Burnt Orange Report Meets with Tom Schieffer

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Tom Schieffer did something Wednesday no other statewide candidate has ever done.


Unprovoked and nearly 7 months away from the primary (an established election date), Tom Schieffer became the first statewide candidate to sit down with more than half of the Burnt Orange Report staff to discuss every facet of his campaign.


We talked policy.  We talked about George Bush.  We talked about the Texas Rangers and his service abroad.


We met at Progress Coffee next to our office.  We each bought our own respective caffeinated beverages. Tom Schieffer picked up a couple Dublin Dr. Peppers. With three campaign staff in tow, the eight of us went back to the Burnt Orange Report office and immediately got to questions.


The discussion started with Schieffer's stance on expanding broadband and his experience on the campaign trail.  We talked about the need to expand access to education and how Rick Perry's aggressive push to become more right-wing hurts the business community (more on that later). To note, Schieffer supports the idea to expand high speed and broadband access to rural and exurban parts of Texas but doesn't have a set plan.


After about 30 minutes we finally got to the series of questions most of our readers are most concerned about– Schieffer's relationship with George W. Bush and/or the Republican Party.


It is clear from talking with Schieffer he is not and has never been a Republican.


Schieffer points to a few of his experience to highlight his long time Democratic credentials.  First, Schieffer said he has voted in every Democratic primary since the 1970's.  Second, according to Schieffer, in April 2001, when he went to the White House and State Department to fill out the paper work to become an ambassador to Australia, he made it a point to identify himself and his partisanship as Democrat on the forms he filled out. While he served as an  Ambassador to Japan, Congressman Henry Waxman from California asked Schieffer and the state department to produce any and all documents that identified communication between the embassy and the political department of the White House (read Karl Rove). After nearly two weeks of searching, Schieffer says the embassy found zero documents.


He makes it a point to say he didn't work as a Democrat or Republican but instead as a person who loves his country and was given an opportunity to serve his country.


The passion and sincerity in his explanation is hard to deny.


Schieffer went on to talk about the multiple times he has been to the White House during the Obama administration to help the state department.  Again, he spoke of the situation as a service to his country and not as a partisan obligation.


Why all the questions about Schieffer's democratic credentials?


Since announcing he was exploring a potential Gubernatorial run in March,  Schieffer made it clear he voted for his friend and business partner George W. Bush. His unapologetic support for Bush has left some Democrats scratching their heads.


Rather than rehashing why he voted for Bush (we already know the answer) or pushing him on the issue, we simply asked how that plays into his campaign and outreach.


Schieffer made it a point to talk about how he was right on the issues and Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison were simple two more examples of Republican failures.


Yes, it was a pass, but he isn't wrong.


Schieffer supports the expansion of mass transit within Texas to connect at least the urban cores. He is right on education and working to lower tuition costs for families in need.  He is right on using federal money to help keep small business owners from being forced to pay for the brunt of the recession.


After an hour conversation, we are confident that Schieffer will be a champion of core Democratic issues.  His positions on education, health care, and transportation are strong, and he understands the need for Democrats to have a seat at the table before redistricting occurs in 2011.  We did not meet with the candidate who we will certainly vote for in March's Democratic Primary, but we all left our meeting convinced that Tom Schieffer is sincere and passionate, and that he has strong Democratic credentials.  However, without a campaign manager and a better developed campaign infrastructure in place, he is going to struggle to accumulate the financial resources and grassroots support to get past March. 


The fact that the conversation has shifted, at least in our minds, to, “would we want him to win?” to “how could he win?” is important.  We want to support strong Democrats, but before we do, we need to know that they are strong Democrats.  Schieffer convinced us of that.  Now the challenge will be how he builds a campaign infrastructure that can convince the rest of the Democratic primary electorate before March.


About Author

Burnt Orange Report

Burnt Orange Report, or BOR for short, is Texas' largest political blog, written from a progressive/liberal/Democratic standpoint.


  1. I mentioned
    Tom Schieffer to a fellow Democrat a few days ago. She keeps up pretty well with news and state politics (although not obsessed with any of it) and she had no idea who he was. I mentioned several others that are considering runs and she had no idea who any of those were either. We're in the DFW area. Maybe she's a typical voter.

    I mentioned Garry Mauro. Yes. She knew him. And wondered why he isn't running statewide. I reminded her that he had lost to George W. Bush in 1998. She said, “So”? And then we talked about how he had been the statewide chair for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. (She and I supported Hillary in the primary.)

    Has he retired for good?

  2. Democrat???
    “Rather than rehashing why he voted for Bush (we already know the answer)…”

    Would you care to enlighten us and explain why BO feels that someone who supported Bush all through the Iraq invasion and occupation and the Bush/Cheney Constitution shredding has any meaningful Democratic credentials?

  3. No offense intended…

    But did you guys do any reporting-reporting from the meeting, as in, journalistically prepare questions, ask questions, and jot down the answers to those specific questions?

    Because, really, that's what I'd like to read: the questions; the answers to those questions. I'm not interested in hearing whether or not when you looked into his eyes you saw his soul.

    Again, no offense– seriously, but you're not giving me anything here that sways me on the guy. So he thinks GW is the best thing since sliced bread. Ok. Got it. That's not going to get me to punch his name.

    There had to be something there. He had enough time for two Dr. Peppers. Maybe he's a fast drinker.

    Or maybe it's coming in future installments, but you didn't give me that, either.

  4. Still not convincing
    enough to make me think that he deserves to be our Governor. Give one example of leadership.  What has he accomplished?  

  5. Tom Schieffer accomplisments
    Here are just a few of Tom's accomplishments as a state representative:

    As a lawmaker, Tom Schieffer supported the legal rights of victims, consumers, and policyholders by voting to:

    1. Create the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA)and Insurance Code protection;1

    2. Remove the absolute bar to recovery presented by the contributory negligence system and replace it with a system of comparative negligence;2

    3. Add liability for property damage to the Texas Tort Claims Act;3

    4. Expand coverage in automobile liability insurance policies to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP);4

    5. Put in place strong legal remedies for tenants whose security deposits are wrongfully withheld;5

    6. Regulate the financing of insurance premiums by the Consumer Credit Commissioner, make these transactions subject to the Truth-In-Lending Act, and prohibit deceptive advertising;6 and

    7. Create a “cooling off” period for consumers by granting them the right to cancel home solicitation sales within three days and penalizing violations.7

    1 HB 417 (63R); House Journal, pg. 2116; House Journal, pg. 2136 (Record Vote No. 6, 4/10/73); House Journal, pg. 2155; House Journal, pg. 2183 (Record Vote No. 11, 4/11/73); House Journal, pg. 3144; House Journal, pg. 3201 (Record Vote No. 7, 5/7/73).

    2 HB 88 (63R); House Journal, pg. 711; House Journal, pg. 725 (Record Vote No. 12, 2/21/73); House Journal, pg. 742; House Journal, pg. 1668.

    3 HB 188 (63R); House Journal, pgs. 583 & 596.

    4 HB 143 (63R); House Journal, pg. 1805; House Journal, pg. 1825 (Record Vote No. 5, 3/30/73); House Journal, pgs. 1832-1833; House Journal, pg. 1842 (Record Vote No. 2, 4/2/73); House Journal, pg. 2146; House Journal, pg. 2178 (Record Vote No. 6, 4/11/73).

    5 HB 877 (63R); House Journal, pgs. 3964, 4454, & 4001.

    6 HB 543 (63R); House Journal, pgs. 1885, 1916, & 2726.

    7 SB 454 (63R); House Journal, pg. 3824; House Journal, pg. 4054; House Journal, pg. 4152 (Record Vote No. 8,  

    • So he voted for these bills…
      How many of these bills were his? Here is what Texas Monthly wrote about him in 1975 when naming its 10 worst legislators

      Tom Schieffer, 27, Conservative Democrat, Fort Worth. What you get is even less than what you see.

      Arrogant and-what is worse-ambitious. Gained abundant notoriety early in the session as the sponsor of a patently unfair presidential primary bill designed to boost the chances of Senator Lloyd Bentsen. His garbled mishandling of that affair could put him on the Ten Worst by itself, but he wins his spot by conspicuous lack of merit in every field.

      “Actually he is furniture,” said one lobbyist. “His mistake was in trying to be anything else.” Said another: “He sits around and acts like he's thinking. The worst type of person is someone who's very ordinary and gets it into his head he's some sort of big shot.” Said a high-ranking employee of a key state agency: “He's just not very capable. All he can do is turn red in the face and scream at you.”

      As chairman of the Local and Consent Calendars Committee, he killed uncontroversial but important legislation sponsored by members he didn't like. Said one person victimized by Schieffer's maneuverings: “He really had big britches this session. Every time he let a bill out, he acted like he'd done you a big favor.” After a feud with Comptroller Bob Bullock over the fiscal implications of the presidential primary (capped by a letter from Bullock remarking, “I am sorry if you were offended by the cost of your own bill”), he killed two innocuous bills that were vital to the orderly operation of the comptroller's office.

      The most appalling news of the 64th Legislature may be the fact that Tom Schieffer is soliciting pledges to be Speaker of the House.


      See page 5

  6. Democratic credentials!
    I don't look for Democratic credentials.  I look for Democratic principles.  Like Gary Denton said, serving as an ambassador to one of the “coalition of the willing” at a time that the administration was committing war crimes demonstrates a lack of morality to me.  I don't care how many Democratic primaries he voted in.  He does not deserve public office.  Beyond that, don't you think he might appoint some Bushies to state positions?!  You want that Bushie in the governor's seat during redistricting?!

    • Amen
      to all of that. Mr. Schieffer was still working for George W. Bush during the '08 Texas Democratic Primary. I just can't imagine that group of energized Texas Democrats voting for him. Or working that hard to elect him.  

  7. David Van Os on

    Country club Republican
    OK, the BOR staff has almost convinced me that Schieffer might be a relatively moderate country club Republican rather than a flaming right wing nutcase. However if the BOR staff chooses to acquiesce in the Frost/Angle/Richie dogma that the majority of Texans only want representatives of the wealthy country club set in political office, it is their right to be wrong about that, but they ought to be intellectually honest about it. To call an individual who supported the horrors the Cheney/Bush regime inflicted on us and the world a “champion of core Democratic issues” is an insult to that very core. Have we entered the era of the new Shivercrats?

    David Van Os

    • Shieffercrats
      I think you've nailed it ~ with a slight name change. After reading about the Shivercrats, I think it must be 1952 all over again.

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