by BRAD ROLLINS
Editor and Publisher
In an election year display of bipartisanship, State Rep. Patrick M. Rose, a San Marcos Democrat, welcomed Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, a San Antonio Republican, to a fundraising reception last week at a Driftwood winery.
The $100-a-person event was closed to the press but people who attended estimated a crowd of at least a couple hundred. Fewer than a dozen Republicans protested alongside FM 150 outside the venue’s gate, including supporters of Jason Isaac, a Dripping Springs Republican who is running against Rose in the November general election.
“We must rid our party of all the ‘RINOs’ such as Strauss who compromise while in their positions,” said San Marcos-area GOP precinct chair Naomi Narvaiz, employing a dismissive acronym for “Republican In Name Only.”
Acknowledging outrage from local Republican Party loyalists, Hays County GOP Chair Kent “Bud” Wymore said, “Of course, Republicans are disappointed.”
“The two big, important things leading up to an election like this are party unity and party morale. This definitely is the kind of thing that can hurt party unity and party morale,” Wymore said, repeating what he said he told Straus in a telephone conversation last week. “What we have to do now is look to November and make sure we have a unified party and that spirits are high.”
Skewered by a handful of right-leaning political blogs, Straus publicly downplayed his appearance at the Rose event as a “courtesy” to a House colleague. A spokesperson for Straus told Dallas Morning News reporter Robert T. Garrett, “If he’s asked by an incumbent and it’s in the Austin area and he can go, he goes.”
Rose has a history of reaching across party lines to work with Republican Speakers of the House. He was an ally of former Speaker Tom Craddick from 2003 until 2007 when he seconded Craddick’s nomination on the house floor at the start of the session but had joined his detractors by adjournment.
Early in 2008, Rose emerged as one of 85 legislators pledged to Straus in the speaker’s race thereby ensuring Straus would unseat Craddick before the session even began. Sraus allowed Rose to keep his chairmanship of the House’s Human Services committee, a position Craddick put him in in 2007.
Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of conservative PAC Empower Texans, told Garrett that Straus’ visit for Rose could damage Straus’ relationship with less moderate Republican legislators.
“It probably means he’s going to have to go to greater lengths to assure them that as speaker, he’s with them — because they’re going to be pretty critical,” Sullivan said.
The only obvious winner here is Rose who survives in Republican-leaning District 45 by pointing to bipartisan credentials as “a testament to my ability to bring people together to find difficult solutions to the problems facing us,” to use his words from a candidate debate earlier this year.
In his three re-election bids since 2004, Rose has won an average of 58 percent of the vote, although those who still think he’s beatable point out that two of those cycles, 2006 and 2008, he benefitted from a swift Democratic Party tailwind in Hays County. This year, momentum may favor Republicans.
In 2008, Republican nominee Matt B. Young did not win a single Hays County voting box, although those in which he came closest lie in the Dripping Springs area where Rose grew up and resided until he decamped this year to San Marcos.
Since setting up shop in the county seat, Rose has continued to forge in-roads in his opponent’s natural base. Rose plans, for example, a series of cocktail parties in coming months for younger voters with freshman San Marcos City Council member Ryan Thomason, who has emerged as that body’s budget hawk and conservative darling.Email | Print