In keeping with our effort to provide Texans with the information they need to be informed voters, Texas Scorecard distributed a questionnaire to those running for the lead the Republican Party of Texas as chairman: incumbent James Dickey and challenger Cindy Asche.
We also decided for the first time ever to make a number of the same questions available to those running for the State Republican Executive Committee as well. While we won’t be issuing an endorsement in any of these races, we hope that the responses to these questions will help you decide which man and which woman will best represent your interest on the SREC.
Here are the answers from the Senate District 8 candidates who responded without edits:
Why should Republicans choose you for the SREC?
1) I have the ability to unify people who have had difficulty getting along in the past. In my current capacity, I am able to communicate and get support from others that would not support me politically. This can be done without compromising the conservative values that I hold.
2) I will communicate with the Republicans of SD8 that I serve them and represent them. They will receive consistent updates (from me) of meetings and votes, I will reach out to them for input and attend club meeting/ meetings as requested.
3) I will focus on increasing the number of Republican voters to keep up with the increase in registered voters as well as getting candidates elected on the municipal level that support our platform.
4) I will vote based on the values of SD8.
Howard Powers: The two term incumbent was closely associated with a state senate campaign which was largely viewed as very negative by the Republican activists in the district. As a result, I believe the delegates at the convention will not return the incumbent to the SREC. Of the two remaining declared candidates, I have much broader exposure in and understanding of the district and have been much more active in campaigning for elected Republican officials over a much longer period of time.
Karl Voigtsberger: I have worked tirelessly for Senate District 8 Republicans, representing our conservative grassroots issues. Republicans should choose me for a third term on the SREC because of my accomplishments during the previous two terms and my continued commitment to constitutional conservative principles. I am very well positioned as Senate District 8’s senior SREC Committeeman, to take on higher level leadership roles in the SREC, thereby maintaining and expanding our influence in the Republican Party of Texas. Experience and Results Matter!
Texas Republicans control every statewide office and the Texas Legislature by impressive margins. What measures must pass this upcoming session for it to be declared a success?
Chuck Branch: The items that must pass are:
1) Property tax reform which include tax revenue caps for cities, Robin Hood elimination, School tax reform, etc.
2) Bathroom bill taking this decision from the cities.
3) Border security
Howard Powers: First, we must pass more legislation initiated by Republicans than legislation initiated by the other major party. This should include progress in the area of constitutional carry. We need legislation to restrict property tax increases without voter approval and to restrict the assumption of debt by subordinate public entities (think waterparks). We need legislation to eliminate the business margins tax and its supporting bureaucracy. We need legislation to curtail the use of taxpayer funds to lobby the legislature. We need to repeal legislation that restricts market entry through use of professional licensing for nonprofessional activities. We need legislation to limit access to taxpayer funds by unelected bureaucrats. Real progress in any four of these areas would indicate a successful session.
Karl Voigtsberger: If the Legislature voted for a conservative Speaker of the House and passed at least two out of these three Bills in the next session: Property Tax Reform, Abolition of Abortion, Constitutional Carry, then it will be successful.
Current party rules allow for the SREC to censure a Republican officeholder that violates the party’s core principles. Do you think we should have this rule? Why or why not?
Chuck Branch: Yes, on our city council we utilized the same rule for a member who was acting out against the charter. Republicans agree to the platform and standards of the party and should be held accountable to this standard to protect the integrity of our party.
Howard Powers: I support Rule 44. The fact that it was instituted and successfully used only once after years of the abuses of the Straus Speakership which directly impacted House Representatives in SD-8 indicated that the rule was a slow and measured response to a real problem.
Karl Voigtsberger: We absolutely should have Rule 44. Censure is needed to protect our Republican brand, which has become tarnished. Voters are angry and cynical because Republican Officeholders have violated our party’s core principles. Rule 44 is the first step towards restoring our party’s image and growing voter turnout. Let’s keep Rule 44 Censure so that we can hold them accountable to our values.
Last year, efforts to censure House Speaker Joe Straus were successful, but efforts to censure State Rep. Byron Cook and other lawmakers were not. What are some examples of actions you believe violate the party’s core principles?
Chuck Branch: They violated or were an accomplice to preventing items that support our platform from being approved. The next violation was preventing elected officials from representing their constituents by not allowing items to come up for a vote.
Howard Powers: I will defer to an opinion piece by Phil Sevilla on the Alamo Torch website. The example is any action designed to: “sacrifice the party’s unifying principles for personal gain, political power and leverage, . . . (or) . . . curry favor with interest groups and donors at the expense of the party’s conservative principles . . .”. What is particularly interesting about this explanation is that, if we ever go to partisan local elections (which we should), we have a mechanism in place to deal with out of control local elected officials.
Karl Voigtsberger: Blocking legislation by not allowing Bills to be scheduled for Committee hearings, not following House Rules during the legislative process, and shortening the active time of the legislative session. These actions killed legislation that would have supported our party’s core principles. This obstructionism by the Speaker and key Committee Chairs has caused voters to doubt our republican form of government.
Should you be elected, what tangible metrics should Republicans use to determine if you have been successful?
1) The first and most obvious is that Republicans in SD8 who uphold the Platform are elected in November.
2) That we are keeping up the pace of Republican voters with the number of registered voters in the district.
3) Fundraising increases year over year by a percentage of the increase in voters.
4) Holding Republicans accountable to the platform.
Howard Powers: This candidate will be successful if more delegates show up in Houston in 2020 than San Antonio in 2018. That is the best tangible measure of increases in the strength of the party in the district.
Karl Voigtsberger: My record of voting for Rules and Resolutions that uphold our Core Principles, an increase in voter turnout due to our efforts to repair the Republican brand, and also because I will have voted for policies and budgets that support engaging and educating voters statewide.