Candidates for governor, Smith County DA speak in Hideaway

Published on Thursday, 5 September 2013 20:52 - Written by By Adam Russell

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Pauken made his campaign pitch to conservatives in Hideaway Thursday evening alongside candidates for Smith County District Attorney.

Pauken, a former chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, said true conservatives need to “take it to liberals” that have entrenched themselves in Washington D.C. and Austin. However, he said, entrenched Republican insiders, including his opponent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, are part of the problem.

“Help is not going to come from the left and Austin insiders,” he said. “There’s got to be more to (governing) than moving politicians up the ladder.”

Abbott is considered the frontrunner to replace Gov. Rick Perry. He has reported campaign coffers nearing $23 million and has begun a statewide media campaign for the office.

Pauken said Republicans have been in power for almost two decades yet the state continues to decline in areas such as education, transportation and border security. He said lobbyists and insiders have pushed an elitist education agenda focused on four-year college degrees rather than individual students’ pursuits to the detriment of the state. He also said the state’s “Robin Hood” funding system is unfair and needs to end.

The state has moved from a time when toll roads became free roads once they were paid for, he said, and now have taxpayers “on the line” to pay off bad toll investments private companies made.

Pauken said one of his first orders of business will be to divert the state’s $500 million Texas Enterprise Fund, which he said has been used to “pick winners and losers,” for security along the border.

“Rhetoric is cheap,” he said. “What matters is getting something done rather than wanting to be somebody and hold a position.”

Pauken has a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. Pauken served on President Ronald Reagan's White House staff. He was named director of the Action Agency by Reagan, founded the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program and implemented Nancy Reagan's “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign. He was awarded the Ronald Reagan Medal of Honor by his fellow Reagan administration alumni. Pauken was elected Texas Republican State Chairman in 1994.

Philip Hayes, a surrogate for Abbott, said the attorney general has challenged President Barack Obama’s administration 27 times and has lead a conservative fight for Texas.

Abbott’s record makes it clear, he “is conservative to the core,” Hayes said.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he would continue to be an “aggressive” prosecutor. He said he hopes voters consider his experience and prosecutorial record before casting ballots.

“The question comes down to who would you want prosecuting a case if it was your family member that was murdered or raped,” he said.

Bingham became district attorney in 2003 when Jack Skeen was appointed as 241st District Court judge. He was acting assistant district attorney under Skeen.

Jackson, of Lindale, said the district attorney’s office would be an opportunity to give back to Smith County.

After graduating from the Texas Tech School of Law, Jackson served as the assistant district attorney in Gregg County, where he became the chief appellate attorney for that office.

Jackson said he would take his farm raised, small businessman approach to managing the district attorney’s office. He said there are savings to be found in the office and that lessons and work ethic he learned on his grandfather’s farm can serve Smith County.