Might Bell County House Reps’ Purple Votes Help Turn Texas Blue?
Efforts to turn Texas blue are doubtlessly underway, but do Bell County residents know it’s happening in part at the hands of their elected state House Republicans?
Purple: the road to red becoming blue?
A new report by Grassroots America We the People, Inc., provides interesting perspective on party-related voting trends from the recent 88th Texas Legislative Session. An analysis of all House of Representative record votes produced data showing the degree to which representatives agree/disagree with members of their own party.
Per the group’s Grassroots Priorities website:
If you’re a Republican and you vote ten times, how many times do you expect your vote would be the opposite of how Democrats voted? Would you ever disagree with other Republicans more than Democrats?
If you’re a conservative Republican, then you are the opposite of a liberal Democrat. Your greatest disagreements in your vote record would be with Democrats, not Republicans.
But that’s not true of all of our Texas Republicans.
A categorization of conservative red, liberal blue and blue-tinged purple uses recent House votes to identify the districts of weak Republicans who frequently side with Democrats. Stated differently, these members disagree with their fellow Republicans more than with Democrats and Democrat policies.
So when Republican grassroots voters question why Texas’ “red” legislature rarely enacts the conservative policy priorities of its base, look no further than our current 24 Republican-labelled legislators with records often in close Democrat alignment.
When all politics is local
Bell County’s two House members, Rep. Hugh Shine (R-HD 55) and Rep. Brad Buckley (R-HD 54), both landed in Democrat-adjacent purple territory with Shine’s record meriting the darker shade and Buckley in the lighter category.
Click here for detailed analysis of the specific Republican representatives with whom Shine most frequently disagreed.
Click here for detailed analysis of the specific Republican representatives with whom Buckley most frequently disagreed.
Note that both representatives also partnered with Democrats in the Attorney General Ken Paxton impeachment vote.
So what’s next?
The Texas GOP, especially its grassroots activist base, is energized.
With Paxton’s impeachment acquittal, the Texas State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) passed a resolution calling on House Speaker Dade Phelan to resign. The resolution, passed with a 58-2 vote, cited Phelan’s promotion of the questionable impeachment case, his appointment of Democratic chairs to legislative committees, his lack of support for Republican priorities and the need for new leadership with the upcoming special session as a basis for immediate change.
Just the News recently quoted Texas GOP leaders citing the Paxton acquittal as “a sign that the Texas Republican Party is moving towards being more ‘grassroots-based’ and away from the ‘Bush/Karl Rove’ establishment.”
Per the article:
“It’s changing from the Bush era to the non-Bush era,” said former Texas Congressman Steve Stockman in an interview with Just the News. “It’s moving away from Karl Rove. The whole thing is people are sick and tired of it. Rove hates the grassroots.”
It further noted Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick using social media to characterize Phelan as “undeserving of his leadership position.”
Former Orange County GOP Chairman David Covey plans to challenge Phelan in the 2024 primary.
“I think the last eight years there has been that struggle between the grassroots and politicians,” Covey told Just the News. “This [impeachment] brought people to engage. It showed people what was going on at the state level and party level. I think this was a pivotal moment for the party to discover who they are and show we have to focus on the grassroots and not those on the top.”
Echoing this sentiment, Latinos for America First Executive Director Bianca Gracia described how “the Texas establishment was hoping they could take back over.”
“I think this failed very miserably,” she said. “The grassroots is kicking back in all directions because of the election integrity issue. There have been more groups forming and more activism.”
In his Tucker Carlson on X interview, Paxton agreed and ascribed his impeachment, in part, as factional Republican retribution for lawsuits both challenging the 2020 presidential election results along with those contesting the Biden administration’s action (or lack thereof) regarding the southern border.
With regard to Paxton and the Texas Republican establishment, Just the News adds:
He also has stated that former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove was behind ousting him along with several other Republicans, according to The Texas Tribune. He referred to Rove as an “activist liberal working effectively for the Biden administration.”
Lessons learned for the primary ahead
Politics is a rough-and-tumble world. This cycle will be one meriting close watch of legislators’ actions over their words. Actions of particular interest will have to do with whom a candidate aligns themselves and from whom they receive money. Remember the old adage of people being defined by the company they keep.
And speaking of words, politics is also a world in which words don’t always ring true. To that end, campaign materials featuring the word “conservative” might best be evaluated after a quick look at the Grassroots America legislative map or other credible measures.
Remember the great line of the late former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” The same aptly applies to being conservative and recognizing the difference is critical for helping to keep Texas red.
Lou Ann Anderson is a writer, former radio producer and current podcaster at Political Pursuits. Her tenure as Watchdog Wire–Texas editor involved covering state news and coordinating the site’s citizen journalist network. As a past Policy Analyst with Americans for Prosperity–Texas, Lou Ann wrote and spoke on a variety of issues including the growing issue of probate abuse in which wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney are used to loot assets from intended heirs or beneficiaries. She holds a degree from the University of North Texas in Denton.