In most election years, the Texas House District 60 race is fairly quiet and uneventful. Current State Rep Jim Keffer has held the position since his election in 1997. With the exception of a challenge in 2002, he has been unopposed in his re-election campaigns. Currently, he has a challenger in a newcomer name Cullen Crisp. This race has heated up and in the final stretch is becoming a tad nasty. As with most contested campaigns, each side is claiming the other to slinging mud. Sometimes the mud is real and sometimes it is perceived. This campaign has both and needs some light shined upon it.
Regarding the Candidates
First, both Cullen Crisp and Jim Keffer are good men. Neither are serial killers or any other nonsense that comes into heated contests. Both own small business and have done well. Both are Christian men with families.
Separating Fact from Fiction
This is a tad more challenging, as water issues in Texas and this district in particular are heating up and mud is flying. So I will do my best to separate the garbage from the spin. Most of the rancor has arisen from the 501C4 Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and its President Michael Quinn Sullivan and the Keffer camp prior to Texans endorsement of Cullen Crisp. Texans came out with an unflattering ad of Keffer’s voting record of the 83rd Legislative Session. Here is their ad: http://www.empowertexans.com/uncategorized/tv-ad-jim-keffer-doesnt-want-voters-to-see/\
Is it dramatic and overdone – yes. Is it false, well, no. If you research the data, it is correct. Keffer’s office did not see it that way and put out their response – http://www.empowertexans.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/keffer-threat-letter.pdf. Is Keffer’s response over the top – I would say so. Let’s also be honest and state that the 83rd Legislative Session could be classified as one big spendstorm. Several Republican seats have become vacant due to sudden retirements from backlash of the spending that was done in Austin this past year. As such, Keffer’s office would have been better served to explain why he voted the way he did and stand his ground. Bottom line, if you cast a vote, you should be able to explain it and defend it. If you cannot, don’t do it. Has Keffer always had years like this – no. For most of his career he has been a respectable conservative vote. However, you will find with most conservative politicians is that the longer they are in office, the less conservative they tend to be. Keffer has served 16 years in office.
Texans endorsed Cullen Crisp after this mud started flying.
The water issue went nuclear 2 days ago with the article regarding the draining of PK Lake and Lake Granbury. I reposted it here for a few reasons: 1. I am intimate with the Morris Shepherd Dam issue and know fact from fiction, 2. HB3031 was authored by Representative Keffer, 3. The Buffer Zone was sold to Mike Patterson’s group for well under realistic market value at the time of the sale. 4. When the hydros were producing low cost power and even water flow, PK residents were not complaining, 5. This disaster for Keffer’s district has occurred under his watch. Those are well documented facts. There is one mistake in the article in the reference towards the 3.8 million in the Buyout portion of the article. That was actually part of a 12.75 bond issuance in 2005 for maintenance at PK Lake for the dam and 3.8 million was never spent after the units were sold. That is a federal crime, by the way. Now there are parts of the article I don’t know I have issue with. For example, I don’t have an issue with US Government bill monies going to only domestic US companies. Truthfully, that is how it should be. Those are my tax dollars and yours. What I want are competitive prices and fair bidding. IF that is not the case, then hang them by their Buster Browns. So, is Texans overly dramatic here – yes. While I may not like it, the fact Keffer’s son chooses to be a lobbyist and work for Bryan Eppstein (whom I personally dislike), he has every right to do so. Unless Texans has something factual that Eppstein’s group has done against the law, working in mud is a legal choice. I can see where it can raise red flags and all parties had best be ULTRA careful or otherwise get fitted for prison orange. So Texans is overly dramatic here as well.
Regarding the Proposition 6 bill, afraid Texans has this right. While it has been sold to voters as a solution to water issues, facts are it is not. The way it is structured, Prop 6 just gives more power to create debt in the name of water. We already have too much debt surrounding water boards that is part from ignorance of how to handle the issue and part in pork barrel projects. Drought is not our only water enemy in Texas; a growing population is a greater threat. Had Prop 6 been amended with some of the proposed transparency amendments, it would have been a better bill. Building a potential pipeline to move water is good. To use it to possibly move water from one lake to another is idiotic. There is one and only one solution to our water problem in Texas – desalinate the ocean water in the Gulf and pipe it inland. In 2012 at the Republican State Convention, I approached Keffer and Senator Glen Hegar, Chair of the Natural Resource Committee at the time on the topic. Both liked desal, but both shied away from the state potentially paying for a pipeline for a private enterprise to pump water inland. The reason this topic was important at the time was that I had a group of investors willing to put money into a very large south Texas desalination project. The investor’s hang-up was building a pipeline without the help of the State regarding eminent domain issues. So, when the topic went from building a plant to building a pipeline, the topic fizzed out. Now, in fairness, I continued the topic in phone and email communications with Senator Hegar to try to push the issue and still failed. Representative Keffer, also on the Natural Resource Committee and someone I thought would welcome any form of reasonable solution, never replied to further requests. Well, private investors like I had don’t like messing with eminent domain for pipelines, so unless the State of Texas makes desal a public works project, Prop 6 is a waste of paper.
Now, Keffer’s office has not taken the water article lying down. The cranked out their own spin on Keffer’s Campaign site: http://jimkeffer.com/urgent-truth-alert-on-possum-kingdom-lake-and-lake-granbury . I have issues with this response. To start, nothing comes out and addresses the HB3031 that Keffer did sponsor. It’s your bill – explain your position. Also, this use of the term DARK MONEY is a liberal tactic being promoted by Democrats in the US Congress against conservative groups who have figured out how the Democrats started winning elections last decade and are now legally using the same tactics. For Keffer’s camp to accuse Texans as a DARK MONEY source implies evil. Why would a Texas Republican and a declared conservative even promote such a term against another Republican? My gut is that this is the Eppstein effect as his political consultant and a form of party cannibalism I have personally seen and experienced before. For the record, I don’t know who backs them and really don’t care and here is why: The candidates they have endorsed have been fiscally responsible people and carried those traits onto the Texas House and Senate. I was endorsed in 2010, as was current Senator Brian Birdwell in the 2010 Special Election. The Legislators they rate after each session are based upon saving taxpayer dollars. It could be argued that maybe they want too much reduction in government. There are those that might agree with that. But saving taxpayer dollars is not what I consider a DARK form of politics, do you? Their filings on the Texas Ethics Website appear to be in order. Insofar as Keffer’s two Ethics complaints against Texans for undisclosed lobbying activity, a complaint is exactly that – a complaint. Unless they get some form of administrative action that is pristine and without interference or influence, this appears more of a personal grudge. Also, regarding the initial audit of the BRA – the disclosure here is not completely forthcoming. While it is true that Representative Keffer and Senator Birdwell got legislation through, it was only after 5 years of hounding at his heels and threatening to find another candidate for Keffer’s office did this start to take motion. Representative Keffer did not run willingly down this path as is implied here. If you have any doubts about this statement, talk with any member of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Homeowners Association.
Now, here is where this gets somewhat comical. If you review candidate Cullen Crisp’s website http://www.cullencrisp.com you will not find any mention of his endorsement from Texans, any negative data on Representative Keffer, or any mention of the BRA issue. Innocent neglect or brilliance?
So who is The Guy to vote for?
As far as Representative Keffer is concerned, most of his tenure has been solid. However, as stated before, his votes are beginning to stray away from what got him elected in the first place. If you doubt it, check his record. It is online and you can peruse every vote he has ever made. This happens when you get 10 plus years in office. While he was elected in 1997, he has been in 8 sessions covering 16 years. In my opinion, that is 6 years too long and why we need term limits in all forms of elected office. There is also the water issue surrounding the Morris Shephard Dam. Like it or not, intentional or not, he has played a part in a disaster and has shown no real way of how to correct the problem. My desire would be for Representative Keffer to just be Mr. Keffer in the iron business, which I would wish enormous success and hope he can get as much work for his business as he can handle.
As far as Cullen Crisp is concerned, this is young family man that has been very active in Hood County politics. He has a solid business background in the fire alarm business. I do not believe that he has lied in regards to Representative Keffer in this campaign. He is too well thought of and does not have the funds to garner the type of political consulting that comes up with the typical campaign garbage. Texans is an outside source that he has zero influence on. I believe in fresh faces ever ten years and hope he wins the race. If he does and stays beyond 10 years, then I doubt you will find me as kind then.
That is assuming my head has not exploded off my body from the entire political horse hockey……