Well that’s what it felt like anyway. No where else in Fort Bend County could you get a free seat to watch the fun as ten declared candidates for the Republican nomination to run against Texas CD 22’s own Nick Lampson in November stretched and strained to be seen above the crowded dais. Prima Donnas abounded among the legendary, the infamous, and the “who-was-thats?”.
Yes, I attended the Rosenberg-Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum
last night at the Rosenberg Civic Center. A Republican candidate forum, since we had only the ten declared candidates for the Republican nomination for congressman.
I entered the foyer at exactly 6 PM, the startup time, only to see a well-dyed, well-coiffed crowd that literally seemed to burst in polyester, still holding a social hour as others struggled to find seats. Just as I claimed mine they called to the crowd to find their seats as they wanted to get started.
By my estimate, there were 80 to 90 present. Average age around 49, median age around 62. Media present included Channel 11 and local press. The Chronicle was mentioned but apparently arrived late
And speaking of arriving late, I counted nine little candidates on the dais just as I heard the Channel 11 media guy on his phone say to whoever he was talking to that Shelley Sekula Gibbs hadn’t shown up yet “but she’s always late”.
Marvin Marcell was the moderator of the evening. He presented the format. Each candidate had 3 minutes to introduce themselves, then each had been given a question that they had 1 minute 15 to respond to, then they ran three rounds where each candidate could answer any 3 of the 10 questions asked of the others. I can pull this thing together in several ways, but I’ve settled on 3 themes.What Republicans Want Lots Of
Guess what these candidates want most of all? Change. These Republicans have, apparently, Had Enough
of what is going on in Washington, D.C. Judge Jim Squier says Washington “isn’t listening to us”. Pete Olson says “our government spends too much” as does John Manlove who decries the “out of control spending” going on in DC. Dean Hrbacek dittoed: “spending is out of control, I am a CPA and I know how to cut spending”.
Spending, Wasteful government spending. That reality hasn’t really hit home with me yet, I guess, because all I could think of was all of the government programs Bush had vetoed in order to keep the War in Iraq and everything related to that at an absolute maximum level of funding. To give them credit, none but Olson laid this spending frenzy at the feet of the Democrats, but he did say that “the Democrats would make it worse”.
Guess what else
they all want? They want a fence on the border. Sekula Gibbs wants it made of bricks and mortar. Robert Talton sputtered and fumed about all this inability to get a fence built, sputtering and fuming about the illegal immigration issue in general: “we all upset about illegal immigration. What’s so hard?” Sekula Gibbs mentioned that we have to “make the employees responsible” for hiring illegal aliens (my thought is that she meant employers
, but well . . . maybe not). More than one demanded a policy that did not include “Amnesty”. Most who mentioned it said that illegal immigration was the number one issue facing Americans. No surprise there.The Three Neophytes Square Off
Three of the candidates, in an effort to marginalize themselves to the extreme, claimed that they “are not politicians”: Bazzy, Rowley and Klock, all political neophytes, all three of them said these words.
On immigration, Bazzy clearly seemed clueless. No one has told him that this is an issue to beat a drum on, but not one to take seriously. Bazzy pointed out to the crowd that the 9/11 terrorists all had legal visas, deflecting the deflection much to everyone’s dismay, and raised questions on lax visa procurement procedures.
On “Change” Rowley said some pretty puzzling stuff. On the one hand, he claims that Republicans of CD 22 “want change”, but also that “this district should never have gone to Nick Lampson”. I was thinking about that, and recalling the moderate Republicans I talked to in 2006, and decided Rowley had no idea what he was talking about – yes they wanted change and they got that (more often than not) in electing Nick Lampson.
Klock had some choice words to say about Iran, and clearly has the biggest axe to grind toward the Middle East of any of the candidates. Of the recent Iranian naval speedboat harassment he had this to say:
“If Iranians want their sailors dead the US Navy is the best way to go.”How Do You Separate Yourself From the Crowd?
That’s their main function here. They all hate illegal immigrants, they all seem to want the “fair tax”, none of them wants to make a try at health care reform, they all want to keep the “Bush Tax Cuts” (for the rich), they all want a glorious military victory in Iraq.
So how do you separate yourself?
Shelley Sekula Gibbs had an unique way. She stood up. One by one the gentlemen on the dais sat and spoke into their microphones, all down the line. Then came Shelley’s turn and she stood up. The woman is not short, even without her heels. That’s one way. Stand up. The other way is to extol your 7 glorious weeks in DC, which she did.
Oh, a Shelley factoid: How did Shelley get her Christian name? She said that her father worked for Shell Oil Company and she was named after her father’s employer. Gosh darn it, I thought I was the only one who had that idea, just ask my daughter, Exxona, and my son Phillips.
John Manlove thinks that he stands out from the rest in being one who has been around the block and knows the issues in CD 22 better than anyone else (well, the Galveston ones, anyway).
Cynthia Dunbar, our Lutheran State Board of Education candidate, says that she stands out as a conservative who has fought against a “liberal bureaucracy” at the Texas Education Agency. She also has a finely tuned vision on the war on terror. Dunbar, you see, is a student of history. She takes her lesson from Thomas Jefferson’s war on terror against the “Islamofacist Barbary Pirates”. She also seems to separate herself from the crowd by calling for abolition of “The National Endowment for the Arts”. I suspect that maybe she has seen too many paintings of naked people that were funded by the NEA, but that’s just me talking.
And Dean Hrbacek? How does he stand out? Well, he doesn’t. Not really. Not unless you count that speech impediment that the very expensive state-of –the-art audio system picked up very nicely, thank you. Might this have been what Dunbar was referring to when she mentioned how the eventual candidate will need a presence against a “very charismatic” Nick Lampson?
Just thinking out loud, here.