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Farouk Shami Spins Voting Record and Talks a lot about Jobs

by: Todd Hill

Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM CST

This morning on WFAA's Inside Politics, Democratic candidate for governor Farouk Shami defended his voting record and lackluster Democratic primary performance as resulting from his focus on business and jobs:

Well, you know, I never was involved in the Party.  I voted for a person normally.  My focus was on my business and I'm not saying I did the right thing, but my focus was on my business and to me it didn't make a difference normally, you know, one candidate versus the other because as a minority I didn't think I could make a change.  But since we have a new president that is minority my view of politics has changed and I feel we can make a difference.  That is my history of voting.

Well guess what my business is, Mr. Shami?  It's your business.  As an active Democrat and active Democratic primary voter, I have a big problem with the fact that you haven't felt compelled to show support to the Party and our candidates through the primary process, or join many of us at the grassroots level and beyond as we rebuild our Democratic Party here in Texas from the ground up.  You've made the decision to become a public figure running for public office and now your business is our business.  

Going just a bit farther, to say that your vote never made a difference and that because you are minority you didn't feel you could make a change is simply nonsensical.  It's a slap in the face to the thousands of minorities within the Democratic Party ranks who work tirelessly and aggressively within their communities to organize, mobilize, and energize voters every single election cycle to get out and vote.  The power of democracy is the right to vote.  It's no one's fault but your own that you have chosen not to exercise that fundamental right.  And citing the president of the United States, Barack Obama, as sudden inspiration for you to enter the public domain of politics, yet not see fit to even vote for him in the primary or general election, makes this Democrat question your sincerity in running for governor.

Pressed a number of times in a number of different ways by Brad Watson and Gromer Jeffers about platform specifics such as balancing the upcoming state budget in 2011 or how he'd create jobs, Shami could only cite his desire to create jobs as the answer to Texas' problems:

By creating more jobs here.  When you create more jobs you are creating more taxpayers and that is the only solution to create money is to create jobs.  The current people in this state with the current governor, a Republican, not doing anything about it.  Neither is the candidate from Houston.  He is on the verge of bankrupting the city.  We need to get rid of those things that really delays our budget and put us in a worse recession that we are in.

Pressed harder by Watson to explain his job creation plan--specifics of a plan and how to pay for it, Shami claims he'll open factories across Texas to build solar panels, but Watson wasn't buying it:

Watson: You're going to do that, you're going to open factories and make solar panels and do you have any experience in any kind of environmental industries?  As far as I can tell you don't.

Shami: Sir, let me tell you.  I am a manufacturer.  I am an innovator.  I am a problem solver.  I've got the people from NASA already...

Watson: But how do you do that as governor using the levers of tax or budget policies?

Shami: Let me tell you.  We are going to use community money, umm...community money, to start those small factories.  We are going to use the Texas Enterprise Fund and the emerging fund.  We are going to use these funds to create jobs and encourage people to bring jobs--give an incentive to people to bring jobs from the orient to the state of Texas while creating local jobs.  Manufacturing solar panels will give us 150,000 jobs.  Ok.  Bringing jobs back, hopefully we can do entertainment centers also that brings us a couple of million to.


Oh my, where should I begin? Job creation is only one element of a multi-pronged effort to address Texas' economic and societal issues.  Farouk Shami should be applauded for his successful business career and creating jobs right here in Texas by bringing his company's factories here and employing Texans to do the work.  However, solar panel manufacturing plants from community money?  I don't quibble with encouraging manufacturers to consider manufacturing solar panels in Texas, but that is not a job recovery plan.  What is community money anyway?  Are you going to fundraise to build these factories?  And in order for the Texas Enterprise Fund to be tapped you must have the consent of the Speaker of the House and Lt. Governor of this state as well---both of whom are Republican.  If you decide to vote this election cycle you can help us potentially have a Democrat in each of those positions, but given your voting history I'm not certain we can trust you on that.

Mr. Shami, you lack substance and what substance you toss out as a platform isn't logical.  As much money as you are willing to spend on your race, and enough consultants you have aiding your candidacy, I'm certain you can do better than this.    

Look, I'm not afraid to admit I'm skeptical.  I'm listening, but I'm not hearing substance or experience.  I'm looking, reading, and studying your record and I see holes that Greyhound buses can drive through with regard to your record of voter participation.  I see someone who has been a successful business man, but inactive in Party politics who is suddenly telling me and the rest of Texas you are the right man to lead Texas in 2010 and beyond.  At this point I'm not buying it.  You've got a lot of explaining to do and not much time to do it.  As the holidays approach I hope you'll consider retooling your campaign and launching a more aggressive, specific effort to address how you will lead the Lone Star State should you be a general election candidate.      

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Farouk CHI Flat irons (5.00 / 1)
work beautifully to quickly style hair and straighten it out. Applying that same approach to government...I don't know.

The patchy voting record...big issue.  

On this thread, we agree n/t (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Great post (0.00 / 0)
I want one of these shirts!!! http://www.cafepress.com/nofar...

Electing a Republican is like hiring a carpenter who is afraid of a hammer AND blames the tools once he's botched the job.

Shami is a sham insulting the Dems (3.00 / 2)
I am still trying to figure his campaign out. It's like he just wants to buy the race and can't understand why that doesn't work. His voting record shows he has no real understanding of the issues of Texas and how to fix them. Minorities across Texas should be insulted by this farce. I'm not saying we don't need a competitive gubernatorial primary but please, at least give me a sensible candidate.

Farouk you're about to get a hard lesson in what public service means and I'll be in line with others like Todd and Elsbeth to help deliver it.

How much did Shami contribute to straighten Kinky's kink? (3.00 / 1)
There may be another point concerning Farouk Shami that Democrats don't like besides his Middle-Eastern background.  It's that his Democratic Party affiliation is in question.

From Texas Tribune article entitled A Candidate to DYE For by Ross Ramsey (man with humor in his pen) dated 12.05.2009

Shami is all over the place with his contributions!  

Shami contributed:
$24,000 to Friedman in last governor's race
"Shami also contributed to former Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston, who lost a 2006 race to Democrat Ellen Cohen in May this year, he gave $5,000 to Republican Ted Cruz, who had his sights set on a run for attorney general. In federal races, he's contributed to candidates of all political stripes this decade, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Houston, Houston Mayor Bill White (for the U.S. Senate race), Ralph Nader (in 2004 and 2008), Tennessee Democrat Graham Leonard, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the same month he gave to Cruz), and the Republican National Committee (most recently in 2007)."


His payment (by Farouk Systems) to Ralph Nader... $9,200 in 2008 Presidential bid.


Does being open-minded disqualify Shami? (0.00 / 0)
Are you saying that a guy who is a Democratic candidate is disqualified for being too open-minded?

[ Parent ]
Open-minded or uninformed or unprincipled? (0.00 / 0)
Giving $5,000 to Cruz this year says that either Shami's political views are thoroughly unformed, or that he feels no loyalty to the Democratic ticket that he hopes to head. Or both.

I can respect a political independent who splits his ticket and contributes to good people of both parties. I don't respect somebody who seeks a position of leadership within a party while (at the very same time!) showing no party loyalty, and who asks for the votes of others when he rarely bothered to vote himself.

There have been a lot of unfair attacks on Shami this season. I've read suggestions that he's not really a Quaker, or that he has terrorist ties, and those accusations are over-the-top offensive. (Much like the birthers.) But attacking him for lack of Democratic credentials, and for lack of political involvement, is completely on target.  

[ Parent ]
Well said (0.00 / 0)
I'm not standing up for Shami.  If I vote for him it will be because of an unexpectedly excellent campaign, which is so unlikely.  I just think there is a lot of bigotry and prejudice here against folks who aren't 5A Democrats.  Being a "good" Democrat hardly makes one a saint.

I've often wondered what would have happened in the 1972 governor's race if BOR and its ilk had been around then.  Sissy Farenthold was the progressive standard bearer in the primary, but Dolph Briscoe was the nominee - a banker-rancher with the brains, handshake and countenance of the Pillsbury Doughboy.    

So progressives flocked in droves to a third-party candidate, Ramsey Muniz of La Raza Unida.  We got him 6% of the vote, which gave LRU (based in Crystal City) an automatic berth on the 1974 ballot.  I'm still happy about that vote.  What I'm wondering is, would you have gone on the warpath against Muniz for not being a Democrat, or for not having much prior electoral experience?  Would you have stood up for the Uvalde Doughboy, a conservative who if born today would be a Republican?

No doubt.

[ Parent ]
Two things at play here (0.00 / 0)
I think, when evaluating candidates for Democratic statewide nominations, we here like to focus on two things:

1. The candidate's ability to win in a general election.  Especially for a lot of the folks here -- a blog where many members have had their adult lives dominated by Republican governance in Texas.  But even those who are generations older than me have tended to tire of the Republicans, so they want some sort of competition that will actually change that in November.

2. The candidate's "Democraticness."  This is a bit trickier than #1, because there is no clear cut answer as to what makes the ideal Democrat.  But we are Democrats electing candidates for our party, and we all think our candidates should generally be representative of what our party stands for.

Mr. Shami is failing (or at least is close to failing) on both accounts right now.  That doesn't spell well for him.  1974 is a hard comparison because the statewide political atmosphere was totally different.  I'm not even sure 1974, with the technologies of today, would see a BOR-as-we-know-it.  

"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."  -  John Adams

[ Parent ]
Not having a clue does disqualify (3.00 / 2)
If Shami had shown some direction and new ideas in addressing the issues then I'd be all for giving him some credibility. However, he hasn't answered a single position question on Texas issues with any sense of understanding the problem or presenting a solution.

Just running a successful business doesn't make one a great public service leader. In fact, several times business solutions don't translate to public issues. A great public servant is one that recognizes the public he serves.

It's so obvious Shami thinks he can buy this office and we Democrats should be thankful he's bringing millions to the table. Nope, not on my watch if I can do anything about it.

[ Parent ]
He gave $9,200 to Nader in 2008 (0.00 / 0)
and says that Obama inspired him?  Give me a break.  Maybe he is thinking that if someone with the name "Barack Obama" can be elected president, someone with the name "Farouk Shami" can be elected governor.  

[ Parent ]
Sometimes you are busy............................. (4.50 / 4)
When I was 22 y/o back in the days you needed to prove you'd be unavailable on election day, to vote early, I went into labor on a Sunday before an off year election.  I went to the hospital, delivered our baby and checked out on Tuesday, election day.  My husband and I dropped the baby off with my mother and drove 60 miles round trip to our precinct to vote.

I voted early for Carter in 1980, since I was scheduled to be out of town in the hospital for a series of tests to determine the protocol for my cancer treatments.  I still remember sitting in my hospital bed watching the election returns as lab personnel came in to draw blood.

And you can check my voting record.  I have NEVER missed an opportunity to vote.  

Mr. Shami, YOU should be ashamed of yourself!!

Shami Wow! (0.00 / 0)
Yep, I'm starting to think the rumor/joke about Shami hiring Vince Offer as his spokesman and using "Shami, Wow!" as his campaign slogan is increasingly the truth!

Not for nothing... (3.00 / 1)
but half the population, at least, declines to vote almost every cycle.

Rather than beat those people up, wouldn't it be more helpful to work hard at getting them to give a crap?

And How Does Letting Shami Get By Get Them To Give a Crap? (3.00 / 1)
If Farouk Shami declared his lack of voting a mistake and began proposing ways to get more folks such as himself more involved, i would probably be easier on his voting record.  Instead, he seems to be defending it as apparently "ok" for someone now interested in elected office, and he says that the answer is Obama's inspiration even though he, himself, did not vote for Obama?

Not only is his voting history pretty unacceptable for any gubernatorial candidate, but his spin is amateur at best.  If we're going to beat Perry, we can't have that leading our ticket in 2010.

"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."  -  John Adams

[ Parent ]
Part of leadership... (3.00 / 2)
is leading by example.  If you want people to get out and vote, having a voting record of your own helps encourage people to do exactly that.  Shami's record is not one I would even categorize as spotty---I categorize it as simply empty.  

Michael is exacly right too that if you are going to cite Barack Obama as your motivating example for running for public office, but you didn't see fit to vote for him in the primary or general election, buries your credibilty.    

Explaining to people that you previously weren't motivated to vote but I have $10 million dollars to throw around, now I'm running for governor, and I want you to vote for me, smacks of political opportunism.  


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
Shami motivates me (5.00 / 5)
and I am going to follow his example and not vote for him.

[ Parent ]
Giggle! (0.00 / 0)
Love it!!


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
I'll vote for Bill White (0.00 / 0)

Living down here in Katy, and watching how well he's run Houston, I'll admit to my prejudice. He hasn't been the perfect mayor. He's just been the most effective and popular mayor this city's had in a long, long time. Reference Katrina and Ike.

I was initially concerned about Mr. Shami's war chest/cash and Mr. White's "lack of name recognition" outside of Southeast Texas (which I don't really think is true). But the more I read about and hear from Mr. Shami? Only word that comes to mind is "amateur."

I don't think I could've said it better. (0.00 / 0)
Good article, Shami is a sham. Like Kinky he thinks he can dive in the deep end and swim. Start by voting, then supporting a platform, then building a reputation for fighting for that platform, then run for for office. It is very cynical thinking you can buy an election with nothing to back up the money.  

The Barack Obama Defense (0.00 / 0)
While I find the Barack Obama Voting Defense weak and I'm no Shami fan, we shouldn't just fall into the trap of dismissing any first-time politicians for higher office. John Sharp has slowly built up a rep and base for like one-million years and is no better for it.

[ Parent ]
WFAA has finally posted the video online. (0.00 / 0)
Check it out for yourself:


Thanks for the tip... (0.00 / 0)
I've embedded the video into the post.  Thanks for letting us know that it was up and available.


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
Shami builds his team (0.00 / 0)
Just saw in the Chron/E-N Politics page where Shami has hired Vince Leibowitz to lead his campaign team. From Gilbert to Shami ... hmmmm.

Just because Vince is on the team doesn't make the merchandise ... er candidate any better.

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