Some primaries separate the partisans from the pretenders, the moderates from the true believers. Not so here in Texas, where we just had our primaries, and Republicans are arguing over who won the circular firing squad.
Republicans did some spring cleaning. Despite getting more than $1 million to take on the state senate's only pro-choice Republican, Elizabeth Ames Jones lost. This is probably a good thing for everyone, as Jones is so dumb she once said "Pass" to a question in a debate. Also ending up on the losing side is state Rep. Marva Beck, who made such a faint impression in Austin that the only thing people can remember about her is the time she campaigned on a Segway.
But that's just the chips and dip of this particular buffet of losers. When you look at who lost in the Republican Primary, you start to realize that Texas is about to lose some of its local color.
Fans of lady parts will be happy that tea party favorite Sid Miller was forced into a runoff. He drew opposition from the Texas Parent PAC and Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a pro-public school PAC and a pro-business PAC not usually on the same side. Miller is the father of the transvaginal ultrasound bill that gives women seeking abortions the shocking news that they are pregnant. As if being lampooned in Doonesbury wasn't legacy enough for one man, Miller also is the one responsible for making it legal for Texans to hunt feral hogs from helicopters, because we weren't already having enough fun with guns.
Conservatives split a different way on state Rep. Leo Berman, another casualty of the circular firing squad. Doctors, business groups, tort reformers and even Rick Perry endorsed him. This time the Parents PAC joined forces with the tea party against Berman, who is truly one of God's special children. Anderson Cooper once had Berman on CNN to talk about his "birther" bill because "we have a president whom the American people don't know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place." This is the greatest question posed by a Texas Republican since George W. Bush noted, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
The Parent PAC and the tea party teamed up against another Rick Perry-backed representative appropriately named Wayne Christian who will no longer be able to alert the world to the dangers of "pansexualism." Christian held up a critical special session with his amendment to ban colleges from using tax dollars or university facilities for a gender and sexuality center "for students focused on gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, transgender, gender questioning, or other gender identity issues." The debate over pansexualism went on so long one Friday it nearly prevented the legislature from cutting $5.4 billion from public schools.
Speaking of that $5.4 billion haircut, Rob Eissler, the chairman of the Public Education Committee, also went down Tuesday despite Rick Perry's backing. Eissler lost to a guy who bills himself as a combination minister and pool builder. One former legislative aide told me that the House will miss his institutional knowledge of public school funding and curriculum. The press corps is pretty clear they'll miss his love of punny dad humor.
Another Republican who went down in the pro-public school, pro-tea party crossfire was East Texas' Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, best known among female legislative staffers for his unwelcome slaps on their butts. His African-American tea party opponent attacked him for tax liens, ethics fines and even using campaign funds for a $100 lunch at Hooters. But in Austin Tuffy will be best remembered for interrupting the buxom state Rep. Marisa Marquez as she debated funding for Franklin Mountain State Park.
"Young lady, would you please tell us why your mountains are better than any of our mountains and are they man-made or are they real mountains?" Tuffy asked. For this, Texas Monthly gave him a dishonorable mention, which gives you an idea just how hard you have to work in Texas to achieve true infamy.
Hilariously, Tuffy told the Texas Observer that he was -- say it with me -- "taken out of context."
Fittingly, Hamilton once dressed up in a purple dinosaur costume on the House floor to dramatize the need to pick a new official state dinosaur. It seems the previous state dinosaur was based on a misidentified fossil. Now even Tuffysaurus Rex is extinct in Austin.
It's days like this that people say, "If only Molly Ivins were still alive."