Former State Rep. Delwin Jones wants to represent the Austin lobby. At least, that’s the tone the liberal Lubbock Republican is taking in seeking contributions from what he calls the “’Third House’ of the Legislature” in his bid to return to the Texas House.
Mr. Jones was resoundingly defeated in the 2010 Republican primary run-off by State Rep. Charles Perry, who ran a grassroots-oriented campaign. The long-legislating (if little-accomplishing) Mr. Jones relied on Speaker Joe Straus and the lobby to keep his losing candidacy afloat.
“You are the source of information for the impact of Legislation on our constituents,” writes Mr. Jones. “Without your help, it would be impossible to learn of this vital impact.”
(You can download a PDF of the letter here.)
That Mr. Jones relies so heavily on Austin lobbyists probably helps explain why his voting record was so abysmal. As Straus “cardinals,” Mr. Jones was one of the 11 Republicans who joined with 65 Democrats in 2009 to topple the previous speaker and install Joe Straus. As pay-back, Straus gave Jones a committee chairmanship.
Yet Mr. Jones’ record as a legislator was disastrous. He was consistently one of the worst Republicans on conservative groups’ ratings, and was especially bad on taxpayer issues.
He also wasn’t much on constituent services. His Capitol office was closed to visitors – especially constituents. When one scout troop from Lubbock came knocking, Mr. Jones reportedly stuck his head out the door, told the kids he hoped they had a nice time in Austin, and then promptly locked the door in their faces.
“I need your financial support for my campaign… Money is an essential part of the process.” Mr. Jones goes on to write that a “contribution will be used efficiently and effectively…”
Um, probably not. On his January 2012 report to the Texas Ethics Commission, Mr. Jones reported having only $3,305.09 on hand – and $105,000 in debt. That’s debt he amassed while losing to Rep. Perry, 57%-42%.
It’s uncertain if Speaker Straus is actively supporting Delwin Jones’ attempted comeback. The Speaker has in the past said he would only support incumbents. (Interestingly, campaign consultants and fundraisers close to Mr. Straus are helping the moderate, pro-tax challengers to a number of conservative lawmakers.)
Mr. Jones’ re-do campaign cannot be ignored, for as mock-worthy as it may be. After a hard-won victory, Mr. Perry has established himself as one of the good-guys on taxpayer and conservative issues — and someone who doesn’t toe the line of either the Austin lobby or the legislative leadership — in representing the interests of his district.
In the end, most Austin lobbyists were glad to be rid of Delwin Jones (several sent me copies of Jones’ letter with variations on the line “please, no”), and it’s doubtful they want to be represented by his likes again. It’ll be interesting to see just how many of them manage to lose the “return envelope” Mr. Jones included for their “convenience.”
Final note: the lobbyists are the “Third House” of the legislature? What copy of the state constitution is Mr. Jones reading?!