Naked City

The Texas Lege: Pinkos!

Richard Ford -- the hard-right, softcore brains of "FreePAC" -- is at it again, this time kicking off the GOP primary campaign with something called the Heritage Alliance. In defense of what Ford inevitably describes as the "conservative principles of free enterprise, limited government, limited taxation, and the traditional Judeo-Christian values of the founders of the United States and Texas," the alliance has issued a report card on the 78th Legislature, mailing the results to 100,000 likely GOP primary voters.

While congratulating the Lege for its "fiscal responsibility in passing a biennial budget with no tax increase, and for finally passing long-awaited social legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act and the Woman's Right to Know Act," the alliance could find only 21 "Leaders of Excellence" in the House -- Reps who voted "conservatively" 85% of the time on 90 bills the reviewers analyzed according to radical-right criteria. And alas, says Ford, there was not a single full-fledged "conservative" in the Texas Senate. (The alliance used to grade on a curve, but no more -- the most conservative senator, Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, topped out at a paltry 79%.)

Among the House "leaders" are such distinguished GOP names as Talmadge Heflin (Houston), Joe Crabb (Atascocita), Leo Berman (Tyler), Wayne Christian (Center), and ol' reliable Warren Chisum (Pampa). Those doing the reviewing included such legendary ex-representatives as Jim Horn of Denton, L.B. Kubiak of Rockdale, Glenn Repp of Duncanville, and M.A. Taylor of Waco -- raising the obvious question: If those guys are all so right, why are they so ex?

Ford last gained notoriety via his FreePAC mailings in the 2002 primaries, garishly denouncing mainstream Republicans like Sen. Bill Ratliff and Rep. Tommy Merritt for being soft on gay marriage and abortion. The PAC garnered a lot of publicity, but the backlash among GOP voters may have hurt their candidates more often than not, as they struck out in most races. Much of FreePAC's money came from the wackiest end of the party, including East Texas chicken man Bo Pilgrim, San Antonio tycoon James Leininger, and Dallasite James Lightner, a notorious moneybags for Louisiana white supremacist David Duke. FreePAC backers Robert Schoolfield of Austin, Tommy Miller and Jan Collmer of Dallas, and Robert Carrel of Bonham reappear on the Heritage Alliance board. As a group, these guys are not only cracked nuts (or more precisely, nutty crackers), they're loaded.

Ford writes that the alliance will "recruit active citizens in over a dozen House and Senate districts where moderate Republicans received a rating of under 75%," and hire outreach workers to build "a lobby network in these targeted districts." Look for the mud to start flying.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Richard Ford, Heritage Alliance, FreePAC, Robert Schoolfield, Tommy Miller, Jan Collmer, Robert Carrel

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