Lt. governor candidates low key on LGBT issues

Dewhurst lists fiscal responsibility as a top issue; Chavez-Thompson says she is focusing on education

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ON THE ISSUES | Although the candidates for Texas lieutenant governor have been relatively quiet on LGBT issues, a few key statements give an indication on where they stand. Republican incumbent David Dewhurst, left, chimed in to help cancel a student production of the gay-themed play “Corpus Christi” last spring. Linda Chavez-Thompson, the Democratic challenger, Tweeted her support for equality when a judge overturned California’s Proposition 8.

LGBT issues are not playing a big role in the race for Texas lieutenant governor between Republican incumbent David Dewhurst and Democratic challenger Linda Chavez-Thompson.

Neither candidate addresses LGBT issues on their website. But while neither campaign returned phone calls from Dallas Voice seeking comment for this story, a Tweet and a recent incident give an indication of their positions.

Dewhurst played a role in last spring’s controversy over the production of the play “Corpus Christi” at Tartleton State University in Stephenville.

“No one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans,” Dewhurst said in a written statement.

In later praising the university for canceling the performance, he claimed he was “a strong defender of free speech.”

Chavez-Thompson has taken a more LGBT-friendly stance.

After the Proposition 8 decision was handed down in California, she Tweeted her reaction to the ruling: “So glad to hear Prop 8 was overturned today. It was discrimination at its worst. I will keep fighting for equality for all Texans.”

Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darling Ewing said she believes Chavez-Thompson would be an ally to the LGBT community.

“Linda comes from an immigrant family, a poor family,” said Ewing. “On equality, she’ll be right on the issues.”

Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2003 and is running for a third term. He was first elected to statewide office in 1998 as commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas.

On his website, Dewhurst prominently displays a “Petition to Repeal Obamacare” directly under his “Take Action” call for volunteers for his campaign.

Under a pull down list of issues, health care is first. While he claims that an overwhelming majority of people oppose the “2,000-plus page, $1.2 trillion, health care overhaul” and estimates the new law will add $27 billion in costs to taxpayers, he proposes no solution to the lack of health coverage by Texans.

“He isn’t in favor of health care,” Ewing said. “He’s only interested in not paying for it.”

Dewhurst’s other top issues are fiscal responsibility, border security and property rights. He believes the federal government has not stopped the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants into Texas, and he says Texas has stepped in to enhance border security. He does not, however, propose an Arizona-type immigration law for the state.

Chavez-Thompson lists jobs and education as her top issues.

“The state has dropped the ball on education,” Ewing said. “It’s all about saving a buck. They’ve made college education a luxury. The cost of a college education today is ridiculous.”

Chavez-Thompson also addresses the health care debate on her website, saying, “Today, rising health care costs has forced too many Texas families to go without insurance.”

Chavez-Thompson spent most of her career working her way up through union ranks. When she was chosen to serve as the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, she was the first woman and the first person of color to hold that position.

President Bill Clinton appointed Chavez-Thompson to serve on his Race Advisory Board and on the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Today, she is vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“I think what she brings us is a workingman’s perspective,” Ewing said. “Because of her union history, she brings bargaining skills that would bring groups together.”

Local Republicans did not return calls or offered no comment for this article.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Obama to visit Dallas on Monday for fundraiser

President Barack Obama

On Monday, President Barack Obama will be in Dallas to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The Dallas County Democratic Party provided few details on the dinner other to say it will be a $15,000-per-plate affair at the home of attorney Russell Budd.

Budd is a partner in the law firm Baron & Budd. His late law partner Fred Baron was national campaign treasurer for John Edwards in 2008.

Few of this year’s candidates for Congress or statewide office said they plan to attend. Only lieutenant governor nominee Linda Chavez-Thompson expressed interest.

Katy Bacon, spokesperson for the Bill White campaign, said he doesn’t plan to attend.

“He will be in Midland, Abilene and Johnson County that day,” she said.

But she said he’s not avoiding the president.

“He has talked to him by phone from time to time,” she said.

She said that with just 90 days left until the election, White needs to get out and meet as many Texans as possible. She said the campaign is on track and that White out-raised Gov. Rick Perry three reporting periods in a row and currently has $3 million more cash on hand than the incumbent.

“When I heard President Obama would be visiting Dallas the week of August 9th, I immediately thought that he intended to come to my fundraiser on Wednesday, Aug. 11,” joked openly gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons. “Regrettably that has turned out not to be the case.”

Fitzsimmons said Texas Democrats have historically been very generous donors to congressional campaigns around the country and that the president is doing everything he can to ensure Democratic candidates are competitive in the fall.

“It is a shame, however, that the president will not be having a public event in North Texas this time around,” he said. “President Obama is enormously popular here in Dallas County.”

Congressional candidates were not invited to the events. Lainey Melnick, a Democrat running against Republican incumbent Lamar Smith in Austin, said she wanted to attend but was told she would have to pay $30,000 a couple.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said she expected Republicans to have something to say about Obama’s visit. But she said that Dallas is still “blue” and supports him.

“He’s not coming to stump,” she said. “They’re down here raising money and we’re a big ATM. Fifteen thousand dollars a plate is worth a stop in Dallas.”

Moore said White and other top Democrats know Dallas’ big donors already and that attending a fundraising event for the national Senate candidates wouldn’t be a good use of campaign time.

—  David Taffet

Superman’s editor running for gov; creationist and pastrami-maker lose

Perry White
Perry White

John Wright did our print edition election coverage this week. Since I was at the Democratic Party’s watch party on Tuesday, I decided to add my own keen observations. Maybe this is why editor Tammye Nash asked John to do our election coverage in the paper this week.

Rick Perry is running against Bill White for governor making it a Perry-White race. Say what you want about either Perry or White, Daily Planet editor Perry White was the greatest editor of all times. Although Tammye is more observant. She notices every time I change into tights and jump out of our window.

White and Linda Chavez-Thompson might make a stronger ticket on the Democratic side, but Shami-Katz would have been far more interesting. A Palestinian and a Jew running together would have been historic. And say what you will about Texans, I thought we were ready to embrace a Muslim governor. And talk about qualifications. Shami is a hairdresser and Katz … well, he simply makes the best pastrami sandwich in the state. I always make at least one stop at his 6th Street deli whenever I’m in Austin. Much more interesting than a race between two attorneys.

And I’m really upset about the District 9 State Board of Education race. Long-time board member Don McLeroy was defeated. McLeroy is a “young-earth creationist.” He believes the dinosaurs lived on earth about 5770 years ago, the same time as Adam and Steve. Because of the size of Texas schoolbook orders, decrees from the Texas Board of Edumacation affect books used around the country. Now, how are those heathens in New York City going to learn real creation science? Their books will be full of facts. The history they learn will be un-rewritten. Well, we’ll still have a couple of home-skoolers on the board.

And am I the only one who wanted the election to come out differently or is everyone in my office simply delighted that I won’t be walking around doing my Debra Medina imitations anymore.

—  David Taffet