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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Definition of Success

My wife and I go to a little church in Richmond, Texas - a small town that is our County Seat. I like it because it is a great escape from the impersonal "bigness" of Houston. It reminds me of the small towns I grew up near as a child (in Iowa and Texas).

Today, a lady at church said to me:

"Your running against Mr. DeLay the past 5 years has really got him paying attention to his district. That is success." I listen to this lady because she makes great sense. Her cousin is one of our U.S. Senators who I consider to be a great role model to follow, Kay Bailey. (I wish all our reps were like her. Texas would be in a class by itself).

I have to agree that is a form of success - that my efforts have made a difference. In earlier campaigns, people told me "We haven't seen Rep. DeLay here in years."

Now he is at every Lincoln Day dinner, ribbon cutting, etc. In fact, he's moving like his pants are on fire (raking in millions of special interest money while doing it).

Success is many things, including keeping our democracy alive. I was the only GOP challenger to Mr. DeLay in two elections. Last year he was unopposed in the primary. Without that competition to the powerful DeLay from a political unknown, NASA would not finally be getting full funding as it did this year; and pork barrel highway spending would not be sending our budget deficits to Mars before man gets there.

Competition works folks!

But the problem is that this "success" doesn't change the old wine skins into new ones. After winning prior elections, he has gone back to pulling the rug out from under folks - like cutting NASA’s budget or giving Houston's mass transit funds to other cities like Dallas. As a result, Dallas now leads Houston by over a decade in commuter rail development. Only recently has he restored what he took away five years ago.

Had I been elected twenty years ago when the incumbent went into office, our astronauts would now be riding new space vessels instead of 30-year-old technology. Houston's commuter rail lines would already be built to handle the doubling of population coming here the next 20 years. And we would have prepared for 9 11 in advance by making the FBI and CIA share information with Immigration after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade center.

None of that has happened on the incumbent's watch.

So, success in getting an incumbent to pay attention has not been the same as success in making a change in Washington.

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