with Governor Rick Perry
1. Texas Lt. Governor - Dewhurst (R) v. Sharp. The closest statewide race in Texas. We win this, we should sweep.
2. Missouri Senate - Talent (R) v. Carnahan. A swing state race, a must win for GOP Senate control.
3. North Carolina Senate - Dole (R) v. Bowles. A race that should be an easy GOP win -watch out if it's not.
4. Colorado Senate - Allard (R) v. Strickland. Another nail biter and a swing state. A victory here and Missouri and we could be on our way.
5. Florida Governor - Bush (R) v. McBride. The Democrats top priority in a lean Democratic state essential for President Bush's future plans.
6. Harris County Comm. Pct. 2 - Isbell (R) v. Garcia. Tough race that will tell us how smart GOP dominated redistricting was. Possible look at the future of Harris County and who controls it.
7. Texas State Rep. H.D. 134 - Wong (R) v. Danburg. A swing seat that is a close one. We must win if you want a real GOP speaker.
8. Minnesota Senate - Coleman (R) v. Mondale. Can another Democrat switch work again here? A win means we probably control the Senate. A loss lengthens the odds of control.
On Election Night, the results of these key races in Texas and around the nation, will tell us Republican strength.
TCR: As we enter the closing stretch in the race for Governor, what is your take on the campaign and where it's at?
RP: I have a strong lead in this race, but am taking nothing for granted. It's vitally important for all our great grassroots activists, campaigns and candidates to keep working hard right through Election Day. I started this race to lead Texas toward its greater promise over the next four years. I committed in my campaign to appeal to the common hopes and dreams of Texans of all walks of life and I promised that I would not be outworked. Until the last poll closes on November 5th, we will concede no voter and no region of this state. I have and will always run a campaign that is focused on issues and improving Texas for future generations.
TCR: Has it been a challenge to deal with the $60 million campaign of your opponent?
RP: I was asked about Mr. Sanchez's spending at the debate in Dallas last week. As I said, never in Texas history has a candidate spent so much to say so little. My 17 years of experience and accomplishment, my specific plans for the future, and our volunteers and activists working across Texas will make the difference in this race and show that the governorship cannot be bought.
TCR: In your public life, you've accomplished many important things. What are the ones you are most proud of?
RP: I'm proud of my service - balancing budgets, cutting taxes, and prioritizing what's important to Texas families. Education has been my priority recognizing that education is our best economic development program. Since 1999, I supported increasing public and higher education funding by $9 billion. Those funds have expanded scholarship opportunities for deserving Texans who can't afford college, rewarded expert reading teachers, provided a $3,000 pay raise for all of our teachers, improved remedial education because we banned social promotion, and funded dropout programs that help youth stay on track to success.
We raised standards in our schools, improved accountability, and focused on reading and math. Texas students continue to excel. Hispanic fourth-grade students are first in the nation in math, second in writing, and ninth in reading, while African-American fourth grade students are first in the nation in math and writing, and tenth in reading. Anglo fourth grade students are first in math, and second in reading and writing.
My public education priorities for next legislative session will include a five-point plan that calls for an "Early Start" initiative that will help prepare all children for school. I will also advocate for a statewide dropout prevention plan aimed at ensuring more students receive a high school diploma. I want to use technology including on-line diagnostics to help teachers correct learning problems early. My plan calls for improving the classroom environment, professional prestige, and lawsuit protections for teachers. Finally, I am advocating for a Master Science Teacher Program, patterned after the successful Master Reading and Master Math programs.
For higher education, we tripled funding for TEXAS Grant by $300 million to help 100,000 deserving students attend college, increased funding for Teach for Texas Grant by $15 million, and provided $10 million in funding for TEXAS Grant II. My plans for higher education will provide greater access for Texas students no matter what their economic means are or where they live. I have proposed a "First Generation" College Students Program, a State Sponsored Work Study Program, a Middle College Partnership, a State-Supported Student Loan Program and expansion of the Virtual College of Texas.
TCR: What are your priorities for the next four years for Texas?
RP: Education will always be my Number One priority, and I believe Texas must commit every new dollar possible to continue the successes our schools have achieved. There is nothing more important our state does than educate its young. It is our most effective economic development tool and our greatest crime prevention tool. If we get education right, then everything else will follow.
My five-point plan for public education calls for additional early education preparation for pre-school children, dropout prevention initiatives, increased emphasis on science and technology curriculum, professional development and peer mentoring for educators, and greater use of technology in instruction and assessment. I also unveiled the Master Science Teacher Program, patterned after the successful Master Reading Teacher and Master Math Teacher programs. The Master Science initiative would help teachers expand their knowledge of the core subject areas of science. Teachers receiving additional certification in science, and agree to teach science and act as mentors to other teachers, would be eligible for a $5,000 annual stipend.
I also have proposed initiatives to provide greater opportunity in higher education for Texas students. The First Generation College Student Grant Program will be supported by $20 million in Workforce Investment Act Funds and will focus on the recruitment, advising, and academic preparation of students who represent the "first generation" in their family to attend college.
I also support increasing funding for the State Work Study Program by $5 million to provide additional financial aid and assist in retaining and graduating students in colleges and universities. Additionally, I plan for a zero-interest State-Supported Student Loan Program, which would benefit lower and middle-income students and families ineligible for grants. My proposal is the first of its type since 1966 that would make such a program available to Texas students.
To get traffic moving again, I have started the Trans Texas Corridor - a statewide transportation corridor that will move people and products safely and efficiently. The corridor will include toll roads, high-speed passenger and freight rail, regional freight and commuter rail, and underground transportation for water, petroleum, gas, and telecommunications.
Addressing medical lawsuit abuse and creating greater access to health care for all Texans are also priorities for next session. My plan to limit medical lawsuit abuse calls for: capping non-economic losses to plaintiffs at $250,000 and limits personal injury trial lawyers' fees to a prescribed schedule based on the size of the award; extending tort immunity to health care providers who treat low-income patients; providing a form of temporary malpractice insurance coverage for doctors who have been denied coverage solely for economic reasons; and expanding the Texas Department of Insurance's ability to review insurance rates to ensure they are commensurate with losses.
To improve access to health care I unveiled the Healthy Texas Plan, which focuses on ensuring that small businesses can afford to provide health insurance to their employees by redesigning the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool. I also have called for doubling the number of federally qualified health centers to ensure that uninsured Texans have access to routine, preventive care.
I will also ask the legislature to require all insurers who sell Medicare supplemental policies to offer a prescription benefit as part of the benefit package. Additionally, I am directing the Health and Human Service Commission (HHSC) to apply for a waiver from the federal government to allow families eligible for Texas CHIP to purchase employer sponsored health insurance. The plan also directs HHSC to establish a breast and cervical cancer program.
TCR: What are the major differences between you and your opponent?
RP: I have nearly 18 years of experience serving the state of Texas, as a state representative, as the Agriculture Commissioner, as Lieutenant Governor and now as Governor. I have helped balance five state budgets; I have a record of fighting for priorities like education, health care and lower taxes; and I have put forward detailed plans to make Texas better.
My opponent has never held elective office and seldom exercised his right to vote. He refused to vote to build new schools for the children of Laredo, refused to vote for the Bush property tax cut, and didn't even vote the last time we elected a governor.
TCR: There has been talk recently of voter disinterest in politics and public affairs. What can we do to get people interested again?
RP: I will always run a campaign that is focused on positive issues that appeal to Texans of all walks of life. On that basis, I hope a discussion of the issues will attract millions of Texans to the voting booth.
So far, early vote results show a drastic increase in voter participation over four years ago, which is a good sign for the process.
TCR: There have been some public officials who have said there is a $12 billion state budget short-fall. What is your reaction to this assertion?
RP: The Texas budget is balanced and will remain balanced as long as I am Governor of Texas. All of the recent budget speculation is just speculation until we get the official revenue estimate from the Comptroller in January.
Our state's economy is outperforming most other states in the nation, and our economy is growing, albeit slower than we would like. During the first six months of this year, for example, Texas created more jobs than any other state.
I have served as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, ran the Agriculture Commission, served as Lt. Governor and chairman of the Legislative Budget Board and signed a balanced budget as Governor. For more than 17 years, I have been involved in balancing five state budgets, four agency budgets, cutting waste and setting the right priorities. Less than a month after becoming Governor, I warned against a softening national economy in my State of the State address and urged the Legislature to be fiscally responsible.
I fought to protect the Rainy Day Fund - which now contains nearly $1 billion - from some legislators who wanted to spend it all. I used my line-item veto authority to eliminate a half-billion dollars in unnecessary spending from the state budget. Last year, I directed every state agency to work harder and smarter to find savings. To date, they've proposed $1 billion in possible cost savings.
I do not believe Texas will need - nor do I believe there will be legislative support for - new taxes next year. I am confident that with the right, experienced leadership in the Governor's office and legislature, we can balance the budget within our $114 billion budget and available revenues.
TCR: In our major cities, mobility is a big issue. What is your vision to deal with this problem short-term and long term?
RP This year, I unveiled my blueprint for the new Trans Texas Corridor (TTC)- a new way of dramatically improving our highways, rail lines, pipelines, and other key infrastructure to the benefit of all Texans. The TTC will not only improve our road, rail and utility transmission systems, it will get hazardous material transport vehicles out of our city centers, improve air quality throughout the state, and lead to exponential economic growth.
The TTC will particularly benefit Texans with limited or no access to transportation infrastructure because the proposal contains a locally controlled high-speed passenger rail component that will offer Texans a reliable and affordable means of traveling locally and regionally by linking cities together by rail.
TCR: Home insurance is in the news, what are your thoughts on what the state can do to deal with the problem?
RP: Texans deserve affordable homeowner's insurance and this year I asked the Texas Attorney General and the Insurance Department of Texas (TDI) to investigate practices of the state's largest homeowners insurance companies. Evidence was found that one of the largest companies was conducting illegal practices. I directed TDI to pursue refunds to consumers who have been overcharged, and to impose maximum fines of $25,000 per policyholder for these practices.
My plan will help lower rates by re-regulating the industry and closing loopholes used by insurers. It will have emergency status next session, enabling quicker legislative action. I support banning the unfair use of credit scoring because it penalizes older people, single parents, and first-time homebuyers. My plan creates choices to enable consumers to purchase policies right for their needs and finances. Mandating one-size-fits-all comprehensive policies has caused insurance premiums to rise and requires consumers to purchase coverage they do not need.
I have been a strong supporter of tort reform throughout my 17-year tenure in public office and my plan will enact lawsuit reforms, including imposing reasonable limits on damages and prohibiting financial ties between plaintiff attorneys, public adjusters and remediation companies to reduce the fraud and frivolous lawsuits that drive insurance costs higher.
TCR: The relentless increase in local property taxes is also a problem. What can the state do to help our hard-pressed tax-payers?
RP: I fought for the largest tax cut in Texas history, including property tax relief of more than a billion dollars. Texas remains a low-tax state because we do not have an income tax. We have eliminated school debt from "Robin Hood" and made it harder for districts to become Robin Hood districts. We have also eliminated the franchise tax for our smallest businesses. I am working to make our state tax and school finance systems more stable and fair.
TCR: How important is it for Republicans and conservatives to vote on November 5, 2002?
RP: Voting is a precious right which helps protects our freedom. If you believe in limited government, sound fiscal policy, strong families, and the right priorities for Texas, you must exercise your right to vote. It is critical to the future of Texas that Republicans and conservatives vote on November 5, 2002.
TCR: Governor, thank you for taking time from your busy campaign. Good luck Tuesday.
They Don't Feel Your Pain
There is a difference between us and them. The House Ways and Means Committee recently took up legislation that would raise the amount of losses you could deduct for tax purposes from $3,000 to $8,250. This proposal would provide some relief for American households and contribute to getting our economy moving again. The bill passed, but the bad news is that every Democrat on the committee voted against it. The party of "compassion" in Congress had no compassion for the average taxpayer who has tried to invest a little to get ahead. With this kind of opposition from the Democrats, the bill is "dead" in Tom Daschle's obstructionist Senate. That's why we need a GOP conservative majority
In the 25th CD - Is an Upset in the Making?
It appears that the race for Ken Bentsen's seat has closed considerably. How do we know? Check the hostile and negative slant to Chris Bell's ads. Until recently, the Bell forces were enjoying a comfortable lead but it now appears that Tom Reiser's aggressive well-funded campaign has put the seat up for grabs. Also, Campaigns and Elections magazine says, "Democrat Seat at serious risk". As always, it depends on the turnout of our voters. Get to work!
with Steven Wayne Smith
Candidate for Texas Supreme Court, Place 4
TCR: Why did you decide to run for the Texas Supreme Court?
SWS: I basically feel we need a renewed emphasis on judicial restraint. We now have a business dominated court but we need to leave policy matters to the legislature. The problem didn't happen overnight, but over decades of left-wing judicial activism.
TCR: Tell our readers about your background and experiences you'd bring to the court.
SWS: My high level of academic achievement, extensive knowledge of both state and federal law, and breadth of legal experience make me well qualified to serve on the Texas Supreme Court. In addition, I would bring diversity to the Court. Solo practitioners and small-firm lawyers, who are a majority of the attorneys in Texas, are not adequately represented on the Texas Supreme Court. My working-class background and status as a solo practitioner who has regularly represented ordinary Texans give me a different perspective that would serve the Court and Texas well.
Among other significant efforts, I filed, litigated and won the landmark Hopwood case that eliminated racial preferences in admissions and scholarships at Texas universities.
I served as Legislative counsel for the Texas Legislature and Law clerk to United States Judge Terry R. Means (Bush 41 appointee)
TCR: What is the proper role of the Supreme Courts?
SWS: I believe it needs to be related to text and not policy. I think "Robin Hood" is an example of the court substituting its policy preferences over what the people want. The constitution is a constant and not a living document.
TCR: What are the differences between you and your opponent?
SWS: My opponent is part of the status quo working with the strange bedfellows of Plaintiff's lawyers and corporate interests. I am not a judicial activist and an independent conservative.
TCR: What help are you getting from the Republican party?
SWS: As a member of the ticket I am helped by all the joint campaign efforts but in terms of direct help, I'm running my own campaign.
TCR: You were recently in the news about judicial free speech, tell us about it.
SWS: I filed a suit during the primary based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding similar restrictive speech campaign rules in Minnesota. This summer the US Supreme Court struck down that law. A Texas Federal Judge struck the Texas rules down this summer and the Texas Supreme Court has promulgated new rules that I still think need some work, but it's progress.
TCR: Why did you file this suit on free speech in judicial campaigns?
SWS: Campaigns need to be about truth, if you can't tell the truth about your judicial opponents no one would ever know it. A little free speech goes a long way to differentiate between candidates.
TCR: What do you think about Parental notice?
SWS: It's a way to talk about statutory construction. I believe that the Texas Parental Notification Act of 1999 should be reasonably construed to uphold the fundamental right of parents to raise their children, rights the Legislature clearly intended to protect. See, e.g., In re Doe, 19 S.W.3d 249, 267 (Hecht and Abbott, dissenting) ("the Court's construction of the Act conflicts with its language, purposes, and sources").
TCR: What is your judicial philosophy?
SWS: My judicial philosophy should not be confused with strict constructionism. I agree with Justice Scalia who stated: "text should not be construed strictly, and it should not be construed leniently; it should be construed reasonably, to contain all that it fairly means."
TCR: What is it about your opponent's judicial record that concerns you?
SWS: At least ten opinions authored or fully joined by Mirabal during her current term have been overturned by either the Texas Supreme Court or the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. For example:
Attempting to expand Texas tort law (a/k/a legislating from the appellate bench), Mirabal held that psychologists owe a duty to non-patient third parties. A unanimous Texas Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the trial court's judgment for the psychologist. Bird v. W.C.W. 868 S.W.2d 767 (Tex. 1994). Mirabal later authored an opinion holding that "the attending physician owed a duty to non-patient third parties," overturning the trial court's judgment. A unanimous Texas Supreme Court once again refused to change Texas law and held that a physician is not personally responsible for the criminal acts of his or her patients. Van Horn v. Chambers, 970 S.W.2d 542 (Tex. 1998).
In addition, Mirabal is regularly at odds with the conservative members of her court of appeals. Below are a few examples of that ongoing conflict:
Over dissent of Justices Schneider, Taft and Nuchia, who believed that the criminal act was completely unforeseeable, Mirabal authored an opinion holding an apartment owner financial responsible for the criminal act of a third party.
Advocating an expansive view of the Texas Tort Claims Act, Mirabal recently dissented from both en banc and panel decisions interpreting that Act.
Over dissent of Justice Taft that the verdict was "manifestly unjust," Mirabal authored an opinion that refused defendant's request for a new trial where the only evidence of a product defect was that the drain valve had been "defective only once in 6.5 million times."
Further, Mirabal has accepted $50,000 in campaign contributions during this race from George M. Fleming & Associates, a small plaintiffs' law firm. Two years before those contributions, Mirabal authored an opinion that increased attorneys' fees by $55,700,000 in tort litigation in which Fleming served as lead plaintiffs' counsel. See In re Polybutylene Plumbing Litigation, 23 S.W.3d 428 (Tex.App-Houston [1st Dist.] 2000) (no writ) (total attorneys' fees of $88.8 million).
TCR: Do you have ideas of how to make our courts more respected?
SWS: The core task of the Texas judiciary is to efficiently and fairly resolve cases by applying Texas law to the facts of each case. The Texas judiciary should not be creating new law. Direct elections make the Texas judiciary accountable to Texas voters, allowing citizens to remove judges who are inefficient, unfair or who legislate from the bench.
Texas judges currently develop much of the state's law in the areas of tort, contract and property. This type of judicial lawmaking, made without any legislative guidance or participation, is referred to as "common law."
I believe the Texas Supreme Court should stop making "common law." The court should enforce the Texas common law as it currently exists, and defer to the Texas Legislature for future changes to that body of law. The resulting ceasefire in the longstanding war between the plaintiff and defense bars regarding the Texas common law of torts would allow the Court to refocus its talents on other areas of Texas civil jurisprudence.
In addition, I believe the Texas Supreme Court justices should recuse themselves from any case in which they have accepted a campaign contribution of more than $1,000 from any of the parties during the most recent election cycle.
These common-sense reform proposals, if adopted, would have several positive effects. The most important effect would be an increased confidence that the Texas judiciary is fair and unbiased.
TCR: Thank you Stephen for that fascinating interview.
The Year 1902 - A Look Back
With special thanks to Aaron Russo
The year is 1902, one hundred years ago . . . what a difference a century makes. Here are the U.S. statistics for 1902:
1. The average life expectancy in the US was forty seven (47).
2. Only 14 percent of the homes in the US had a bathtub.
3. Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00.
4. There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
5. The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour. The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year and a mechanical engineer about $5,000.
6. Ninety percent of all US physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
7. The five leading causes of death in the US were: (1) Pneumonia and influenza; (2) Tuberculosis; (3) Diarrhea; (4) Heart disease; and (5) Stroke.
8. The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.
9. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.
10. One in ten US adults could read or write. Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
11. Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is in fact a perfect guardian of health."
12. Eighteen percent of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
Comment: We have come a long way. . . . Right?
is a long time Republican spokesman, fund-raiser and leader who
recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican
Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the
most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events.
For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has
continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
Tune in Thursday
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-the longest running political Houston area TV talk show featuring
your editor and left-wing Democrat, David Jones and special guests.
October 31 - Greg Abbott
November 7 - Post Election Review with John Williams, Houston Chronicle and
Paul Bettencourt, Harris County Tax Assessor
On Tuesday, November 5, we conservatives face a critical Texas election. The direction for our future in Texas and nationally with key state congressional races and John Cornyn's Senate race are at stake. I've heard all of the complaints about the candidate's issues and focus. To all of you I say, okay, I understand your concerns, but at the end of the day our team is so much better. Essentially you can turnout with your friends and vote for our guys and gals on Tuesday or stay home and let the Democrats decide things. Don't stay away just because you want to vote for a Democrat or two. If that's how you feel, fine, just vote straight Republican for the rest. I'll guarantee you this, if Kirk, Sanchez, Sharp and Laney, et. al. win, they won't care what you think. Here's praying for a successful Tuesday.
Gary Polland, Editor