The murky and deep swamp of Austin takes its toll on many people — even the fiercest conservative warrior. The backroom deals and empty promises can lead any person down the road of cynicism. During my time as a correspondent for The Texas Horn, I have had the pleasure of interviewing many grassroots figures — from activists like Robert West and Tim Labatzky to political candidates like Don Huffines and Adam Salyer. A common theme I see from the grassroots is one of discontentment for the political establishment. Grassroots activists across this state play an instrumental role in the Republican Party. Many of these activists pour in their sweat and tears to get people elected in the hope that actual conservative legislation will come to fruition. Many of these activists get together to compile and formulate the Republican Party platform and release “legislative priorities” that they hope our “Republican”legislature will pass. Naturally, our Republican legislative priorities are either tossed aside or watered-down. Yes, this blatant disregard for the political backbone of the Republican Party can make many grassroots activists and citizens upset and cynical with politics and government. Fortunately, some happy news graced our lives the other day. Chris Paddie, the honorable representative from Texas House District 9 (HD9) and Chairman of the Texas House Committee on State Affairs, was recently censured by the Harrison County GOP (his home county). Chris Paddie represents Texas House District 9 which consists of a long sliver along the Texas/Arkansas/Louisiana border (including Cass, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Sabine, and Shelby Counties.) In fact, Chris Paddie represents my hometown of Atlanta, Texas. This region is heavily conservative; Cass County gave 79% of its votes to President Trump in 2020. In fact, every county in District 9 had over 71% of their votes go to Trump. Needless to say, this is a very conservative district — it may even be one of the most conservative districts in this state. So, one would figure that Chris Paddie, since he represents a very conservative district, would also be very conservative. Unfortunately, this could be no further from the truth. Chris Paddie is the embodiment of the swamp. He has one the worst conservative records of any Republican House Member in our current legislature. In light of his recent censure, it is perhaps time to set the record straight about Paddie’s record.
So, what does Paddie’s record show? According to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Chris Paddie scored a 33% pro-taxpayer record for his time in the 2021 legislative session. That puts him as the 4th worst Republican out of 82 Republicans. To note, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility grade legislators on “how lawmakers perform on size and role of government issues. Texans for Fiscal Responsibility uses exemplar votes on core budget and free enterprise issues that demonstrate legislators’ governing philosophy.” In 2019, Paddie scored 47% (still in the lower ranking of Republican legislators). In 2017, Paddie scored 42%. In 2015, Paddie scored 60%. In 2013, Paddie scored 56% (Paddie’s first session). That is a lifetime average of 47.6%. In short, Paddie’s record in the legislature, according to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, has either been terrible or mediocre. TFR is not alone, YCT gave him a dismal 57% for his record in the 86th legislature (there is not an updated score for the most recent session.) But in what specific ways in which Paddie has not lived up to the conservative expectations of HD9? Let us turn to Lee Lester — the Harrison County GOP chair. Lester has stated that “the [censure] vote was spurred by Paddie’s seemingly lack of support to the party’s platform.” In fact, the Harrison County GOP released a list of 18 specific grievances against Paddie. I will be discussing three of these grievances and a fourth not mentioned in the censure.
1: “WHEREAS, Representative Bryan Slaton proposed Amendment No. 19 to HR 4, which would make it out of order for the House to consider a bill or joint resolution naming a highway system, bridge, or street, unless the 87th Legislature had already voted on a bill or joint resolution abolishing abortion in Texas, and Representative Chris Paddie voted “NO” on this amendment.” This is one of the grievances mentioned in the censure vote. For context, freshman representative Bryan Slaton (one of the most conservative members of the 87th legislature) introduced an amendment that would require the state house to finally debate and take a stance on abolishing abortion in the state of Texas before considering a vote to rename a road or bridge. This is a seemingly simple vote — Republican representatives can either live up to their commitment to defend the unborn and abolish abortion or not. Paddie chose the latter and voted no in direct defiance of RPT priorities and the heavily conservative voters that he represents.
2: “WHEREAS, Representative Bryan Slaton proposed Amendment No. 3 to HR 4, which would seek to compel the House Speaker to appoint Republican chairmen to the major committees in the House, and Representative Chris Paddie voted “NO” on this amendment.” Once again, this is a simple vote — either put people in charge of committees that support conservative principles and the party platform or don’t. Naturally, Paddie chose the latter and supported the appointment of Democrats to chair committees — giving them the power to kill conservative legislation. I fail to see what there is to gain in giving Democrats power. Republicans (in the majority) in other states would not think of giving Democrats (in the minority) the power to chair committees. The same would be true if the roles were reversed. Why should conservatives seek unity with a party that is fundamentally opposed to everything they stand for? Why should conservatives give people who believe in gender modification on children, abortion, massive government shutdowns of churches and businesses, and gun control any ounce of power or authority?
3: “WHEREAS, House Bill 749, with forty-four (44) authors and co-authors, would ban taxpayer funded lobbying, which is a top priority of the Republican Party, was referred to Chairman Chris Paddie’s State Affairs Committee on March 1, 2021, and while it did get a public hearing in committee on March 25, 2021, it was left pending and ultimately died in committee, because Chairman Paddie refused to allow it to be voted out of committee to the floor.” Once again, Paddie demonstrates not only how out of touch he is with his constituents but also with the rest of the state. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, 91% of people oppose taxpayer funded lobbying. In fact, ending taxpayer funded lobbying is a RPT legislative priority. So, why would Paddie block this bill? Does Paddie support using tax-payer funds to support lobbyists? If only Chris Paddie would show up to his district and discuss these charges against him.
4: Finally, let us discuss a grievance not mentioned by the Harrison County GOP — Chris Paddie killing Representative Bryan Slaton’s bill HB 2862. Chairman Paddie is presenting a trend of either blocking or voting against bills introduced by very conservative legislators. Border security is an issue that dominates the political discussion every year. It is a big theme of many political campaigns in Texas (and other border states). In fact, the border crisis is a big issue for the current governor’s race. Once again, border security is also an RPT legislative priority. Representative Slaton’s bill would “complete the border wall and require the governor to obtain reimbursements from the federal government for the costs incurred.” According to Slaton, he was informed by Chris Paddie, the chair of the State Affairs Committee, that “the bill will not receive a hearing this session.” Naturally, the bill never received a hearing.
Chris Paddie has demonstrated, through his dismal record from conservative scorecards and voting against conservative legislation, that he is no conservative. The Club for Growth (a fiscally conservative organization) gave Chris Paddie a score of 44% for this past session. Paddie has kicked the can down the road on many issues important to conservatives — from border security to ending taxpayer funded lobbying. It is time for him to go, and luckily, he recently announced that he would reverse his decision to seek re-election and forgo serving another term in the legislature. While I have certainly been a tad bit harsh on Paddie’s record in this article, I do wish him the best as he retires from serving as the representative for HD9. However, Paddie’s decision leaves an opening for the counties in HD9. With redistricting, HD9 may look totally different in the next election cycle. The district may be scrapped totally, and counties may be placed in other surrounding districts. What remains the same, though, is that whoever represents my home needs to be a fierce and strong conservative. The next representative for HD9 needs to have strong roots with the community. It needs to be someone that will show up and talk with the constituents of their district. They need to be committed to conservative principles and the Republican Party Platform. They need to be a fighter, and they definitely do not need to be a politician. Some names come to mind of who would best serve my community, but what remains true is that the next representative from East Texas needs to truly represent the conservative values of the people. While this article is specifically tailored to the people of HD9, the same principles can be applied to any district. To the reader of this article, investigate your representative’s record. Check how your representative scores with conservative organizations. Get involved with the grassroots and run — run for precinct chair, county chair, city councilor, school board member, mayor, state representative, or state senator. Get involved, because if we continue to sit on the sidelines and let politicians cozy up to the establishment then things will not get any better. And, to anyone thinking of running to replace Paddie or any other RINO state representative, know that you have a friend at The Texas Horn and that all you have to do is contact me. It is time to get to work!
Garrit Blizzard is the Editor-In-Chief of The Texas Horn. He is a senior studying government at the University of Texas at Austin. Garrit enjoys reading, listening to music, and discussing politics and economics.