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Mean Rachel And TPA Bloggers Leading The Fight On Texas Rep. Aaron Pena’s Shameful Betrayal Of His Constituents

Texas political blogger Rachel Farris has been leading the charge to draw attention to the sorry behavior of party-switching Texas State Representative Aaron Pena.

Ms. Farris, who writes the blog Mean Rachel, initiated “Call Out Aaron Pena Day.” The intent of this event was to encourage people to block Mr. Pena’s twitter feed, defriend him on Facebook, and, for those who gave Mr. Pena when he was running as a Democrat just last month, to ask for a return of campaign donations.

The Houston Chronicle wrote about Call Out Aaron Pena Day.

Ms. Farris also contends, correctly, that Mr. Pena should resign and run to win his seat as a Republican.

Mr. Pena is from Edinburg, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. This district Mr. Pena claims to represent is strongly Democratic.

Things Mr. Pena will now support as a Republican, such as drastic cuts in social services and often harsh views towards persons not of Anglo origin, will not be of service to the people of Mr. Pena’s district  who thought they were electing a Democrat.

Please visit Mean Rachel and follow her ongoing efforts to bring Mr. Pena to account.

Mean Rachel is a member of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The blog you are reading and many others are also TPA members. These bloggers took a leading role in call Out Aaron Pena Day.

TPA bloggers will be working hard in the months to come to be a center of opposition to the far-right Texas Legislature.

We all have the ability to take action, to fight back, and to make preogress.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Party Switching In The Texas Legislature—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

With the round-up this week, I’ll offer a few thoughts on the prospect of some of our Democratic state legislators in Texas switching parties.

State Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland has switched to Republican and Rep. Aaron Pena of Edinburg is considering doing the same.

None of this is surprising. Before Mr. Ritter’s defection, Republicans held a 99-51 edge in the House. There is not much to be said for Democratic prospects in the 2011 legislative session.

Politicians are likely go where they can have influence and can get the best deal. In the case of Mr. Ritter, it seemed probable he would lose his seat in 2012 given the political trends in his district.

It’s easy to get mad at these traitors and potential traitors, but is should be noted that the way we run our Texas legislature mutes partisan affiliation. While it would seem the ideological gap between the two parties is such that switching seems unlikely, the fact is party identification in the legislature often takes a backseat to a process that leaves voters guessing just where the person who represents them in Austin really stands.


* Votes for the position of Speaker of the House involve legislators of one party voting for a candidate of the other party.

* Committee chairs and vice-chairs are often persons of the minority party.

* Democrats supported former far-right Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick  for years and they got away with it for long enough to do plenty of damage.

* There is no formal majority leader and minority leader position in the House and Senate.

In this context, there is a measure of coherence in switching parties. Rather than a hard and fast identification to one or the other major party and to the values voters count on that party to represent, state legislators work in a system where loyalty is to individuals and to unseen influences.

I realize that control by murky and unseen forces embodies how politics works around the nation. But must we exacerbate these tendencies by making them institutional?

The whole system is lousy. The Speaker should be selected by the majority caucus, and the majority party should run the chamber as elected to do by voters.

In any case, it is hard to muster full outrage at the party switchers when many on both sides of the aisle in Austin have long embraced a system that rewards partisan double-dealing.

Here is some history of party switching in Texas.

Here is a history of the Texas Leguisture up until 1995 from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

Here’s the round-up—-

Off the Kuff takes a look at the HHSC report on the effects of dropping Medicaid. Short answer: It would be bad, but what they really have in mind to do may be even worse.

Bay Area Houston has some interesting comments on the criminal probe of State Representative Joe Driver.

Capitol Annex takes a look at a dangerous proposal by incoming State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) to allow independent school districts to lessen the amount of cash reserves they are required to keep on hand and explains why this is a terrible idea.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a look at the shortfall in the Texas budget, and also covers the week in headlines. Continue reading

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment