Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples made a stop on his book promotion tour/campaign for Lt. Gov. in Kemah last week at a Clear Lake Tea Party meeting. I wanted to go for the same reason I went to a couple of stops by Jerry Patterson the previous week: to get an early feel for the candidates that are aiming at Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
As this was a meeting with a specific topic, I didn’t get a large spectrum of campaign points but I did get an in-depth look at Mr. Staples’ positions regarding immigration, which is still the most important problem facing Texas in the minds of Republican primary voters. He seemed to have the same approach to the issue as Mr. Patterson did – separate the people wanting to work from the criminals, giving law enforcement a smaller target. He emphasized repeatedly that we do not have enough border patrol agents and claimed that 50% of the current apprehensions on the border between Brownsville and McAllen were from “OTM’s” (other than Mexicans).
He did talk a lot about the importance of cross-border trade, stating that Mexico was the number one trading partner of Texas and that 96% of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, stressing that we need access to those markets without giving up our sovereignty. One of the more interesting comments for me came when he was talking about free markets and why people are crossing into our country. I think he hit the nail on the head without meaning to and that his position will cause voters to hesitate as they think about it. He stated that the reason that we have such a large border/illegal immigration problem is that our government has denied access to a workforce to an economy that is demanding one. Here is that snippet:
You really need to listen to that clip because it contains an awful lot of information. Information that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst can use in a primary for certain but also information that we can all use to understand the broader problem of illegal immigration. We have a labor market without enough workers. Poor countries have plenty of workers but no market for labor. If we really, truly believe in “free markets”, wouldn’t we open our labor markets to workers regardless of their citizenship? Just a thought. But please, listen to that clip no matter what you think of my position. You can also watch it in the video below starting around the 23:10 mark.
Mr. Staples briefly outlined his six step “solution” to the border problem. These steps are also in the book he was giving away “Broken Borders, Broken Promises” – you can click here to get a copy from Amazon. These steps are on page 149:
- Secure our border
- Enforce our laws
- Document all immigrants
- Mandate country-of-origin application for citizenship
- Reform failed visa system
- Ports must be modernized
I won’t go into detail on each because the book expounds on them and I’m sure if you attend one of his functions you can get a free copy if you don’t want to pay the ten bucks to Amazon. They are pretty generic solutions that you’ve heard before.
After his speech, there was a question/answer session and I think this was his weakest area. When asked directly if he supported the so-called “Texas Solution”, he was hesitant to say a direct yes or no – it was quite obvious in his prepared remarks that he is for it but still he seemed to wanted to leave some room to maneuver later if he needed to. He actually said that he’d need to go back and read it because it “had been awhile”. I doubt that answer was satisfactory to the person asking it, especially since the “Texas Solution” has been at the forefront of most talk about illegal immigration in Texas.
The way he answered that question was reminiscent of the way he avoided answering Brad Watson of WFAA directly when asked about his vote on the Texas Dream Act back in 2001. Watson is correct that Mr. Staples made an error in his book about the passage of that act. On page 69 of the book, Mr. Staples asserts that the bill was passed unanimously in the Senate, apparently to deflect from the fact that he voted for something that hurt Gov. Perry badly during his failed run for President. If you look up the Senate journal record from that vote, this is what you find:
RECORD OF VOTES
Senators Jackson, Nelson, and Wentworth asked to be recorded as voting “Nay” on the passage of CSHB 1403 to third reading.
HOUSE BILL 1403 ON THIRD READING
Senator Van de Putte moved that Senate Rule 7.18 and the Constitutional Rule requiring bills to be read on three several days be suspended and that CSHB 1403 be placed on its third reading and final passage.
The motion prevailed by the following vote: Yeas 27, Nays 3, Present-not voting 1.
Yeas: Armbrister, Barrientos, Bernsen, Bivins, Brown, Cain, Carona, Duncan, Ellis, Fraser, Gallegos, Harris, Haywood, Lindsay, Lucio, Madla, Moncrief, Ogden, Shapiro, Shapleigh, Sibley, Staples, Truan, Van de Putte, West, Whitmire, Zaffirini.
Nays: Jackson, Nelson, Wentworth.
Present-not voting: Mr. President.
The bill was read third time and was passed by the following vote: Yeas 27, Nays 3, Present-not voting 1. (Same as previous roll call)
As you can see, it was not unanimous. Three Republican state senators voted against the bill. I’m sure we’ll see this vote time and time again during the primary.
As for my initial impression of Mr. Staples, he connected well with his audience and is a bit more aggressive than Jerry Patterson. He reminds me a bit of Gov. Rick Perry in style, with a lot of Aggie references and self-deprecating humor. Patterson has been around a bit longer, perhaps that is why he seemed more comfortable answering any question with a straight answer, no hesitation. Granted, this was only one showing and it was a limited topic, but he didn’t seem to the same type of confidence that Patterson had in his core beliefs. Perhaps as I get to know him during the campaign, I can write off the “hesitancy” to the early stages of a broader campaign. The Clear Lake Tea Party is planning a forum for all of the Lt. Gov. candidates for October 3rd.
It was great to see Congressman Randy Weber out and about. You know you’re doing your job as a Republican lawmaker when the far-left Burnt Orange Report attacks you continually.
You can watch Mr. Staples complete speech (not the question/answer period) in this video:
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