Through the miracle (menace?) of Twitter, let’s eavesdrop on a conversation between two of our duly elected state officials. But first, let’s meet our players.
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (known to some as “Sticky”) is a Republican from the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Bedford. He’s a keep-government-out-of-our-lives kind of guy. Really far out of out lives.
Stickland’s been in the Texas House since 2013. His combative, confrontational style, makes him beloved by a few and hated by others. You need some of that kind in any legislative body. Some, but not too many.
GOP Rep. Sarah Davis (known to some as “Sarah”) first came to the Texas House in 2011. She’s from West University Place (known to some as “Houston”). Like Stickland, she’s a battler, though in a different way.
“Been known to be scrappy,” says Davis’ Twitter profile.
By Texas legislative standards, she’s not overly partisan. You need some of that kind in any legislative body. In fact, it’s helpful to have a lot of that kind.
A bit more background: Though both on the GOP team, Stickland and Davis don’t play well together. He’s really, really red (in the GOP way, not the commie way.) She’s kind of purpley, a color that stands out in the 150-member Texas House.
Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones ranks Texas House members on a liberal-conservative scale. This is from his 2017 rankings:
“The (House GOP) delegation ranges from Briscoe Cain of Deer Park, Matt Rinaldi of Irving and Jonathan Stickland of Bedford … at one end, to Sarah Davis of West University Place, J.D. Sheffield of Gatesville and Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches at the other,” Jones wrote.
That doesn’t quite explain Davis’ unique place in the 150-member House. This from Jones does: “In many respects, Davis is the Texas House’s one true independent, significantly more conservative than every Democrat and significantly less conservative than every Republican.”
And that, Jones reports, makes Davis “a natural fit for her purple district in Houston, where a majority of voters identify with Davis’ fiscally conservative and socially moderate policy positions.”
So that’s the deal. I think you get it. Onward to the recent Stickland-Davis Twitter fight.
Stickland is unopposed in the GOP primary and has a Dem opponent without a chance of winning. Davis has big-time GOP primary opposition in Susanna Dokupil, who’s backed by Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor is taking sides in some GOP primaries as the party in power wages a sometimes-uncivil civil war.
That brings us to the Twitter unpleasantness on which we’re going to eavesdrop that started Thursday Jan. 4 with this from Stickland: “My team is spending this week helping @susannadokupil replace LIB @SarahforHD134- Response so far: Overwhelmingly positive.”
(FYI, that tweet followed one indicating Stickland had cable problems: “Customer service @GetSpectrum is horrendous. Im doing big dive into this non competitive gov created monopoly. #86th #txlege.”)
Stickland had announced his political goals in this New Year’s Eve tweet: “You heard it here first: 2018 is destined to be remembered as the ‘year of the RINO slaughter.’”
“RINO,” which stands for Republican In Name Only, is the worst thing one Repub can call another, even worse than “liberal.”
“I have no opponent. Time to travel the state and help kick my RINO colleagues out of office,” Stickland had tweeted.
His Jan. 4 tweet announcing his jihad on Davis inspired her to respond with a photo of Stickland and this quote from him: “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!”
Background: Stickland has apologized for a 2008 online post in which he advised somebody: “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!”
“I’ve apologized 4 stupid comments I made in my younger years,” Stickland tweeted to Davis. “Have u publicly apologized for your horrendous liberal voting record?”
Davis again responded with the Stickland photo and quote, drawing this quick response from him: “I’ve apologized 4 stupid comments I made in my younger years, have u publicly apologized for voting 2 allow the murder of children?” Stickland asked Davis, referring to her support of abortion rights.
Davis again parried with the Stickland photo and rape quote. Back to you, Sticky:
“I’ve apologized 4 stupid comments I made in my younger years, have u publicly apologized for calling voting to increase the minimum wage?”
This went on for a couple of hours, with Davis responding with the photo and quote and Stickland hitting back with tweets asking Davis if she’d apologized for “helping kill property tax reform,” “accusing Greg Abbott of running a criminal operation out of his office,” “expanding taxes to airports,” “voting 2 raid rainy day fund,” “voting to protect state collected union dues” and “voting to kill spending limit bill HB208.”
Also from Stickland’s tweets: “Question of the night: Can you name ANY returning Texas Republican House Member who has public endorsed (Davis) for reelection. If so, who?”
“The answer is no one,” Stickland tweeted. “None of us can remotely begin to defend your record. Everyone has had it with your lies and deception about being a Republican. #Adios #txlege”
Davis kept responding with the rape quote and photo, eventually getting to this: “I’m getting tired. Do you understand how this is going? I’m assuming not. So just assume everything you tweet about me is responded by this …”
And there was the rape quote again.
“Oh,” Stickland replied. “I get it! You bring up stuff from before I ever ran for office to distract from your horrible liberal record. You, nor any of our colleagues can explain it. Goodnight then! I’ll just be over here talking about facts.”
In the end, I gave Davis the win for this tweet:
“In case you don’t understand how elections work, I’m elected by people living in my district, not members of the legislature. But also… .”
And there again was the Stickland photo and rape quote.