Del Mar students told scandals won't hurt much
Corpus Christi Caller-Times (03/28/2006)
By Jaime Powell
In Texas, a land where Democrats once ruled the world, Republicans are now ruling the roost, holding a majority of national and state offices, five political scientists told a group of Del Mar College students Monday.
Del Mar College professors Wayne Fredrickson and Elizabeth Flores and professors William Earl Maxwell of San Antonio College, Cynthia Opheim of Texas State University in San Marcos and Christopher Wlezien of Temple University in Philadelphia, spent more than an hour dissecting the current state of Texas politics and its future.
The quintet discussed campaign finance, school finance, issues with lobbyists and their potentially corrupting influence and the Texas governor's race.
The GOP has made steady gains in Texas since 1974 when the party held 53 county offices statewide. Shift to 2002 and there were 1,608 Republican county officeholders, Opheim said. Republicans also hold 87 of 150 seats in the Texas House of Representatives, 19 of 31 Senate seats and 21 of Texas' 32 U.S. congressional seats, she said.
"Twenty years ago, it was a one-party Democratic state," Opheim said. "In recent years, it has come full circle. Texas is a one-party Republican state, almost."
The professors, authors of the college and university textbooks "Texas Politics Today, 12th Edition" and "American Government and Politics Today-Texas Edition, 2006-2007," told students that because Texas is a conservative state, Republicans are likely to keep the ground they have gained politically here. That, despite recent lobbyist scandals that have tarnished key Republicans including U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, Maxwell said.
Maxwell, speaking of potential corruption from the big money wielded by lobbyists, said some of the blame must fall to the lobbying system. He told students that they should not let a few bad political examples keep them from voting and in turn hurting the democratic process.
"They all aren't corrupt," he said. "There are those that are straight arrows. Other people become corrupted by the system. And some are elected with the intent of using the corrupt system to their benefit."