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The Rise and Fall of the Texas Republican Party

The Rove Machine

How did the Texas Republican Party, which was in the forefront of the battles to win the Republican presidential nomination for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, become a wholly owned subsidiary of Karl Rove and George W. Bush?

Today, the Republicans in Texas control every statewide elected office, yet it is hard to see much of a difference in policy matters from the time when centrist Democrats such as Lyndon Johnson, former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, and the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock (George W. Bush’s favorite Democrat) ran the state.  Our two Republican senators include a pro-abortion Rockefeller Republican (Kay Hutchison) and a Bush loyalist (John Cornyn) who was the deciding vote as a Texas Supreme Court jurist in upholding Gov. Ann Richards’ unconstitutional school-finance scheme (known as the “Robin Hood” plan).

Our elected state officials, with a few notable exceptions, have continued the business-as-usual approach of their Democratic predecessors.  In fact, two of our state officials, who happen to be feuding at the moment, are former Democratic officeholders.  Our comptroller, Carole Strayhorn, was the former Democratic mayor of Austin, the liberal stronghold in Texas and home of the Molly Ivins crowd.  Strayhorn jumped ship and became a Republican as the state began to lean that way.  Her two sons work in the Bush administration, with Scott McClellan...

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