Everyone agrees State Rep. Matt Rinaldi of Dallas County is the political triple-threat: smart, articulate and exceedingly charming.
Debating with Rinaldi is a fools’ errand, as liberal State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) learned a year ago. Picture the scene: an incumbent lawmaker, Villalba, challenging a legislator-elect, Rinaldi, to a lengthy debate on House leadership. Clear advantage to the incumbent, right? Wrong. By all accounts, Rinaldi mopped the floor with Villalba. Seasoned House members learned quickly to abandon the debate floor when Rinaldi began asking questions that exposed crony giveaways and wasteful programs.
A little background. Rinaldi beat incumbent Bennett Ratliff in 2014, after Ratliff traded two precincts with a neighboring Democrat to cut Rinaldi out of HD115 during the 2013 legislative session. Bennett Ratliff is a mass of contradictions. He claims to be pro-life, yet supports abortion rights. Ratliff claims to be for tax relief, yet opposes tax reforms providing relief.
Rinaldi proved his mettle, is a forceful champion for taxpayers, and deserves re-election.
What’s Driving It: The liberal Ratliff clan was once a major force in Texas politics, with big daddy Bill “Sort Of A Republican” Ratliff (who gave money to Wendy Davis) conspiring with liberal Democrats to thwart conservative reforms. He ran from office after temporarily serving as lieutenant governor, a post he got thanks to Democrat senators, not voters. (See a theme?) Bennett’s brother, Thomas, has improperly been serving on the State Board of Education while lobbying on education issues for Microsoft. Thomas’ application for a 2016 ballot position is listed as “rejected” by the GOP. So getting Bennett in office is a do-or-die proposition for the family’s crony-DEM-fueled lobby business.