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.