News & Politics

Texas Democrats Running Away From Their Duties Isn't New or 'Uncharted'

Twitter screenshot of Texas Democrats fleeing to D.C.

The Texas Democrats have up and walked out on the legislative process. My colleague Tyler O’Neil reported Monday on the details of the Texas Democrats’ walkout from Austin. They hopped on a plane bound for Washington, DC, to rally against election security.

They promptly earned some media coverage and went without masks, in violation of the FAA’s COVID restrictions.

Inexperienced media seem to think Texas Democrats abandoning their posts rather than doing their jobs is new.

Who are these “veteran capitol observers” you’re tweeting about? They must not have been around all that long.

The Texas Democrats did this before, back in 2003. I’ll quote a bona fide veteran capitol observer who wrote about it at the time — who is actually a veteran in addition to observing the capitol: me.

The Ardmore fraternity party, as state GOP types have taken to calling the 53 wayward Democrats, said their flight was to protest what they called a highly partisan Republican redistricting plan. State Rep. Jim Dunham of Waco led the group, insisting that the plan was not only too partisan, but that adopting it in a non-census year was an outrage. Dunham has a short memory — he had his own district redrawn in 1997 so that he could build a house in a different neighborhood without having to run in a new district. Of course, 1997 was not a census year. The Ardmore 53 have also tossed up the canard of “diversity,” arguing that the GOP plan would dilute African-American votes and diminish their representation. That’s a funny argument, given that the state currently has three African Americans holding statewide elected office, and all are Republicans.

The truth is that the only thing about the GOP plan that is unprecedented is the fact that Republicans drew it. Tellingly, none of the fleeing 53 voiced any concern about the plan before heading for the Oklahoma flatlands. The two Democrats that did raise concerns during the legislative session had their questions addressed, and stayed in Austin to support the plan’s passage. Republican party Executive Director Wayne Hamilton recalled a bit of Texas history when summing up the state’s view of the hightailing Democrats: “The fact is, the line was drawn at the Alamo and these guys all cut and run.”

Indeed. Perhaps it’s telling that the Democrats who run the media in San Antonio are trashing the Alamo itself now, just about every day. They never saw a fight they weren’t eager to turn tail and run away from and they’re happy to kick the dead if it suits their political aims. Neither is very Texas behavior.

The 2003 Democrats didn’t accomplish anything by running off to Oklahoma. Today’s Democrats won’t accomplish anything either. They are the butt of informed jokes across the Lone Star State.

Double gross. They couldn’t even feign being Texan and loft some Shiners? C’mon.

The state House speaker is signaling he may penalize them, following Gov. Abbott, who already has. Democrats hold an awful lot of chairmanships and vice chairmanships in the Texas House despite the fact that Republicans control it. It would be a shame if anything happened to those chairmanships and vice chairmanships.

Then there’s redistricting, which will be the subject of another special session later this year. District lines and therefore seats will be in some state of uncertainty. The Texas GOP also has a new chairman, elected Sunday, who might have thought about all this. The Democrats’ flight north certainly presents an opportunity.

The Texas Democrats have become a full HOA of Karens, seeking to speak with the manager until the manager — Texas voters — tells them something they don’t want to hear. Texas voters want secure elections in which it’s easy to vote but dang near impossible to cheat. The Texas Democrats don’t want to hear that.

So they’ve boarded a comfy chartered flight, sans masks and with weak non-Texas beer, to belch too much carbon into the skies and skedaddle away north. Typical.