Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Stefani Carter

Tuesday, Linda Koop won election to the Texas House District 102 seat currently held by Stefani Carter. Koop defeated Carter in the GOP primary. Before the vote Tuesday, Carter made one last pitch to the voters -- not for Koop but for Greg Abbott, GOP candidate for governor. Carter wrote an opinion piece for the Texas Tribune making a case why minorities should support Abbott. Mostly it was standard GOP boilerplate (e.g., twisting opposition to public education into support: "providing quality public education"). Nothing about Carter in that part of the opinion piece. It was the rest that reminds voters what they don't like about Stefani Carter.

Carter always struck me as ambitious and self-serving. She switched parties in 2004, becoming a Republican in deep-red Texas. She changed addresses, moving to a traditionally Republican district that had elected a Democrat in the 2008 Obama wave. In her 2010 campaign against that Democrat, she vilified Barack Obama while subliminally hoping voters saw a little of him in her (i.e., she plagiarized lines from his biography). She courted the tea party but once in Austin she threw her support to the GOP establishment that the tea party was trying to overthrow. In 2012, she traveled around the country campaigning for Mitt Romney, looking like she wanted to ride his coattails to Washington. It was not to be. Back in Austin, Carter dutifully backed the interests of the oil and gas industry against the cities and homeowners she represented, hoping to parlay that support into a run for statewide office in 2014. She announced a run for Railroad Commissioner, the office that regulates (or doesn't) the oil and gas industry. But that industry had other candidates they liked better, leaving Carter in an impossible position. She came back to District 102 too late to reclaim her old seat. Linda Koop had already announced she wanted it and had even signed up Carter's campaign consultant. Koop won the GOP primary and the general election. That brings us to today and that opinion piece Carter wrote.

First sentence: "I was proud to join the Legislature as the first black female GOP state representative." Note the qualification "GOP" state representative. Democrats elected Barbara Jordan to the Texas Senate in 1966 and US House in 1972, so electing black women is no big deal in Texas. The GOP was only a generation late. But Carter is proud to be in the "better late than never" party.

Third sentence: "As a young black lawmaker, I've never viewed the GOP as a party focused on race." Irony abounds. The fact that the opinion piece even exists is evidence that the GOP is too focused on race, at least at election time. Between elections, the GOP pretends race doesn't matter. As Gromer Jeffers of The Dallas Morning News put it: Carter was ""a posterwoman for GOP outreach to minority candidates and voters." The GOP loves posterwomen. The GOP just doesn't much care for policies that help address issues of race in America.

Second sentence: "I lost my seat, partly because my consultants encouraged me to run for higher office." This is the big tell. This is how Carter takes ownership of her own political mistakes. She throws her consultants under the bus. Note that the consultant in question had signed onto Linda Koop's campaign when Carter announced for Railroad Commissioner, meaning he was unavailable to Carter when Carter tried to reclaim her District 102 seat. That could be the real reason Carter throws him under the bus. This captures Carter's character best and reminds voters what they don't like about her. With luck, this will be the last time you'll have to read about her here.

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