All Workman and No Play
House District 47's Republican candidate fights battles on three fronts
It's been a tough week for Republican House District 47 candidate Paul Workman. On Oct. 21, his campaign confirmed that he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery in November. He has already promised to continue campaigning. The flip side, of course, is that he can also be campaigned against. While incumbent Democrat Valinda Bolton's first action after the announcement was to offer her sympathy to her opponent, supporters of Libertarian Kris Bailey have been targeting the GOPer as a fake conservative.
Rob Morrow, former delegate to the state Republican convention, has been leading the charge against Workman, whom he accused of being "a typical Republican statist." Hammering the developer for his support of toll roads and development subsidies, he reserved particular vitriol for Workman's TV ad attacking Bolton for voting against Texas' version of Jessica's Law: Bolton was among a group of lawmakers who, with the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, argued that certain clauses would increase the risks for victims and decrease prosecutions of sexual predators, the intended target. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled similar clauses in a Louisiana law unconstitutional. Bolton's 2008 GOP opponent Donna Keel tried the same smear tactic, even though Bolton has served as the training director for the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Condemning Workman's misrepresentation of Bolton's vote, Morrow said, "When you have nothing to say about small government issues, you use sleazy diversionary tactics."
Not all Democrats can take succor from Morrow's attacks – in fact, he criticizes Sen. Kirk Watson for being too close to Workman and Gov. Rick Perry – but Workman's Libertarian troubles suggest a broader problem for the Texas GOP. While he has conceded that odds of the Libertarian Party winning any state House or statewide seats are still long, Libertarian Party of Texas Chair Pat Dixon says his candidates will make a bigger difference this year than ever. "The tea party effort has exposed some people to some of the concepts" of libertarianism, he said – the question is whether on Nov. 2 "those tea party votes will go to social conservatives or toward Libertarians." While he expects some bump from Democrats disappointed in the current administration's failure to deliver on social liberties issues, he believes the GOP remains most threatened by his members: "Those people that think that, all of a sudden, if we elect Republicans back to the state government or to Congress, everything's going to change – well, we've been there before."