Milton Rister says he's got nothing to do with the speaker-bashing in an e-mail making the rounds in Georgetown — one of those "neighbor to neighbor" messages where one person brags on a candidate to his or her friends. Rister is one of four Republicans seeking to succeed state Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, who decided not to seek another term.
The message, which has Rister's campaign logo in it, takes swipes at Speaker Joe Straus and the Republican insurgents who toppled Tom Craddick and elevated Straus to that post, and puts Rister, who was and is closely allied with Craddick, on the other side of that fight. From the e-mail:
"The 81st Legislative session was noted as the worst session in Texas history! While Republicans held a majority, this majority was nullified due to 11 Liberal Republicans and the newly elected Speaker of the House. The Speaker's appointment of RINOs and Democrats to key committees created a shutout of Conservative legislation. Milton Rister has been fighting "liberals" for 20 years and he will go to Austin to continue that fight, and will cast his votes for the benefit of his constituents."
It goes on to tout his resume and a list of endorsements that includes two of his former employers: state Sen. Jane Nelson and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Rister said he never saw it until we showed it to him, and he said he disagrees with the attacks on Straus. "Supporters get exuberant and get carried away," he said. "I'm smart enough not to pick a fight with the speaker." He added that he would "probably" sign a pledge to support Straus if the speaker asked him for one.
"Everything that my campaign produces or sends out has my campaign disclaimer on it," Rister said. "I appreciate my supporters communicating with their friends regarding their support for me (and this case other candidates). But their views are their views. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Senator Nelson are both supporting me and I am not attacking Speaker Straus."
And by the way — just in case it comes up again — a collection of rhinos is called a "crash."