Former state Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, is back in the game with a new Texas First Foundation he says will pursue policy solutions across party lines.
Dunnam says the new foundation is just starting up and hasn't hired a staff. He and Jeff Rotkoff, a Democratic op who worked for the House Democratic Campaign Committee and now consults trial lawyer and Democratic financier Steve Mostyn, are making the rounds to announce the new venture. The board of the new operation includes former state Rep. Carol Kent of Dallas, Zach Evans and Houston lawyer Shawn Thierry. Rotkoff will be the executive director.
Dunnam contends that legislators' philosophies on core issues "are just not that different," and that many issues have nothing to do with political party. And the lack of what he calls "a proper dialogue" is harmful to the state.
He says it won't be partisan, though his last gig had him heading the Democratic Caucus in the Texas House. "My job is not re-electing Democrats anymore," he says. And later, "Most people in Texas could give a rat about politics."
Texas First will work on policy solutions but will also have an advocacy component — one part of its research will focus on how to get a message to regular Texans through the fragmented media where no one outlet reaches enough people in the state to get the word out.
Dunnam doesn't expect Texas First to be a partisan group, or a foil to any particular group out there now. He speaks with some admiration of the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, but says that's not the model for what he's starting.