The Republican Party Primary Runoffs: Paul Burka, Bob Perry, & Karen Hughes

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This post is long, but important for anyone who wants a better look at the conventional wisdom out there in the Texas House. The three topics of this post are:

  1. Paul Burka
  2. Bob Perry
  3. Karen Hughes

Without further ado…

  • Despite what Burka wrote, Republican Party runoffs are not indicators for Democratic performance in November

    I'm not a huge fan of Burka's analysis of House races. He often misses the ball, as he himself admitted Tuesday night after results from the primary runoffs started to come in. From his post, titled, “Better Luck Next Time”:

    I made a lot of calls yesterday about these races and got a lot of information. Most of it turned out to be wrong.

    Gracious, humble. I appreciated it. But then, just twelve hours later, we get a post called “Storm Warnings for Democrats” and this nonsense:

    The message sent by voters in the Republican primary is that they have little use for establishment politicians…All of the energy right now is being supplied by angry Republican voters who can’t wait to get to the polls and kick out incumbents.

    Democrats should be very worried about this political climate.

    Now, Paul has a pretty strong history of Democratic doom-and-gloom. He's predicted Democrats would lose House races in the '06 cycle. (Wrong.) He predicted Democrats would lose House races in the '08 cycle. (Wrong.) He predicted Craddick would reatin his Speakership in 2009. (Wrong). So I'm not really shocked or surprised about his doom-and-gloom predictions. But I do have to ask this question:

    How are Republican Party primary runoffs any indication of how Democrats are going to perform in November? Especially when you consider the following runoff…

  • “Tea Party” Republican Charles Perry Received $20,000 from Millionaire Republican Donor, Bob Perry

    One of the races Burka pointed to was the Delwin Jones race, where Charles Perry won handily. Jason Embry and Tim Eaton with the Statesman, in writing about the Tea Party in yesterday's paper (“A year later, Tea Party has evolved into a political force”), also pointed to the Delwin Jones race as an example of conservative anger taking hold. Ross Ramsey, writing in the Texas Tribune this morning, did the same.

    Charles Perry — a Tea Party activist candidate? Really? Did they see this from page 20 of his April 5 Runoff Report? (Link is to PDF):

    No Democrat would ever get away with claiming they are a “grassroots activist” candidate if they took tens of thousands of dollars from a prominent trial lawyer. But that's basically what the conventional wisdom is right now — somehow Charles Perry is a Tea Party guy. Go figure.

  • Karen Hughes Comments on House Republicans Pledging Against Joe Straus

    Karen Hughes, who is the communications advisor for Speaker Joe Straus, commented on the idea that State Senator Dan Patrick group and 44 House Republicans are attempting to start an anti-Straus group with their Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas. Hughes, saying she read BOR, comments below:

    Here's the post she was commenting on: Speaker's Race: 44 Texas House Republicans (Basically) Pledge Against Joe Straus

    In the video, Karen Hughes mentions the following:

    [Speaker Straus] was not aware, however, that there was going to be a process that would invite some and not invite others. And I think a lot of some of the other mebmers of the House, who feel they are very conservative as well, who weren't invited were a little distressed to find out. It sort of seems a little undemocratic that — who decides this? One person decides if you're conservative or you're not…

    I think it, understandably, has caused some consternation in the House. I think as a legislative strategy, though in the room who worked in the Legislature, will know that not including members of the Calendars Committee or the Appropriations Committee is probably not a smart legislative strategy if you're interested in getting your legislation heard in the House of Representatives.

    Perhaps a not-too-subtle pushback on Senator Patrick and the 44 House Republicans. There is absolutely division among House Republiacns — Hughes acknowledges that in her own remarks — and anyone who thinks that the division will go away soon is absolutely going to miss the point.

Those are my takeaways from this week's Republican Party primary runoffs. Please share any thoughts, additional observations, and other inisights in the comments below.


About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. SBOE and Supreme Court results
    Brian Russell's overwhelming loss in SBOE10 (he didn't carry a single county) was gratifying. Unfortunately, it also means a much tougher November race for Judy Jennings. Not only will it be harder to tie Marsha Farney to the current loonies on the SBOE, but Farney is likely to pump hundreds of thousands of her own dollars into the general election, just as she did in the primary. But despite those tactical considerations, I'm very glad that (relatively) mainstream Republicans from Austin to Sugar Land stood up to reclaim their party from the religious right.

    But only when it comes to education, and only when the alternative is also very conservative. The Supreme Court results are SCARY. Rick Green had essentially no qualifications for the job, he was opposed by most of the GOP establishment, he had little money compared to Lehrmann, and he still almost won. He carried Fort Bend and Bastrop Counties, where Russell was trounced. In other words, a LOT of people voted for both Farney and Green.

    What that means looking forwards is anybody's guess.

  2. You got it wrong!
    The correct acronym for Dan Patrick's new “we are purer than anybody” group is:

        I  C  Rot

    not ICRT.

  3. Hughes
    She said she didn't say she “read” BOR (God No!) but that someone had sent it to her. Evan Smith reminds her that it “still counts as traffic.”

    She called it the Burnt Orange Blog Report. That is so cute.

  4. Hughes is desperately attempting
    to put a lid on the far right genie bottle that W. unleashed b/c he could not win the Presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 w/o them.

    Perhaps a not-too-subtle pushback on Senator Patrick and the 44 House Republicans. There is absolutely division among House Republicans — Hughes acknowledges that in her own remarks — and anyone who thinks that the division will go away soon is absolutely going to miss the point.

    The far right genie ain't going back into the bottle anytime soon.

    Karen Hughes, of all people, should know that.  

  5. Texas November House Races
    I don't believe the hype and Democrats shouldn't either. What we need to do is point out that Republican have been in total control of state wide offices, the state senate, and the state house and haven't done an adequate job. They have actually been terrible. The redistricting (a total gerrymandering that should have been declared unconstitutional.) The tax swaps, and new fees, that were supposed to reduce property taxes and provide adequate funding for state needs have been a failure. The fees are are regressive. It seems to me that everything the Republicans promote hurts what is left of the middle class and the working poor. My opponent in Texas House District 9 wants to completely do away with property taxes and raise the sales tax. We would have a disaster in financing public programs if something like this happened.

    Kenneth D. Franks

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