Desperate consultants can get their desperate candidates to say the craziest things. That’s certainly the case in the race for the Texas Supreme Court, where Michael Massengale is challenging incumbent Debra Lerhmann. Lehrmann is raising money on the basis of being worried about voter interest in her race.
Lehrmann is a pleasant person. I know she is, because Justice Lehrmann sat in my office last fall for the better part of an hour seeking the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorsement. (Remember that as you keep reading.)
Sadly her fundraising consultant – Austin-based Susan Lilly, who works mostly for the establishment class – has her doing some truly bizarre things in the last 60 days of the campaign.
It’s not hard to understand why.
None of the statewide conservative movement groups or personalities are supporting Lehrmann; they’ve all backed Massengale (Texas Right to Life, Texas Home School Coalition, Cathie Adams, Kelly Shackleford, David Barton, the Kingwood TEA Party… oh, and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility).
Even judicial reform behemoth Texans for Lawsuit Reform, known in recent years for playing it safe by rarely opposing any incumbent, was an early supporter of Massengale.
So, yes, Lehrmann and her team are feeling a little desperate. How desperate?
I’ve received calls from acquaintances describing similar voicemails they received from Debra Lehrmann. Some of these folks are unaligned with me and my organization. Some are even, honorably, on the opposite end of the GOP’s ideological spectrum.
“Hello, [name redacted] this is Debra Lehrmann, L-E-H-R-M-A-N-N, justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, and I’m calling about my re-election to the court. As you may know, I am finishing up my first term, I’m starting my sixth year and it’s just been wonderful. And you may be aware that I have an opponent who’s being supported by Michael Quinn Sullivan and I’m calling to visit with you about that. So if you could please give me a call, I certainly would appreciate that very much. My number is 817-[redacted], that’s 817-[redacted]. It’s Debra Lehrmann, thank you so much. Bye-bye.”
Let’s face it: Debra Lehrmann is smart enough to know I’m not on the ballot. She never mentions her opponent’s name. She uses my name instead. As an anybody, and a nobody. As a stand-in for everybody who isn’t backing her re-coronation to the court.
(And I’m certain she’s calling other donor types, fitting other profiles, using other names as the boogeyman.)
She’s making these desperate fundraising calls because her fundraising consultant has told her to; because the establishment class likes to use my name when they really mean to use your name.
Lehrmann and her team are desperate, because they know they are losing. In a sign of political unity, the grassroots and business community have both lined up against her.
So the establishment consultants have Lehrmann desperately raising money against the establishment’s boogeyman.
What are they truly scared of? You. What Lehrmann, a justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, is really worried about are citizens paying attention to the content of judicial rulings, and exercising accountability at the ballot box.
So worried, in fact, that she let her consultant have her make fundraising calls about me at the same time I happen to have a case pending before the Supreme Court.
This is only a voicemail. One can only imagine what her consultants have her saying when she connects with what she believes to be her people. (Those recordings might fun!)
Even good and decent individuals doing business with the establishment-class, crony-consultants will eventually be turned to doing desperate things in their desperate bids to cling to power.
Frankly, incumbents would have an easier time staying in power if they spent more time paying attention to the citizenry than the insider-cronies. But maybe some of them just like living desperate lives making desperately degrading calls.