Politics & Government

June 28, 2014

Democrats claim a victory

Whataburger gets a shout out from a Texas politician on a key anniversary.

In Washington, D.C., last week, the Democrats prevailed.

In the congressional baseball game, at least.

The Republican baseball team, managed by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis, lost for the sixth year in a row to the Democrats, 15-6, in the annual Congressional Baseball Game on June 25, sponsored by Roll Call, a news outlet.

The score was an improvement over last year’s 22-0 shutout but it turns out that the lighthearted event, held at Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, and which raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, has a very dark side.

And that has meant a challenge to Barton’s leadership from some team members who reportedly demanded last year that no less than House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, fire the Texas manager.

According to a hard-hitting story by Time’s Alex Rogers, “a ‘significant’ number of the 31 Republican players quietly sought the resignation of Rep. Joe Barton, the 64-year-old Texas Congressman who coaches the team, according to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. The players were unhappy with Barton’s philosophy that everyone who has the courage to sign up should get to play under the lights.”

Several GOP aides confirmed to the Star-Telegram that removing Barton has been a hot topic among GOP lawmakers as defeats mounted. In response to last year’s revolt, Barton moved up to manager and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Austin, a former Texas Christian University baseball player and coach who was recruited by the Atlanta Braves, was named coach.

Barton told Roll Call after the game, “I won’t manage forever, but I’d like to manage until we win a game.”

Republicans mutter that their big problem is that they don’t have anyone to counter Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., 40, the Democrats’ star pitcher who played college ball and who has dominated every game for the last four years after being elected in 2010.

Perry (heart) Ann Richards

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was humble and conciliatory in talking to reporters about another presidential run at a Washington lunch June 19, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

But he used some kind comments about former Gov. Ann Richards, the state's last Democratic governor, to give the back of the hand to the junior senator from Texas, and his potential presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz.

In answering a question about whether Cruz had changed the state with his surprise election, Perry brought up Richards, the very colorful Democratic governor from 1991 to 1995 who died in 2006.

“Now, I loved Ann Richards. Ann Richards was one of the funniest, most profound and,” he added, “profane individuals I had the opportunity to serve with. But Ann didn’t really change Texas. So the idea that a personality in the political arena can change Texas may be a little bit outside of the realm of reality.

“Ask me in eight years if Sen. Cruz has made a impact on the state. At this particular point in time, it’s a little bit early to say that a junior senator would have substantively changed the state.”

What’s in a name?

When the Dallas City Council decided last year to rename the city’s convention center for longtime U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, some worried that naming the center for a Republican might alienate those of other parties.

It didn’t stop the Texas Democratic Party from holding its biennial convention there this year.

Of course, they didn’t refer to to the site of their convention as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

They simply called it the “Convention Center” or the “Dallas Convention Center.”

Texas treasure

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry recently sent a shoutout to a true “Texas treasure.”

Berry last week congratulated an iconic Texas hamburger chain — Whataburger — marking the anniversary of officially getting its name.

It was June 23, 1950, when Texas officials signed off on the trademark for the name Whataburger.

“Whataburger is a name that perfectly describes the product and is recognizable to Texans across the state,” said Berry, who called top officials in the hamburger chain to congratulate them on their anniversary. “I’m proud the first trademark came from our office.”

Whataburger traces its roots back to Corpus Christi, where Harmon Dobson opened a burger stand where he hoped the only thing people thought when they ate his burgers were: What a burger! The chain now is headquartered in San Antonio and has locations in 10 states.

In 2001, the Legislature officially named Whataburger a “Texas Treasure.”

Mike Doyle of the McClatchy Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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