On the Dust-Up with Sen. John Carona…

As some of you have heard, there was a bit of a dust-up between myself and Senator John Carona Tuesday night at the Park Cities Preston Hollow Tea Party meeting.


As you may know, I’m very supportive of open and vigorous debate, but unfortunately, the conversation at the tea party meeting got very heated and personal.  During the course of the conversation, Senator Carona publicly attacked me as a “charlatan” and accused me of “misrepresenting” his voting record to deceive people.  Thus, I feel compelled to address the facts and, in light of the facts presented below, encourage Sen. Carona to revise his remarks.


Let me say at the outset that I have nothing personal against Sen. Carona.  I’ve known him for years and have considered him a friend.  I’ve spent time voluntarily helping him connect with grassroots activists in the district and have helped promote his campaign events to thousands of constituents.  Thus, his personal attacks against me on Tuesday night were more than a little surprising and a lot disappointing.  I did not respond–nor do I have any interest in responding–in kind with personal attacks.  My interest is in the facts.


As noted, the dust-up occurred during a presentation I was making at the Park Cities / Preston Hollow Tea Party meeting Tuesday night.  The presentation wasn’t focused on Sen. Carona or any other particular candidate.  I mentioned during my presentation, however, that Senator Bob Deuell (SD2) had the distinction of being identified in a study by Rice University as holding the most liberal voting record of any Senate Republican in 2011.  I noted also, as an aside, that the 2013 version of the Rice University study identified Sen. Carona as having the most liberal or left-leaning voting record within the Senate Republican caucus.


In response, Senator Carona spoke up and accused me of “misrepresenting” the results of the Rice University study.  I then provided Sen. Carona with an opportunity to explain how he felt that I had misrepresented the results of the study.  After his explanation, I responded that he had not, in my opinion, identified how my brief description of the study was a “misrepresentation” in any way, and invited him to retract that accusation.

Thereafter, Senator Carona proceeded to attack my personal character, and accuse me of being a “charlatan.”  He claimed that I, along with other conservative activists, had an agenda to deceive and manipulate people about the state budget, the outcome of the recent legislative session and other issues.  As noted above, this was a surprising, unfortunate and disappointing attack coming from someone with whom I’ve often disagreed but generally considered a friend.



Upon a review of the study, I believe any reasonable observer will agree that my characterization of the results was accurate.  The results of the 2011 Rice University study are posted here:


The results of the 2013 study are posted here:


The relevant portion of the 2013 study reads as follows:

There was a significant gap between the Republicans and the Democrats, but John Carona of Dallas was the least conservative Republican senator…

Further, and as I noted to Sen. Carona on Tuesday night, the conclusions of the Rice University study were not an outlier, and were generally aligned with the conclusions reached by Empower Texans, the Young Conservatives of Texas and Eagle Forum in their own reviews of Senator Carona’s voting record.  

As an example, Empower Texans scored Carona a 60/100 on fiscal responsibility: 


Young Conservatives of Texas scored Carona at 55/100:


Texas Eagle Forum scored Carona at 71, in a tie for second most liberal Republican in the Texas Senate:


Thus, the idea that Sen. Carona’s voting record is on the left or liberal end of the Republican spectrum is not some fabrication that I, anyone at Rice University, Michael Quinn Sullivan or the Young Conservatives of Texas invented out of whole cloth.  Among Republicans, by the hard numbers, John Carona has a voting record placing him on the left end of the spectrum, and there is simply not an easy way to spin out of that.


To reiterate, I have nothing against John Carona personally.  I’ve generally found him to be a pleasant and polite person in most of my interactions with him.  I’ve appreciated the time he’s taken to meet with grassroots activists in the district and listen to our concerns.  Those are all plusses for John Carona.

That said, while it my be politically-difficult for him to admit at this time, John Carona’s voting record places him at the left end of the Republican spectrum.  Attacking me, or Michael Quinn Sullivan, or the Young Conservatives of Texas doesn’t change that.


In light of the above, I invite Sen. Carona to revise his remarks, correct the record and retract his personal attacks on my character.


– Kenneth Emanuelson
  Founder, The Grassroots Texans Network
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