Welcome to the Club

And so it begins…The House and Senate kicked off last week and today the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have been officially sworn in.

Last week, I think Mike Sullivan and his acolyte army were poised and ready for a Scott Turner victory that didn’t quite turn out the way they had hoped. All the intimidation, threats, and misrepresentation amounted to 19 votes (And maybe Dawna Dukes? There are weird rumors swirling around about why she walked out of the Speaker vote).  This was far short of the 50 or so supporters that his team had been promising the grassroots groups that had been following the race.

Tim Dunn spent in the millions to back candidates to fill House seats to help the Turner candidacy and it simply didn’t work. When you calculate the cost-per-vote, this Speaker election could go down as one of the most expensive in history. Just counting Turner’s ethics filings on his Speaker candidacy, he spent $389,343 for 19 votes. Look how his cost-per-vote ranks with other campaigns:

Scott Turner House Speaker 2015 $20,491.74 LOST
Chart Westcott State Rep. 2014 (Primary) $322.93 LOST
Michael Bloomberg Mayor 2009 $185.10 WON
Mark Begich U.S. Senate 2014 $166.12 LOST
Harry Reid U.S. Senate 2010 $69.00 WON
Tony Sanchez Governor 2002 $36.82 LOST
Wendy Davis Governor 2014 $20.19 LOST


Ouch. I think that defeat left Tim Dunn reeling, and is perhaps the reason we might be seeing a bit of separation from his minions. What separation you ask? Read on…

In case you missed it, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has announced the formation of a new citizen board designed to help him with policy decisions for the state. A Houston news outlet said, “Dan Patrick Gives Rich People an Official Seat at the Table”. The Associated Press said, “Billionaire political donors and other special interest heavyweights who already spend lavishly on lobbying will begin formally advising Texas lawmakers on crafting bills…”

Guess who’s on that list? It’s none other than the newly minted ruling class, establishment insider, Mr. Tim Dunn.  After personally donating nearly $80,000 to Patrick and almost $2 million to Empower Texans, he’s finally bought himself a seat at the table.

For the most part, I applaud Governor Patrick’s efforts. Putting together a list of heavy-hitters like this really show’s his desire to listen to some of the best private sector leaders the state has to offer. And the others? Hey, if someone is going to throw tens of thousands of dollars to your campaign, there is a good chance you get to participate. And that looks like just what Dunn and some of his compatriots have done.

I do think Lieutenant Dan feared some backlash from all those non-millionaires that supported him, and quickly said that he was at some future date going to announce a “Grassroots” committee…sure, of course. Throw all those volunteers a bone already and make them feel like they’ve been heard. We all know who is really pulling the strings.

The fun part now is to watch the unraveling. The man who funds a bunch of folks claiming to want to get rid of the ruling class in politics has just joined the most elite group of establishment Republicans ever assembled. What do the boys at Empower Texans and AgendaWise think about their boss now? Do you they still really want to rid the Capitol of the corporate elitists who make back-room deals, or do they really just want to be part of the club?  Unless they quit, or call out their own boss, every word from here on out that comes out of their mouth is a farce.

With the price of oil sinking and his commitments to that giant building on Congress looming, I wonder if Tim Dunn has finally had enough of toying around with Mike Sullivan and his band of believers. It seems Dunn could be going the way of the Koch Brothers and abandoning the Tea Partiers they sought to co-opt so effectively to win state and federal races over the last few years.

One of  his AgendaWise employees said that Dunn,“…wanted Sullivan to put a grenade under the insiders table so that Texas politics can, for once, be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of endeavor. “ Hmm…Looks like that move might now be suicide. Welcome to the club, Mr. Dunn.


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