted the following reason for vote on HB 508:
Today, I voted against House Bill 508, which would prohibit a state agency or political subdivision from providing false notice to a CHL-holder that entering certain government premises with a concealed handgun is prohibited. Though I initially supported the bill, I ultimately voted against it due to the addition of an amendment allowing CHL-holding elected officials to carry their firearms in all locations prohibited to regular citizens. Though I am an unwavering proponent of Second Amendment rights, I could not in good conscience grant myself a privilege that I had failed to first grant law-abiding citizens. Concealed Handgun License holders are allowed to carry almost everywhere they go. In my judgment, if we are going to expand when and where Texans can legally carry a concealed firearm, we should start with our citizens–not our lawmakers.
The final speaker of the event was Gary Johnson. As you can see, the event allowed Houstonians access to a large amount of information and I would call it a success.