Too Senior to Fail?

Some embattled Republicans are being labeled “too senior to fail” by the Austin Chronicle. In an article written about the power of seniority in the legislature the Chronicle muses over whether the party is best served by incumbents losing in the March primaries to challengers or if voters should ignore voting records and bail out the senior officials. It should be noted that the Austin Chronicle is a proudly left-of-center publication, which should make you wonder about their motivations for being so, um, helpful.

The article rushes to the defense of Republican Todd Smith, laboring to make the point that if challenger Jeff Cason were elected he will not be a committee chair so voters should just stick with Smith. This is not a strong argument or reason to vote for any candidate especially not Smith.

Rep. Smith at the helm of the House Elections Committee killed legislation that his own party and constituents were demanding in voter ID and promoted bills that run contrary to his party’s core belief in the right to free speech. During the session Smith authored H.B. 2511 his version McCain Feingold legislation, law that was recently deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Voters in Smith’s district were not well served with by Smith as chair of Elections and would in fact be better served and represented by Jeff Cason even if his freshman status relegates him to the worst parking spot, wost floor seat and modest committee assignments.

The Chronicle mentions in passing the perennial pariah of conservatives, Delwin Jones, who has served in the Texas legislature for a total of 28 years. Being around that long, Jones has made all kinds friends — even if his legislative accomplishments are all but non-existent.

This week the Lubbock Avalanche Journal noted that one thing Jones does like to do is distribute cash to those friends.

The Avalanche noted that Jones made two $250 contributions to the legal defense fund of disgraced State Rep. Terri Hodge. You will remember that Dallas Democrat Hodge had been seeking re election… until recently pleading guilty to charges stemming from a corruption case. (Michael Sullivan wrote recently about the legal charges.)

While Jones made the contributions from his own pocket, this represents what some might reasonably label a clear lack of discernment on his part. His reason for sending the money her way: “in his opinion the charges she faced were with the Internal Revenue Service, legal problems anyone dealing with large amounts of money could face.”

The interesting thing about the Austin Chronicle article is that of the two lawmakers highlighted as too senior to fail, one is endorsed by the Empower Texans PAC. That would be Steve Ogden, current chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Voters should not be concerned with a lawmakers’ seniority. Rather they should be concerned with how well they are represented by how the elected official votes.

Austin Chronicle Story Link

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