Note: Mr. Baxter is a co-founder of the Friendship Alliance, a consortium of Hays County neighborhoods that banded together years ago out of necessity to defend their property rights against the expansionist aims of the city of Dripping Springs. We rather prefer the views and endorsements of On-The-Ground Hays County citizens who've been around for awhile and have fought the good fight, over the views and endorsements of outsiders – the Austin American-Statesman being one case in point, and all the money pouring in from outside Hays County and District 45 being the other. The Statesman's recent endorsements of Messrs. Rose and Barton was a clear example of editorial prostitution, as well as a crock. As we approach Election Day March 2nd and Texas Independence Day, we re-channel the call of the freedom fighter – "Remember the Alamo!" In this election, we say: "Valor over BS!" If you haven't already, please vote Tuesday March 2nd and urge your friends and neighbors to do the same.
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By Rob Baxter
This year especially, whether you usually vote Republican, Democrat or Independent, as you likely already know, the primaries are where incumbents can sometimes face the toughest odds due to turnout mainly of the "base." Thus, the primaries are often our best chance as voters to affect change with the least numbers of voters.
We have two particular primary races in Hays that truly warrant everyone voting who can...the Democratic primary races for County Judge and State Rep. Dist. 45. (FYI, voters can crossover in a primary and vote in either party, just not in both.)
Oddly, in the Judge race, Pct. #2 Commissioner Jeff Barton has chosen to attack the incumbent Judge Liz Sumter.
By most accounts, Liz Sumter has done truly admirable and positive work in her first term. Frankly, this race makes no sense, so I don't want to waste time on Jeff Barton's attempted power grab for his special interests.
For those of you who don't know the local political scene that well, regardless of Barton's tasteful "green" campaign signs, don't be fooled. Jeff is basically lined up with laissez faire developers, corporate road and engineering interests, while Liz stands for managed, thoughtful and sustainable growth in the county. For some reason, Barton seems to think that now is his big chance not so much to topple Liz, but to grab the Judgeship for his interests. Unfortunately for him, Liz is not weak and with good reason. Please vote that one accordingly.
The District 45 State Rep. Rose. v. Backus race is another game entirely. It is clearly reminiscent of 8 years ago when Patrick Rose was running to topple Rick Green, only this year the two adversaries, Backus and Rose, are in the same party.
So, what makes this similar? Back then, Rick Green played the part of corrupt politician; under ethics investigation clouds, shooting infomercials for clients (Focus Factor) in his Capital office or seeking "donations" to his "foundation" as he wrapped himself in the US flag for the cameras out front, while his foundation's wallet was open off camera. Consequently developers lined up to have him legislate development and municipal districts for them.
Fortunately, we caught wind of this as did Patrick's father Mike Rose and also Charlotte Rhodes, Rose's first major benefactress to the tune of $25K (God rest her beautiful soul). Seeing the opening, wunderkind Patrick Rose stepped up, now flush with cash, fresh from Princeton and en route to UT-Law. Unfortunately for us, this time Patrick Rose gets to play the Rick Green role and Andrew Backus the spoiler (or white knight, depending on your point of view).
How things have changed in 8 years...or have they?
Early on in his first campaign Patrick sought mine and many other's support, and we gave it to him – anything to see Green's conflicted ineptitude gone. So when Patrick called me the morning after his first major fund-raising event to chew the fat and crow a bit, the first words out of this understandably excited 22 year old's mouth were, "I raised $20,000 last night!" I thought, "Oh no...he's too young and is awed by money. This can't be good." Time has proven those early fears correct as he has become one of the largest money grubbers in Texas House history, raising millions for his war chest these past few years. And with every dollar he seems to raise, there is an inverse price we seem to pay.
What we have before us this Tuesday is a similar, but far more transparent choice than 8 years ago. The reason I say this is because eight years ago, we had the youthful, right-winger, with a track record strewn with conflicts of interest up against an unknown man-child in Rose. Well, the man-child's a man now and and the difference this time is that what we now have is another youthful and sometimes right-wing incumbent, playing the part of the corrupt politician.
This time Rose is going up against a known and proven entity, Andrew Backus, former President of the Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD). Unlike Patrick at 22, Andrew at 50 has a track record, a well known and defensible one at the HTGCD. However, unlike our former Rep. Rick Green, Patrick on the surface has an apparently competent record, but scratch below the veneer and we'll find a record heavily strewn with conflicts of interest and special interest dollars. Dollars laid about in $5,000 to $50,000 chunks are collected before the legislation gets proposed that then benefit the benefactor at the expense of the district's constituents.
These $50,000 chunks have cost Hays County dearly and they will continue to cost Hays County should Patrick stay in office. I could elaborate, but with minimal digging you can find the donor list and cross reference it to the relevant legislation and it becomes apparent how and why Patrick has the just about largest war chest out there. What's not so apparent is what Patrick actively does to kill legislation or get it stalled for some of those same contributions from Insurance PACs, developers, Business PAC's, you name it. What's also not apparent is what Patrick intends to do with that war chest when he's had enough of District 45 and heads for higher office, because that folks, is what this is about for Rose, ambition, not District 45.
Please go out and vote accordingly.