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January 9, 2020

Congressional Contender Sets Bar on Texan at Level
Some Powerful GOP Leaders in State Couldn't Reach

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Democratic U.S. Rep. Colin Allred was born in Dallas where he played football at Hillcrest High School before a college career as a linebacker at Baylor University before stints in the National Football League and the Obama administration. Allred returned to his hometown in time for a winning bid for the Congressional District 32 seat in 2018.

But it's tough to tell if the freshman lawmaker could truly claim to be a full-fledged product of his home state based on a potential Republican challenger's explanation of what it means to be "100% Texan" in a new campaign fundraising pitch as the apparent primary favorite in CD 32.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick clearly doesn't fit the description that Dallas Republican Genevieve Collins is a touting in a new digital video advertisement that focuses on her upbringing in a neighborhood about a 10 minute drive from the area where the incumbent she hopes to unseat in November spent his childhood and teenage years.

While Patrick and Allred share very few similarities besides they fact that both were elected to their current jobs by voters in the Lone Star State, there might be a common thread after all if the criteria that Collins has employed in the Texas percentage assessment is on the mark. But the state Senate president and the rookie U.S. House Democrat would be eliminated from the consideration on the Texas ties measuring stick for different reasons.

"First of all, you've got to be from here," Collins asserted in a scene from the campaign clip that shows the stately house where she was raised and lives now in the background.

That scratches Patrick's name from the list of potential true-blooded Texans based on the Collins scale as a statewide leader who hails from the state of Maryland on the northeast coast where he grew up in the Baltimore area before moving to Houston as an adult in the late 1970s.

But the lieutenant governor who's been the state's number one tea party hero may not be the only Republican leader in Texas who might not appreciate the Highland Park congressional hopeful's online ad that could create an unintended perception of him and other GOP officials here as carpetbagging outsiders who are adopted Texans at best.

Two of the Legislature's most powerful Republicans - State Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and State Rep. Dan Huberty of Humble - were raised in Ohio. Nelson is a 27-year Senate veteran who serves as the upper chamber's top budget writer in her role as the Finance Committee chair.

A former school board member in suburban Houston who leads the Public Education Committee in the House, Huberty crafted a historic school finance package that he guided through the west wing with overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle in the 2019 regular session.

State Senator Pat Fallon - a Frisco Republican who won a promotion from the House two years ago with a massive infusion of Patrick money - originated in Massachusetts before a spin as a college football player at Notre Dame in the same Midwestern town that current Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg leads as mayor.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush wasn't a Texan for most of life as a child and younger man after moving from Houston where he was born to Florida at the age of four or five. The land chief's father Jeb Bush was elected as the Florida governor in 1998 when George P. was in his early twenties. The younger Bush eventually landed in the Fort Worth area where he worked as a lawyer before he won his current statewide post in 2014. The Bush name is synonymous with Texas politics nonetheless even though it had members spread up and down the east coast at times.

Former U.S. Senate Republican Phil Gramm was born in Fort Benning, Georgia before his emergence in Texas as an economic professor at Texas A&M University. Gramm, who irritated Democratic detractors with a sardonic drawl that was vintage Old South, represented Texas in the Senate in Washington for 17 years as a member of the GOP after winning a U.S. House seat initially as a conservative Democrat.

The new Collins spot doesn't appear to have been designed to offend any fellow Republicans. The U.S. House aspirant would have a hard time persuading voters that she's 100 percent Texan and Allred is not. Collins makes a compelling case for herself in that regard, however, when she brags on the fact that she's a seventh-generation Texas native whose grandmother made history as the first woman elected to the Dallas City Council.

But there's a catch! Collins explains that you also have to be a fan of limited government and low taxes to qualify for the 100% Texan designation. She claims to fit that bill in a segment in the ad that points to her success as a business executive.

Collins suggests that anyone who's a real Texan better love to shoot a gun like she does in the commercial's closing scene that shows her blasting skeet with a rifle at a range.

The big-spending CD 32 candidate doesn't mention in the new ad that she actually left her home state when she attended college at the University of Tennessee. But Collins does note in other campaign materials that she finished high in the NCAA rowing competition during her stay in Knoxville where she founded the team there.

In a battle that she expects to wage against an incumbent who's a former Tennessee Titan, Collins' experience in college sports gives her a way to demonstrate how competitive she plans to be in a quest for the seat that Allred will be defending for the first time after veteran incumbent Republican Pete Sessions in the general election 14 months ago.

 

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