Johnson County Republicans celebrated their annual President’s Day Gala with two state senators and the wife of a third.
Mel Birdwell, wife of state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, served as the event’s emcee. Birdwell introduced the night’s speakers, state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-Allen, and state Sen.. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, as her second and third favorite conservative state senators.
The battle to keep Texas conservative and business friendly remains ever ongoing, both senators said before stating why they believe they’re the best candidates to assist in those efforts.
Paxton filed to run for attorney general after Attorney General Greg Abbott announced his intentions to run for governor. Paxton faces Dan Branch and Barry Smitherman in the Republican Primary with the winner facing Democratic candidate Sam Houston in November.
Paxton called Brian Birdwell a good friend and a fighter on the side of Johnson County and Texas values.
“Brian’s not only an American hero,” Paxton said. “But also one of the best legislators I’ve ever met.”
To the several local race candidates attending the gala, Paxton joked that he can’t vote for them.
“But I have family in Johnson County,” Paxton said. “So be nice to me and I’ll get word out to them.”
Paxton asked attendees to pray for him given that he has daughters aged 15, 17 and 18. Turning more serious, Paxton said his patriotism and call to service derives from his parents and spoke of accompanying his mother when he was young to see his father off to Vietnam.
State legislators typically deal with state issues, Paxton said, but the paradigm shifted in large part to focus on “intrusions by the federal government” after President Barack Obama’s election, he said.
Abbott, Paxton said, has done an admirable job in fighting such intrusions on the economic and political fronts — battles he plans to continue if elected attorney general.
“Economically, one third of all the jobs created in the U.S. have been created in Texas,” he said.
The fate of states favoring liberal policies, high taxation and regulation has been disastrous, Paxton said. Texas, he said, proves Obama and the Democrats wrong.
“Texas is a threat to Obama because we truly are Reagan’s shining city on a hill,” he said.
Politically, Obama’s administration has targeted Texas through attacks on voter ID laws and attempts to expand Medicare and Obamacare, Paxton said. Threats Abbott battled and threats Paxton vowed to battle as well.
Efforts underway to turn Texas blue, Democratic, also threaten the state, Paxton said.
“Look at Detroit from 1900 to about 1950, possibly the greatest industrial city ever,” Paxton said. “Since they’ve had a one-party system, and we know where they are now.”
Paxton said he knows voters through several cycles have heard politicians say this is the most important election in their lives, but stressed that this times it’s for real.
“All our Texas offices need to be conservative,” he said. “If we lose Texas [to Democrats] it will be disastrous for the United States.”
He urged attendees to look past the surface and study the records of candidates seeking offices this year.
“Obama is a good speaker and charismatic and popular,” Paxton said. “But if people would’ve looked at his record in 2008 they would have seen he was a disaster in the Illinois Senate and U.S. Senate.”
Paxton said less than 10 percent of eligible voters will bother to vote in the primaries and urged attendees of the gala to do their part.
“You all are the leaders in the community and people look up to you,” Paxton said. “Get out and work hard. Talk to people. Your influence may decide not just the fate of Texas but the fate of our country.”
Patrick is running for lieutenant governor. In the March 4 Republican Primary, Patrick faces incumbent David Dewhurst and challengers Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples. The primary’s victor will face Democratic candidate Leticia Van de Putte in November.
Patrick said he was reluctant to run at first, fearing the fate of the Texas Senate after he and Paxton left. Knowing that Birdwell and other “rock-solid conservatives” remain behind made his choice easier, Patrick said.
“We three arm wrestle to see who’s the most conservative,” Patrick joked.
Stepping up to the stage shortly before his speech to help Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford auction off one of the items available to raise money for the local party, Patrick couldn’t help but laugh.
“Why is it Texas sheriffs always look like sheriffs?” Patrick asked Alford. “I could come to town, walk around and see 100 people and the minute I saw you, even if you didn’t have your gun and badge on, I’d know that’s the sheriff of Johnson County.”
Patrick said he’s running for lieutenant governor on a platform of Christian conservative values.
“That’s who I am and that’s what guides me and I’m not ashamed to say it,” Patrick said.
Last legislative session’s filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, should never have happened, Patrick said. Davis gained national fame after she filibustered against a bill, which eventually passed during a special session, that placed restrictions on abortions.
Davis, who is running for governor, will not win, Patrick said, but the filibuster transformed Davis into a “rock star” who Texas and out-of-state Democrats and liberal groups have rallied around to “pound us Republicans through the next year to soften up the [Republican] party.”
Davis’ newfound fame has moved up to timetable on such group’s predictions and hopes that Texas will soon turn blue. Should Texas turn blue, the United States will not elect another Republican president in our lifetimes, Patrick predicted. But that’s unlikely to happen, Patrick said.
“[Democrats] are not going to take Texas,” Patrick said.
Patrick said he rejects argument that growth in the state’s Hispanic population portends a blue Texas.
“Hispanics are pro life and pro marriage,” Patrick said. “If we [as Republicans] turn our backs on God we will lose the Hispanic vote. But I truly believe in my heart of hearts that we as Christian conservatives care more about the poor and people of color than Democrats do. Democrats want to keep people down so they’re uneducated and poor and depend on the government to keep [Democrats] in power.”
Patrick also vowed to address border security and school choice issues if elected. Patrick joined Paxton in urging attendees to work to get the vote out.
“Of course, if you’re voting for someone other than me or Paxton, don’t tell a soul,” Patrick joked.