What good is a candidate forum that takes place after most voters have already cast their ballot? That’s a question that Tommy Merritt didn’t seem to ask. He recently proposed holding four candidate forums with Taxpayer Champion David Simpson after early primary voting would have already started. It’s almost as if he’s got something to hide.

Tommy Merritt, the former state representative from House District 7 (Longview area), saw an abrupt end to his 14-year career when David Simpson defeated him in the Republican Primary in 2010. Now, after sitting on the sidelines for two years, Merritt wants back in the game.

According to the Kilgore News Herald, Merritt sent the Simpson campaign a proposal to participate in four, one-hour candidate forums throughout the district. Only problem it is that they occur DURING the week of early voting – when most primary voters cast their ballot.

And he wants to charge $5 a ticket to attend the forums too. So much for being open and transparent.

Maybe it’s because Merritt realizes exactly why he lost his primary challenge to Rep. Simpson in the first place. In his 14-year career, Merritt amassed a voting record that only liberal State Rep. Senfronia Thompson could be proud of. He also earned the nickname “Caucus of One” for his refusal to stand with the GOP caucus on important issues like Voter ID.

In his last legislative session alone, Merritt voted to subject the constitutionally created and publicly elected State Board of Education to sunset review, potentially putting its power into the hands of TEA bureaucrats.

He voted to continue allowing government to pick winners and losers by providing taxpayer-funded grants to film, television, and multimedia projects.

He voted to give taxpayer-funded grants to give voicemail service to the homeless.

He voted to pay state employees to perform community service.

He voted to extend unemployment benefits and to allow drug users to quality for it.

He voted to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program to over 300% of poverty (equivalent to $66,000 per year for a family of four) and to grow cradle-to-grave entitlements by voting for an expansion of the state Pre-K program.

And let’s not forget that $4.3 million DPS helicopter for Longview he earmarked in the state budget that couldn’t fly because there was no money available for pilots or maintenance! That earmark earned him the nickname “Prince of Pork”:

That looks more like a rap sheet than a voting record to conservatives. Keeping that in perspective, it’s no wonder why he would want to prevent Rep. Simpson from reminding constituents of his past.

Wisely, Rep. Simpson declined Merritt’s proposal and countered with an offer to do them BEFORE early voting starts – for free. That should give Rep. Simpson plenty of time to remind HD 7 voters why they can’t afford to send Tommy Merritt back to Austin.

Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the CFO and COO of Texas Scorecard. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.


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