Thomas Pauken

Thomas Pauken

Thomas Weir "Tom" Pauken (born June 11, 1944) is a Dallas lawyer and author who served as Texas Republican chairman from 1994-1997 during the transition period when the party leaped from minority to majority status in the state. A staunch conservative, Pauken lost two tight races for U.S. Congress in 1978 and 1980, and in 1998, he failed in a bid for the Republican nomination for Texas attorney general. Under appointment of Governor Rick Perry, Pauken is the chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, which administers state unemployment compensation benefits.

On August 21, 2006, Perry named Pauken to chair the Texas Task Force on Appraisal Reform (TFAR) to study and make recommendations on how to address Texans' continuing concerns over property appraisals.

Pauken was born in Victoria, Texas (Victoria County). He received his bachelor's degree in political science from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1965. From 1967-1970, he served in the U.S. Army, with a tour of duty in Vietnam. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1973 and launched his law practice thereafter. He is currently a political columnist for []

Two House challenges to Jim Mattox

In 1978, Pauken challenged the freshman Democratic Representative James Albon "Jim" Mattox of Dallas for the Fifth District seat in the U.S. Congress, a position held by earlier Republicans Bruce Reynolds Alger and Alan Steelman. Mattox was assisted in his campaign by visits from President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter. Pauken offered a conservative alternative in sharp contrast to Mattox. The Democrat prevailed, with 35,524 votes (50.3 percent) to Pauken's 34,672 (49.1 percent). In the rematch in 1980, Pauken lost by 3,044 votes: 70,892 (51.0 percent) to 67,848 (48.8 percent). While Ronald W. Reagan was a winner in the Fifth District, he had no presidential coattails sufficient to lift Pauken to victory. Indeed, Pauken ran .3 of 1 percent below his initial 1978 showing.

After the congressional losses, Pauken joined the transition team of President-elect Reagan. In 1981, Reagan appointed Pauken director of the volunteer program ACTION. He stayed for the first Reagan term and then returned to his law practice in Dallas.

Chairmanship of the Texas Republican Party

In 1994, Pauken was elected chairman of the Texas Republican Party with strong support from evangelical conservatives disenchanted with the so-called "stand-patism" and moderation of the previous chairmen, including Fred Meyer, an ally of former Governor William Perry "Bill" Clements, Jr., and former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Pauken won the chairmanship by defeating a last-minute challenge waged by conservative Congressman Joe Barton, whose district then stretched from the Dallas southern suburbs to Bryan-College Station. Pauken blamed Karl Rove, then an advisor to Clements and the first President Bush, for encouraging Barton to run for the chairmanship. Pauken did not hesitate to quarrel with the more moderate elements in the party, who were delighted to see him step down in 1997.

The party continued to experience divisions between its "economic" conservative wing and its "social" conservative wing. In 1996, for instance, evangelical conservative elements had tried to prevent the naming of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in San Diego because Hutchison supports the "Roe v. Wade" decision on abortion though she has voted for some restrictions on the practice. Hutchison was booed at the state convention, and many delegates had expressed little interest in the presidential campaign waged by then Senator William Philip "Phil" Gramm of Texas. Pauken supported the selection of Senator as a delegate to the national convention, and she was elected a delegate at the state convention.

Running for Texas attorney general, 1998

After he left the chairmanship, Pauken announced his candidacy for Texas attorney general in the 1998 elections. He expected to face the Democratic incumbent Dan Morales in the November general election and made speeches attacking Morales' record. However, three unexpected events developed. (1) Morales, who was later imprisoned on a felony, declined to seek a third term, and (2) the Democrats chose Pauken's old congressional rival Jim Mattox to seek once more his previous job as attorney general. Moreover, (3) Pauken faced two strong challenges within his own party, State Supreme Court Justice John Cornyn and Barry Williamson, a departing member of the Texas Railroad Commission. In the primary, Pauken gained the endorsement and financial assistance of defeated (1996 and 2000) Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes of New Jersey, whom Pauken had introduced to the Texas delegates. As chairman, Pauken had been technically neutral in the 1996 presidential primary.

Pauken finished third in the attorney general primary in March 1998, as Cornyn and Williamson went into a runoff. Pauken believed that Karl C. Rove, by then the top advisor to Governor George W. Bush was behind the recruitment of his two primary opponents. Barry Williamson led in the primary, with 208,345 (38.1 percent) to Cornyn's 176,269 (32.23) and Pauken's 162,180 votes (29.67 percent).

Denied a runoff berth by some fourteen thousand votes, Pauken at first said that he would endorse neither Cornyn nor Williamson, but as the campaign progressed, he said that he could not vote for Williamson. Cornyn won the nomination in a low-turnout runoff, 135,130 (57.9 percent) to 98,218 (42.1 percent).

Cornyn went on to defeat Mattox in the general election, 2,002,794 (54.25 percent) to Mattox's 1,631,045 (44.18 percent). (A Libertarian received 57,604 votes or 1.56 percent.) Cornyn, however, did not hold the position beyond the one term. In 2002, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and Republican Greg Abbott was chosen to succeed Cornyn as attorney general. Pauken did not again seek office.

As a commentator

Pauken is a frequent political commentator on Dallas-area radio stations. He has never wavered from his strongly-held conservative views. He once said that the GOP in Texas prior to his chairmanship was primarily a "Rockefeller party" even though Barry M. Goldwater had been strongly preferred by Texas delegates to the 1964 national convention, rather than the then New York Governor (and future vice president) Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. Pauken is the author of "The Thirty Years War -- The Politics of the Sixties Generation" (1994). He is also a contributor to "Chronicles", a paleoconservative magazine published by the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois, which supported former Republican Patrick J. Buchanan for the GOP presidential nominations in 1992 and 1996.

Pauken is married to the former Ida Ayala, and the couple has seven children: Thomas, II, Michelle, Angela, Elizabeth, Daniel, Monica, and Victoria. The Paukens are Roman Catholic.

Endorsing property tax relief

On April 26, 2006, Pauken endorsed the Texas Tax Reform Commission's plan for property tax relief and business tax reform. A portion of his statement follows:

"Those who know me know that I have never been shy about encouraging elected leaders to adhere to the Republican Party's conservative philosophy when dealing with the issue of taxes. As former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, a former member of the Reagan administration and a conservative, grassroots activist for more than four decades, I have been unequivocal in my support for conservative tax reform, even if the byproduct is a few ruffled feathers. There is no doubt that, if this plan flouted conservative principles, I would be among the first to publicly call for its defeat.

"Instead, I am urging lawmakers to adopt this plan as soon as possible because it would be a tremendous victory for Texas homeowners and taxpayers. At the same time, this legislation encourages job creation and economic growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector."

The proposal was adopted near the close of the special session of the legislature, which met a June 1, 2006, deadline, set by the Texas Supreme Court in regard to school funding.

ee also

List of Chairpersons of the College Republicans


*"Who's Who in America", 1999 edition
*"Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections"

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