Here’s another installment in my series on the Republican Texas House District 52 race in advance of the primary runoff on April 13. This time I sent questions to candidate Larry Gonzales about his runoff with John Gordon. My questions are in italics below, followed by his answers.
1. Do you think you’re a more conservative candidate than John Gordon, and if so how?
Yes, absolutely. Please see my answers to question #2 below.
I also think a good phrase to use in addition to “more conservative” is “more experienced.” I have been working at the capitol and understand state policy as a real-world practical application – actually legislating the issues. It’s not theoretical or a campaign sound bite. John to this day has yet to address a state issue on his campaign website or direct mail program. He offers no solutions to the pressing matters facing Texas. There is a void of ideas. He does not offer leadership. I do. Every mail piece we produced has a theme, and each theme has bullet points of policy ideas. You can see my mail and read my ideas at www.larrygonzales.com/media.
2. On which three issues you think do you think the policies differences between yourself and Gordon are most clear? How?
(#1) TAXES. I want to look at a consumption tax as a way to eliminate the unfair and subjective property tax system in Texas.
John Gordon in his survey from the Empower Texans PAC said he opposes a consumption tax. Here is what he said regarding a consumption tax: “Do you want the Saudis and Chinese coming into Texas and buying up our property and land with no taxes ever applied to their possession of such? This “popular” idea requires some serious rethinking.”
I’m not an expert on the buying patterns of the Saudi’s and Chinese, but I can tell you that the taxpayers of Texas want a more fair and transparent system of taxation. A consumption tax does this. It’s the idea that you are taxed on the value of your expenditures. Buy a Chevy pass less taxes. Buy a Ferrari, pay more taxes. It’s transparent and fair.
(#2) TORT REFORM. I am a proponent of lawsuit reform and support the work done at the capitol for the past several sessions. These efforts have led to reduce costs of goods and services to taxpayers, consumers, and businesses. That’s why Texans for Lawsuit Reform has endorsed my campaign.
John Gordon is the poster child for lawsuit abuse, filing frivolous lawsuits and mucking up our judicial system, making it a mockery, and costing the taxpayers untold thousands of dollars. There are bad, lawsuit happy Republicans, too, and John Gordon is one of them.
As a matter of fact, when John Gordon INTENTIONALLY submitted his required by law campaign finance report late (more on this in a moment), he told the Williamson County Sun if his case was turned over to the Attorney General’s office for collection, he would “fight it in court,” stating, “I’ll subpoena them.”
Or, he could pay his fines and save the taxpayers of Texas money prosecuting an intentional, self-inflicted, ethics violation.
I am not certain of a third. These are the two biggest differences between us – I support a fairer consumption tax and tort reform. John does not support a consumption tax and is a lawsuit abuser.
3. Who are some of the thinkers and books that have influenced your political philosophy?
It’s not necessarily books of academia that have influenced my political philosophy. It’s the real people, real leaders, in real situations who I have followed, believed in, and have shaped my political philosophy around.
I have enjoyed the passion and enthusiasm of Alan Keyes.
I admired the leadership and confidence of Ronald Reagan.
I admire the hard work and attention to fiscal tax policy of Grover Nordquist.
I admire the dedication, selflessness, and humbleness of Bill Graham.
I admire the organization and strength in rallying for a cause Newt Gingrich gave us in 1994.
All of these political figures, and many more, for one reason or another, have shaped the way I think.
4. What tax and budget policies would you pursue going forward in the Texas legislature?
1. I favor a consumption tax over an unfair and subjective property tax.
2. Adopt a biennial spending limit of the sum of inflation-plus-population-growth.
3. Make certain any attempt to exceed this spending limit would take a 3/4th’s vote of both the House and the Senate and require the Governor’s signature.
4. Adopt a constitutional amendment requiring the Rainy Day Fund only be used to balance the budget in times of revenue shortfalls.
5. Adopt a constitutional amendment which says once the cap on the Rainy Day Fund is reached, surplus dollars are to be used for tax relief.
6. Protect state sovereignty by fighting against our federal government’s unfunded mandates.
7. Eliminate the practice of raiding dedicated funds for other purposes.
5. How should Texas build and maintain its road infrastructure going forward? Do you approve of building new toll roads? If so, should they be built the state, or by private entities under some sort of toll-sharing agreement?
Texas needs to build the road infrastructure with tax dollars collected for that purpose! This is very important! This is government non-transparency at its most abusive. I believe if we put this money back to work for its stated purpose, the prospect of toll roads falls further out of sight.
If an area of Texas must talk about toll roads, then here are my ground rules:
- The need must be evident
- “Need” is defined as public safety or overall good of the taxpayers
- It must promote first and foremost increased mobility – not be driven by profit centers
- Texas should never toll existing roads
- Texas needs a willing land partner who is compensated properly for their land
- There will be no over-reaching land grabs
- All rights of the property owner shall be enforced, considered, and protected
- Secure the best deal possible if the tolls are being built by an outside entity (building costs, maintenance costs, maintenance schedules, revenue goals, revenue sharing, time limits of ownership, etc.) Be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money.
6. Do you believe that Proposition 2, Proposition 3 and Proposition 11* passed as part of the 2009 Constitutional Amendments provide adequate protections against post-Kelo eminent domain abuses? If not, what more should the legislature do to address this issue? (*The first time I sent this question out I inadvertently omitted Proposition 11 from this list, and added it back during a follow-up email.)
I was a very strong supporter of Propositions #2, #3, and #11 in the 2009 November Constitutional amendments.
I can tell you in all the years I have been working on appraisal reform, I do not believe I have ever heard a link to post-Kelso concerns. I guess I can see why one might make that jump to there; I’m simply saying that to my knowledge eminent domain issues have not been tied to a purposeful appraisal hike. I’ll be watching carefully to make certain that does not become a reality in Texas.
7. Do you consider yourself a member of the Tea Party movement, and/or do you seek their support?
I am a fiscal and social conservative, and a life-long member of the Republican Party, active in politics and policy since I can remember. I understand the TEA Party movement and the frustration its members feel with an over-reaching, arrogant, federal government. It is much warranted, and I welcome them to the debates! The TEA Party has an important role in the process. I have sought the help and endorsement from TEA Party members I have met, and they have obliged, and are helping me spread the word of my campaign.
8. A recently mailing from Gordon has made much of your campaign receiving the majority of contributions from Houston-area developer Bob Perry. How do you respond to Gordon’s mailing, and do you think this is a significant issue?
It’s not an important issue and only demonstrates just how little and unaware John Gordon is of economic development and job creation in Williamson County.
While Mr. Perry lives in Houston, his business itself is HUGE employer of folks right here in Williamson County. Hundreds of jobs are provided in Williamson County – builders, contractors, subcontractors, roofers, electricians, drywall, cement, framers, and the REALTORS who sell these homes. As a matter of fact, Perry Homes is building five subdivisions in Williamson County right now. Perry Homes is a big part of our economy in HD52 supplying meaningful jobs. And as we know, jobs mean salaries, salaries mean people spend money, that money gets pumped into our local economy and we all benefit when more people are a part of our economic infrastructure. So, while Mr. Perry is not local, the hundreds of people who gain employment are, and they are very much a part of our Williamson County family. And I’ll be there for those families, helping spur economic development when elected.
This is all John Gordon has to talk about. He has no policy ideas and no real solutions to talk about. It’s the politics of diversion – plain and simple.
9. After Texas Railroad Commission chairman Victor Carrillo lost in the Republican primary to challenger David Porter, he said that his “Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover.” Do you think this is the reason he lost, and have you personally received any indication that your name will make it more difficult to win the Republican nomination?
No, and no.
10. Any other thoughts on the race or politics in general you’d care to share with readers?
You can tell a lot about a man’s character by his actions. We have run a campaign based on the important issues facing Texas, offering the voters a clear understanding of my positions of the issues.
The negative race John Gordon is running – lying to the voters, misleading the voters, and scaring the voters with ideas about me that are untrue, even exploiting my grandfather’s death for his personal and political gain – is sickening. I hope the voters see through this and reject his politics of fear.
Thanks to Larry Gonzales for taking the time to answer my questions. I should have John Gordon’s answers to a similar set of questions up in the next day or so.