Texas' Super Tuesday primary featured one of the most important elections in the state's history. We're not talking, of course, about the presidential nominating contests, which were dominated in expected fashion by Texas' own Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, who won her second Lone Star State primary. Nor are we talking about Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, who fended off two challengers from his right to keep his gig as one of the most powerful people in the state. No, those races weren't on our minds at all as the inevitable darkness of Donald Trump's seven victories threatened to envelope us. We were worried about our friend, Unfair Park's favorite Texas state representative, Bedford's Jonathan Stickland, who was busy fending of a primary challenge of his own from Scott Fisher.
In the same way that impalas need red-billed oxpeckers to pluck and eat ticks from their coats, we need Stickland, the unabashed and unashamed id of Texas conservatives, to regale us from the Texas House's back microphone with tales of conspiracies against his agenda and the finest "no true Scotsman" arguments. We need him around to show, once and for all, that people don't need a high school diploma to represent their state. GEDs, like the one Stickland got before he went into business as a bug exterminator, are just fine.
So is learning from one's semi-sordid Internet past, as Stickland had to do this spring. The self-proclaimed "former fetus" faced two major opposition research dumps from the Fisher campaign, in which Stickland was shown to be looking for someone to "smoke da green" with in 2001 and searching for marijuana growing advice in 2002. If one truly believes that women have no right to make their own healthcare decisions, as Stickland does, then how could Fisher have expected him to not express his view that a man cannot rape his wife.
"Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!” Stickland told a fantasy football message board.
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Texas Monthly, liberal rag that it is, named Stickland one of the 2015 Texas Legislative session's worst legislators for his role in the state's open carry fight. Stickland's support of so-called constitutional, or unlicensed, open carry, only emboldens people like Texas open carry activist Kory Watkins, the magazine said, ignoring that what some viewed as an armed siege of the capital building just makes for good fun to others. From the magazine:
No legislator caused more controversy this session than Jonathan Stickland or elicited more criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. The most common charges against him had less to do with Stickland than with the blustering tea party politics he has come to represent; critics exaggerated his influence while ignoring him as an individual. And so his genuinely indefensible role in the session’s most disturbing saga — the debate over open carry — has been almost entirely overlooked.
The problem was not that Stickland supports “constitutional carry,” the belief that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to carry guns without a license or a background check. The problem was not even that the armed activists who confronted Democratic representative Poncho Nevárez were attempting to bully him into supporting Stickland’s bill. The problem is that Stickland had an ethical obligation to reflect on his role in the situation. But he never took any personal responsibility for the display of belligerent, bizarrely entitled idiocy or the others that followed.
It’s true that Stickland didn’t hurl personal abuse on his opponents. But he legitimized the grievances by not intervening, while arguing that Second Amendment rights were being infringed upon. He thus encouraged people to bring their complaints (and their guns) to the Capitol — to push their pet causes over the public good. No one has the right to cause harm.
With his huge primary victory — Stickland beat Fisher by 19 points — the man D Magazine's Zac Crain called the "husky human embodiment of both the red 100 emoji and the #TCOT hashtag" has proved himself to be basically electorally indestructible. He's survived Fisher, biased media outlets across the state and colleagues that dislike him so much that they tried to lead him away from the back microphone with a cookie tied to a string. That's a good thing for us, but what it means for the people of Bedford is less certain.