The Texas Senate race is off to a bracing start. After Ted Cruz, backed by the party of tea, gave the Perry supported Dewhurst a drubbing at the polls... heads turned and eyes rolled. Pundits on the right began pontificating about the fading influence of the old guard Republicans and folks on the left started feasting on the delicious nuttiness of Ted (his given name is Rafael) Cruz' more outrageous statements.
Now to be sure Mr. Cruz has made some eye-popping assertions. He believes that U.N. Agenda 21, a treaty that explores sustainable development, is a threat to our very sovereignty. He believes that the folks at International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives( ICELI) with the backing of Jewish bogey man George Soros are secretly developing a plan to force people out of the suburbs into tiny "Hobbit sized" homes crammed into city centers. Yes! Be afraid! They are also plotting to do away with grazing pastures, golf courses and paved roads! So says the so-called "intellectual leader" of the Tea party. Startling to be sure and yet a peek at the ICLEI web-site does not reveal even a hint of these nefarious goals. There was a prototype for a bicycle library, where folks can try out different types of bikes to see which one they might want to invest in. Ah but that could be a slippery slope... bike pedaling could be the first step on the road to no roads!!!
The left began to wring its hands, the right began to rub them together with glee and Texans mostly shook their heads. Folks down here are getting used to being represented by some fairly odd folks. (Spend a minute on Louie Gohmert's website if you want to hear yourself repeat over and over again: "What in the World?") The news of this victory went far and wide and yet there was another victory in that primary. Indeed a decisive one... about which nary a word was spoken.
Paul Sadler easily won the nomination as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. He is a credible seasoned politician. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1991 through 2003. He chaired quite a few committees, passed some important pieces of legislation, won a number of awards and honors and served his state with pride and devotion. An eloquent man, he has been quoted time and again by authors covering that remarkable period in Texas history. And yet we have heard almost nothing about him. The Young Turks had a field day savaging Cruz and casually referred to Paul as "Some guy running against him... I think his name is Schafer."
I have some news for those of you who do not live in Texas. There are Democrats here. You would not know it to look at the national news or even much of the local news, but the joint is crawling with 'em. There are the Castro brothers out of San Antonio, Anise Parker in Houston, Lloyd Doggett, who has had to move three times due to punitive redistricting and yet triumphs again and again and Sheila Jackson Lee who famously serves along side him in US Congress. In the major cities local politics is more often than not dominated by Democratic officials. Texas gave you LBJ, Anne Richards and Molly Ivins for Christ-sakes! Here is another important tidbit of information. A lot of the Republicans in this state are moderates and even, dare I say it "swing voters." I know, I know. Texas also gave you George W. Bush, Tom DeLay and the odious Karl Rove and for that most folks are deeply sorry, but trust me on this, Democrats and Moderates of both stripes exist and in spite of or maybe because of the aforementioned mistakes, our ranks are growing.
There are a lot of factors contributing to the quiet around Paul Sadler's candidacy. Folks are talking about it, but doing so behind closed doors. People keep pulling him aside and saying sotto voce " You've got my vote, but I cannot support you publicly" Now why you ask, is there a culture of fear around this race in the liberal bastion of Austin? I am told that the Perry/ Dewhurst stranglehold on this state is pretty fierce. They control a lot of of the political giving and can be downright brutal about enforcing who gives what to whom and when. Ironically, while they were busy twisting arms and raking in record amounts of cash here, the Cruz money flooded in from out of state. Jim De Mint and the Koch brothers sent in the big bucks and crowned one of their own right under Perry's nose. So that should be that right? Why are folks still afraid to support the opposition to the opposition? I do not know the answer, but it is about time someone asked the question.
This is the environment that Paul Sadler is running in and it is hard to decide whether that makes him brave or crazy. Cruz is easy... he's just plain crazy, but Sadler is a tougher call. Why is this very good man going up against what everyone is saying are very bad odds? When I put this question to him he answered " There are too many folks in politics just trying to get attention or trying to get rich or both. There are folks like Ted Cruz who just carry on and on about what they want you to be afraid of and who they want you to hate. We need leaders who are FOR something, people who will take the reins and guide us toward solutions. The Senate is a deliberative body, we need to elect responsible citizens. Ted Cruz has never run for office, he has never crafted legislation, he is running around the country with his fellow Tea Party leaders shouting about Muslims taking over the country and the U.N. coming to take your home. It's just silly really and insulting to our intelligence"
Everyone who knows him or knows of him speaks very highly of Sadler and it is easy to see why. He has the long striding gait of a confident man. His feet glide out in front, while his broad shouldered torso lags a beat behind, giving him time to view the lay of the land. He lives in Henderson among the piney woods of East Texas. He is as comfortable with a deer rifle as he is with a chairman's gavel. He is a good old boy who can make a simple clear case for marriage equality. He was raised by an oil man and understands fossil fuel production, but is excited by the prospects of alternative energy. He worked extensively with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), seeking to gain a full understanding of electricity markets and grid systems, then brought this knowledge to bear during his tenure as executive director of the Wind Coalition where he oversaw the creation of one of the world's largest energy markets.
During Sadler's tenure in the House he fought for cuts in property taxes and increased funding for education. Working with moderate republican Bill Ratliff he created The "Ratliff-Sadler Act" which revolutionized education in Texas and led to dramatic improvements in our schools. He fought to give health insurance to public school employees, a cause that hit home when his youngest son Sam was critically injured in an auto accident. The boy suffered severe brain trauma and Paul left public office to be by his son's side during a long and arduous recovery. Sam had to re-learn how to walk and talk and is now a successful student and an avid golf enthusiast. Sadler knows first hand how important it is that every Texan have access to first rate health care.
There is an old southern phrase used to describe a valiant horse. A horse that will give you everything he's got in a race to the finish line is said to run " deep through the heart." Paul Sadler is starting to raise real money and put together a smart savvy campaign. It will be a tough fight to be sure, but I believe it is a fight worth having. Texas is a wealthy, influential state and it deserves to be represented by someone who cares about the real threats to our state and to the nation as a whole. We cannot just hand it over to Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin and their shrewd funders. We have the numbers, the resources and the time to put some muscle behind this man and get him elected. His campaign is not just a challenge to Ted Cruz, it is a challenge to every Texan who believes in reason and responsibility. I will end with a quote from Paul who once stood on the floor of the state house to call for the passage of the James Byrd Hate Crimes Bill:
"There are votes and bills that tell the world who we are, what we value, what we cherish, what we believe in... We can't end hatred and violence and bias and prejudice, but it is our duty to punish conduct that we find reprehensible, conduct that we believe is wrong. And who of you will stand and tell me that conduct based on hatred and bias and prejudice is anything but wrong."
We do not have to accept Ted Cruz and his paranoid vision of the world, we have an opportunity to elect Paul Sadler to the U.S. Senate. This is a vote that will tell the world who we are. We can win this if we believe in ourselves, if we are willing to do battle with the bullies on the far right. We have a choice between brave or crazy. I might be crazy, but I am going to stand beside Paul Sadler and his brave bid to be our Senator. We have a race to run and we can win it... if we are deep enough through the heart.