By Sherry Sylvester
Should Texas Republicans create a broader message on immigration reform in order to more effectively engage the demographic rise of Hispanic Texans? Certainly.
But do changing demographics in Texas assure that Democrats
are on the verge of emerging from their long political exile and electing a charismatic Hispanic to statewide office? Not a chance.
At least not until Democrats change their party's financial backers and reject the public policies they routinely push in support of personal injury trial lawyers.
Collectively, personal injury trial lawyers, spend more in campaign contributions than any other business, industry or profession in Texas. While they created a few Republican-sounding political action committees to back Trojan horse candidates in a losing effort to win some GOP primaries this spring, the bulk of their funding goes to Democrats.
Personal injury trial lawyers have been the primary funders of Texas Democrats for over a decade.
During the recent election cycle, dozens of campaign polls were conducted to determine the most potent messages to use in campaign advertising. In virtually every case, a candidate with a record of taking money from trial lawyers or who supported the trial lawyers' pro-lawsuit agenda was viewed very negatively by voters, often outweighing voter concerns about ethical problems and even incompetency.
Texans — even Texas Democrats — do not like personal injury trial lawyers. Texans not only support the tort reforms that have already been passed in our state, most say they would support more. This is undoubtedly why so many political action committees funded by trial lawyers have deliberately deceptive names so voters won't immediately know the source of a candidate's money. Texans for Insurance Reform
, the largest trial lawyer PAC, is one example. Back to Basics and Vote Texas are others.
Of course, Democrats with trial lawyer support didn't lose every race, but their victories came despite trial lawyer backing, almost always in districts drawn so Democrats can win. No Democrat, including the many trial lawyers the Democrats put on the ballot, won election by touting their support for the trial lawyer agenda.
Democrats insist they are broadening their fundraising base, but a quick look at all the major Democratic PAC's reveal that trial lawyers are the largest contributors. Personal injury trial lawyers not only have provided over 80 percent of the funding for the Texas Democratic Party
for over a decade, trial lawyers provided virtually all the funding for the Bexar County Democratic Party in this election. The Democratic Party has virtually no support from Texas businesses because of the dominance of mass-tort lawyers in Democratic politics.
As Texas Hispanics move to take their place in statewide leadership, politically astute observers are pointing to Republicans like Ted Cruz and rising stars like State Rep. Larry Gonzales
from Round Rock, newly elected Bee County District Attorney Jose Aliseda
, State Rep. J.M. Lozano
from Kingsville and Jason Villalba
, a newly elected state representative from Dallas.
Meanwhile, Democratic stars, most notably Julian and Joaquin Castro
, will remain on hold until Democrats reconsider the pro-trial lawyer policies they have backed over the last decade. Texas Republicans' long-standing opposition to lawsuit abuse will continue to reap big benefits at the polls because Texans share their commitment to lawsuit reform.Sherry Sylvester is the spokeswoman for Texans for Lawsuit Reform.