A strong Joe Straus and Steve Mostyn ally, former liberal Republican SREC member Mark McCaig, is attacking Texans for Lawsuit Reform as – get this – insufficiently conservative.
McCaig’s group is called “Texans for Individual Rights”, and opposes lawsuit reform arm-in-arm with the Texas Democratic Party and the DNC. This kind of thing was predictable.
This broadside against TLR is coming from the most liberal wing of the Republican Party, the portion that would be Democrats in a state with a viable Democratic Party. It is also the portion that sided with the Democratic caucus to make Straus the speaker in 2009. McCaig was one of the first and most vocal GOP opponents of Tom Craddick, and supporters of Joe Straus.
McCaig/TXIR’s campaign against TLR is a farce. They do not oppose TLR, as they claim, because TLR has helped kill immigration bills and engaged in crony capitalism. That is simply the red meat they throw out to conservatives to try to turn them on TLR.
No, McCaig, TXIR, and Co. oppose TLR because they oppose lawsuit reform, as do almost all of the legislators who originally voted in Straus as speaker.
The basic play being run against TLR is an old liberal one: wait for a conservative to mess up, then run a purity campaign against him. In this way the grassroots are co-opted against their own interests.
There are several things to pull from this.
First, the powers behind Team Straus aren’t friends of TLR no matter how civil they are when pretending to be allies. This attack is lobbed from their universe. Some Team Straus members may even really like TLR, but they've thrown in with a power group who aren't reliable friends of tort reform.
Secondly, lawsuit reform is the new normal for conservatives in Texas. Conservatives overwhelmingly like the economic environment our new tort regime has ushered in. As “true believers” in tort reform you don't even have to pay conservatives top dollar to be faithful tort reform protectors.
This is the basis of the frustration we’ve previously voiced in TLR's direction.
By TLR backing incumbents who are only reliably good on one conservative issue, TLR has inadvertently helped stifle conservative reform in Texas. This is bad for business, because when new hills aren’t being taken, volunteer soldiers go home, and when volunteer soldiers go home, old hills are in danger too. TLR must stay on the good side of the grassroots, something TXIR clearly understands.
In the end, Straus is to TLR what he was to all conservatives in the 82nd legislature: a manager of the conservative swing who sees it as a problem, not a believer leading a charge on the basis of it. There are tort reform allies more reliable, more trustworthy, and less expensive.
--Buddies Mark McCaig and Joe Straus
--Paul Burka in 2008 on Straus and McCaig’s early cooperation against Craddick