Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Party purge

Nacho Guarache is an excellent political cartoon by local artist Leo Garza. San Antonio readers of the E-N are fortunate to have it. But sometimes Garza can be such a Republican hack (some would call him a wanker) that it starts to detract from the quality of his stuff.

This past week, for example, he once again went after his favorite whipping boy, the local Democratic Party by lampooning them as being hardline party disciplinarians.

And while there may be a sliver of truth in his criticism (obviously geared toward to backlash against Rep. Henry Cuellar for playing kissy-face with President Bush prior to the SOTU speech), Garza completely overlooks the log in his own party’s eye in the form of multi-millionaire James Leininger who is financing an effort to purge the Texas Republican Party of so-called “liberals.”

A political action committee gave nearly $700,000 last month to the Republican primary opponents of five state House members who fought school voucher proposals during last year's legislative session.
James Leininger, a prominent supporter of school vouchers, was the only contributor during the latest reporting period to the Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, according to reports to the Texas Ethics Commission....

Leininger, a San Antonio businessman, gave the political action committee $500,000 and pledged $250,000 more, The Dallas Morning News reported in its Wednesday editions. Leininger also made direct donations to some of the challengers.
The political action committee made in-kind contributions of advertising and mailings to primary opponents of Reps. Carter Casteel, R-New Braunfels; Tommy Merritt, R-Longview; Roy Blake Jr., R-Nacogdoches; Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock; and Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth....

Bill Crocker of Austin, one of the state's two members of the Republican National Committee, said he founded the Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee in October to go after "liberal Republicans" in the Legislature.

So while Democrats are having a widely publicized cat fight in two local primary races this year - Cuellar vs. Rodriguez for a congressional seat and Madla vs. Uribe for a state senate seat - for which they are getting lampooned in the paper, Republicans have their own ideological cleansing program underway which is both larger in scale while also recieving less attention.

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