The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

Congressman Chip Roy Zooms to Trinity University

Local Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) met with students at Trinity University to discuss conservative issues in Congress and in their district.

On Tues. Mar. 2, 2021, Congressman Chip Roy (R-Texas) came to Trinity University to speak to students. The event was run and sponsored by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) chapter. 

Nathan Darsch, Class of 2022 and Chairman of YCT at Trinity University, said that he “asked Congressman Chip Roy to speak at the meeting because he is what we need more of in Congress.” Darsch also said that Roy “is a true conservative who will put his principles before party and I wanted my members to see that there are people genuinely fighting for conservative values and trying to make life better for future generations. My hope is that by listening to Congressman Roy it will encourage my members to help get more people like him elected in the future.”

Roy spoke about Texas Independence, COVID-19, and the importance of preserving individual freedoms. Roy spoke to the students for about 30 minutes, and then spent the last 30 minutes of the meeting answering questions in a Q&A format. Attendees of the event asked questions about COVID-19 relief bills, upcoming gun control bills, and fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof) of the United States government. 

When asked about fiscal responsibility and the government’s infringement of individual freedoms, Roy asked his audience to consider one important fact: “You cannot fund the people who are taking your freedom away and expect to have freedom.” Roy told students that states should use their power to keep the federal government in check, especially states like Texas that have citizens whose freedoms are being infringed by the federal government. The government’s primary function is to protect its citizens, and state governments should protect their citizens even from the federal government if it is necessary.

Roy made sure to clarify that he did not support a physical uprising–nor does he condone the the events at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021–but he did say that states should take legal action against the federal government if things get out of hand and it is necessary to do so in order to protect the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Students who attended the event felt positively about Roy and his talk. Joseph Burrhus, Class of 2024, said that “Our meeting with Congressman Chip Roy was both inspiring and educational. He was able to communicate powerful arguments and explanations about important issues while also expressing his passionate love and devotion toward the country and the people he serves.” When asked about how the event influenced his views of YCT or his desire to attend future meetings, Burrhus said “After the meeting with Chip Roy, I feel more incentivized to go to YCT meetings because they are a great opportunity to learn about different issues, why they are important, and what can be done to fix them.”

Emma McMahan, Class of 2021 and a former officer of YCT, also enjoyed the meeting. She thought that Roy’s “ introductory speech in the beginning of the meeting reeled me into the discussion because he was obviously passionate about his beliefs, decreasing federal spending, for instance.” McMahan also commented on YCT’s friendly relationship with Roy, for whose campaign many YCT members from Trinity University have volunteered to blockwalk and phonebank. “I think YCT having a close connection with a U.S. Congressman like Chip Roy is a good thing because it gives us a good reputation as a conservative club.”

Ellis Jacoby, Class of 2024, also enjoyed the event. When asked about his reaction to Roy’s talk, he said that Roy “was really interesting and gave me some insight into how Congress really works. His explanation on how few chances he has to propose amendments to bills really shows how little influence individual Congressman have over the bills that Congress passes.” Jacoby also mentioned that Roy’s “level of concern for our national debt and his calls to have us hold our members of Congress accountable definitely encouraged me to do more to influence my representatives.” 

The event encouraged members of YCT to interact more with their local government and representatives, and to keep fighting for conservative values. The small event enabled for personal discussions and connections between club members and Roy, and students enjoyed the experience to meet with their Congressman and hear his opinions on important conservative issues. 

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.

The Darsch Report: Sept. 2 – 8

San Antonio’s Hoarding Task Force

In San Antonio, all four fire deaths this year have involved hoarding, something that the San Antonio Fire Department plans to tackle. During a recent budget meeting with the city council members, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood announced that the SAFD is working with other city departments to form a Hoarding Task Force that will help identify people in hoarding situations.

“We had a 49-year-old man die in a hoarder home,” Hood said. “It should have never happened.”

Hood would further explain to the council that because of the hoarding, it not only made it difficult for those inside the building to escape, but it also made it difficult for firefighters to enter.

“It makes it impossible for us to get in because the fuel load is so heavy,” Hood said. “Usually by the time we get there it is in a situation or in a state where no one would survive that fire.”

Hood said he hopes to have the task force up and running by 2020. The chief said that he wants to ensure that help and resources are available to people who are in dangerous hoarding circumstances.

“We all know someone like this,” Hood said. “So how can we identify them, and how can we help them put order in their living environment and ensure a safer house for them?”

Gov Abbott vs. Gun Violence

Despite efforts by many conservatives in the state legislature to stop talk of increased gun control, Governor Greg Abbott announced on Twitter on Wednesday, Sept. 4 that he would be taking executive action on the issue. The next day, Gov Abbott released a list of eight executive actions being taken to prevent gun violence with most having to do with reporting suspicious behavior.

Democratic legislators have also been putting out their proposals, holding press conferences on the issue and even demanding a special legislative session on gun control. The most high-profile of these Democrat proposals are so-called “red-flag” laws, in which guns could be confiscated without due process from those suspected to have mental health issues.

Second Amendment groups have already indicated that they are willing to put a fight if need be.

“Any solution that aims to take away more guns from more people is counterproductive. Gun-control laws don’t reduce crime. They don’t keep criminals from committing evil, despicable acts. And they certainly haven’t kept us safe,” Rachel Malone, the Texas director of Gun Owners of America said during a recent press conference.

With conservatives and gun owners beginning to line up against Abbott and Democrats on gun control, the governor and Texas legislatures should work with gun owners to find a solution that makes Texan communities safer while protecting their rights.

StemExpress CEO Admits to Selling Aborted Baby Parts

On Thursday, Sept. 5 StemExpress CEO, Cate Dyer, told a San Francisco courtroom that the company brokered beating fetal hearts and intact fetal heads to medical researchers.

The admission comes during court proceedings of Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who allegedly illegally filmed top executives and clinicians from Planned Parenthood who admitted to brokering aborted baby parts.

Daleiden and Merritt are part of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a group of citizen journalists “dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.” 

Some staff of Planned Parenthood Northern California are already under oath testifying that they “provided fetal tissue from the abortions she did at Planned Parenthood as a regular occurrence,” according to a summary of court proceedings, “[and] when asked if she had ever heard of StemExpress, Doe 7 said she had heard of cases in which StemExpress was involved and money was exchanged.”

Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, who is representing Daleiden at the court, told Life Site News that’s StemExpress CEO’s admission is “gruesome.”

“If you have a fetus with an intact head and an intact body, and intact extremities, that is something that would indicate that child was born alive, and then had their organs cut out of them, or that that child was the victim of an illegal partial-birth abortion,” he said.

StemExpress and Planned Parenthood Northern California are currently the subject of investigations by the FBI and Department of Justice “for selling fetal organs and tissue against the law,” CMP said in a summary.

US Economy

The stock market did fairly well this week had is approaching near-record highs. The Dow Jones increased to 26,797.46 on Thursday, increasing by +435.21 points, or +1.65 percent over its August 29 close of 26,362.25. The S&P 500 increased by +52.25 points or +1.79 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Thursday by +1.76 percent.

Friday was also the release date for the August US jobs report during which the US stayed on par with Wall Street estimates.

  • Average hourly earnings increased by 0.4 percent in August and 3.2% over the year, better than expected.
  • The labor force participation rate increased to 63.2 percent, tying its highest level since August 2013.

Hong Kong’s Freedoms Are at Risk

In Hong Kong, protestors continue to march in the street against China’s efforts to increase control over the Special Administrative Region, demanding true democracy and autonomy from Beijing.

On Sunday, Sept. 8, thousands of protestors marched on the US consulate singing the Star-Spangled Banner, waving American flags and calling on President Trump to “liberate” their city.

“Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” many shouted before handing over petitions at the U.S. Consulate, “resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong.”

Over a thousand arrests of demonstrators have been made over the past five months with an additional 2,100 injuries being reported. This coincides with reports from protestors that the Chinese and Hong Kong government are working with Chinese gangs to attack protestors as well as police pretending to be protestors during marches, accusations that the Hong Kong and Chinese governments deny.

In Hong Kong, we are also seeing censorship of the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by the Hong Kong government. VPN provider Private Internet Access (PIA) has reported that its service has been blocked in the country

According to PIA, users in Hong Kong are either blocked from connecting to the PIA service outright or are allowed to connect but then prevented from accessing any websites.

 In support of Hong Kong, many protestors and congressmen are urging the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would protect Hong Kong autonomy as well as “establish punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, especially in connection with the abduction of certain booksellers.”

To continue standing as the bastion of such values as freedom and democracy that we claim to hold, we need to be the America that the people of Hong Kong believe in.

Trump Cancels Peace Talks

On Saturday evening, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to make an announcement about developments in the war in Afghanistan.

In the series of Tweets, Trump stated that he had planned on having a secret meeting with the President of Afghanistan and major Taliban leaders while at Camp David to work on facilitating peace in the war-torn country.

  However, Trump ended talks once damning information came to light. “In order to build false leverage, [the Taliban] admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump tweeted.

“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse… How many more decades are they willing to fight?” he declared.

On Sunday, after their negotiating team held an emergency internal meeting in Doha, the Taliban said Trump’s decision to cancel the talks would only have consequences for the United States.

“More than anyone else, the loss will be for the United States–their standing will be hurt, their anti-peace position will be clearer to the world, their human and treasure loss will increase, and their political actions will come across as unstable,” the Taliban said. “Twenty years ago, too, we had called for understanding, and this remains our position today.”

After the talks were called off, the Afghan government blamed the Taliban, saying that the violence was making the peace process difficult.

Bill Flores is Retiring

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, the Republican congressman for Texas’s 17th congressional district, Bill Flores, announced that he will be retiring at the end of his term.

Flores marks the fifth Texas Republican congressman and twelfth Republican congressman to announce retirement in 2020.

Despite being in a district that President Trump won with 56% of the vote, Flores has committed to retiring and eventually being able to spend more time with his family.

In a statement, Flores said that he plans to return to the private sector, where he had previously worked as an oil and gas executive. He also said that he would focus on a number of issues in his remaining time in Congress, including securing the border, removing “the uncertainty related to the ‘Dreamers,’ helping pass the United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement and paving the way for “the accelerated deployment of 5G technologies.”

In an election cycle where Democrats plan to expand their House majority and perhaps even take the Senate, Republicans will need to step up efforts to get conservatives, Trump voters and independents out to vote.

Beto Significantly Sweatier, More Generic

Presidential hopeful Robert Francis O’Rourke, colloquially known as ‘Beto’, unveiled a new campaign strategy that he hopes will achieve greater sweatiness and vagueness.

“I say ‘real Americans’ a lot,” said the drenched O’Rourke. “And anytime somebody brings up a political issue, I just mention my son, Ulysses. Isn’t he cute?”

O’Rourke’s campaign personnel cited an experience from a recent town hall as an example for the success of their new strategy. When concerned local citizen Denise Johnson asked a question about taxes, O’Rourke wiped his forehead and started playing the electric guitar. “It’s about time we had an honest presidential candidate,” Johnson said appreciatively.

According to analyst Nathaniel Bronze, O’Rourke’s presidential bid is at least 67% sweatier and 71% more generic than his failed senate run. “We’re seeing the greatest sheer volume of sweat in a presidential candidate since we started taking record in the 1860s,” Bronze said. “It’s astonishing. They’re calling him ‘Sweaty Betty.’ And his genericness is really off the charts.”

The plan is not without its setbacks. According to campaign volunteer Seamus Cavanaugh,, O’Rourke’s sweat has led to certain technological problems. “He kept shorting out the microphones with his moisture, so we had to start waterproofing them,” Cavanaugh said. “At first we tried taping napkins around the handle, but he just soaked right through them. He’s remarkably sweaty–makes me remember why I got into politics.”

Kelly McAwley has a full-time internship placing ‘Wet Floor’ signs for O’Rourke’s campaign. “It was his idea to get the signs that say ‘Piso Mojado.’ He’s so inclusive,” McAwley beamed. “He really hooked me with his plan to make a better America for all Americans, in America. For Americans. I just hadn’t heard that before from another presidential candidate.”

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.

CD21 Debate: A Disappointment for Libertarians

This past Thursday, a debate was held between the three main candidates running in Texas Congressional District 21, the candidates being Chip Roy (R), Joseph Kopser (D), and Lee Santos (L). As moderator James Forsyth opened the debate, he said that the CD21 race was “one of the most interesting and competitive races on the ballot locally in this political season.” Forsyth chalked this up to Lamar Smith’s leaving Congress after thirty-one years in office, but I would add that it was also interesting because the debate included Santos, a rarity in a political system dominated by two parties. As for the debate topics, the moderator chose to ask the candidates about the national debt, immigration, healthcare, guns, women’s issues, climate change, and cyber-warfare.

During the debate, I felt as if a wall was put up between the two-party candidates and Santos. Neither Kopser nor Roy directly addressed Santos and vice versa. Chip Roy even went so far as to say “my opponent” in his rebuttals–note the singular. Speaking of rebuttals, the only direct rebuttals that happened were between Roy and Kopser. Santos never rebutted her two-party opponents and she never directly attacked them either. Hence why I felt like there was a partition in the middle of the room, three-way debates are unusual and I imagine that Roy and Kopser were not expecting to be debating a thirty-party opponent. Case in point: when I spoke to Chip Roy this past week, asking him why a Libertarian should vote for him over Santos, he was at first dismissive of Santos’ chances of winning before listing issues and stances that he thought would be attractive to libertarian voters.

This is not to imply that Santos was irrelevant in the debate. I was personally ecstatic that a Libertarian broke through the two-party stranglehold on debates, but as I watched the debate, I was heavily disappointed. I was glad that the moderator went easy on the questioning because I felt that Santos would not have been prepared for it. The reason I say this is that Santos, at least in the first quarter of the debate, had a “deer-in-the-headlights” look on her face whenever she answered questions. It looked sheepish, as if she herself was surprised to have even been there in the first place. She did not look like she had any confidence at all, she was constantly looking at her notes to remind herself of what she was going to say. Even when she did say something, it was often incoherent at best. When she was answering a question about she would do about cybersecurity, she began by talking about her time living in Kazakhstan and saying that we cannot trust the Russians. She said the same about China, but then she suddenly meandered into mentioning Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who is believed to have been killed by the Saudi government. My question to Santos: what on earth does Khashoggi have to do with cybersecurity?

Other times, it seems like Chip Roy was much better at explaining his position–which often resembled libertarianism–than Santos. On healthcare, all Santos said was that the entire industry should be privatized and that she was victimized by Obamacare. In contrast, Roy laid out a quick but detailed proposal on healthcare: he attacked the idea of placing people into Medicaid rolls as “insuring more people” while advocating for more personal access to physicians and more portable access to insurance. While I do not take issue with either Roy or Santos’ general view of healthcare and where it should go, I felt as though Roy was more articulate and detailed on the issue than Santos. On women’s issues, Santos started her response by talking about LGBT rights and a transgender family member serving in Afghanistan. Again, what does her response have to do with the question at hand? She did back on track with her response, but when asked about Planned Parenthood a few minutes later, she vaguely stated that she “supports Planned Parenthood,” in part because she was a customer there. And herein lies my main criticism of Santos’ performance.

While I have been appalled at the extensive infighting within the Libertarian Party, I do think lines need to be drawn on who should run for office. This is hard to do because as a third-party, we simply do not have the manpower to field a candidate for every single office in the country. Very few Libertarian candidates actually go through a contested primary, so for most Libertarians who run, there is nobody to challenge them on their beliefs from a libertarian angle. This allows for a wide diversity of candidates to run for office, which can be a good and a bad thing. Good because libertarianism is an umbrella ideology and can come in many different forms; bad because some people will associate that one person they know is a libertarian and frame that person as representative of the entire ideology. Additionally, I belong to a camp within the LP that advocates for fielding strong and likeable candidates, not just anyone who wants to run.

At many instances during the debate, Santos was vague about her positions or said something that was anathema to libertarian ideology. Going back to her response about women’s issues, her stance on Planned Parenthood raises some questions. By support, does she mean personal or governmental support? Would she be okay with the government forcing me to pay for her to go see a doctor at Planned Parenthood? For now, I will give her the benefit of the doubt, but her positions on other issues give me pause. On guns, she thinks we need to eliminate bump stocks and raise the legal age of purchasing rifles to 21. On environmental policy, she thinks we need to make a transition to electric cars and “push [recycling] forward,” whatever those statements are supposed to mean. At face value, Santos comes off as a more liberal type that wants government out of most spheres of life but more involved in other places. To be clear, libertarianism is utterly opposed to the idea that government can solve all of society’s problems, and in this vein, Santos is no libertarian. If anything, she’s a left-leaning statist with some streaks of libertarianism, and in the debate, she was completely outflanked by Chip Roy who eloquently (and objectively) made a stronger case for libertarian ideas than Santos did, despite Roy being a self-professed conservative.

If there is any takeaway from this debate, it is that Libertarians need to be critical of their candidates and their party when it fails, as it inevitably will at times. To be clear, I am optimistic about our electoral chances in the years to come and I am generally impressed with the candidates that the LP has put forward in Texas. But I say “generally” because there are Libertarian candidates that I would avoid voting for because I do not think they represent the ideology and the party well enough to warrant my support. And make no mistake, Santos is one of those people. If anything, she did not offer anything unique or exciting in the debate, missing an opportunity to explain to voters why they should choose freedom and liberty over coercion and tyranny and calling out her opponents for endorsing the same tired solutions to the nation’s problems.

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.

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.

Debate to be held between CD-21 Candidates

On Wednesday, August 29th, a debate will be held between the two candidates from Congressional District 21, Republican Chip Roy and Democrat Joseph Kopser. The debate will take place in Pearl Studio, which is located in the heart of San Antonio’s Pearl Market.

The debate will be moderated by San Antonio Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Chairman, Shaun Kennedy. CD-21’s seat has been long held by Congressman Lamar Smith, who announced his retirement in November of 2017.

Chip Roy, who is described on his website as “genuine, committed, [and] conservative”, was a senior adviser to Senator Ted Cruz before deciding to run for Congress. He has since been endorsed by Cruz, as well as Senator Mike Lee, former Governor Rick Perry, and a host of grassroots political organizations, such as Club for Growth and Texas Right to Life.

Joseph Kopser has work experience in both the private sector and the US Army, and is running on a platform that includes gun control, raising the corporate income tax rate, and funding abortion provider Planned Parenthood. On his website he describes himself as a “progressive Democrat” who will “stand up to Donald Trump”.The debate will be from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased here.