2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for primaries, from the top of the ticket to local house races – especially in North Texas.
Representative Jonathan Stickland, also known as “Sticky,” avoided defeat going into his second term by pointing to his staunch anti-GOP establishment stance and voting record. This year, however, it is his voting record that may ruin his chances for re-election.
A ringleader in the extreme Tea Party caucus, Sticky made it his mission to oppose not only Democrats (which goes without saying) but also those Republicans who won’t toe the extremist party line, including Speaker Joe Straus and his allies in the House.
Now, he and a few of his more conservative peers from the Dallas area are facing challengers with strong party support. Stickland’s opponent even has an endorsement from former Governor Rick Perry (who, according to Sticky, is an “Austin insider”).
Thanks to some excellent opposition research, Stickland first came under fire for online posts from his past in which he sought a buddy to “smoke da green.” While those comments, and the glorious response to them from the internet, may be laughable, a more recent discovery from his past has thrown his voting record into sharp relief.
Quorum Report‘s Scott Braddock broke the story of Stickland’s abhorrent comments regarding marital rape in an online forum. In 2008, Stickland asserted that marital rape did not exist, saying “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!”
Though he issued a statement saying that he no longer espouses those beliefs, his opponent is questioning Stickland’s position on sexual assault in light of how he voted on a sexual assault policy in the most recent regular session.
At a press conference last week, the challengers (including former Representative Bennett Ratliff, who is running to upset Matt Rinaldi, the freshman who successfully took his seat in 2014) pointed to one bill in particular, House Bill 189.
As reported by Braddock, the bill granted more time for sexual assault victims to pursue civil remedies and eliminated any statute of limitations in cases of serial rape. The bill was one of a handful of policy measures to receive bipartisan support in a highly polarized session. The vote was not unanimous. Representatives Stickland, Schaefer, Rinaldi, Tinderholt, and Bell voted against the measure.
The question posed at the press conference was, “Why?”
What fault could these representatives have possibly found with a policy, the sole aim of which was to allow sexual assault victims more time to pursue justice?
Scott Fisher, Stickland’s opponent, doesn’t understand the motivation behind this vote, either.
Speaking at the rally, Fisher said, “Before this reform passed the Republican Texas legislature and was signed by Governor Abbott, all a rapist had to do to shield himself from paying for his crime was to force his victim to keep her mouth shut 10 years from the date of the offense,” he continued, “The idea that a predator could use subtle pressure to keep a victim quiet to avoid paying is a nightmare.” Referring to Stickland’s vote on the measure, Fisher said, “I don’t know how he justifies it.”
So far, neither do we. Stickland has yet to issue a direct response to questions about his incredibly troubling vote on House Bill 189. Though he claims to have learned his lesson on the existence of marital rape, his voting record on issues relating to sexual assault makes it clear that he still lacks compassion for the victims of this heinous crime.