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Empower Texans isn't finished with Tarrant County

mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

In addition to what happened with the candidates, an important result from the elections earlier this month was what they revealed about those trying to buy control of our state.

At least two outcomes worked to inform and potentially preserve the authority of voters over the forces that would usurp that power from them.

First is the emerging role of the Texas news media in showing us all the intentions of the statist organization Empower Texans.

They have begun outing the wealthy oil barons behind it and its companion entity, Texas Right to Life, with plans to wrest control of cities and school districts through legislators they have endorsed and lavishly funded.

Second are the plain-spoken words of those lawmakers previously favored by Empower Texans and then dumped when they dared not to follow the organization’s instructions.

Among others, the Star-Telegram has done a good job of illustrating both of these developments.

The paper’s recent editorial published two days after the primary elections, highlighted the experience of house republican Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake who had lost the endorsement of Empower Texans.

He explained how he would get daily emails from the West Texas organization telling him how to vote. When he instead did what he believed to be in the interest of the people he represented, they endorsed and funded his opponent.

The same thing happened to Rep. Charlie Geren in both of the last two election cycles. Empower Texans donors even resorted to a new high in attack ads sending out materials so deceptive that they have come under review in Austin as criminal election law violations.

Both Capriglione and Geren, mincing no words in calling out the organization’s practices and operatives as liars, were again victorious and echoed their principled belief that they don’t need forces outside of Tarrant County telling them what to do.

Quoted on election night, Capriglione said, "They did try to buy the election. The people saw right through it. They tried to buy the election and have people in Austin who would do their bidding instead of representing the district.”

The Texas Tribune highlighted other legislators who have lost favor with their Empower Texans funders because they would not behave as their puppets.

We are going to see all of this played out in likely dramatic fashion as we move toward the November 6 elections with Tarrant County’s Senate District 10 believed to be the race that Empower Texans considers their most important.

Backed with their money, State Sen. Konni Burton will face her democrat opponent Beverly Powell and, as the headline reads, the gloves have already come off.

Burton speaking of Powell: “I will be reaching out to my democrat opponent in the coming days and weeks to define the terms for future debates.”

Powell, in response: “We heard loud and clear from families across Tarrant County who are ready for leadership that puts our schools, good jobs, public safety and economic development ahead of a narrow, inflexible ideology that has taken over our state Capitol.”

Burton declared in a WFAA Channel 8 interview that she expected to spend $1.5 million to get reelected to her $600 per month job. If her previous financil reports are any indication, most of that money will not come from the people of her district.

In the end, it will be up to voters to decide the fundamental question of who will run state affairs. Will it be the oil barons of West Texas or We the People?

We know what the answer should be.

The challenge for us will be not to fall for the appealing demagoguery of tax cuts and other deceptive promises that will, if believed, result in anything but government by the consent of the governed.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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