Thursday, July 05, 2012

Strange Politics

One could search a very long time and still not find a race to compare with the convolutions of the Texas senatorial contest this year. Start out with the three term incumbent, Kay Bailey Hutchison. She aggressively sought the governor's seat against incumbent Rick Perry. She argued unsuccessfully that Perry's eleven years as governor made him a "career" politician, while her 18 years in Washington made her more in touch with the people of Texas. In the process she attacked an incumbent governor of her own party who was virtually unbeatable and jeopardized her own position in a Senate hanging on every Republican vote.

She promised repeatedly to resign during her gubernatorial campaign, but never quite got around to it. Had she done so, it would have demonstrated her sincere commitment to the governor's race and simultaneously gotten an interim appointment to the Senate who would then face election with the mantle of incumbency. But, ol Kay couldn't quite follow-through.

Now we get to the actual election. She has finally resigned at the end of her term, so the field is open. The seat is pretty well guaranteed to a Republican, but first the candidate would have to win the primary. Enter the convolutions of Obama-Nation.

You see, this is an election following a census. That means redistricting which is handled by state legislatures. Seems pretty clear-cut until we stumble over the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s. Then the cause of furthering racial equality was abetted by a questionable practice if viewed under the 14th Amendment "equal protection" clause. Nine states with a "history of discrimination" require "pre-clearance" by the Department of Justice before their districts can be established. Forty-one states don't need a "Simon Says" redistricting approval. Only nine--Texas is one of them.

The Lone Star State gained four representative seats in the census. Maybe this red-state, pro-business, gun-loving, Bible-thumping stuff has some attraction. People seem to like it better than the welfare states.

Unfortunately the DOJ didn't like the districting proposals. That meant the March primary election had to be delayed until voters could actually know what districts they were living in. The primaries were slipped to April, then again to May 29th. Campaigns were stretched to try to maintain some level of interest. Dollars were drained and eventually as the nation's presidential primaries made the major candidate decision we reached a point where not many voters still cared.

In the case of our Senatorial nominations, the May primary was inconclusive without any of the five Republicans gaining a majority. The top two are in a run-off now which will be conducted on July 31st, a full five months after the original primary date.

Here's where we stand:

Dewhurst v Cruz a Toss-Up?

From my perspective, the whole mess still leaves us in a pretty good position. It would be virtually impossible for the Democratic candidate to win in November and the two Republicans are both experienced, capable and conservative. For the long term, I think we would be better served by Cruz. But if Dewhurst gets the primary nod, I can live with it easily.

1 comment:

FlyingBarrister said...

You can thank yankee transplant George W. Bush for the perpetuation of the Voting Rights Act and the pre-clearnce issue. For that matter, most of the trouble with voter I.D. W had a chance to let the VRA fade into the sunset, but he is a big government, northeast RINO at heart and gave the Dims that sword and shield to continue swinging.

Section 5 of the 14th Amendment provides authority to Congress to legislate to carry out its purpose and section 2 of the 15th amendment provide authority to legislate for its purpose. The 15th came later in time than the EPC of the 14th, which is material to construction. Congress thus has express authority on which to hang an argument. But the question is whether it is legitimate use of such authority. So far, the courts have said it is.