Voices Empower


Date posted: November 28, 2011

By Donna Garner

John Alaniz is the authentic conservative candidate for TexasHouse District 55.  I know him personally to be a man of commitment and honor. 

Every candidate should do exactly what John has done by publicly signing a “Pledge Card to Constituents” instead of signing a pledge card in the backroom to support left-leaning Joe Straus as Speaker of the House and feeling compelled to do his bidding.  

I admire John Alaniz for making it clear right now to the voters in District 55 that he will maintain his integrity once elected to the House. 

Please watch John Alaniz as he publicly signs the “Pledge Card to Constituents.” 

“What happens when State Representatives do not represent those who put them in office? Texans like John Alaniz look into answering the call to serve.

Representative Ralph Sheffield has signed a pledge card to Speaker Joe Straus. Why is that a problem? Watch this video and you will understand.” 


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State Rep. Ralph Sheffield criticized for supporting Texas House Speaker Joe Straus

Date posted: August 1, 2011


As the proverbial dust settles from the hubbub of the 82nd Legislature, offseason politics begins as those unhappy with elected politicians voice their concerns, perhaps more audible now than when state lawmakers were in session.

John Alaniz of Temple announced he’s considering a run for the District 55 seat, currently held by Ralph Sheffield, because Alaniz is upset with what he calls Sheffield’s lack of principle. Alaniz ran for the seat in 2008, in which Sheffield won his first term.

Alaniz isn’t alone in his opinion.

The Tea Party Conservatives, a local cohort, invited Sheffield to its weekly meeting Monday to, in part, question his support of politicians deemed too left-leaning. Specifically, Sheffield was asked about his flip-flop in support of Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, the two-term state Speaker of the House. Sheffield said he has pledged support for Straus next session.

There’s the potential for a statewide backlash against Straus and the legislators who voted for him as the tea party gains political prowess and social conservatives vote in high numbers.

A Texas Observer article from earlier this month said that many moderate legislators “referenced the unprecedented level of power that Tea Party groups and anti-tax groups like Empower Texans hand around the Capitol.” The article cites the group Empower Texans as an organization that “could inspire fear in moderate Republicans with the threat of negative blogposts.”

Empower Texans published a blog Friday that cited Straus’s leadership and role in appointee committee chairs as the reason why more conservative budget reforms weren’t passed.

A January 2009 Telegram article cited Sheffield as a supporter of Speaker candidate John Smithee after House Speaker Tom Craddick conceded his bid for another term as Speaker. Sheffield said he was opposed to Straus, who Sheffield said did not represent Republican ideals. Sheffield said he eventually voted for Straus after Craddick’s concession.

But things were different during the latest session.

The Republican Caucus met in Austin the day before the 82nd Legislature convened. At the meeting, all but one of the 101 Republican members of the state House of Representatives was on hand, and 70 voted in support of Straus to serve another term.

“More than two-thirds of the Republicans showed their support for him, so I think that speaks to what people think of him,” Sheffield said.

The next day at the Capitol, Straus was elected Speaker of the House with 132 of the 150 total votes, including Sheffield’s.

“I feel very confident that he’ll be a great leader,” Sheffield said later that day. “I’m a conservative individual and represent a conservative district. I feel comfortable with supporting Straus because I feel he represents the same values I do.”

The shift from his 2008 views on Straus to the latest session was the result of being “green in the process,” Sheffield said. Nowadays, he’s all aboard on the Straus bandwagon.

“I think we did a fantastic job under his leadership,” he said about the Legislature under Straus’s watch. “For the social conservatives out there we passed the sonogram bill and basically stripped Planned Parenthood down to nothing.”

Davis Ford, a Republican Party precinct commissioner and Tea Partier, said that while Sheffield’s voting record was more conservative than expected — a welcomed surprise — his support of Straus was inexcusable.

Ford said about Straus, “I think he’s a pro-abortion, pro-gambling, social Democrat with an R in front of his name.”

But what really peeves Alaniz, Ford and many like them is the perpetual problem with politics: votes are garnered and lost often with threats and promises of rewards rather than on merit or principle.

Ford’s greatest pragmatic criticism of Straus is that he appointed RINOs — a nickname for “Republicans in name only,” those with voting records that often don’t align with the Republican Party’s platform — and Democrats as committee chairmen.

“My biggest issues are the strong-arming of our best representatives and the ‘quid pro quo’ environment that buys votes with promises of power or campaign contributions,” Alaniz said in a statement.

Sheffield said that those who voted against Straus didn’t get the committee placements they requested, but that such action by Straus, who assigns committee placements, isn’t punishment.

“It’s just a part of the process,” he said. “You’re either going to be a player on the team or you’re going to be a renegade.”

Conversely, Sheffield said that Straus “pretty much gave me exactly what I asked for in my committee picks,” which Sheffield said is best for his constituents, regardless of their views on Straus.

“A lot of people before the last session blasted him about religion, which is totally wrong, because that’s not politics,” Sheffield said. “I don’t worry about those things because you’ve got to do what moves your district along. If that means voting for Joe Straus then that’s what I’m going to do, because that’s how I get things done.”

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