by BRAD ROLLINS
Editor and Publisher
In one of their few face-to-face debates, State Rep. Patrick M. Rose called challenger Andrew H. Backus a single-issue candidate in their battle for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Backus did his best to reinforce the charge.
Backus, a Driftwood resident, is running for Rose’s seat after the representative did not sponsor legislation expanding the funding and authority of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, whose board Backus once chaired. He returned to the subject repeatedly during his remarks at the San Marcos Area League of Women Voters last week in seeking to brand Rose as a career politician and opportunist.
“I have attempted to work with him for years to represent his constitutents on a particular issue and have continuously run into a brick wall. That is what has motivated my running,” Backus said.
But Backus apparently was caught off-guard with questions about fundamental issues the Legislature routinely addresses.
Asked his philosophy on social service spending, Backus repeated the question and then sat looking puzzled for most of his alloted time.
“I’m sorry. I’m just frozen,” he said.
Rose, meanwhile, breezed through a list of issues taken up by the House’s Human Services committee, which he chairs. He drew applause when he said, “We do not have the luxury of one-issue candidates in this district.”
The tone of the exchange was repeated later when Backus managed a general answer about his views for secondary and primary school education while Rose rattled off a number of endorsements and legislative votes. The incumbent picked up steam when answering a pointed question about his legendary fundraising prowess and million-dollar campaigns.
Rose said, “The fact that I have broad support from Democrats and Republicans across this district and across Texas is a testament to my ability to bring people together to find difficult solutions to the problems facing us.”
Backus reminded voters that Rose accepted contributions from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who was one of the chief financiers of Swiftboat Veterans for Truth’s attacks on presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.
But Backus conceded, “I’m clearly swimming upstream here. Representative Rose has a great deal of support.”