The circus is in town, and I don’t mean the band of representatives and senators who have descended on Austin to begin the next legislative session today.  I am talking about the spectacle of ill-advised Tim Dunn cronies and Mike Sullivan followers who decided to set up camp at the La Quinta Inn across from the Capitol yesterday and hold a pre-session ideologue party.

Resisting such an entertainment rich environment proved futile, and so I spent the day at the La Quinta to witness all of the glorious gabbling. The general idea is to show up and act churlish with a group of like-minded wanderers as they tell stories, threaten to un-elect elected officials, and sell t-shirts. Wait, t-shirts? Yes, it seems even these kooky clans are finding ways to commingle their entrepreneurial spirit with their conservative purity war. I guess your movement isn’t really official unless you have a t-shirt, right? 

I listened to Mike Sullivan, Ray Myers and JoAnn Fleming perform their typical routine of overgeneralized rants and painfully generic platitudes to the sheer amazement of a spellbound audience who seemed to really enjoy hearing live and in-person the misguided words they read on social media. More interesting to me was witnessing a few of the new state senators get in on the act and rile up the crowd.

Rep. Stickland was also there to display a classic example of what Kennedy and Clinton apologists like to call “compartmentalization” – preaching as if he was totally offended by the “special interests” in Austin, without acknowledging that he actually lived off their largesse for the entirety of last session. Reenacting a scene from his first campaign, when he tweeted that he was going to Austin to rid the House of the evil non-Christian speaker, he stated that he was supporting Rep. Scott Turner because he was an “unapologetically Christian conservative”. As I watched Turner watch Stickland and the others, I wondered what he thought these actions were doing for his chances.

There were murmurings all day that Turner had somewhere between 50 and 55 solid votes for speaker, and that several more could turn his way because of the threats of the attendees and the Tim Dunn money. There was even acquiescence that if Turner could get 7-10 democrats, that would be fine for the greater good. That still leaves Turner short of the votes needed to win today. I guess we will know in short order. 

It was a good show for a dreary Monday. Next time I’m skipping the t-shirts and bringing popcorn.


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