As cited in an interview by the Texas Tribune, Sen. John Carona (SD16-Dallas) has a proud, unapologetic history of hosting fundraisers for liberal Democrats facing Republican challengers, including some at his private home in Dallas.

The most surprising beneficiaries have been ‘F-rated’ Democrats, Sen. Judith Zaffirini (SD21-Laredo) and Sen. Royce West (SD23-Dallas).  It is worth noting that both Zaffirini and West scored lower than Wendy Davis (SD10-Fort Worth) on our Fiscal Responsibility Index during the 83rd session.

Carona rejected the notion that committed conservatives couldn’t support “friends across the aisle with records of excellent public service”.

He further qualified his position, maintaining he would never support a Democrat in any race against a Republican with “any reasonable chance whatsoever of winning”. Carona characterized himself as someone who has risen above “blind, partisan politics”, a statesman who values collegiality and civility.

You may be asking yourself, if Republicans in heavily Democrat-gerrymandered districts have no statistical chance of winning, then why would Carona help the Democrat raise money?

Common sense suggests several reasons why civility is not Carona’s primary motivation.

Perhaps it’s because Carona, more than any of his Republican colleagues, shares ideological similarities with Senate Democrats.  He received a 60 percent on TFR’s Fiscal Responsibility Index, a 71 percent from Texas Eagle Forum (second to last in the GOP) and a 55 percent from Young Conservatives of Texas.

According to a correlative analysis conducted by Rice University of all 978 Senate votes, Carona was ranked the most liberal Senate Republican. In fact, the data indicates that “Carona is ideologically closer to the three most conservative Democratic senators than he is to fellow Republicans Birdwell, Campbell, Hancock, Patrick and Paxton”.

When Ken Emanuelson, founder of The Grassroots Texans Network, referenced these reports at a Tea Party meeting in December, Carona allegedly attacked him as a “charlatan” and accused him of “misrepresenting” his voting record in an effort to deceive the audience.

In a recent debate with the Don Huffines campaign, Carona falsely stated he did not co-author a bill in 2009 to rename a portion of a DFW highway after President Barack Obama (Click HERE for the audio clip).

Supporting Democrat incumbents may be more about protecting career politicians who have a mutual interest in preserving their cozy relationships and the consequent ability to trade legislative favors.  As Carona accurately stated, incumbents like West and Zaffirini only risk defeat in the Democrat primary.

More troubling, his fundraising helped fiscal liberals finance Democrat opposition to Republicans in other districts across Texas.  It’s bad enough that the Austin establishment is challenging conservatives like Reps. Stickland, Shaefer, and Perry.

I doubt Republican voters want their senator bankrolling additional opposition from Democrats!

Even worse, Carona openly admitted he believed a potential run for lieutenant governor would necessitate support from Senate Democrats, like West. Stated differently, hosting fundraisers for liberals served his personal political ambition for higher office; Texas taxpayers be damned.

Other media outlets have suggested Carona has glaring conflicts of interest.  They claim that Carona’s company, Associa, is a client of Sen. Zaffirini’s private consulting business.

People should respect those who differ on public policy.  What Texans should rebuke, however, are dishonest politicians who spin their record in an effort to mislead their constituents.

Despite Carona’s claim, conservative critics questioning his support of Democrats are not interested in promoting Republican partisanship.  If that were the case, conservatives wouldn’t criticize Republicans … ever.

We are a people concerned with ideas.  We understand that prudent, limited government and personal liberty are beneficial to all members of society because they promote justice, prosperity and economic freedom.

Is it too much to ask that our elected officials understand the difference?

Sen. Carona has all but proven he does not.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.


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