Tom Pauken may be the best thing to happen to Texas Democrats since Wendy Davis.
Political observers expect salvos across the partisan aisle, but so far the most harsh rhetorical blows against Abbott have been dealt by a challenger in his own party. While the media has played up the head-to-head matchup between star power of Wendy Davis, whom has yet to announce, and the deep pockets of Greg Abbott, Pauken the former Reagan White House official would like to remind everyone that there is a qualifying round to the main event.
The former Texas Republican Party chairman said he had no ambitions for power, but that the vacuum of leadership and, “sound bites rather than the sound policies that we need” at the state level has put him up to the task.
“I'm very uncomfortable with the direction of the Republican Party in the post Reagan period this top down, big money, special interest, crony capitalism approach.
See why Pauken is saying Abbott isn't a true conservative below the jump…
I think it's a broken system, there's too many of these folks listening to the folks that write the $100,000 checks and not enough people listening to the grassroots folks that are out there, the middle-class taxpayers that feel frustrated and forgotten.”
At Monday's TribLive event, Pauken pulled no punches in attacking Abbotts conservative credentials calling him a “big government Republican” and, accusing him of raising his campaign war chest with Rick Perry style “pay-to-play” cronyism. Pauken specifically referred to Abbott joining the Obama Administration in its lawsuit against the airline merger and Abbott receiving over $3 million in campaign contributions from beneficiaries of the cancer fund (CPRIT) for which he sits on the board. He said the Attorney General has never been “vetted” with a real primary challenge and that his frontrunner status was a result of money, “it's not that people tell me, 'Oh we love Greg Abbott.”
“If I thought he [Greg Abbott] were a serious conservative, and serious about policy issues, I wouldn't be running…He is reading a script, it's not from the heart, it's not conservatism from the heart…It's more a standpoint of publicity and rhetoric, almost a fraud if you will. He is good at raising money, but in terms of substantive ideas, where's the beef?”
Pauken said Abbott has avoided substantively addressing some of the biggest issues facing the state include transportation & water funding, skilled labor for businesses and properly funding our education system. To solve the latter he proposed a $.25 sales tax increase, to offset property taxes that would be directed to help property poor school districts. Pauken has repeatedly challenged Abbott to a debate but so far the AG has used his 20+ million dollars as a firewall between the perceived notion of inevitability and the real need to have policy discussions.
Pauken acknowledged that Wendy Davis would be a formidable challenger and showed significantly more respect for the Senator than the campaign of Abbott has. “He [Abbott] is going to have a serious race in the general election if Wendy Davis gets in the race. I disagree with her philosophically but she is a smart lady not a stupid lady as one of his [Abbott's] top advisers called her the other day…I don't underestimate this November race, I think I'll be a much better candidate running against Wendy Davis than Greg Abbott.
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