Will the real Dan Pope please stand up? An aspirational endorsement

With Lubbock’s May municipal elections moved to November, a change forced by COVID-19, two-term Mayor Dan Pope suddenly finds himself in a frighteningly close race with an unknown party disc jockey who has stolen valor issues and an inconsistent political track record. Given the lack of name ID, exaggeration of his military record and minimal qualifications, if Stephen Sanders breaks 20 percent it’s a resounding defeat for Pope.

To be fair, COVID-19 has politically decimated the executive branch across most of the nation. Few would have believed one year ago, riding the crest of an historic economic upturn, Donald Trump would be fighting for his political life today.

Governor Greg Abbott has seen an even greater decline in popularity. Today it looks unlikely Abbott could win a Texas Republican primary in 2022; however we’re reminded there is a legislative session between now and then. A lot can happen.

Even considering the times, Mayor Pope took Abbott’s orders to the extreme, resulting in the permanent closures of many restaurants, and rushed to judgment shutting churches and gun stores in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It’s probably for those reasons, and the inconvenient appearance of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, Pope suddenly finds himself in hot water with the very people who elected him.

… professing to be pro-life when you will not cast a vote to save a child is the moral equivalent of pretending to be special forces when you weren’t.

Those people elected Dan Pope “conservative for mayor.” They believed Dan Pope when he embraced the pro-life label. Lubbock citizens thought him genuine when he promised to work with our conservative lawmakers in Austin. Those Pope voters had no inkling the cynicism behind his adoption of “conservative.”

But as we all now know, the Dan Pope who campaigned for mayor failed to take the field after swearing his oath.

What we’ve experienced instead is a mayor who has led the greatest discretionary debt initiatives in Lubbock’s history, each with an accompanying tax increase (i.e., if we were not servicing that debt your taxes would be lower). None of the debt had voter approval; only the City Council’s.

Taxpayers paid his expenses as Pope galavanted around the state hobnobbing with liberal mayors of San Antonio, Austin and Houston. Then Dan spent more of your money going to Austin fighting conservative policymakers who were trying to hold the line on property taxes. And when he lost in the legislature, he was a sore loser. Pope came back from Austin petulant and poisoned the climate at home because he lost.

And while claiming to be both pro-life and Republican, Pope disavows the Republican platform as too far right and sneers at the suggestion he vote to save children’s lives, claiming the pro-life ordinance signed by more than 5,000 Lubbock voters is unconstitutional.

But the mayor wasn’t concerned about the Constitution when he arbitrarily shuttered churches and closed the gun stores in the name of public safety. It seems lost on our alleged “pro-life mayor” that abortion is a public safety issue, and if you can shut down churches in the name of public safety, you can shut out Planned Parenthood under the same premise. After all, it is the mayor who believes the two, churches and Planned Parenthood, as being one and the same in the eyes of the law.

However all of this points up what’s wrong with Mayor Pope: Dan has a a disclosure problem. Not the one where he wet his beak by intentionally failing to disclose an investment in a business benefiting from city financial incentives. No, but that small breach of trust is an ironic metaphor for the greater problem of Dan’s failure to disclose his political identity and agenda.

Dan is a political cross-dresser … a progressive at his core who eschews conservative values but cloaks himself with conservative labels.

It ought not surprise us when a politician falls prey to the social doublespeak of the day. Pope is, in his political DNA, a big spending, pro-choice progressive who identifies as a conservative pro-life Republican. Dan is a political cross-dresser, if you will: a progressive at his core who eschews conservative values but cloaks himself with conservative labels.

Dan is consumed with being stylish; he desperately needs to be the political cool kid. New city halls and traveling to Austin while fantasizing yourself a shadow senator are stylish among big city mayors; ordinances to save unborn children are decidedly not stylish.

Political fashion aside, professing to be pro-life when you will not cast a vote to save a child is the moral equivalent of pretending to be special forces when you weren’t. Just as his opponent took a military label for himself he had not earned, Dan Pope has claimed to be something he is not, and, likewise to his own dishonor.

Sanders has acknowledged and apologized for his bad acts.

And that brings us to the challenger, Stephen Sanders. There are good things I can say about the young man, concerned father and mayor aspirant. He’s campaigned hard but honorably turning an effort with little money and no name i.d. into a genuine threat.

But Sanders has had his own hands full with figuring out who he is and what is his political identity. In my opinion Stephen doesn’t today have the ability to stand up to a strong city manager who, like any city manager, needs to be kept in check from time to time. I cannot bring myself to believe it would be good for Lubbock or for Stephen to elect him  mayor this November. But keep an eye on Sanders. He’s living proof, half the battle is showing up. Stephen Sanders showed up when no one else did.

However, just because we’re mad with Dan isn’t a reason to put an unqualified candidate in office. Instead, I endorse Dan Pope to be the conservative pro-life mayor he promised to be and quit spending tax money lobbying the Legislature for the right to raise more tax dollars. Keep your promises, Dan, during your last 18 months in office.

… let’s all hope he’ll keep his word this time

And on election night* on a date yet to be determined, when the city of Lubbock has overwhelmingly voted the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance into law in repudiation of this City Council’s cowardly dithering on the issue, I expect Mayor Dan Pope to do what he swore to do: defend and enforce the laws of our city and allow the courts to decide what is constitutional.

He’s still running as a “conservative.”

Vote Dan Pope and let’s all pray he keeps his word this time.

*We originally penned this as being “in May” however it has been pointed out to us the election date, though not yet set, must be much sooner. We corrected this and apologize for the error.