The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Conscience Of The Senate Endorses Carlos Uresti

State Senator Eliot Shapleigh endorses Carlos Uresti in the SD-19 kerfuffle:

State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, is taking the unusual step of publicly opposing a colleague by endorsing a challenger in a Texas Senate district reaching from San Antonio to El Paso.

State Rep. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, is challenging 12-year veteran Sen. Frank Madla in the March 7 Democratic primary.

Madla is not a reliable vote for the interests of the district that tilts heavily Democrat, Shapleigh said.

"After 30 years in Austin, the people need to ask Frank, 'Who owns your heart?'" Shapleigh said.

Shapleigh's involvement in Madla's race raises some eyebrows because senators, who consider themselves members of an elite club, seldom directly involve themselves in a colleague's political contest.

Before we go along any further, let's note that I laughed at the 'elite club' thing. Can we say wannabe US Senators? Seriously, there's like a thousand state senators in the US- almost twice as many state senators as there are NBA basketball players. Ok, moving on:

"That's highly unusual," said Joe Garcia, a longtime Capitol lobbyist.

Madla has done a good job for his district, and his reputation as a swing vote makes him an important member of the Senate, Garcia said.


Because of Senate tradition and rules, 11 senators from the 31-member body can block legislation. But Democrats can't count on Madla, Shapleigh said, citing Madla's support for debate on such bills allowing school vouchers, cutting children from Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program or shifting taxes from wealthy Texans to middle-class families.

"The first vote that the (Senate) Republicans go to get is Frank Madla's," Shapleigh said.

You know as "important" as lobbyists and Republicans make him out to be, why hasn't Madla been able- among other things- to do anything else other than 'establish' the Texas A&M-San Antonio campus? No building built, no faculty or staff hired, no students being taught. Seems to me that Republicans are milking him for all they're worth and then leaving him high and dry.

It's also curious to see State Rep. Pete Gallegos words of support for Madla- wasn't this a guy who was rumored to also be thinking about challenging Madla? If the situations were reversed, would Uresti be saying the same thing about Madla?

Madla knows full well that with the uber-majority Republicans hold in the State Senate, his votes to allow debate for HB 2292 and last session's Republican school reform and tax bills effectively allow those bills to pass the Senate. If he were to do this, at the very least he could work to mitigate their effects on his district in committee or on the floor, but he didn't. With one out of every four citizens of SD-19 in poverty, and countless others either straddling that line or one accident away from falling into poverty, how could Madla for a second think any of those three bills would help his constituency?

Frank Madla's out of touch and often out of town. It's time for him to go.