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It’s probably a good thing that I had to watch opening day of the TX legislative session live-streaming on my laptop while recovering from the flu in the sick bay bunker. As my colleague Michael Quinn Sullivan described it, “the session began with a whimper in the Texas House.” There’s nothing worse than seeing “our team” overrun with timidity because of a bunch of schoolyard bullies that just need to be faced down. Some of them would fold like a cheap tent if we could ever get a group of smart, strategy-savvy renegades to just stand up and call them out.

Rep. David Simpson found himself the victim of several Judases who vowed to stay the course with him, but the fair weather friends ended up cracking in a cowardly panic when the political ruling class’s arm-twisters – including State Republican Party officials – started threatening political payback.

The Democrats in Austin are not our number one problem. The obstacle to constitutional conservatism and open, transparent state government is the political ruling class of Republicans who like big government as long as their cronies are getting a piece of the action.  If it sounds like Washington, DC, it’s because we have the same problem in Austin. Political greed, treachery, and cowardice are alive and well under the Pink Dome. The good news is the Judases “outed” themselves. They won the battle, but they won’t win the war.

Rep. Simpson was brave. He worked hard to gain support. At the end of the day, he didn’t have the votes to win because of conservatives who sold out to the moderate ruling class. Old House lions with conservative credentials (who desperately need to be retired) began to advise Simpson that he was ruining the chances for freshmen to succeed this session if he forced a floor vote. They convinced him that he should drop out and work toward changing house rules.  

Our State Representative Matt Schaefer worked his heart out for Simpson. Schaefer is one of a few freshmen with their respect and honor still intact after opening day.  

Representative Schaefer released a courageous statement after the opening session, which read:   If Rep. Simpson had been on the ballot, I would have voted for him. He pursued my vote with zeal, and I was persuaded by Rep. Simpson’s strength of character, conservative philosophy, and fresh ideas.  

It has been my position that I would support the candidate who I felt was the most conservative and had leadership ability. I do appreciate the dialogue that Rep. Simpson brought to the Speaker’s race. He is a great friend and East Texas neighbor. I believe competition in any bid for public office is healthy for public discourse. Not only did this challenge allow for new ideas, but it also allowed for the people of Texas to learn more about the Speaker’s broad powers and responsibilities. 

Rep. Simpson made many good points, including his proposal for members to play a greater role in selecting committee assignments, by concentrating less power in the hands of a few. He is also to be commended for his desire to conduct the people’s business more efficiently and allowing a predictable work schedule for the House.’’   

Representative Schaefer did not have to release this statement, but he did. This public affirmation of support for Simpson even AFTER Joe Straus was re-elected Speaker, let Straus and the establishment know that Schaefer will work with them on areas of agreement, but that he’s not falling in line. See statement here: 

I am proud of Representative Matt Schaefer. He stayed in touch to keep me posted about what he was doing to help Rep. Simpson, and he did so without being asked.

Please understand that when a state representative is in a public meeting and is in the middle of a nasty battle like the speaker’s race, he has to be careful about what he says. Several of you e-mailed to let me know you thought Matt was being evasive when he answered questions about the Speaker’s race. At that time, Rep. Hughes was still in the race. Matt had information that only a few of us knew – that Rep. Simpson would soon be the candidate. We had promised David that we would be careful about what we said and when we said it so as not to get ahead of his timing. Matt answered rightly that he would support the most conservative candidate in the race. 

Both Rep. Simpson and Rep. Schaefer behaved courageously and honorably. They did all they could with a huge deck stacked against them. 

The Establishment Ruling Class won the battle, but they will NOT win the war. They should remember the ground war we waged to get Senator Cruz elected. A very strong coalition of conservative leaders is on the ground across Texas. We are working overtime to make this a legislative session where conservative principles win.  We aren’t going away. 

The following quote sums up the dynamic in the Speaker’s race very well:

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” Quote by: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator; Source: Attributed. 58 BC, Speech in the Roman Senate 

Read David Simpson’s statement and see his personal privilege speech from the House floor here: 

See the new Texas Tribune interview.  What Really Happened in His Own Words: