Updated: Jun 3
The Republican establishment, and every lobbyist this side of the Pecos to DC and New York City, targeted Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape for defeat in the May 24 Republican runoff.
Water and local control champion, Paul Pape, lost by 325 votes failing to become the Republican nominee for State Representative for Texas House District 17 --Bastrop, Burleson, Caldwell, Lee, and Milam counties -- home of the central Texas water wars.
Judge Pape will remain Bastrop County Judge until January 2023. In or out of office, we expect continued community service from Pape. He’s built that way.
In the middle of the heated runoff in this race with Rick Perry’s poodle, Stan Gerdes, Pape (pronounced “poppy”) was helping to raise funds for Elgin tornado victims. Gerdes and political operative Ed Johnson of Lee County (formerly Director of Harris County Voter Registration) attempted to hornswoggle veterans at the Armed Forces Day Commemoration in Giddings, Texas (Lee County). (That's Johnson to the left of Gerdes.)
While Pape refused to shake down donors to fund his campaign, covering most of the campaign costs himself, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and lobbyists galore were loading up Gerdes with campaign cash.
While Gerdes was calling Pape a "liberal," Gerdes took money from a New York PAC that donates more heavily to Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi!
The Latest on the Gerdes/Perry Gravy Train
Stan Gerdes spent at least $500,000 to win HD-17 by 325 votes. Texas Ethics Commission reports reveal Speaker Phelan kicked in at least $44,500. There may be more to see in Gerdes' July report. We have no idea how many people and PACs the Speaker directed to donate to Gerdes' coffers.
In the latest reports filed by Gerdes with the Texas Ethics Commission, we found 46 registered lobbyists who represent 449 different special interest groups and entities. They are a who's who in energy, real estate, insurance, builders, you name it.
On water, here are a few of the cities, counties, and water authorities involved in the Gerdes/Perry gravy train. They are interests from the City of Austin, Bryan, Garland, San Antonio, Harris County, Nueces County, LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority), the Lower Neches Valley Authority, the Sabine River Authority, San Antonio River Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, North Texas Municipal Water District, Texas Water Infrastructure Network, and the Upper Neches River Authority.
Then there are the plentiful natural resources grabbers on Gerdes' reports, including the railroads, the toll roads, and other powerful grabbers.
These people rightly see House District 17 and rural Texas as resource-rich. Obviously, they gave to Gerdes expecting an ally in the legislature who would help them plunder those resources for profit and NOT for the benefit of people who live in HD-17.
See Gerdes’ reports at the Texas Ethics Commission here.
Confused by the RINO, They Forgot the Elephant
Stan Gerdes, his political handler, former Governor Rick Perry, and their political consultants known for dirty tricks, used Pape’s non-partisan leadership to attack him as a “liberal.” Pape, an ordained minister, couldn’t be more conservative – socially and fiscally...at least in the OLD Grand Old Party (GOP), the Republican Party of Texas.
The new GOP has fallen prey to "red-meat" conservatism, taking the party into a form of political insanity. The new GOP has all but snuffed out genuine Texas conservatism -- based on private property -- our vast land and water resources.
Genuine conservatism in Texas has been on the skids for a long time, thanks to the nearly permanent incumbency of Rick Perry, who is a stranger to graceful retirement. Perry put up our land and water for hock long ago. The pushback from a gigantic cross-partisan coalition of Texans -- and our six years of hard labor -- defeated Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor, also known as the NAFTA highway.
The $200 billion TTC would have been the largest eminent domain seizure in Texas history, breaking independent farming by putting a scar across the richest farm soil in the world. The TTC debacle almost cost Perry his job when then Texas Comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, left the GOP to run as an independent for Governor against him in 2006. Perry lucked out with two independents in the race (including comic and author Kinky Friedman) and was re-elected but with only 39%. And just after his narrow reelection, Perry’s TTC went down in flames in the 2007 legislative session.
The Independent Movement is a Challenge to the OLD and NEW GOP
Rick Perry made his move to put Texas on the auction block again in 2013 and this time it worked all too well. He used state funds to poach businesses from other states, urging them to move to Texas as fast as possible in commercials. A selling point was our already low taxes to be augmented by giveaway tax subsidies from the controversial Texas Enterprise Fund.
Today, Texas government (local and state) is still giving big and unnecessary tax breaks to businesses that would come here anyway. Our article about the Samsung subsidies, "Samsung Subsidies Snooker," documents 30 years of 90% property tax reductions by the City of Taylor and 20 years of 90% property tax reductions by Williamson County, and HALF of Milam County's available groundwater per year!
The voracious hogs at the public trough in "The Lobby" -- Big Real Estate, Big Oil, Big Insurance, etc., couldn't have cared less about how this would bring us to today.
Texans are getting priced out of our homes, our water supply is threatened, our energy is destabilized, we face manmade flooding, and we even risk damage to aquifers that cannot be "fixed."
If the aquifers being sacrificed to Vista Ridge are damaged, we're talking game over for growth in Central Texas.
"The Lobby" is hereby on notice.
Local Control or Controlling the Locals
Former Texas House Speaker, Joe Straus, could have saved the Grand Old Party when the legislature went after local control in 2015. When folks in Denton -- largely Republicans -- passed setbacks for fracking facilities in their city, Straus was Speaker. Straus may have been working behind the scenes, but we saw no effort to stop the hysterical herd of legislators whipped into a frenzy by the oil and gas lobby from overturning an ordinance passed by the voters. After it was overturned (HB 40), Straus turned his head when one of his lieutenants, then Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland), tried to gut the 100-year law giving Texans the right to petition for a public vote in Texas municipalities. We were caught flat-footed when the anti-petition bill (HB 2595) handily passed the House. We quickly moved to bring together a cross-partisan coalition to kill the bill in a Senate committee.
Under Straus, the "Californiafication" of Texas water policy went into overdrive. The monstrous Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose pipeline picked the wallets of 1.8 million SAWS ratepayers with 58% rate hikes for an unnecessary project. Straus' constituents living in one of the poorest cities in America – San Antonio – are still getting hosed by the hose! (To be fair, Straus came out for local control in schools in 2021. We wrote about it here.)
Hats Off to Water and Local Control Allies Pape, Fischer and Dowell
We wish to thank Bastrop County Judge Pape, Lee County Judge Paul Fischer (who will be stepping down in January, as is Judge Pape), and former Giddings Mayor John Dowell, who just stepped down after eight years of service to the people of Giddings.
We are eternally grateful for your efforts to protect our water and local control.
In our humble opinion, any failures of non-partisan leaders like Pape, Fischer, and Dowell are due to state government denying our local officials the tools they need to deal with the hollowing out of rural Texas we witness today.
Political leaders, not hacks, are damn hard to replace. The most critical task of the independent movement is to find new leaders and school them right -- as non-partisans -- so they can make a real difference.
Join us to carry on. Millions of young people are counting on us.
There's more to the story about Gerdes and Perry in the News section at IndyTexans.org.