San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 24th, 2010
Rose, Backus exchange barbs in league debate

022410rosebackusChallenger Andrew Backus, left, and State Representative Patrick Rose, right, at the San Marcos League of Women Voters debate earlier this month.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Associate Editor

Four-term State Representative Patrick Rose and Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) Director Andrew Backus traded jabs at the San Marcos League of Women Voters debate earlier this month as the two contest the Democratic nomination for Rose’s seat in the March 2 primary.

Rose suggested that Backus is a “one-issue candidate,” alluding to HTGCD’s attempts to gain greater funding and authority through the state legislative process. Backus said Rose is hard to work with, adding that the incumbent is “disingenuous,” “slick,” and a “professional.”

However, Backus had more to say about Rose than about the issues. Asked about the state’s role in providing social service funding, Backus froze, then conceded that he had no answer.

Rose, who chairs the House Committee on Human Services, pounced on the question, saying he “led the effort” to make nursing homes safer and add 150,000 children to the state’s CHIP (Children Health Insurance Program).

“We do not have the luxury of one-issue candidates in this district,” Rose said. “Health and human services is one of the most important issues facing Central Texas. I’m going to continue to work on it. I’ve led as chairman.”

Backus said his catalyst to run for office was “continually running into a brick wall” when trying to work with Rose on HTGCD legislation. Backus said Rose favors special interests ahead of the constituents of House District 45, which covers Hays, Caldwell and Blanco Counties.

“(Rose) is one of the leading recipients of special-interest money from outside the district that he represents,” said Backus, adding that Rose accepted contributions from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who contributes to the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth group that attacked U.S. Senator John Kerry’s (D-Massachusetts) during the 2004 presidential election.

Rose said he has a record of bringing people together to find “difficult solutions to the problems facing us.” Rose said his record demonstrates his ability to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats and Republicans alike.

“All of these issues demand that we bring people together who often time disagree,” Rose said when asked if it matters who contributes to his campaign.

Asked how to keep college tuitions affordable, Backus said “I don’t have all the answers at this point” but, he said, he would deliberate with experts. Backus also pointed to Rose voting to deregulate tuition in 2003 and now wanting to lower costs.

“(Rose) tends to play both sides of the coin,” Backus said.

Rose said it’s critical that Texas State be “excellent” and “affordable” for students

“Mr. Backus confuses playing with both sides with working with both sides,” Rose said. Rose added that arguments exist for tuition regulation and deregulation. Rose said he voted for tuition deregulation because “looming” budget cuts of up to 10 percent necessitated flexibility.

Defending his vote to deregulate tuition, Rose said he added an amendment to the legislation requiring that 20 percent of the new monies to universities be allocated for student scholarships. Rose said Texas State has granted $12.7 million in such scholarships “because of my work.”

But Rose said he now favors tuition regulation because the legislature has used deregulation as an excuse for not funding colleges and universities. Rose said he has worked for tuition regulation in the last two sessions.

When the candidates were asked what they can do for lower-level education, Backus said he didn’t have the answers now, but that he understands that the funding system for education in Texas is a “mess.” Backus said he would look to teachers, principals, local administrators, and constituents for solutions.

Rose said $1.9 billion in new money is available for public education because of his work and the work of others. Rose said there are nine school districts in his representative district, all with different socio-economic backgrounds and growth rates, though, he said, there is a common thread.

“What unites everybody in every community in this district is a commitment to public education,” Rose said. “It’s the most important thing we have going for child growth. It’s the most important definer of quality of life. We have to continue to invest.”

Rose said a problem in politics is that people don’t want to work with one another. Rose said that’s the difference between him and Backus.

“We have got to bring people together across party aisles, across geography, to do the important things like building jobs, grow universities, protect the hill country, road and water infrastructure on the corridor,” Rose said. “We have got to do that through consensus. That’s the leadership style that I’ve brought and that’ll be the leadership style that I will continue as your state representative.”

Backus conceded early in the debate that he is “clearly swimming upstream here. Representative Rose has a great deal of support.” Backus said he “believes in consensus” and will work for his constituents, rather than “special interests.”

Backus said Rose offered HTGCD legislation that would be funded by rate payers of Aqua Texas, which according to its website, serves more than 155,000 in 51 counties across Texas. Now, Backus said, Rose’s website states that the incumbent will fight against Aqua Texas rate increases.

“It’s disingenuous what he’s offering,” Backus said. “It’s slick. He’s professional. He’s got more money than most other Democrats.”

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0 thoughts on “Rose, Backus exchange barbs in league debate

  1. Backus never responded to my email inquiring what he would do for the towns along the IH-35 corridor if he were elected. I can’t vote for someone who doesn’t even bother to respond to me nor is willing to even try and address my concerns. I suspect that if I had asked his opinion on water issues, he would have responded quickly. My email was sent to him just days after he announced. I have to agree with Rep. Rose on this one. Backus is a one-issue candidate and Hays County, as a whole, would not be well served by him. It’s almost as though he is running as a publicity stunt for the HTGCD. I don’t always agree with Rep. Rose, but he has ALWAYS responded to all enquiries I have made of him.

    By the way, how come Backus didn’t have to resign from the HTGCD board before running for another office? Anybody know the answer to that?

  2. Barton endorses Rose
    Rose endorses Barton
    Barton minion, Lila Knight, emails Backus, Rose’s opponent, with trick question.
    Backus doesn’t take the bait.
    Lila Knight bad mouths Backus on blog and praises Rose.

    Who do you think you are fooling Lila?

  3. “My problem with Rose is he can’t seem to tell the truth. When people around the Capitol use the phrase ‘I’ve been Rosed’ to mean they’ve been lied to, there’s a problem.”
    — Former State Comptroller, John Sharp

  4. If Mr. O’Dell is Bauckus’ campaign manager, he is in a world of trouble.

    I didn’t send him any trick question. Actually, my email to Backus was quite serious and very polite. I repeat what I said before – I cannot vote for someone who will NOT respond to potential voters. I have to assume that he will not respond to me as a constituent. The representative of our district needs to be able to address the concerns of ALL of the residents. And not just be a one-issue candidate. I gave Backus the benefit of the doubt on this one when he first announced for office. He failed. He should be able to respond to anyone’s concerns. Regardless of what side of the political aisle they are on. Courage. It takes lots of courage to run for office – and serve the people of the district.

    If Backus can’t answer a simple question about how he would address the needs of the people who live along the IH-35 corridor, then he shouldn’t be running for an office that encompasses 4 counties.

    I have to admit, when I witnessed him freezing up on that question at the SM LWV debate concerning what he would do for social services, I knew then that he was UNABLE to answer my question. This isn’t about politics. It’s about being able to serve the people of the district. If it’s not about water and the HTGCD board’s concerns – then Backus just can’t do the job. Sorry.

    Is Backus in the back pocket of O’Dell?

  5. Backus in the pocket of Mr. O’Dell is just down right scary. But hey, at least one person in the district would be well served….

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