The decline of the super state?

A recent story in USA Today speculated about the decline of Texas’ political power in DC. A similar story in the Houston Chronicle suggested that Rep. Chet Edwards is now the most influential Texan given his connection to President-elect Obama.

The decline in the state’s power may be overstated. However, it’s not hard to believe that the state has lost some clout since President Bush and Tom Delay led the charge for Texas. Of course, the true high-water mark was likely the days when Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, and a group of congressional committee chairs from Texas brought NASA, military bases, and a host of new post offices to the state (at times supported by the sympathies of Texas-born President Dwight Eisenhower).

To some the worry about the decline of influence is ironic as Texas continues to battle to get promised federal assistance with Ike cleanup. The complaints from Governor Perry and local officials are pretty well summed up in a recent Houston Chronicle story. According to the story, FEMA has to move slowly on storm cleanup so that things are done right. As one official commented, “And you can’t just put Bubba or Skeeter out here on a dozer.” Apparently, the Feds feel the subtleties of bulldozer operation are lost on Texans and we can’t be trusted to push around our own dirt without extensive supervision.

Texas may have lost some of its luster in Washington. However, we’ll probably find our way back into the spotlight. I happened to come across an old Newsweek from 1977 that reflected an earlier version of our star status. The cover had nothing to do with my decision to attend Kilgore Jr. College.

In 1977 Newsweek declares Texas the superstate and illustrates this with a picture of the Kilgore Rangerettes.

In 1977 Newsweek declares Texas the superstate and illustrates this with a picture of the Kilgore Rangerettes.

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