For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about the fallout from the Jade Helm 15 controversy and who among the leadership is having the best session.
On the latter question, the insiders had a clear winner — Speaker Joe Straus. Three in four insiders said the leader of the House is having the best session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, meanwhile, trailed the "none of the above" option, which was offered by 12 percent of the insiders. Patrick and Abbott were at 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
The next pair of questions concerned Abbott's decision to wade into the controversy over the planned Jade Helm military exercise this summer in Texas. The insiders weren't happy with the bone thrown by the governor to the conspiracy theorists. (Abbott, for his part, contends he was just acting as "a communication facilitator" between the opposing camps.) About two-thirds of the insiders thought Abbott's action both hurt his and the state's image.
And with Patrick deciding to help along a "religious freedom" bill by suspending rules to give it a committee hearing, we asked if this meant the odds are now more favorable for its passage.
No, said three in five of the insiders.
We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:
Who is having the best session?
• "Straus is killing it. Patrick overreached and now has to figure out what to do. Abbott needs to avoid those self-inflicted wounds."
• "I think legislatively it's gotta be Abbott — pre-K is moving, open carry is moving, and his ethics stuff is moving, too, whereas Patrick and Straus are thumping chests about taxes."
• "So far Joe Straus is saving the Republican Party from itself. As long as nothing too goofy gets through, he and the Republican Party are winners. The irony is that if the folks who are attacking Straus had their way, this state would be more purple than red."
• "If the plan was to be completely uncoordinated, they are all doing great."
• "Straus is the master now. He's enjoying it a little too much, but Straus is as on top of his game as I've ever seen any Speaker."
Did Abbott’s reaction to the Jade Helm military exercise hurt the state’s image?
• "It was a bush-league move that made him look weak. The Patrick threat is real."
• "Ridiculous pandering. So disappointing from a governor who, up to this point, was making Texans forget about his predecessor."
• "I can't tell you how many out-of-state friends sent links to stories about the Bastrop meeting, then about Abbott's reaction."
• "As usual with the current statewide officeholders, Texas looks foolish. But it's great fodder for comics!"
• "We are Todd Smith."
Did it hurt his image?
• "How can a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and former Attorney General take Alex Jones and his ilk seriously?"
• "The country club Republicans are feeling like wo/men with no country."
• "Maybe, temporarily. But we need to give him a break. As long as Mrs. Dan Patrick is measuring for drapes in the Gov's mansion, Abbott is going to have to get a little goofy."
• "I hope this was a staff error."
• "Not with those who are already planning to vote in the next 2 Republican primaries. Elsewhere, it doesn't help."
Did fast-tracking a “religious freedom” bill in the Senate last week improve its chances in the Legislature?
• "I wish we'd just focus on issues that really matter to the state, like the budget, infrastructure, and education."
• "With roughly a month left, isn't *everything* on a fast track (to death or passage)?"
• "As long as Straus is Speaker, the Legislature will be mostly ineffective for good bills, yet very good at passing BAD bills."
• "Emergency declaration didn't seem to help either."
• "Last gasp at throwing red meat to far right. I am a Republican all the way, but this is silly."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, William Chapman, Elna Christopher, Harold Cook, Kevin Cooper, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, June Deadrick, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Neftali Garcia, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Scott Gilmore, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, John Heasley, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Walt Jordan, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Sylvia Nugent, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Jerry Philips, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, Grant Ruckel, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Bob Stein, Colin Strother, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, David White, Seth Winick, Angelo Zottarelli.