Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Letter to Editor: Pete Sessions short-changes voters

From Dallas Morning News comes this letter to the editor in response to Pete Sessions' plan for Kay Bailey Hutchison to hold onto her seat in the Senate while running for Governor: Sessions short-changing voters
First, politicians must take a chance and relinquish their current seats while having a viable and attractive platform to run for an higher office. While running for a new office and holding a current office, they are short-changing the electorate that voted for them.

Second, Pete Sessions fears the loss of a Senate seat due to a special election should Kay Bailey Hutchison vacate her Senate seat. Again we see partisan politics trump statesmanship and the will of the electorate.

He works for us -- not the other way around.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pete Sessions advises Kay Bailey Hutchison to stay in Senate

According to Gromer Jeffers of Dallas Morning News, Pete Sessions is advising Kay Bailey Hutchison to keep her Senate seat while running for Governor.

His thinking is that if she beats Perry and becomes Governor, she could appoint her own replacement in the Senate. But if she resigns to run, we'd have a special election where a Democrat might have a chance at the seat.

"The people of Texas don't need that kind of fight," Mr. Sessions said of a special election.
In my opinion, it might be seen as a bit underhanded if Kay Bailey Hutchison did such a thing; she has a strong "likeability" thing going for her, and draws votes from both major political parties. That edge would pretty much evaporate if she were to play the "politics as usual" game by appointing her own successor.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pete Sessions hires three new aides

Excerpt from Politico:
Sessions, the incoming chairman of the committee, has hired Elizabeth Verrill, who served as a regional finance director for Sen. John McCain, to head the NRCC's finance operations...

Sessions has also tapped Bob Honold to head the NRCC's incumbent retention efforts for a second consecutive cycle. Honold is a former director of public affairs at CTIA-The Wireless Association and is a veteran of GOP House campaigns.

John Randall, meanwhile, will handle new media for the NRCC. Randall was previously the online communications manager at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Pete Sessions: Lost in Oak Cliff" by Steve Blow

Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow picked up the Oak Cliff story and wrote about it on his blog today: Pete Sessions: Lost in Oak Cliff

Steve Blow says, "If someone finds U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions wandering lost in his district, please give him directions." He then goes on to publish the Oak Cliff portion of Sessions' district neighbood articles.

In the comments section of the blog, Steve Blow posted this email he received from Sessions' Communication Director Emily Davis, who explains
We paid to have our new website pages populated and they obviously copied and pasted the wrong information together (eek!). Thanks for the heads up - I just made the quick fix in our website system.

Note to Congress: if there's money in the budget for "populating websites," how 'bout paying it to neighborhood associations to write their own articles? You'd have to adhere to a word limit to keep overzealous neighborhood association presidents from bragging too much about their little corners of Dallas, but at least the articles would be authentic and geographically correct.

Pete Sessions votes against auto industry loan

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 7321, to authorize financial assistance to eligible automobile manufacturers, by a recorded vote of 237 ayes to 170 noes with 1 voting "present", Roll No. 690.

Pete Sessions was among the House members who voted against the bill, in what turned out to be pretty much of a standard party-line vote. Only 32 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, with 20 Democrats crossing party lines to vote against it.

One Republican voted "present," and the "not voting" members consisted of 11 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pete Sessions: "He doesn't know the territory"

A Sessions Watcher in Oak Cliff alerted me to this page on Pete Sessions' website, where he summarizes key neighborhoods in his district.

The section on Oak Cliff is so far off-the-mark you'd swear he's never set foot in this part of the District. I took this screen shot for posterity (click image to view full size):

Oak Cliff residents will be surprised to know these "facts" about their part of town...
Oak Cliff

Oak Cliff’s estimated population is 280,000, and Oak Cliff includes the popular “M-Streets” and Lakewood neighborhoods. On March 17, 1903, voters in Oak Cliff approved annexation to the city of Dallas. Little known about Oak Cliff is that it was home to the Southland Ice Company, what would later become the first 7-Eleven Convenience Store. Oak Cliff also contains The Sixth Floor Museum, the memorial site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Good grief! Okay, let's start with the "M" streets. While Oak Cliff does have some streets that start with the letter "M," the "popular" M-street district is around Upper Greenville Avenue. That area of Dallas is north of downtown, about 10 miles from Oak Cliff!

Oak Cliff does have Lake Cliff Park, but that's not Lakewood. Lakewood is in East Dallas around...y'know...the lake. White Rock Lake, which is nowhere near Oak Cliff.

Pete Sessions gets partial credit for including two actual facts about Oak Cliff, the fact that it was annexed in 1903, and that "it was home to the Southland Ice Company, what would later become the first 7-Eleven Convenience Store." True. The first 7-11 was at 12th and Edgefield. The building still stands, and is now home to LULAC.

But then he screws it up by mentioning the Sixth Floor Museum. D'oh! Pete, that's in an area of Dallas known as "downtown." The Sixth Floor Museum isn't in Pete Sessions' district, anyway. The Sixth Floor Museum is in TX-30, Eddie Bernice Johnson's district.

Reminds me of the patter song in "The Music Man" where all the salesmen talk about knowing the territory:
1st Salesman
Ya can talk, ya can talk, ya can bicker, ya can talk...
ya can talk all ya want but is different than it was.

No it ain't, no it ain't, but you gotta know the territory...

2nd Salesman
Now he doesn't know the territory

1st Salesman
Doesn't know the territory?!?

3rd Salesman
What's the fellow's line?

2nd Salesman
Never worries 'bout his line

1st Salesman
Never worries 'bout his line?!?...

He's a fake, and he doesn't know the territory...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another PETE PAC loss in Ohio

Ohio Republican Steve Stivers (OH-15) was the recipient of $10,000 from Pete Sessions' notorious Vegas strip club fundraiser. He was in a close race against Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy, a race too close to call on election night.

Yesterday, the absentee and provisional ballots were finally counted, and Mary Jo Kilroy emerged as the clear winner, with 2,311 more votes than Stivers. The margin gave her more than the number of votes necessary to avoid a recount.

Kilroy's win gives OH-15 a Democratic representative for the first time in 42 years.

The Ohio Delegation now has a majority of Democrats, with 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans.

An interesting side note to this contest is that in November, with the race still undecided, both candidates went to the orientation for new members of Congress, promising that whichever one of them lost would reimburse the government for their expenses.

Pete Sessions says auto industry has to "earn" bailout

Back in September, Pete Sessions was one of only 65 House Republicans to vote for the Wall St. bailout, a plan with no pre-conditions attached to it, a blank check to Henry Paulson, no questions asked. So what does he think about helping the auto industry?

Dallas Morning News reporter Mark Norris asked Pete Sessions about Congressional help for the auto industry:
I asked him about Thursday's automaker bailout hearings and what the next step is.
Mr. Sessions said he does not believe the votes are there in the House to pass any such legislation right now.

"They did not sufficiently prove to us that they would make the necessary changes to take their part of the equation and be successful," Mr. Sessions said. "GM is the private sector and owned by shareholders. In a free enterprise system, that is not something the government should look lightly of being a part of."

However, Mr. Sessions said he would be open to more hearings and questioning to find out more about what the automakers would do to modernize and evolve.
I agree that the auto industry needs to make a lot of changes, but so does Wall Street, which is why so many of us told Congress not bail them unconditionally. Apparently, Pete Sessions has one set of standards for people who make cars, and another for those who make money.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Article on Dallas County GOP

Guess who wasn't available to comment for a Dallas Observer article on the Dallas County Republican Party? That's right, our Congresman Pete Sessions was missing in action when asked if he encouraged Jonathan Neerman to run for chair of the Dallas County Republican Party:
Neerman became involved in local politics, working at the grassroots level by making yard signs for Gary Griffith's successful Dallas City Council campaign in 2003, block walking for Republican Pete Sessions' congressional campaign and assisting in fund-raising efforts for Bush's second presidential bid in 2004...

...Two Republican consultants, not speaking for attribution, claim it wasn't friendship that dissuaded Neerman [from running for State representative], it was Sessions, who, during that same trip to Washington, asked Neerman to run for county chair. Kenn George had decided not to seek another term and "Sessions wanted someone as chair that he could control," says one of the consultants.

Sessions did not return phone calls from the Observer, and Neerman denies he discussed the position with Sessions. He says he shifted his focus to George's job because "I thought about the direction that I wanted the Republican Party to go nationally, but the way to start it was locally, right here in Dallas."
Interesting. Maybe Pete Sessions is starting to figure out that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal to stay in power:
Nearly 100 people take up Neerman on his gripe session on November 20, overflowing the meeting room at GOP headquarters near Walnut Hill Lane on Central Expressway...

...Neerman says most attendees agreed the party must reach out to minorities, gays and lesbians, but only a small faction seemed willing to speak about changing the party's conservative social agenda in order to incorporate more diverse points of view. "You've got a conundrum because you've got to broaden the party, but there are going to be segments who don't want to do the things necessary to achieve that type of outreach," he says.
Cathie Adams of Texas Eagle Forum disagrees that broadening appeal is the way to grow the party:
Cathie Adams, president of the conservative, pro-family organization Texas Eagle Forum, strongly disagrees with Neerman's plan to broaden the party's base at the expense of compromising on social issues. Adams, who served on the Republican National Platform Committee, points out that it took a social conservative like Sarah Palin to energize the base of the party.

"When you think that you've got to appeal to the moderates by setting aside the moral issues, you're denying the cost of tearing away the fabric of the morality of our community," Adams says. "You're also denying the fact that Sarah Palin brought not only excitement, but the coffers people poured into in the form of not only money but hours of volunteer time."
The article goes on to quote her as saying that the party should not reach out to "Log Cabin Republicans, pro-choice Republicans and 'environmental wackos.'"

Cathie Adams should take a look at the website Republican Majority for Choice, which claims that they--not the right-wing wackos--are in the majority. According to Mark Hillman of Rocky Mountain News, though, only a third of the GOP is pro-choice, but he adds
According to Gallup, rigid single-issue voters constitute just 22 percent of pro-life Republicans and 8 percent of pro-choicers.
Neerman insists that the GOP was undone by Obama's superstar status this year, and will get back to "normal" in the next election cycle. But Darlene Ewing, chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party, says they're just making excuses again:
"Two years ago, they said it was a fluke. Now they're saying it's just Obama. I don't think they get it," she says. "The voters in this county are tired of what we've had for the last 25 years, and that's the Republicans."
Neerman, in the end, agrees with Ewing:
"If we're losing 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds right off the bat, it's because they see us as the party that is against the environment, discriminates against gay people, [proselytizes] on whatever moral grounds there are, and they see us as this very narrow-minded, anti-Hispanic party," he says. "We spend way too much time worrying about shit that just doesn't matter."
Too bad Pete Sessions was unavailable to make a comment for the article. Looks like he's laying low again.