Thursday, January 12, 2006

Shapleigh Endorses Uresti for Senate

Senator Frank Madla has been running right in a Democratic district, and people have noticed. Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D- El Paso) has taken the unusual step of endorsing Carlos Uresti in the March 7th 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'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.

Shapleigh has been called the heart of the senate or morality chair because of his strong voice and his constant push for good government.

Why is Shapleigh opposing Madla?

One of Shapleigh's bigger objections with Madla is his bill last year that would have changed water irrigation district elections in El Paso. The bill would have restricted voting to landowners with irrigation rights. Critics said it would have taken voting rights away from about 95,000 people. Madla's bill passed the Senate, but died in the House.

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.

The Express-News points out some of the conservatives that have endorsed Madla

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, was the featured guest at a fundraiser for Madla on Tuesday night in Austin. Madla's host committee includes a number of former GOP legislators, such as lobbyists Mike Toomey and Arlene Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth authored House Bill 2292, which dramatically changed the way Texas delivers human services and is assailed by critics for cutting hundreds of thousands of children from Medicaid and CHIP.

If an esteemed Senator like Shapleigh is wanting change and sticking his neck out like this, then you have to pay attention.

These excerpts come from the San Antonio Express-News.


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