SocraticGadfly: Wingnuts spar in Texas Lege SD30 forum

September 10, 2020

Wingnuts spar in Texas Lege SD30 forum

A forum for Republican candidates for state Senate District 30 in Gainesville had multiple bits of demagoguery by rule-of-law flouting salon owner Shelley Luther, state Rep. Drew Springer approaching the edge of sanity on marijuana before embracing his inner Pander Bear, and Denton Mayor Chris Watts whiffing on some chances to separate himself from the crowd, though nailing one for the wingnuts. Two lesser candidates, Nocona business owner Craig Carter and Decatur software developer Andy Hopper, were also at the event. One of them, Hopper, worked to out-wingnut Luther, and claimed he was there.

Notes from the event are below. Luther: Says Texas should “abolish abortion,” ignoring that a thing called the Supreme Court exists, and that it said no earlier this year to a “slicing” passed by last year’s Lege.

Springer: Calls what the city of Austin had done with its police department “terrible.”

Watts: With 12 years on the Denton City Council, he claims to not be a politician. 

First question asks about property taxes. Doesn’t ask what will be done to replace them.

Some candidates mentioned “consumption tax” in their original statements. Andy Hopper honestly said that his consumption tax was a 7 percent sales tax, on top of the current 8.25 percent. Luther seemed to indicate that people without kids in school should be exempt from school property taxes. Springer, a good capitalist except when being a socialist, claimed that 10 percent appraisal hikes, in places like the Metroplex, were NOT capitalist when of course they are.

Watts noted that a consumption tax, if it targeted things not covered by the current sales tax, such as food and medicines, would hit a lot of people hard. He said 80 percent of people could pay more than they do now. And, per the Trib, which reported on the latest attempt to raise the sales tax in last year's Lege, the issue would take a two-thirds vote. Springer, who's in the Lege, knows that's not happening. Even with his day job as a "rainmaker" to cut corporate appraisals (which, interestingly, was mentioned by none of the other four), he has to have a greater sense of realism than that.

More here from Chris Hooks at Texas Monthly on last year's attempt to increase the sales tax and call it a "consumption tax." Now, Drew's been in the Lege long enough, he knows a higher sales tax is regressive. Are the others blank-check Kool-Aid drinkers, or what?

Second question was about prison reform. Luther joked about liberals and going to jail, while ignoring that she had gotten a GoFundMe started before her court appearance. She claimed that county jail was letting out rapists and murderers. She also wanted county jails to do vocational rehabilitation. She went there again on rural schools and freedom from some state issues, saying “we need to keep Planned Parenthood away from our schools.”

Springer, on the prison issue, said he supported a issue in last year’s legislature that would have moved possession of under two ounces of marijuana from a class B to a class C misdemeanor. However, he spoiled this by talking about “defending our monuments” as one of three Legislature priorities for next year. And later, he said his version of “constitutional carry” included eliminating gun-free zones. Later on, Springer said that cutting property taxes and replacing them with consumption taxes would make Ill Eagles pay their fair share, ignoring that many illegal immigrants may own property and at the same time, because of fear of law, they don’t appeal appraisals.

Hopper said he opposed a UNESCO vision for the Alamo, apparently referring to Land Commish Pee Bush’s ideas for redeveloping the Alamo.

Watts, the second candidate to speak on this issue, said that the legislature needed to address the governor’s power to issue executive orders that had no time limits, and needed to look at having some trigger for a special session of the Legislature, if nothing else.

Under economic development, Luther said Texas needed to be like South Dakota and “just keep it open,” ignoring that this year’s version of the annual Sturgis rally had contributed to hundreds of thousands of coronavirus cases nationally. She then basically claimed that god had opened this door for her to run.

Hopper did his Pander Bear by saying, in response to an audience question, that the StartleGram’s Bud Kennedy called him “the most extreme candidate in the race.” He made his claim to this by mentioning Trump by name in both his opening and closing statements, along with Trump’s “drain the swamp” slogan.

The wingnuts popped up in audience questioning, too. An antivaxxer parent asking about mandatory vaccinations spoke up. All five candidates had degrees of support for parental choice on vaccines.

One winner from the debate was not there. Democrat Jacob Minter may have less to worry about Watts distinguishing himself from wingnuts enough to try to get some Democrats to do “strategic voting” for him in the special election. The question is whether or not five Republicans will split the vote enough for an unknown Democrat to make the inevitable runoff in a Senate district that is less than 30 percent Democrat. (Fallon took 74 percent of the vote in 2018, and that was against a ConservaDem opponent endorsed by the Snooze! Before that, previous officeholder Craig Estes took more than 85 percent in 2012 and 2014.) But, even if he makes the runoff, his likelihood of winning the general election is between slim and none.
UPDATE, Sept. 19: Christofascist Tim Dunn has given Shelley Luther a $1 million loan. Loans like this are even more interesting than donations, which of course can't be done in this amount. Loans can be held over a candidate's head if they're elected. It's no surprise that it's targeted at what Dunn, an antimasker etc., called the "Austin Swamp" over Gov. Strangeabbott's tepid coronavirus orders. It's also funny to listen to Springer blast Empower Texas. Having not had primary opponents in recent House runs, he and Empower/Dunn/Mucus could do a Kabuki dance around each other, while in reality, there's really not much difference between them, other than Springer's willingness to play inside baseball. (Drew's conflict of interest in working to get business property appraisals whacked has been called out before by Empower, but relatively tepidly.)

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