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State Representative Update

The Unabomber Party? Texans Deserve Better


“Ban Democrat Chairs!”’ has been the battle cry of the Dunn/Wilks faction of the Republican Party of Texas for several House legislative sessions. This effort, closely aligned with the Speaker’s race, seems to now be gaining momentum. Past Texas House leadership has viewed this issue differently, in line with a rich history and deep tradition of professional and civil political decorum.

Texans have a long history of relative congeniality and civility when conducting legislative business. Unlike Washington, where lawmakers have not even been able to arrive at enough consensus to approve a federal budget since 2020, Austin lawmakers traditionally sit together, eat together and carry-on a semblance of civil discourse, even when in complete disagreement. Civil discourse and friendship, even with intense disagreement, is vital for a well-functioning governing body. Ironically, Speaker candidate Tom Oliverson recently complimented a Democratic colleague saying, “I see a chairmanship in your future.” 

Contrary to divisive rhetoric on news outlets and social media, the overwhelming majority of bills considered and passed, both in the federal and in our state government, are bipartisan. The actual work and progress occur near the ideological center, where most Texans and Americans reside. Extremism, on both sides, has exploded to the point that vocal fractions of the populace believe that one’s final destination, after briefly passing through this life, is dependent on whether you chose the Republican or Democrat Party. Are all Republicans (or Democrats) destined for Heaven and all Democrats (or Republicans) destined for Hell? As crazy as this notion may appear to most rational, reasonable citizens, this is the mindset and bubble created by the hate mongers that thrive on chaos and outrage for some sort of personal gratification and/or financial gain.

Selecting a limited number of Committee chairmanships from the minority party has been a long tradition in Texas state government. After Reconstruction, there was a period of around one hundred years when there were very few Republicans in Texas. In 1973, Speaker Price Daniel gave Republican Chairmanships to a few subcommittees and in 1975, Speaker Billy Clayton gave Committee Chairmanships to some Republicans. The first Republican Speaker since Reconstruction, Tom Craddick, appointed between nine and fourteen Democrats as Chairs in each of his four sessions as speaker. This unique Texas tradition, which has kept our state out of political gridlock, has been in place for over fifty years.

Make no mistake, the Republican party is currently in control of both the Texas House and Senate. The last two legislative sessions have been the most conservative in Texas history. Every one of the 34 House committees has a Republican majority. Bills are assigned to committees by a Republican Speaker. The Calendars Committee, controlled by a Republican Chair, determines which bills are to be placed on the House Calendar for a vote. The most powerful committees, such as State Affairs and Appropriations, are chaired by Republicans. Anyone claiming Democrats have control of the Texas House will not be able to name a single Republican priority bill killed because of a Democrat chair.

Representative Ryan Guillen, a long-time border Democrat and conservative, at the end of the 87th session switched parties and became a Republican. This would never have happened without his involvement in leadership and close interactions with Republicans.

In debate over banning Democrat chairs in the 87th House legislative session, Representative Briscoe Cain spoke against the bill after asserting his long-standing conservative voting record. He stated, “I cannot vote for this amendment, not because I support the values of the Democratic Party, not because I disagree with the concept found in this amendment. I cannot support this amendment because the amendment takes us one step closer to looking like Washington, D.C. This chamber exists so that we may deliberate ideas, work the process, and work hard to pass and kill bills on behalf of our constituents. We don’t need to have Republican-only chairs to do that. We never have in the past; we don’t need them now.” 

Radical, fringe elements of the Republican party, financed primarily by Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, have strategically used the Democrat chair issue to sow chaos and division by opposing a tradition that has served Texans well. Their puppeteers, such as Matt Rinaldi, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Luke Macias, and Jonathan Stickland, have long railed against what they call the “Uniparty” in Texas. Newly selected Party Chair Abraham George is continuing the effort.

There is no Uniparty in Texas. However, the Unabomber Party the Dunn/Wilks faction seeks to create, if unchecked, will lead to the demise of Republican control and result in a Democrat-controlled Blue state. If enacted, the ban will make our state legislature more dysfunctional (like Washington, DC) and result in long term negative consequences for true conservative governance in Texas. We need the Republican Party to thrive, not implode in on itself. Citizens are weary of ineffective, hyper partisan government. Banning Democrat Chairs is simply another dirty political power play for Dunn/Wilks control and domination of the Texas House, getting in line with the Texas Senate. 

For the good of Texas, this must be vigorously opposed.


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