Suppose you had a career that stretches back to your service in the military as an Army Intelligence Officer during the Vietnam War. Suppose further that you served on President Reagan’s White House Staff and soon thereafter was named Director of the ACTION agency by the “Gipper.” In that role, you eliminated the use of federal tax dollars to fund Saul Alinsky-style leftist groups. Furthermore, you founded the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program and implemented Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No To Drugs” campaign. Moreover, you were honored as a winner of the Reagan Medal of Honor. Later, you become the Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas with strong support from Reagan conservatives. During your time in that position you helped build a GOP majority in Texas from the grassroots.
Still later, you were appointed by Governor Perry as Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, a role in which you created increased opportunities for vocational education, which helped rebuild our manufacturing base, and helped returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to make a successful transition to civilian life through such initiatives as the Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP). Now, suppose that, given your extensive background of service to your state and country, your qualifications make you an excellent candidate for Governor of the Lone Star State. Yet, as is too often the case in politics, you face an opponent with about twenty million bucks in his campaign treasury, while your campaign is just getting underway.
Well, that’s a fair assessment of what Tom Pauken is up against in his race for the GOP nomination against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot. Of course, General Abbot has been in office for the past 11 years, so he also has an added advantage with name recognition and a well-organized campaign staff that, undoubtedly, started preparing for this race as soon as Rick Perry hinted that he wouldn’t be running for another term.
Last Tuesday, my wife and I had the pleasure of a visit from Mr. Pauken and his Campaign Chairman Bob Farone at our Flower Mound home. Frankly, realizing the uphill battle Mr. Pauken is facing, I fully expected some sort of hit and run scenario in which the candidate would enter hurriedly, proclaim that he only has a few minutes, and be constantly eyeing his wristwatch as the interview got underway. Instead, what we observed was a man who was genuinely interested in our views of the political environment in the state as he joined us in the dining room for coffee, cake and cordial conversation.
A very distinguished man to be sure, Tom projects the aura of a statesman and his record of achievement bears witness to that lofty image. A former venture-capital executive, he is a small business owner and the author of “The Thirty Years War: The Politics of the Sixties Generation: A Memoir;” and his most recent book: “Bringing America Home: How America Lost Her Way and How We Can Find Our Way Back.”
Born in Victoria, Texas, Pauken graduated from the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas before attending Georgetown Univ. in Washington, DC, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Tom and his wife, the former Ida Ayala, have seven children and 14 grandchildren. Referring to himself as a “recovering attorney,” he earned his Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist Univ. in Dallas in 1973. Adding to his considerable résumé, and an issue that I know is of particular importance to most homeowners, is an appointment by Governor Perry in 2006 to the Texas Task Force on Appraisal Reform (TFAR), to study and make recommendations on how to address Texans’ continuing concerns over property appraisals.
“I’m running for Governor because I have serious differences with my opponent, including my opposition to in-state tuition for people who are in our state illegally,” he said, adding, “Greg Abbot has been Attorney General for a decade and has done nothing to secure our border, despite recent reports showing increases in illegal immigration.” Additionally, Mr. Pauken is on record for supporting the merger between American Airlines and US Airways from the beginning. Abbot, on the other hand, had joined a lawsuit with US Attorney General Eric Holder to block the merger. As for Abbot’s recent reversal of that position, Pauken said, “His statements make it clear that political pressures, more than economic or legal concerns, have driven his office to reverse course. Sadly, my opponent is in lock-step with Eric Holder in the use of big government interference in the free market system.”
Tom Pauken has been challenging Greg Abbot to debate the issues with him. As of this writing, the AG has not accepted the challenge, but, in all fairness, it’s still early. I feel certain that General Abbot will give voters an opportunity to make their decision based on a fair evaluation of the candidates in a public forum. The primary is scheduled for March 4, 2014, and I’m eagerly looking forward to a spirited campaign.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.