Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Media: Texas is a One-Party State

An incredible feeling of freedom swept over me when I walked out of a newsroom for the last time. For the first time in decades, I could openly express a political preference and opinion. Journalists, bound by ethical standards, keep those views to themselves.

The campaign manager for a mayoral candidate years ago was convinced that I hated her candidate when in fact, I voted for him. I could not let it show. Reporters must be objective. Reporters must stick to reporting facts.

So, I’ve been disturbed by the reportage of the Ted Cruz/David Dewhurst runoff. I was shaken by this assertion by The Austin American-Statesman’s Ken Herman: “There’s no doubt we’re a one-party state.” Really? That news may come as a surprise to former lawmaker, Democrat Paul Sadler who will face Ted Cruz in November.

True, no Democrat has won a statewide office since 1994, but does that mean that Texas is a one-party state? Does that mean that the Democratic Party in Texas should simply save its money, bolt the doors, and move to New England where the colors are shades of blue? Should journalists make these leaps of logic?

I don’t want to hammer Herman alone. After all, much of what he writes nowadays is opinion, and it’s great stuff. The problem is that the piece in today’s paper (August 1, 2012) wasn’t presented as a column. Herman is an excellent reporter, and the story appeared as analysis. Opinions, however, should be put in the context of a quotation from a source.

I’m boiling over now after having stewed in this political pot for several weeks. During the Belo runoff debate between Cruz and Dewhurst seen in Austin on KVUE-TV (ABC), one of the moderators was trying to frame a question. He said something like this, “One of you will be the next Junior Senator from Texas, and …” I gasped. I might imagine that Paul Sadler might have thrown a shoe at his television if he was watching.

Did that TV talking head forget that we have an election the first Tuesday in November, and that election will decide who is the next junior US Senator from Texas?

Back to the Statesman stories concerning the runoff election. The front page story by Kate Alexander stuck to the facts, but mention of the Democratic Party opposition was one paragraph on the “jump page”. It acknowledged that Sadler “handily” won his contest. Then, she couldn’t resist throwing in the fact that “a Democrat last won a statewide seat in Texas in 1994.

Much has been made that Cruz, who has never held elective office, had extra time and, yes, money to tell his story and build a winning campaign because of delays due to redistricting. Between now and November, the electorate will get to know more about who he is what he says he would do if elected.

The same could be said of Paul Sadler’s candidacy and his solid record of accomplishment during his time in the Texas Legislature.

Voters will see a stark contrast in the candidates. Further, in November there will likely be a much greater turnout than there was for this ill-timed, mid-summer runoff election. Finally, there are blue bastions in urban areas of Texas—Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Voter turnout is the key for either candidate.

Maybe Ted Cruz will win in November, but that still will not mean that Texas is a one-party state, no matter what the media says.

© Jim McNabb, 2012


Bill Church said...

Nicely written, Jim. All I can add is, Amen!

wxrman said...

Had Henry Cisneros not fouled up his personal life, I believe things might have been a little bit better for the Democratic Party.