It’s interesting that Gov. Greg Abbott has snubbed incumbent state Rep. Wayne Faircloth and endorsed his opponent for Texas House District 23, political newcomer Mayes Middleton.

That endorsement also is the first thing voters interested in broad-based representation in Austin should scratch off their lists of candidate pros and cons.

That’s neither an endorsement of Faircloth nor a statement of opposition to Middleton, who strikes us as a bright, personable man and he’s clearly worked hard to meet and talk to voters in this part of District 23.

In fact, it’s hard to find a group bigger than two without someone who recently answered the door to find Middleton on his porch wanting to talk about the race.

What we’re saying is this: The last person we need representing us in Austin is someone who’s primarily Abbott’s pick. Middleton may be more than that, but this endorsement constitutes perhaps the first item of political baggage he’s accumulated in his short career. Not a lethal load, but something to be overcome.

What Abbott wants in the legislature is people who’ll support whatever Abbott and his special-interest backers want, whether that’s in the best interest of most of the people back home or not.

The governor proved to our satisfaction during the most recent regular and special legislative sessions that he’s mostly interested in consolidating power in Austin around a very narrow agenda of items important to hardly anybody but the far-right of the Republican Party, and bills designed to benefit big business by shifting most regulatory power to Austin.

He showed great disdain for both local governance and political compromise, both of which are fundamental to democratic government.

Abbott said it best himself as he lamented last year to a conservative special-interest group about the “patchwork of local regulations,” in the state.

“As opposed to the state having to take multiple rifle-shot approaches at overriding local regulations, I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says, across the board, the state is going to pre-empt local regulations, is a superior approach.”

As we’ve argued before, a patchwork of local regulations is a fair description of the 50 United States and results from the concept of states’ rights, which the Texas Legislature lists among the most fundamental and sacrosanct of our political ideals, whenever doing so is expedient to its agenda.

The governor and others in Austin were frustrated during the last session by not being able to pass every item of a long list of socially conservative bills and bills designed to gut local authority.

They were frustrated by opposition among Democrats, of course, but mostly by opposition among others in the GOP who disagreed about whether passing those bills was in the best interest of their constituents.

There’s a push now among political special-interest groups, such as Empower Texans, of which Middleton is a member, to prevent that from happening during the next session by purging the legislature of anyone not fully committed to every song in their hymnal.

Abbott took the unusual step of endorsing incumbent Faircloth’s opponent because Faircloth had the audacity to oppose a few things that Abbott supported.

Faircloth has proved that he’s willing to stand up for his constituents even against a powerful governor and some deep-pocketed special-interest groups pushing very narrow agendas.

What we need to see from Middleton is some indication that he would do the same.

What voters in District 23 should be asking is who the challenger would answer to in Austin — Abbott and Empower Texans or the people back home.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206;


(8) comments

Gary Scoggin

Amen. You very well explain the case why Abbott and Costello - er, Patrick - are anything but true Republicans. They’re not even very good Constitutionalists.

PD Hyatt

From what I have seen Mayes will be far better that Taylor. Taylor seems to stick his nose where it doesn't belong hoping to get votes from certain people when he should know that they will never vote for him.... Taylor seems like he will sell his whatever to be able to stay in office! Is this who we really want to represent us? We have enough of that from some of the people that represent Texas in Washington D.C.

Mary Branum

Middleton is running against Faircloth, not Taylor.
Rep. Faircloth and Sen. Taylor listen to their constituents; not what the Governor wants. They are both approachable and were invaluable to Galveston in preventing the preemption of local municipal authority by the State.

Carol Dean

There is a difference between "listening" and "hearing". Faircloth and Taylor will listen to anyone all day long, but that doesn't mean they heard the words. One of Taylor's favorite expressions is...Oh, I must have misunderstood what you said. Nobody can misunderstand as frequently as he can. Faircloth, just plane doesn't understand!

Gary Miller

After meeting and discussing issues with both I would prefer Mays Middelton by a wide margin. I don't see the Governors endorsement as a handicap.

Diane Brodie

Maybe Faircloth listens to some of his constituents but many, people who worked hard to put him in office, are saying he doesn't. Is supporting local government by voting to exempt the city of Galveston from a rollback tax vote by the people good for his constituents? Faircloth will vote for any taxing entity that comes his way. Look at the campaign finance reports. Yes, Middleton can finance his own campaign but that means no special interest groups own him and he has the loads of individual donations from "people". Faircloth has special interest PACs. Mainly insurance. If you think Joe Strauss acting like a Democrat, appointing Democrats to committees, including the Calendars Committee, being supported and voted in by Democrats and being praised by Democrats for being the only reasonable Republican in the state house is a leader our representative should follow rather than the Republican Governor we elected, then that's the problem with why we can't get school reform, property tax reform CPS reform, ethics reform passed. If you are a Republican, vote like one. Talk to Mayes Middleton and find out that he doesn't lockstep with anyone. He agrees with like minded individuals and groups, and works to influence the narrative. Attend a forum and listen to them. Although Faircloth won't show up at any that require him to debate, answer questions or talk for more than 3 minutes.

Curtiss Brown

I am very concerned about the Governor consolidating power in Austin and I don't understand why other citizens are not also concerned. Abbott clearly wants everything run from Austin and the wishes and hopes of the local communities are ignore and trampled upon. I understand that Faircloth is supported by the insurance industry, that is a concern because I pay far more in annual insurance than I do in annual property taxes. I expect him to vote with the insurance companies. However, I have no clue who or what Middleton supports, except the Governor seems to like him. Simple payback I guess. Just the same, what is clear to me is that the Governor wants to trample the rights of citizens in their own communities with their own elected officials. Maybe our fellow citizens haven't followed this centralizing attitude of the Governor. They should wake up to it. After you have lost your rights it is really hard to get them back.

Carol Dean

Concerned conservative voters all know that Faircloth is nothing more then a "kiss up" to Joe Straus. If you support the democrat party and like weak-kneed, spineless people, Faircloth should be just your type. If you want to see dramatic conservative changes made in your district and Austin, I suggest you learn all you can about Mayes Middleton, his accomplishments and his dedication to making much needed changes to our educational system here in Texas. Mr. Middleton is half the age of Faircloth with twice the amount of education, knowledge and class!

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