COMMENTARY by BRAD ROLLINS
You might catch me grumbling about career politicians from time to time. I enjoy doing so as much as the next guy.
Lately, though, the trend in some quarters of the Republican Party of preferring any alternative against every incumbent is reaching absurd lows. It seems every outlier in a $200 suit thinks he’s a latter day Patrick Henry and every officeholder a cowboy boot-wearing King George.
This single-minded anti-establishment mood is so pronounced in two Hays County races that intra-party challengers apparently are seeking to turn not just incumbency, but residency, against their targets, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith and Hays County Commissioner Will Conley.
Damn those sneaky politicians and their schemes to live in the same community for a long time, making friends and neighbors! Some people apparently think we’d be better off with total newcomers with no roots or history at all among the people they seek to represent. Those people, therefore, have thrown their hats in the ring.
Take Smith’s main challenger, Richard Mack, who recently moved to Fredericksburg to run in Congressional District 21, which takes in a large slice of central Hays County including western San Marcos.
Mack is no fan of consistency. The former Arizona sheriff has switched parties four times that I can count — Democrat to Republican to Democrat to Republican – and engaged in some heavy petting with the Libertarian and Constitution parties along the way. He’s run for public office in three states — Arizona, Colorado and Texas — and now he’s auditioning to be your congressman versus Smith, the soft-spoken and courtly chair of the U.S. House’s judiciary committee.
Mack is looking to make political hay over Smith’s sponsorship of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act. But to make a statement on SOPA, Hays County Republicans will have to stomach Mack, who co-wrote a book with white separatist Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge fame and who keynoted the John Birch Society’s annual banquet in December.
Mack sounds like a colorful character, for sure, but the award for must shiftless aspiring local politician certainly goes to Sam Brannon, who little more than two years ago was bumming around Europe and Asia, posting naked photos on the Internet under the pen name Alias Jones. When he returned from his travels, Brannon announced his bid to run for Congressional District 25 as an independent, with a campaign headquartered in the Dallas suburb Richardson.
He raised nearly $6,000 for that bid, wrote generous checks to himself with the donated money and dropped out of the running in time to surface in Hays County as vocal supporter of County Judge candidate Bert Cobb. He fell out with Cobb shortly after the November election when Brannon demanded a job, a car and a $2,500 loan for services rendered during the campaign. Cobb refused and Brannon re-emerged in commissioners court days later as a vocal Cobb critic.
Now Brannon is running to be Cobb’s colleague on the Hays County Commissioners Court against Conley, who is seeking a third term as commissioner for the precinct that includes Wimberley and a large portion of western San Marcos. Brannon says he “works in education” and has told people he does consulting work for San Marcos CISD; he is a substitute teacher there. Conley is the owner of a successful small business. We’ll let you decide who has more real world experience.
The fearless crusader against government spending and the welfare state list as his residency on election filing documents the government-subsidized Mariposa senior apartments where his father is a resident. If he lives at Mariposa he’s a hypocrite who still lives with daddy; if he doesn’t live there, it begs the question whether he lives Precinct 3 at all.
There is always room for a robust debate about the size and role of government but the throw-the-rascals-out elements of the GOP are scraping the bottom of the barrel if they’re turning to the likes of Mack and Brannon to carry their banner.Email | Print