The Republican message is a strong one- the continued prosperity of Texas is due in large part to years of conservative governance. Low taxes, minimal regulation, and responsible spending have made Texas a great place to operate a business and raise a family.
There is simply no comparison between the success of Texas when compared to states like Illinois and California, where liberal governance has driven business owners to flee burdensome regulation and sky-high taxes and set up shop in Texas.
The 2018 election was unpleasant for Republicans across Texas, especially here in Harris County. Two seats in the Texas Senate and twelve seats in the Texas House fell to the Democrats, in addition to countless other judicial and local offices across the state. While these losses were certainly painful, the aftermath of the 2018 election cycle provides Republicans a unique opportunity to re-evaluate and regroup to strengthen and reenergize the party.
This isn’t to say our government is perfect- no state is. Texas has challenges it must address and we should always look for ways to improve. Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, Speaker Bonnen, and our Republican legislators have already taken great strides this session to work together to find conservative solutions to the public policy issues facing our state. I am confident that, with their leadership, we will have a successful legislative session focused on the issues of greatest concern to Texans.
The 2018 election was not a repudiation of the values that make Texas strong, but it was a wakeup call that our messaging has not been effective. We must present our message in a way that makes conservative public policy relevant to the day to day lives of average Texas. After all, nobody has ever been taxed or regulated into prosperity.
The core Republican principles of liberty and freedom, empowering individuals to make the most of their God-given talents and skills without the government getting in their way, is an inherently positive message. The blessings of liberty available in Texas are available to everybody, regardless of race or religion. We need “happy warriors” running for office up and down the ballot that can effectively communicate this positive conservative message.
The coattails of Beto O’Rourke’s campaign resulted in the election of a number of Democrats to public office for no other reason than they happened to be in the right place at the right time. In many cases these Democratic candidates were never vetted, and their races received little attention.
One such example is that of Jon Rosenthal, the newly elected State Representative for Texas House District 135, where I happen to reside. This district encompasses the Jersey Village, Cy-Fair, and Copperfield areas of Northwest Harris County. Representative Rosenthal was the founder of a local “Indivisible” group, which represents the far-left fringes of the Democratic Party. He filed to run for State Representative the afternoon of the filing deadline and was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
On the website of Flippable, a liberal political organization which endorsed and contributed to Rosenthal’s campaign, Rosenthal expressed his support of a single-payer healthcare system. In his endorsement interview with the Houston Chronicle, Rosenthal proposed reforming school finance by legalizing and taxing marijuana and using the proceeds of the marijuana tax revenue to fund our public schools.
Rosenthal also touted endorsements from other radical organizations that promote other far-left policy positions such as tuition-free public colleges and universities and abolishing ICE.
While Rosenthal claims that his involvement in politics is motivated by a desire to fight bigotry and intolerance, his public comments indicate a personal hostility towards Christianity. In an interview conducted on the “Trans Advocate” podcast, Rosenthal makes a number of comments mocking Christianity and belittling Christians. In addition to poking fun at the virgin birth and attacking the “Christian Taliban”, Rosenthal had this to say about Communion:
“As a non-practicing agnostic, I don’t think I should be, let’s say, required to take communion walking into the Texas legislature. And it’s not that I have anything against eating crackers, but I think those crackers are generally not very tasty.”
The discussion about religion begins at approximately 46:00 into the interview, with the comments about communion occurring at the 50:45 mark.
Later in this interview (at the 1:13:40 mark), Rosenthal describes the Republicans in the Texas Legislature (who are now his colleagues) as being “seriously f—ed up.” So much for civility in politics, eh?
Rosenthal is also no fan of the police. In a Facebook post dated June 22, 2018, Rosenthal describes what he believes is a “systemic issue of unarmed black males being killed by police.” Rosenthal also accuses police of routinely apprehending non-minority active shooters while killing unarmed blacks, stating “We’ve seen active shooters (non-minority) taken safely into custody, but too often we see unarmed black males killed, for selling cigs on the street, or driving with CCL, holding a phone in a relative’s back yard, or attempting to flee from police stops.”
While law enforcement, like any profession, has bad actors among their ranks, true incidents of police brutality, excessive force, or unjustified killings are extraordinarily rare. Those very few law enforcement officers who abuse their power should be held accountable for their actions. It is fundamentally unfair to the vast majority of law enforcement officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our community, to make the generalizations about police that Rosenthal has.
Comments like this are irresponsible and not only make the already stressful jobs of law enforcement officers more difficult and dangerous, but ultimately jeopardize the safety of our community as well.
Based on his background and the rhetoric he used during his campaign, it comes as no surprise that Rep. Rosenthal has begun his term in office by reinforcing his radical-left credentials and showing his devotion to his extremist base. One such example is Rosenthal’s decision to hire Odus Evbagharu, who had previously served as Communications Director of the Harris County Democratic Party, as his Chief of Staff.
Mr. Evbagharu has a long history of making extreme, vulgar, and racially charged remarks. Local radio host Ken Webster, Jr. recently penned an excellent article highlighting some of the vulgarity spread by Mr. Evbagharu on social media. This includes frequent use of racial slurs and a tweet referring to a conservative white voter as “Ole Pasty.”
Evbagharu’s social media comments are also, unsurprisingly, unkind towards Republican elected officials and voters. Here’s what he had to say about President Trump:
He’s not fond of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, either:
Ordinary Republican voters (or “a–holes”, in Mr. Evbagharu’s vernacular), such as the ones that Rep. Rosenthal now represents, are not spared:
Evbagharu also shares Rep. Rosenthal’s disdain for law enforcement. In 2016, Evbagharu praised the “Black Lives Matter” movement, describing it as “bringing awareness to the atrocities and unfair practices the police and the law use against the African-American community.” Evbagharu also attacked the “Blue Lives Matter” movement because “police choose their profession.”
I believe that the majority of voters in District 135 reject the angry and mean-spirited brand of politics exemplified by Representative Rosenthal’s comments, as well as those of his hired staff. I also believe that the voters in District 135 want responsible public policy that will keep Texas prosperous, not Bernie Sanders style socialism or other far-left policies that jeopardize the safety of our community and that grow government, our tax burden, and dependence on government.
This is why I am running for State Representative.
While the primary is more than a year away, I am starting now because the work to take back this district must begin now. The path to victory is going to be paved with conversations with voters, listening to their concerns, and effectively communicating how Republicans are best equipped to tackle the public policy issues facing our state. During the course of the campaign, I will roll out a comprehensive policy agenda regarding the issues facing Texas and District 135.
District 135 deserves a Representative that will treat all everybody with respect, even in disagreement. We deserve a Representative that appreciates the sacrifices made by our law enforcement and other first responders and will stand by them, not demonize them and make their jobs even harder. We deserve a Representative that will fight for the low taxes, quality public schools, and a fair regulatory environment that makes Texas such a great place to live and work. And we deserve a Representative that believes that the power of individual liberty, not big government, is the way to prosperity. I hope to be that Representative.
I look forward to having these conversations and working with other Republicans across Harris County and Texas as we work towards victory in 2020.