We should be equally concerned about many of the new State House members. Like their Senate counterparts, the incoming class of House Republicans includes divisive ideologues with controversial pasts and policy ideas way out of line with mainstream Texans.
Little or no policy experience is the norm among many of the newest House Republicans, whose policy expertise rarely extends beyond reciting a few partisan talking points.
Will Metcalf, HD 16, is the newly-elected representative from Conroe and is a prime example of the “Know-Nothings.” Metcalf was called a “broken pull-string Ken doll” by the Houston Chronicle during last year’s special election.
San Antonio’s new HD 117 Rep., Rick Galindo, was described as “dismally unprepared when asked to discuss high-profile policy issues that face the state” in a meeting with the San Antonio Express-News.
Regardless of their party affiliation, legislators like Metcalf and Galindo, who lack basic knowledge about fundamental issues facing our state leave families in their districts under-served.
Not every member of the incoming Texas Legislature is weak on policy experience. Tea Party Republican Rodney Anderson is a return member making his way back to the House after losing his seat in 2012 due to redistricting. In 2014, Anderson raised the Tea Party banner, jumped in the GOP primary in Irving-based HD 105 and defeated mainstream conservative incumbent, Linda Harper Brown.
However, experience aside, Anderson’s destructive anti-public education ideology stands as a real threat to families in his District and all of Texas. In 2011, Anderson sponsored House Bill 400 which would have removed public classroom size requirements and wiped out the minimum salary schedule for teachers – a critical form of protection to ensure Texas teachers are paid a fair wage. Anderson also voted to strip $5.4 billion from Texas public schools.
Reckless and Dangerous
Incoming Tea Party Republican Tony Tinderholt from Arlington-based HD 94 defeated highly-respected mainstream conservative, Diane Patrick, in the 2014 Republican primary. Tinderholt took her down by pandering to the most mean-spirited faction within the Republican base.
Tinderholt’s resume alone reveals his instability. He’s only 44-years old, yet has been married five times. His past employment is sketchy to be charitable, and he was caught lying to voters about his recent work history.
A closer look reveals that Tinderholt brings a personal history so reckless and irresponsible that it is extraordinary he was nominated and elected to public office, which likely explains why so many Arlington Republicans endorsed Tinderholt’s Democratic opponent in the General Election.
For example, investigation records reveal that Tinderholt was part owner of a daycare facility and knew that his then-wife who worked as a child care provider at the facility was embezzling money for drug use – including crack cocaine.
And there’s more.
While managing a SW Fort Worth bar, Tinderholt was sued for serving alcohol to an underage employee. Tinderholt then allowed the employee to drive while intoxicated, resulting in an accident that caused “severe injuries.”