The Independent's Story

The Democrats want to take back Texas. Many independents are leaning Democratic this year, so some of us don’t necessarily mind. What we do mind are those Democrats and Republicans who don’t have our story straight.

Remember the redistricting shoot out in 2003? That’s when Gov. Rick Perry called three oh so special sessions, and the Democrats went to Oklahoma. Tom DeLay had already funneled campaign contributions (through House Speaker Craddick) to Republican Texas House candidates who were delivering for “The Hammer” on his plan to redraw Texas Congressional districts. (Note: we independents grant the Republicans they were wronged by the Democrats in 2001 in one of the most effective gerrymanders in US history. But didn’t we all learn in grade school that two wrongs don’t make a right?)

But I digress. Enter State Rep. Mike Krusee, chair of the Texas House Transportation Committee, acting, we can presume, on behalf of his political boss, Rick Perry. Two weeks before the end of the ’03 regular session on redistricting, Mike slips a 300 page bill on legislator’s desks to implement the Trans-Texas Corridor and the so-called public-private partnership toll roads.

A reliable source told me that former Texas House Speaker, Pete Laney, who sat on Krusee’s committee at the time, even warned Krusee. He told him that if he pushed the legislation, it would come back on him. It did. Now Krusee is looking for a new job. Perhaps he believed what Perry, Craddick, DeLay, and John Cornyn were saying. The Republicans were on their way to complete political control of Texas. Once they rammed a mid-census redistricting on the Democrats, something that had never been done before, they would cement their super-majority for decades to come.

A funny thing happened, though, on the way to the 2006 Governor’s race. First and funniest, was Kinky Friedman. Second, was One Tough Grandma, who broke with the Republican Party, and ran independent. Carole Strayhorn took with her the activists and donors (Republicans, Democrats and independents alike), who were fighting the Trans-Texas Corridor, the tollways and for political reform. Although the independents failed to unify behind one candidate, the combined votes for the two independents were 31,000 ahead of the Democratic nominee. Tragically (for all Texans), Rick Perry, aka “Governor 39%”, squeaked by while beating his chest telling us, ‘I get to govern 100% of the time’.

What’s the solution to this madness? Both parties must give up their redistricting weapons. We need a non-partisan redistricting process like the process Iowa has been using successfully since 1980. Voters need to step up and demand some truth — from both sides. The truth about the Corridor is that it has nothing to do with transportation (it just happens to be a road). It’s not even about privatization. It’s about power, influence peddling, and hundreds of billions of dollars wrapped into a scheme to put the Republican Party in complete power. Federal officials, like US Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Michael McCaul, and others, for years, have been answering constituent’s pleas for help telling them that the Corridor was either a figment of their imagination, or a “state issue” and to “call your state representative”. They all need to get on down Perry’s toll roads this November. And, we’re hoping that some of their replacements will get the independent’s story straight. Independents not only like, but also thrive on, competitive elections. End of story.

Linda Curtis, one of the founders of Independent Texans

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