Commentary: Texas is slow to get rolling on the road to compromise

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramMarch 25, 2013 

Finally, the bipartisan "No Labels" movement is going somewhere.

But not Texas.

Frustration and fear have made the idea of shared problem-solving more popular in Washington, and NoLabels.org and co-founder Mark McKinnon have celebrated some successes.

But Texas is still stuck on talking red-state-vs.-future-blue-state politics, not purple bipartisanship.

"Texans are really very entrepreneurial, solution-oriented people who want both parties to work together," a hopeful McKinnon said by phone Tuesday before a Dallas appearance at KERA/Channel 13.

Maybe so.

But that doesn't sound like the U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry or Attorney General Greg Abbott I know.

"Maybe not," McKinnon said.

"But Texas voters are more interested in solutions, not if they're red or blue ideas. Obviously, Texas' leadership is very Republican and conservative. But if they just want to throw sand in the way of the government, that's not the way forward."

McKinnon can talk bipartisanship. He worked as a campaign strategist for Texas Democrats, then joined George W. Bush's campaign because he liked Bush's ideas. Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock had recommended McKinnon.

Fifteen years later, after tours with Bush and with John McCain's 2008 campaign, McKinnon crusades for teamwork.

He rejects the label "centrist."

"It's not about centrism -- we've got Tea Party Republicans who have joined," he said, saying 53 members of Congress have signed on with No Labels.

(None is from Texas.)

"It's about wanting solutions," he said, "and building a coalition to get things done."

Cruz, Texas' tempestuous junior senator, is "fiercely independent" but might become a problem-solver as Texas' demographics change and more Republicans work across the aisle, McKinnon said.

He sees hope in a Fort Worth Republican: state land commissioner candidate George P. Bush.

McKinnon has already nicknamed him "47."

(That's a reference to President George H.W. Bush, "41," and George W. Bush, "43.")

With the Republican National Committee announcing a $10 million investment this week in minority outreach, McKinnon said the younger Bush is "a poster child for the reforms Republicans are talking about."

Maybe so.

Twitter: @budkennedy

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