Skip to main content

Inside Intelligence: About Those Outside Activists...

For this week's nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about the influence of outside activists — in general, and then specifically on the race for speaker and proposals to change the Senate's procedural rules.

Lead image for this article

Outside activists are influential during legislative sessions, according to most of our insiders, with 62 percent saying those third parties are somewhat influential and 19 percent saying they are very influential.

But not on everything.

Only 25 percent said the outsiders will have any effect on the race for speaker (the election for which will be on the first day of the legislative session in January), and only 29 percent said third parties will have any effect on efforts to change the Senate’s rules at the beginning of the session.

The insiders had a lot to say, though, and a full set of their verbatim comments is attached. A sampling follows:


How influential do you think outside activists will be during the 2013 legislative session?

• "They will make a great deal of noise but accomplish very little."

• "Because there are so many statewide elected officials positioning themselves for the upcoming 2014 elections, I expect they will be one-upping each other constantly on their pandering to outside activists."

• "Are lobbyists counted in this group?"

• "Some members can still be swayed by these outside groups representing a small, but vocal, portion of their districts on many of the 'hot' button primary election issues."

• "Degree of influence depends on issues and activists:  Pro-Life lobby?  Some.  Environmental Activists?  Less than none."

• "I think they hit their high-water mark last time around.  I say neutral because they'll be less influential on the House side, slightly more so on the Senate side."

• "No more or less than before."

• "Lots squawkin' from all sides of grassroots to no real effect.  Wait, are lobbyists considered outside activists?"

• "The freshmen will help us within--so that we'll be more influential."

• "When you had lawmakers ceding the legislative process to trial lawyers and businessmen last session, this cherry got popped."


Will outside activists have any effect on the race for speaker?

• "Yes.  They will make the halls on opening day even more crowded.  Other than that, none!"

• "It would be unanimous for Straus without outside agitation; as it is, he will win comfortably"

• "They will definitely cause a lot of noise and needless chatter, but no real impact on the actual outcome."

• "No one is paying attention to the Speaker's Race but the press, and lawmakers know it."

• "He will huff and oh my will he puff, but Michael Quinn Sullivan will not blow the House down."

• "Miller, Landtroop, B Keffer, Christian, Beck and a few others are not back for a reason."

• "Anyone who has served more than one term in the House knows that the members pick their Speaker. At least so far, outsiders just end up making members mad."

• "They will help drive rhetoric but probably won't impact outcome.... Straus wins going away!  This isn't a real race.  The spotlight won't help Simpson at all."

• "The minute Hughes got out and it became Chamber of Commerce R vs. Tea Party R, the race was over."

• "They had a chance to drive the media circus for a while until yesterday.  There was never a chance to elect someone other than Joe Straus. Hughes brain: This isn't going so well for me. Maybe I should bow out and let David Simpson make a fool of himself instead."


Will outside activists have any effect on efforts to change Senate rules?

• "The 2/3 rule protects rural Texas and the members who represent those good people won't lose sight of that fact."

• "They reached their high water mark when efforts were made to overturn the 2/3rds rule."

• "After his most recent electoral debacle, the Lt. Gov now sees conservative pitfalls around every corner.  This presents numerous opportunities for the Tea Party to gain ground in the Senate."

• "Given Dewhurst's craven need to re-ingratiate himself with those who've rejected him, this is the one spot where this angle might work."

• "Before the Rs get all jiggy with changing the 2/3 rule, they better look out to sea and see the demographic wave coming.  That rule worked to their benefit for decades; it will yet again."

• "Fear of activists is the only factor driving this proposed change, which almost all Senators privately oppose.   It will almost certainly fail."

• "The Lite Guv, trying to become a true conservative (haha), will be the one leading the charge to change the rules."

• "Debate over U.S. and Texas Senates rules are interesting to watch.  Dems trying to limit debate in Congress and Repubs trying to limit in TX."

• "I'm not hearing as much about the rules as I have in the past."

• "Who cares? Republicans ignore the rules when they feel like it."

Are there particular issues or votes where outside activists have significant influence on lawmakers, and if so, who has the most influence?

• "Teachers"

• "Vouchers and taxes - tea party"

• "Probably no tax increases."

• "Primary hot button issues...a lot of which are social or pocketbook."

• "It really varies, doesn't it? Sometimes it's just the money talking, and then other times a moral position, consumer experience or local perspective captures lawmakers' imaginations and ends up winning the day."

• "The influence of outside activists is primarily isolated to social issues."

• "Education reforms. More anti-abortion legislation."

• "Although waning, the influence of the xenophobes (there are other, less charitable appellations, one supposes) is likely to remain a factor when it comes to issues relating to those pesky brown people."

• "Social issues.  Far right has the most influence."

• "Advocates on gun rights, schools, life and tort reform will continue to have significant influence on lawmakers.  All of these are equally hot."

• "Yes.  Tea Party Activists and Trial lawyers."

• "New taxes.  Taxpayers."

• "Tort Reform--TLR."

• "‘Hot button' Republican primary issues--such as vouchers, women's issues, immigration issues."

• "Guns. The National Rifle Association has made this the issue that dare not speak its name."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Jenny Aghamalian, Jennifer Ahrens, Victor Alcorta, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, David Anthony, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Walt Baum, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Hugh Brady, Steve Bresnen, Chris Britton, David Cabrales, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Thure Cannon, Snapper Carr, William Chapman, Elna Christopher, James Clark, Harold Cook, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Denise Davis, Hector De Leon, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Tom Duffy, Scott Dunaway, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Tom Forbes, Wil Galloway, Neftali Garcia, Norman Garza, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Kinnan Golemon, John Greytok, Jack Gullahorn, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Adam Haynes, Ken Hodges, Billy Howe, Laura Huffman, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Richie Jackson, Cal Jillson, Bill Jones, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Lisa Kaufman, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Homero Lucero, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Phillip Martin, Bryan Mayes, Scott McCown, Mike McKinney, Robert Miller, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Craig Murphy, Pat Nugent, Sylvia Nugent, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Bill Pewitt, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Gary Polland, Jay Propes, Bill Ratliff, Patrick Reinhart, Jeff Rotkoff, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Bradford Shields, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Jason Stanford, Bill Stevens, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Jay Thompson, Russ Tidwell, Trey Trainor, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Darren Whitehurst, Woody Widrow, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Support independent Texas news

Become a member. Join today.

Donate now

Explore related story topics