Why Are Liberals Targeting this Gay Bar?

Of all the gay bars on Main Street, only one flies Old Glory above the rainbow flag: the Pegasus.

One congressional candidate has tried, and failed, to quietly escape identity politics.

Of all the gay bars on Main Street, only one flies Old Glory above the rainbow flag: the Pegasus. 

At night, the Pegasus also hangs a canvas banner in their signature black and green that reads: “We respect everyone’s right to protest, but please be kind to our patrons and staff.” Not a chalkboard. A permanent banner that somebody wrote, ordered and bought for indefinite use.

Why is the Pegasus begging for mercy as a standing request? Who would protest a gay bar? Surprisingly, the answer is neither Baptists nor the alt-right, but the San Antonio gay community—at least, part of it.

The Pegasus was founded by Mauro Garza, a local philanthropist, entrepreneur, and former Democrat. His embattled bar lies just south of the 20th Congressional District of Texas, held by Democrat Joaquin Castro. Garza hopes to flip the district and replace Castro as the congressman for San Antonio’s west side.

Protests have taken place in front of the Pegasus ever since a handful of left-leaning gays dug through Garza’s social media. They didn’t have to dig very hard—Garza is openly, unapologetically conservative. 

“My opponents don’t know how to deal with me.”

Mauro Garza, congressional candidate

To say that protests have rocked the Pegasus would be an overstatement. The protest I checked out consisted of a handful of uncomfortable-looking men in tight polo shirts standing on the sidewalk to give out flyers to passersby, urging them to choose a different bar. 

The flyers allege: “Last year the Republican Party in Texas needed money to run Anti-Gay and Anti-Trans ads for the purpose of creating fear and hatred of LGBT people just like you. Mauro Garza came through and gave more than 150,000.00$ of your gay dollars.”

Nuanced. It continues: “Now he’s running for Congress as a hardcore Trump loving, Mexican hating Republican.” 

Meeting Garza gives one the impression that he stumbled into this fray on accident. He’s a soft-spoken guy who wears khakis and adjusts his glasses as a nervous habit. When I asked if he’s the owner of that loud place across from my apartment, he distanced himself. “It’s one of my ventures, yes,” he said.

Garza is undoubtedly an unlikely candidate. Photos on his website put him among antlers, crosses and cowboy hats, typical Republican props. He wears his MAGA hat with pride and shares right-wing memes on social media. The internet, from his denouncers on Twitter to his supporters on his site, paints a unanimous picture of Garza as a staunch Republican disconnected from the gay community.

The irony doesn’t escape him. “My opponents don’t know how to deal with me,” he smiled, touching his glasses frames with one hand. “They call me racist even though I’m Hispanic, and they want to call me homophobic, even though I’m a part of that community.”

The Pegasus protesters had their day during the San Antonio Pride Parade when they unfurled a handmade banner in front of the bar, which read in scrawled spray paint: THE PEGASUS SUPPORTS TRUMP. Drag queens giving bystanders the bird arranged themselves around the poster. Since then, their protests have not been so glamorous. Ill-attended and lackluster, they stand below the spotlighted American flag unfurled before the Pegasus as passersby filter into the oldest undefeated bar on the Main Street Strip, unconcerned.

Playing a Part in Chip Roy’s Victory

As the tension and excitement from midterms finally comes to a close, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my involvement in Chip Roy’s campaign in Texas’s 21st congressional district.

Though I attend school in San Angelo and live in Mike Conaway’s congressional district, I was offered the opportunity to engage voters through blockwalking and phone banking for Chip Roy in an important race against Democrat Joseph Kopser. Having never worked on a campaign before, I was excited to be part of this deployment and get a taste of what “real politics” are like. The dynamic was impactful and increased my sense of respect for those who do this more regularly.

Elections are often seen as a snore to the apolitical crowd, as those who don’t engage don’t know what it takes in terms of campaigning to get someone elected. While I don’t claim to now be an expert, I can affirm that the process requires dedication beyond measure.

I rolled into San Antonio the Thursday evening before election day, and got started right away on Friday morning. After some quick training on blockwalking and how to handle the app we were using, I was ready to engage some voters on my own. Having familiarized myself with Chip’s conservative platform beforehand, I felt good about representing him and his campaign as I went door to door in Bexar County.

While most of the people I ended up talking to had already voted, the concern of many seemed to be the issue of abortion. Chip Roy’s position is clear and easily articulated, as he believes in preserving and protecting life. Because of this, he received endorsements from both Texas Right to Life and National Right to Life. As I explained this to those who inquired, I knew it would compel voters who felt strongly on this issue to get to the polls if they had not already. Later on, our team was lucky enough to meet Chip for lunch, where our respect for his authenticity and principles was solidified.

Reaching these voters takes dedication from both staff and volunteers. It is by no means appealing to walk hundreds of miles over the course of election season in order to get out the vote, but it is beyond effective in cultivating a culture to get voter turnout. That’s what campaigning is all about. It’s one of the few industries that can’t be outsourced or replaced with automation. It requires boots on the ground, inspired people willing to sacrifice time to achieve change for the greater good. It is something that requires you to care.

Blockwalking during the days leading up to an election will naturally put you into contact with an eclectic mixture of people- dedicated voters, people who couldn’t care less, people who just want this whole politics thing to be over. All of it comes down to election day, which I spent with fellow supporters of Chip Roy who were hoping for the best while working the polls in San Antonio. Few people come to the polls willing to change their mind, though we were willing to engage people if need be.

After our hours of walking, making phone calls, and growing to really care about the outcome of this campaign, the watch party in New Braunfels began. Though Chip Roy was projected to win, we couldn’t help but feel ecstatic when he got up on stage to make the announcement that his victory was looking pretty clear. The feeling of seeing the work you pour into something like this pay off is hard to articulate, but it is phenomenal, to say the least.

I’m not from San Antonio, and won’t officially be represented by Chip Roy, but I’ll always have a special sense of respect for his office. He is beyond principled and I have no doubt that he will take his role in Washington, D.C. seriously. I also have a new sense of respect for those who dedicate countless hours working hard to get the most respectable leaders elected, and I look forward to seeing Chip represent Texans with our values in mind in the U.S. House of Representatives.

I’ll never forget the hard work I put into this, and the great results that followed. While we aren’t always promised a victory, understanding the sense of dedication that goes into getting someone like Chip Roy is a lesson that can only be learned by going through it. And the few days I had to learn this dynamic will serve me as I grow and cultivate my career, whether or not it be political.

Cruz and O’Rourke Debate in San Antonio

Midterm elections are just around the corner, and candidates rush to earn support from voters. That means candidates begin raising money, meeting potential voters, hosting political rallies, and other events to prepare for election day. On Tuesday evening, the second debate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke was televised.

In this debate, Ted Cruz was the clear winner. While debating, Cruz provided more facts and evidence to prove his point. For instance, during the round about American deficit spending, Cruz mentioned that “in the 1960s John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, campaigned on tax cuts.” He continues to give more examples on how the economy grew through the use of tax cuts. He claimed that it is “immoral, the deficit and debt we have racked up.” Appealing to historical events, Cruz more effectively proves his point that the high taxes and extensive debt deficit is bad for the economy.

Although both candidates spent the majority of their time attacking the other, Cruz possessed more refined skills of a good debater. While neither candidate went into particularly specific detail about how they would improve the economy, healthcare, or implement policy, Cruz managed to do this more than O’Rourke. Cruz also mentioned some of his accomplishments, enhancing his credibility and ability to implement policy, while O’Rourke did not mention many of his accomplishments. On the contrary, both candidates did indeed give examples of how they can cooperate with their Party counterparts. They each mentioned times when they had to work with an opposing Party member on a certain issue.

Even though Cruz managed to debate more effectively than O’Rourke, both candidates aimed to appeal to their Texan audience. For example, O’Rourke discussed his confidence in the Texan oil industry, stating that “we can support Texas while being a proud leader in oil, but also in renewable energy.”

At the end of the debate, each candidate gave their final words. O’Rourke and Cruz seemed to be optimistic about the future. Both candidates were confident in the power of America because it is “a nation that not only Americans look up to, but the world looks up to.”

On the evening of this debate, I watched this debate not on a screen, but I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the official Ted Cruz Campaign watch party event to watch the debate with his campaign and many Cruz supporters. The event was a life-changing experience because I got to meet some great politicians, including Sen. Cruz himself! As a young university student, attending this watch party made me feel more knowledgeable of politics than the average young person in America. When Ted Cruz arrived at the event after the debate, he seemed happy to see the large amount of young people who supported him. In retrospect, I have never felt more excitement to get an individual photo with Ted Cruz and meet many other notable politicians.

Analysis: Why Everyone Should be Watching New Mexico

Gary Johnson, former two-term New Mexico governor and two-time Libertarian presidential candidate, officially re-entered politics in announcing his run for New Mexico’s open Senate seat under the Libertarian Party banner. This comes after Aubrey Dunn, the original LP nominee for New Mexico’s Senate seat, dropped out of the race to “focus on his job as state land commissioner.” Johnson now faces Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich and Republican challenger Mike Rich.

Johnson has admitted he faces a few obstacles to victory in November. New Mexico’s secretary of state recently reinstated straight-ticket voting, earning criticism from Johnson and a lawsuit from the New Mexico Republican and Libertarian parties, who argue that the change will benefit the dominant Democratic Party. RealClearPolitics rates New Mexico’s Senate race as “Safe Dem,” likely because the state leans heavily Democratic (45.9% of New Mexico’s voters are Democrats, whereas only 30.5% of NM voters are Republicans).

On the other hand, Johnson has a lot going for him. He enjoys considerable name recognition in New Mexico. His best showing during the 2016 presidential election was in New Mexico—his home state—garnering 9% of the vote. Additionally, Johnson was twice elected as New Mexico’s governor in the late 90’s, having won as a Republican in a state that was—and still is—heavily Democratic. A recent poll from Emerson College puts him at 21%, with Heinrich at 39% and Mike Rich at 11% (Johnson also beats out Rich among Republicans, pulling in 27% against Rich’s 25%). If this poll is any indication of the next few months of the race, it shows that Johnson, not Rich, will be Heinrich’s main challenger. And this indication hasn’t been lost on Heinrich’s supporters; Elizabeth Warren has publicly attacked Gary Johnson’s policies.

But most noteworthy is Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) recent endorsement of Johnson. Garnering such a significant endorsement from a sitting senator of another party is telling of Johnson’s policies and his past record of governor of New Mexico. During his tenure, Johnson vetoed over 700 bills from the state legislature. He cut taxes and balanced the state’s budget. As for his policies, Johnson’s ideology and priorities closely mirror those of Senator Paul. Johnson strongly favors the legalization of marijuana, wants to cut taxes and spending, and make it easier for immigrants to come to the United States.

But Johnson is certainly running a long-shot candidacy. A Libertarian has never won a congressional race, but if Johnson were to win, it would mean several different things for the Libertarian Party. For one, the party would gain greater legitimacy with the political mainstream and voters would see it as a viable alternative that can win elections. The policies that the LP advocates for—minimum government and maximum freedom—will have to be addressed by the major parties if they are to continue to stay in power, or else they risk losing more elections to Libertarian candidates, while facing serious opposition in the meantime. And finally, more people will find out about the Libertarian Party and have a better working knowledge of what the party stands for and what it will do once it can win elections.

By virtue of entering the NM Senate race, Johnson has made his race more interesting, and could have political ramifications both for his party and for the Republicans and Democrats. Even if he loses, it is still likely that he will collect a large number of votes, making his Senate bid one of the most successful in LP history.

Disclaimer: Zach Neeley is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Mark Tippetts, the 2018 Libertarian candidate for Governor of Texas.

Raymond Zavala Aspires to “Fight the Good Fight” in SA City Council

Raymond Zavala is a 66 year old retired veteran running to represent District 1 in the San Antonio City Council, the district that Trinity falls in. Zavala is running for City Council because he is concerned about youth, seniors, and the disabled.

When asked why he has aspirations for this seat, Zavala said “the city council right now is trying to make San Antonio like Dallas, Austin, and Houston. San Antonio is a unique city and shouldn’t be messed with….Some changes are good, but not when you toss them down the throats of the people.”

An issue of importance to Zavala’s campaign is accountability, of which he thinks there is none. He explained that even though City Council members have a salary, they still receive a free catered lunch, even after San Antonio voters approved a salary increase for City Council.

This increase, which passed in May 2015, raised the salary from $1000 a year to $45,722 a year, a livable wage. Zavala wonders why the City Council still continues to use additional tax dollars for items like catered lunch and free airport parking when Council members now have a full livable wage. 

Zavala was, and still is, opposed to the pay raise. “If I was to win the district race––and I intend to win it––I will give up all my salary except for one dollar, because legally I have to take one dollar. I will use that salary to help the seniors, the youth, the disabled, and the veterans,” Zavala said.

Zavala cares deeply about San Antonio’s youth, and plans to bring back the San Antonio Neighborhood Youth Organization (SANYO). SANYO was started in 1965 and gave high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to get job training or hold summer jobs in the city. After influencing tens of thousands of young adults, it was terminated in 1994 due to lack of funding.

Zavala believes that San Antonio teens need summer jobs not only to earn money, but also to keep them out of trouble.

Responsibility and accountability are characteristics Zavala believes are lacking in today’s youth and needed now more than ever. Zavala envisions a revived SANYO that pays young adults minimum wage in exchange for their hard work and holds summer events for children ages 6-13 like attending the symphony and visiting the zoo.

Zavala is running to replace incumbent Roberto Trevino, who was appointed to the position in 2014 after Diego Bernal left the council to serve in the state House of Representatives. “Trevino favors the LGBT over anybody else,” Zavala said. This summer, Trevino led the council in funding the construction of a rainbow crosswalk. Zavala believes it is unfair for the city to pay for special projects for certain groups.

“I fight the good fight,” Zavala said. “For the right reasons: for the people, not for me. I have no interest in being governor or senator. All I want to do is serve the people of San Antonio.”

Trinity Students Knock Chip Roy to Victory

Chip Roy is the Republican nominee for Texas’s 21st congressional district. His placement in the runoff was secured by more than 7,000 votes in the March 6 primary, and fewer than 300 votes in Bexar county. While Roy was a favorite, having served as Senator Ted Cruz’s Chief of Staff and then as the Director for the Center for the 10th Amendment and Vice President of Strategy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, his victory was not assured. Members of the Young Conservatives of Texas at Trinity University knocked on more than 6,000 doors in Bexar county to turn out the vote for him.

Lamar Smith has been the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 21st District since 1987. TX-21 stretches from Southwest Austin, down I-35 to Trinity at the southernmost edge, and out to Fredricksburg. After several decades in Congress, Smith announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking reelection. 18 Republican candidates filed for the race.

With 18 candidates, a runoff was all but guaranteed. William Negley, who had hired the high powered campaign consulting firm Murphy Nasica, narrowly missed the runoff to Chip Roy and Matt McCall, who had challenged Smith several times before, earning 25-30% of the primary vote each time. Texas primary runoff elections were on May 22, and Chip Roy beat Matt McCall with just under 2,000 votes. Roy won Bexar county by more than 1,000 votes.

Campaign managers and consultants of all stripes and ideologies are in agreement that knocking on doors and other forms of direct voter contact, rather than TV ads and yard signs, are the most effective ways to win elections. There are other factors of course, but there are few things as effective as simple blockwalking. This makes the 6K+ doors that Trinity students knocked on in the weeks leading up to the March 6 and May 22 elections an invaluable contribution to Chip Roy’s place on the ballot in November.

Chip Roy will face Democrat Joseph Kopser on November 6.

Abbott Sets SD 19 Runoff Date for Sept 18

Governor Greg Abbott announced today the date for the runoff in the emergency special election runoff for Senate District 19. Election day will be September 18, with early voting running from September 10-14. This runoff will fill the seat previously held by the former state senator Carlos Uresti (D).

Former Colonel Game Warden and Republican Peter Flores came in first in the special election held on July 31. Pete Gallego, a former one term Democratic Congressman from TX 23, finished second. Flores and Gallego are battling to replace Uresti, who resigned in June after being convicted of 11 felonies.

On Aug. 10, the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) filed a lawsuit challenging the residency of Gallego. RPT Chairman James Dickey claims it is “common knowledge Gallego does not live in Senate District 19” and explains that Gallego has “for years lived with his family in Austin.” It is a state constitutional requirement that a candidate for the Texas Senate must live in the district he or she runs in for at least a year before the election. However, residency claims are particularly difficult things to contest in court given vagueness in state law.

Gallego’s wife, an attorney who practices primarily in Austin, claims a homestead exemption on a home she owns in Austin. State law only allows a person to claim one homestead exemption.

On Aug. 13, RPT attorneys requested a Temporary Restraining Order to keep the Texas Secretary of State from certifying Flores and Gallego for the runoff election. Dickey explained “Pete Gallego lives in Austin with his family, receives a homestead exemption there, and has twice sought loans from federally insured banks on his [Austin] house.”

Christian Archer, Gallego’s campaign manager, responded to the RPT lawsuit, focusing on Gallego’s property in Alpine (within SD 19). Archer asserted that Gallego “has lived in Alpine since 1989… [he] is registered to vote in Alpine, where he has always voted, and where he pays his utilities.” Furthermore, Archer claimed the RPT lawsuit to be “a desperate move on behalf of a failing campaign.”

Flores won 34.4% of the votes in the special election, while Gallego earned 28.9%. Flores came out ahead, but he was the only major Republican in the race. The Democratic vote was split mainly between Gallego and State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D, HD-119), who received 24.4% of the votes. SD-19 has always been represented by a Democrat. However, the fraud convictions surrounding the resignation of Uresti and the mystery of Gallego’s true residence might be the perfect storm for a Flores victory next month.  

Chip Roy Announces “Heart of Texas Tour”

TX-21 Republican candidate Chip Roy has announced that he will be going on a tour of all 10 counties in the district throughout August, ahead of the November 6 election. Roy’s announcement post on Facebook boasts “more than 21 public events in 21 days across TX-21.” The topics listed on the campaign website indicate that the focus of the events will be on security, health care, and economic issues, including taxes and regulations. 

TX-21, long held by incumbent Lamar Smith (R), is generally considered a safe Republican district, rated R+10 by the Cook Political Report, and the slew of endorsements Roy has received, including from the retiring Smith, aid his chances.

FEC filings indicate that Roy’s Democratic challenger Joseph Kopser has spent over $300,000, more than 25% of total campaign disbursements, on campaign consulting firms, including over $203,000 to Resonance Campaigns, more than $84,000 to Global Strategy Group, and more than $42,000 to Berger Hirschberg Strategies. Conversely, Roy’s campaign is grassroots-focused, and this latest announcement reflects that.

Kopser has been on a similar tour of the district, accusing Roy of “avoiding the voters of TX-21,” and it is not difficult to imagine how Kopser’s campaign might further accuse Roy of imitating the tour. These claims fall flat, however, after just a cursory look at past events hosted by Roy on Facebook, including several meet-and-greets, debates, and blockwalk events at which Roy was present.

The first event is August 9 in Blanco. Find the schedule and RSVP links here.

Republican Heavyweights Push Flores to First

Voting finished in the Emergency Special Election in Senate District 19 to fill the unexpired term of former State Senator Carlos Uresti. 8 candidates filed, but the race ultimately boiled down to 3: former Democratic Congressman from TX-23 Pete Gallego, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-119) and former Colonel Game Warden Peter Flores, a Republican. Flores attracted endorsements from several prominent elected officials and organizations, being endorsed early by Texas Right to Life and Hispanic Republicans of Texas, followed by endorsements from former Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and others. The endorsements and GOTV efforts from such high profile elected officials were likely crucial in helping Flores earn his place at the top of the ballot. 

Peter Flores and Pete Gallego took first and second place, respectively, with Gutierrez coming in third. Flores and Gallego will advance to the runoff election to fill the remaining two years of the term.

The 2 leading Democrats in the race largely worked against each other, paying little attention to Flores, or Sen. Uresti’s brother Rep Tomas Uresti (D-118), who scarcely made a splash. The 2 main avenues of attack were Gutierrez’s unpaid taxes, and Gallego’s dubious claim to actually being a resident of SD-19 (a requirement in Texas for state legislative districts). In sharp contrast, Flores conducted a squeaky clean campaign, with no hint of scandal, and in fact the opposite. Flores is known to community members as a dedicated public servant in law enforcement, faithful Churchgoer, and devoted husband.
Of the 26,077 votes cast, Flores earned 8965 (34.4%), Gallego 7541 (28.9%), and Gutierrez 6351 (24.4%). No other candidate earned more than 700 votes. 

Due to the unusual timing in the middle of the summer, and the short time period after the election was called by Gov. Abbott before voting began, turnout was low, with fewer than 17,000 people voting early, and around 8000 on election day, amounting to about 10% of the votes cast in the 2016 race. Turnout in the upcoming runoff will likely be even lower than the already historically low turnout so far.

Gallego will continue to struggle to answer questions about whether he truly lives in SD-19, and why voters should give him another chance to represent them, when he was already voted out of office in CD-23 in favor of another Republican, Will Hurd, whose district overlaps almost entirely with SD-19.

Matt Beebe Wins Primary in HD-121

 Matt Beebe, considered by many to be an underdog candidate for Texas House District 121, has successfully advanced to the May 22 runoff following the March 6 Republican Primary. He earned a plurality of the votes in a 6 way race, at 29.5%. He will be facing Steve Allison, who hired well-known political consulting firm Murphy Nasica to assist him in the race. William Negley, running in CD-21, also hired Murphy Nasica, but did not make it to the runoff, though he did come in second in Bexar County.

Beebe was considered to be an underdog in the race to some because of his own past showing in the 2014 Republican Primary against then-incumbent, and Speaker of the Texas House, Joe Straus. Beebe won only 37.1% of the vote that year. Additionally, in 2016, candidates Jeff Judson and Sheila Bean, who were supported by many of the same conservative groups as Beebe is, such as Texas Right to Life PAC, won a combined 39.8% of the vote against Straus. Straus announced several months ago that he was not seeking reelection to the House, opening up the seat to many more candidates than the district has historically seen.

The second place winner, Steve Allison, is largely considered to be the political and ideological successor to Straus. The results of the runoff in May could serve as a better indicator of whether the district is truly more moderate as Straus and Allison supporters tend to claim, or if previous unsuccessful runs from candidates to the Right have been unsuccessful less because of policy and more due to incumbency and speakership advantage. 

Straus has been the target of groups like Texas Right to Life, Texas Homeschool Coalition, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and many others for several years due to his obstruction of many conservative priorities during his time as Speaker.