Dan Branch is out of touch with the electorate
More from Mark Davis DMN column on runoffs:
But I fear the spectacle that may unfold among these praiseworthy Republicans as the May 27 runoff draws near. When generally similar candidates square off, the modern habit is to find ancillary matters to amplify and stigmatize in the hope that voters will be sufficiently repelled by an opponent.
On paper, we seem to be headed toward the anointing of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Their roughly dozen-point advantages take on additional steepness in view of voters' tendency to return more reliably in runoffs for grassroots-flavored candidates occupying ground a shade or more to the right.
But as Branch berates Paxton as a mediocre back-bencher (as he did in our [radio] interview last week) and Paxton paints Branch as insufficiently pro-life because of third-trimester abortion exception language from 2005, something significant is missing: What kind of attorney general would these men be? I guess ads making fine distinctions on those issues might not sizzle as much among an already primary-weary electorate. [emphasis mine]
How out of touch with the electorate is Dan Branch to make that kind of argument?
1. Dan Branch criticizing Ken Paxton as a backbencher just reinforces the notion of Dan Branch as the Austin establishment insider. That's an electoral loser. Your median primary voter is concerned with voting record and issues, not how well you played the inside game.
2. And it's not like Branch played the inside game in a way that will win him a Republican primary. As chairman of the higher education committee, Branch largely sided with the establishment instead of the conservative reformers. While I'm skeptical of blindly implementing Jeff Sandefer's ideas -- personal experience suggests that Sandefer is terribly misguided when it comes to higher education -- Branch just went along with the crowd.
3. In fact, Dan Branch is the perfect example of what I wrote in my primary winners and losers post:
it is quite clear that if you ever want to move up in Texas politics, then you should stay far away from Joe Straus.
Dan Branch joined the Democrats in supporting Joe Straus for speaker. Straus gave him committee chairmanships. Branch then raised lots of money. If I recall correctly, Branch even spent more on TV ads than anyone else in 2014.
But all those millions couldn't counteract one fact: being on Team Straus cost Dan Branch his chance of winning statewide.
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