29 December 2005
The Strayhorn campaign ought be careful
Rebecca Chapa's column in the San Antonio Express-News is worth a read, but what caught my eye is this:
Through a series of political missteps, Democrat-turned-Republican Carole Keeton Strayhorn is quickly proving herself to be not One Tough Grandma, but One Kooky One. The latest blunder, a phone call from one of her right-hand staffers to Democratic candidate Chris Bell asking him to bow out of the governor's race, makes the campaign look schizophrenic.Chapa voices the conventional wisdom is shaping and is starting to repeated by politicos and journalists alike.
See this quote from relatively disinterested Chris Bell spokesman Jason Stanford:
"Luis and I talk every once in awhile, trying to figure out what in God's name (Strayhorn) is going to do, and we've learned through observation that applying logic is an ineffective means of analyzing her," Stanford said. "He and I have a gentlemen's agreement to campaign aboveboard and do whatever we can to beat each other's boss."Now it could be argued that Democrats would rather face Perry than Strayhorn, but I think it's more likely that Stanford was simply telling the truth. What Stanford says is what I hear from different people.
Now, as I've pointed out before, Strayhorn has quite a bit of cash on hand which she can use to take her message directly to the people.
The problem is that paid media is most effective when it dovetails with what people hear in free media. If the newspapers are saying something different than your paid advertising, then it muddles Strayhorn's message on tv and radio commercials.
If I were the Strayhorn campaign, I'd be concerned about this. As for Perry's campaign, I believe they planned to make this argument.
Adios mofo style quick links
1. ABC 13 Houston reported on Friedman and money:
But in between puffs of smoke on a Cuban cigar, he admits there is nothing funny about the money it will take to win.
"We estimate that once we're on the ballot, we estimate we need six or seven million dollars at that point to really be competitive," said Friedman.
He is off to a good start, estimating that when he files his next campaign report, he'll have raised close to a million dollars.
2. "Kinky's campaign turns (almost) serious" headlines the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's article. There's nothing new here, but it's good reporting nonetheless.
28 December 2005
Gardner Selby recaps all the surprising events of the political year. My favorite:
That the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary, with three expected candidates, might prove spicier than the Republican fray, pending Strayhorn's decision on whether to run as an R . . .TWO exciting primaries for me to cover.
26 December 2005
Sometimes, I don't like to title my posts.
For the first time since Republicans claimed all statewide offices in 1998, the party faces the possibility of a big-name GOP primary showdown next year.An admitted game plan to turn the Republican primary into the general election.... interesting. However, I don't think that today's Texas is the same as the Texas of the 1960's, so that's a bit of a tall order.
The March 7 primary for Texas governor will likely pit Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a self-described "tough grandma," against her longtime foil and incumbent Rick Perry.
"I've never been the darling of the insiders. I run with the people," Strayhorn said. "Right after the new year, buckle your seat belt and hang on."
This month Strayhorn denied speculation she might consider a run as an independent, potentially postponing a contest with Perry until the November general election. She hasn't officially filed her candidacy papers yet, but she's expected to make the Jan. 2 deadline.
Perry, meanwhile, said he's only talking about his own Republican campaign.
"I know which party I'm for and which party I'm going to run. I made that decision a decade ago. I've got other very important things to spend my time on," said Perry, who switched from the Democratic Party before his run for agriculture commissioner in 1990.
If elected to another four-year term, Perry could hold the governor's office for 10 years, making him the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He was lieutenant governor under then-Gov. George W. Bush and assumed the state's top job when Bush was elected president in 2000. Two years later, Perry was elected to his first full term as governor.
"Perry has shown that he gives no quarter in political races. None should be expected," said consultant Bill Miller, whose company's political committee has donated to Perry's campaign.
Miller predicted a hard-hitting contest if Strayhorn makes good on her promise to run. "They're both going to go for the jugular," he said.
Both camps began shooting insults at each other early in the year. Strayhorn called Perry a "do-nothin' drugstore cowboy" who hasn't shown leadership on children's issues or school property tax relief. Perry's campaign questioned Strayhorn's ethics and accused her of using her state office for political gain.
Perry and Strayhorn are also veteran campaigners. Perry has never lost a race. Strayhorn lost a run for Congress in 1986 after she switched to the GOP from the Democratic party, and she lost a race for Railroad Commission in 1992. But she was later elected to the commission, then went on to become Texas' first woman comptroller. She was known at the time by the last name Rylander, before she remarried.
Perry's aides portray him as the real conservative. They cast Strayhorn as a pseudo-Republican whose support comes from Democrats and trial lawyers.
"I think the primary voters will see right through that," Perry spokesman Robert Black said. "Republican primary voters need to know if trial lawyers have picked a candidate in the Republican primary and who that candidate is."
Strayhorn's camp says it wants to attract more than the usual 600,000 people who typically vote in a Texas Republican primary.
"Our game plan is to turn the Republican primary in 2006 into the general election," said Mark Sanders, Strayhorn's spokesman. "We want everyone who wants to have a say in the future of this state. In order to do that, they need to vote in the March Republican primary."
As 2005 ended, Strayhorn and Perry were busy collecting campaign cash. At the end of the latest campaign reporting period, June 30, Perry had $8.8 million in cash on hand, and Strayhorn had $7 million.
They won't have to report their contributions for the second half of the year until mid-January, but each undoubtedly added millions more dollars.
It's widely believed Perry would outspend Strayhorn, who said she plans to counter Perry's power by debating key issues, bringing together supporters of all political stripes.
"I am looking forward to the challenge," she said.
The filing deadline is January 2nd. Other important dates:
December 31 -- End of campaign finance period. Last day to contribute for upcoming report.
January 2 -- Filing deadline for the Republican and Democratic primaries
January 17th -- Campaign finance filing deadline for state races
January 31 -- Campaign finance filing deadline for federal races
25 December 2005
Tina Benkiser, Rick Perry, etc
When Gov. Rick Perry filed for re-election during a pep rally at the state Republican headquarters in Austin last week, some reporters questioned whether GOP Chairwoman Tina Benkiser had abandoned the tradition of remaining neutral in contested races during the primary season.Can you tell that Benkiser is facing her own re-election campaign? I believe that Gina Parker has announced another challenge to Benkiser, and former Dallas GOP chairman Nate Crain is also expected to run.
After all, Benkiser was standing alongside the governor - and his prominently displayed campaign placards - applauding ebulliently as Perry ticked off the reasons that voters should return him to office next year. But the chairwoman insisted that there was no need for neutrality because Perry was the only one entered in the Republican race for governor.
Expected challenger Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the state's comptroller, has not yet plunked down her filing fee for the March 7 primary.
"Actually, we only have one declared gubernatorial candidate," Benkiser told reporters. "We are not aware of anyone else who'll be running on the primary ticket at this time."
Perhaps she should have checked her party's official Web site before making that pronouncement. She would have noticed that Larry Kilgore, who in 2004 unsuccessfully challenged state Rep. Toby Goodman of Arlington in the GOP primary, entered the governor's race Dec. 5.
24 December 2005
Biographical information for the lesser-known candidates
Alvarado is a native of Orange and is currently a middle school assistant principal in the Fort Worth Independent School District. He received a bachelor of science degree in business and management from the University of Maryland. He obtained a master of public administration from Troy State University. Alvarado received his teacher administrator certifications from the University of Texas at Arlington.There are also bios of Bell and Gammage.
He has taught Social Studies at Trimble Technical High School in the Fort Worth Independent School District since 1994. He is retired from the armed services.
Republican Kilgore was born in Amarillo in 1964. He has been involved with politics since 1988. He believes that God's word, the Bible, is the foundation for all law.
Larry and his wife Valerie have been married 16 years and have three children ages. They enjoy camping, canoeing, playing games, taking vacations and serving in their church.
During his service with the United States Air Force in 1984-1988, he served in Azores, Portugal and at NORAD in Colorado. His training in the Air Force gave him the necessary background to enter in the telecommunications industry where he has worked for 18 years.
"The most important decision in all my life occurred when I was five." he said. "I asked Jesus to save me from hell. My family and Sunday school teachers had told me the fate of those who reject Christ. Heaven sounded pretty cool too. I did not realize the tremendous impact following Christ would have on my life here on Earth."
Smith, who is also running in the Republican Primary is from Eastland but now resides in Austin. He received a BA degree from University of Texas at Austin in 1973. He worked as auditor/accountant in what used to be the Texas Department of Public Welfare from 1973-1977.
Smith served in the US navy from 1979-1983 and has been employed in private security since 1983.
"I am a very conservative candidate for the office of Governor of Texas," Smith said. "For those of you in my generation and older, I think you know the importance of leadership."
Werner announced his candidacy during the Libertarian Party of Texas "Weekend for Winners" campaign seminar.
Werner is a software analyst from Austin and he received 1.7 percent of the vote in a race against Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett last year.
SurveyUSA approval tracking poll
SurveyUSA released its latest tracking poll of Rick Perry's approval rating.
Their latest shows Perry at 46 approval, 48% disapproval. The poll is of 600 adults, +/- 4.1%. A graph of this monthly survey is here.
Surprisingly, Perry's overall approval is slightly higher among females than males. Also very surprisingly, his approval ratio is very similar between Anglos, Latinos, and African-Americans.
One thing to keep in mind: this poll is of adults. Not registered voters, not likely voters. I don't have any hard numbers, but it seems that Survey USA usually understates Perry's support by a bit compared to other polls, and it is probably because of this fact.
22 December 2005
Is Strayhorn's aide searching for Combs opponent?
This story gets more bizarre by the day. Today, the San Antonio Express News reports that Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders has called Lyle Larson to try to get him to run for comptroller, just like he called Chris Bell:
The story sounded familiar to Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson.A little background, if you're new to the story. First, Jason Embry first broke the story that Mark Sanders had called Allison Bell and told her that Chris Bell should run for comptroller instread of governor. Sanders claimed to be acting on his own, and in Bell's self-interest, because he had known Allison Bell for a long time. Now Sanders is reportedly calling a Republican, seeing if he'll challenge Combs in the primary.
A top aide to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carole Keeton Strayhorn calls the wife of Democratic hopeful Chris Bell last week trying to get Bell to abandon his bid for governor and jump into the state comptroller's race.
During the exchange, reported by the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday, Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders tells Alison Bell that "there would be support" for Bell should he run for comptroller.
Larson, who heard about the story Wednesday morning from Republican strategist Frank Guerra, said the same thing happened to him about six weeks ago.
"This guy calls and says he's Mark Sanders and that he works closely with Carole Strayhorn," Larson recalled. "He tells me there's a large group of people who would like to find someone else to run for comptroller against Susan Combs."
As an enticement, Larson said, Sanders claimed the group could raise $3.5 million for his campaign and facilitate a meeting with a top staffer in the comptroller's office to give Larson a crash course in the ins and outs of the statewide post.
"I thought it was preposterous that somebody could offer $3.5 million in contributions to a person they've never met," Larson said.
Larson, who is publicly supporting Combs, a Republican, for comptroller, said he never bothered to call Sanders back because he's "never been interested in comptroller."
Sanders, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, told the American-Statesman he did not call the Bells on behalf of the Strayhorn campaign. Instead, he said, he wanted to advise his longtime friends that they could not win the governor's race.
Robert Black, a spokesman to GOP Gov. Rick Perry, Strayhorn's chief rival, said he doesn't believe Sanders acted without Strayhorn's blessing.
Go back to January 24th in my archives, and you'll find:
Ag Commisioner Susan Combs has been saying that Strayhorn told her she could run for Comptroller. Today, however, Strayhorn spokesman said:When it became apparent that Strayhorn was going to run for a higher office, Agricultural Commissioner Susan Combs claimed that Comptroller Strayhorn had given her permission to run for Comptroller. But Strayhorn clearly didn't like the way Combs maneuvered and declared so early that she was running for Comptroller.
The people of Texas are certainly asking her (Strayhorn) to run for Governor and she is listening. But the Comptroller never told Commissioner Combs she is not running for Comptroller again. And Commissioner Combs knows it.
21 December 2005
More on the Sanders phone call
Couple new facts out of the Sanders story from Moritz at FWST:
"I guess I must have complicated someone's scenario, but I'm in this race to stay." said Bell, who was a Houston City Council member before serving in Congress from 2003 to last January.Bell's quote seems to indicate (though he was perhaps joking) that he thinks that Strayhorn wants him out of the campaign for strategic reasons.
"I made a friendly phone call, as I do from time to time, and said Chris is not going to win this. No Democrat is," Sanders said. "I told her that he'd have more support for comptroller."
Sanders' quote certainly seems to indicate that Strayhorn isn't going to switch. I can't see why he'd say that if a true party switch was at all under consideration.
When the staffers are the story...
...their candidates aren't usually happy. Jason Embry at the Statesman has the scoop:
Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders said he told Alison Bell that "there would be support for him" if Chris Bell ran to succeed Strayhorn as comptroller. Sanders said that he and Alison Bell have known each other since they worked on a campaign together 15 years ago and that he wanted to advise his longtime friends that they could not win the governor's race.
Sanders said that the call was not prompted by Strayhorn or any campaign donors and that he was not trying to clear the Democratic field for Strayhorn to switch parties.
Bell said it is not unusual for Sanders and his wife to talk.
"They did talk last week, and he mentioned the fact that if I were to exit the governor's race and run for comptroller, he thought there would be some support for me from some unnamed individuals," said Bell, a former congressman from Houston. "And obviously since that was the gist of the conversation, I didn't take it the least bit seriously."
Sanders, who worked for 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tony Sanchez, said he does not think that Bell can win the governor's race because the state so strongly favors Republicans. "A Democrat will not win in 2006," Sanders said.
Asked why the same logic did not apply to the comptroller's race, in which Republican Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs has been running for months, Sanders said he knew only that Bell could not win the governor's race.
Sanders was not the only operative who called a would-be adversary. Bell spokesman Jason Stanford called Luis Saenz, Perry's campaign director, and told him about the Sanders call.
"Luis and I talk every once in awhile, trying to figure out what in God's name (Strayhorn) is going to do, and we've learned through observation that applying logic is an ineffective means of analyzing her," Stanford said. "He and I have a gentlemen's agreement to campaign aboveboard and do whatever we can to beat each other's boss."
Armbrister will retire; Patrick poll
Meanwhile, Elam also reports that Dan Patrick has another poll showing him widening his lead. Elam's take:
As of Friday, none of these four candidates have actually filed for the race. That may mean nothing, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were only a three-candidate race on March 7th. I think Ellis sees the writing on the wall and might bow out. If not, there's plenty of consultants out there ready and able to take the money he's giving away.
I think Joe and Peggy have a couple of good reasons to stick around in this race. For Hamric, she's a woman, she's a moderate, and she is not polling at a paltry 9%. There's simply no way that's true. For Nixon, he has one great hope left to salvage his campaign, and it will be to attack Patrick for staying on the air at KSEV after announcing his candidacy, and for all the subsequent discussions of his campaign on-air. Look for a court challenge to be hurled against Patrick the day after he files to run. There will be a rash of free media for Nixon - he'll look to take advantage of every second of airtime, and every inch of newsprint. And if he's smart, run an old photo.
Both Hamric and Nixon have to force Patrick into a runoff to give themselves the greatest possible chance of victory. I would be highly surprised if there wasn't a chance for voters to come back in April to decide this race.
20 December 2005
Perry soliciting letters to the editor to attack Strayhorn
Gov. Rick Perry's campaign is helping orchestrate letters to the editor designed to appear as spontaneous criticism of Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
In an e-mail to Perry supporters, North Texas field representative Lathan Watts offers "talking points and even sample letters" to help supporters write to The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
According to the e-mail, the Perry campaign wants letter writers to accuse Mrs. Strayhorn of using her state comptroller's office for political purposes.
UPDATE: Jason's take at Chris Bell's blog:
If you ask me, the problem with Team Perry's little ploy isn't so much that they're asking supporters to write their local paper (which campaigns have done since the beginning of time), but that the letters they're asking for are nothing more than petty personal attacks.
19 December 2005
Rick Perry files for re-election
Rick Perry filed for re-election today.
The Jesse Ventura is to Kinky Friedman analogy
I was wondering when the first profile comparing Kinky Friedman's bid to Jesse Ventura Minnesota. The Statesman's Selby wins the award for being first:
To gauge Texas writer-singer Kinky Friedman's starting-gun strategy running for governor as an independent, look north 1,000 miles and flash back to 1998 (just before the U.S. House approved articles of impeachment against President Clinton).Barkley and Hillsman are the reason Friedman never had a chance of joining the Democrats, despite the occasional rumor and Charles Soechting. When your main advisers are committed to the idea of a third party, there isn't much chance that the candidate will switch.
That is when retired wrestler Jesse Ventura hammerlocked two high-powered opponents to win election as the Reform Party candidate for governor of Minnesota.
Friedman's campaign, leaning on two Ventura stalwarts, hopes to repeat Ventura's venture next year by selling Friedman as a down-home alternative and driving up voter interest, particularly among young Texans and people who have not voted (or registered to vote) in years.
There's a catch, though. Friedman faces three hurdles that Ventura did not. He has to collect thousands of voter signatures to make the November ballot, he can't count on public dollars to supplement his kitty, and he has to live with the fact that Texas, unlike Minnesota, doesn't allow voters to register at the polls on Election Day — a factor judged pivotal in Ventura's upset victory.
The Ventura veterans helping Friedman are Dean Barkley, campaign director for Ventura and Friedman, and Bill Hillsman, an advertising consultant for both who hatched "action figure" TV ads for Ventura and similar spots for Friedman. Hillsman and Barkley also helped conjure a Drive to Victory Tour, bringing Ventura by mobile home to targeted communities in the 72 hours before the election.
Ventura started with an advantage by automatically qualifying for his spot at the top of the ballot because the Reform Party's U.S. Senate nominee, Barkley, won at least 5 percent of the vote in 1996. Texas law requires Friedman to raise more than 45,000 signatures from voters who sit out the party primaries — and signatures must be collected in 60 days or less this spring.
Ventura joined six candidate debates, while Friedman isn't guaranteed any opportunity to pitch and woo alongside major-party nominees.
In the debates, Ventura emerged as a straight-talking alternative to the bickering Humphrey and Coleman.
Humphrey, the frontrunner most of that year, made what now seems like a tactical error by insisting that Ventura be included in the debates. His campaign calculated that if Ventura gained ground, he'd draw voters mainly from Coleman. Humphrey's decision, said Gerry Drewry, Ventura's campaign spokeswoman, "was a terrible error on his part, but it was wonderful for us."
The biggest difference is that Texas doesn't have same day voter registration.
Strayhorn in Waco
Carole Strayhorn is in Waco today for a fundraiser:
The grandma for governor campaign is rolling into Waco today with a fund-raising party for Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn as she challenges Gov. Rick Perry next year.Adding "right now" is an interesting modifier to the rest of the phrase.
Strayhorn, who is touting her event as "A Christmas Carole," seeks to bolster her campaign before the March 7 Republican primary, where she will face Perry. Some rumors suggest she may even run as an independent in the general election.
The official invitation lists a host committee of 72 supporters for the party at a Waco home this evening, including former Republican congressional candidate Dot Snyder and businessman Bill Clifton.
"I think Carole is a very straight talker," Clifton said. "I understand where she stands on issues."
Clifton, an active local supporter of U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, who claims to support more Republicans than Democrats, said Strayhorn has attracted fans outside her party who will help her campaign.
"I'm concerned about the poll numbers, but I still like her best," Clifton said. "A lot of her approaches are very common sense to me."
Strayhorn campaign spokesman Ruben Bonilla said he didn't know how many people are expected to attend tonight's event in Waco or how much it will raise for Strayhorn's campaign.
He also rejected rumors that Strayhorn is considering running as an independent.
"Those are just rumors right now," Bonilla said. "I don't know who started those."
18 December 2005
Peggy Fikac, on Democrats in the San Antonio Express News:
Underfunded, so it seems.
Relatively unknown, so far.
But they say they are not to be underestimated.
They are Democrats vying to do what no one of their political persuasion has done since 1994: carry their party's banner into victory in a statewide race.
Never mind that political experts give them — at best — little chance of winning next November in the Republican-red state. They believe in themselves, their message and the chance that lightning will strike.
"Some of the professional cynics who operate in the embedded corporate media need to open their eyes and understand that ordinary people everywhere are fed up with power-grabbing 'Bushite' government in both the United States and in Texas," said San Antonio lawyer David Van Os.
Undaunted by two unsuccessful tries for a Texas Supreme Court seat, Van Os filed for the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Abbott's campaign director, Daniel Hodge, declined to comment on Van Os' criticism and said Abbott will run on a record of "arresting child sex predators, protecting consumers, preserving taxpayer dollars and defending Texas values."
State Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting estimated Van Os will be outspent by "millions to one" but dismissed the importance of the TV ads millions can buy. "People are sick of it," Soechting said of such advertising.
Former Houston congressman Chris Bell, a Democratic hopeful for governor, said he would "match up extraordinarily well with (Republican Gov.) Rick Perry" assuming each is anointed.
Democrats such as consultant Kelly Fero aren't concentrating on statewide races this time but on legislative races as part of a plan for resurgence. But Fero emphasized he's not in the business of counting out hopefuls.
"It is obviously a very tough thing to do to run statewide when you are outspent so heavily," Fero said. But he sees a "sky-high frustration among voters" that could make a difference in this election.
Even with the odds against them, experts don't discount the value of Democratic efforts. Choices make a democracy, help a party build for the future and allow it to capitalize on any incumbent missteps, said Andy Hernandez, a political scientist at St. Mary's University.
Former Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who lost the governor's race to a vastly better funded Bush in 1998, points to the need for confidence in one's self and one's cause in taking on such an endeavor.
He still says he should have won his race, which was viewed as an uphill climb to start with and which, he said, suffered as impeachment proceedings were pending against then-President Clinton.
Mauro said he started with "two basic beliefs" — that Bush was a "terrible governor" and that people disagreed with most of Bush's positions once they knew them.
"I believed if I could highlight his positions, I could beat him," Mauro said. "I really thought I should have won the race. ... That's the kind of confidence you have to have."
17 December 2005
Thursday: TEXAS: [Chris Bell's call for more sex ed, healthcare] Is The Sorta Story Where A Strayhorn And A Friemdan Comment Would Be Fascinating
Wednesday, when the talk was about Strayhorn going indie: TEXAS : Do Nat'l Dems Realize That In A 4-Way General, The Official Dem Could Finish 4th?
The Hotline is a pricy subscription, but if you're a political person, it's worth it.
Gammage makes the run
A former Texas Supreme Court justice last on a ballot 16 Novembers ago filed to seek the 2006 Democratic nod for governor today, blasting GOP Gov. Rick Perry for drumming up school finance ideas on a campaign-funded trip to the Bahamas.SAEN take here.
Bob Gammage, 67, stood next to a blown-up photograph of a yacht on shimmering waters — though not the boat enjoyed by Perry, supporters and advisers.
Who is Gammage's political consultant? Why did Gammage file without announcing?
For a candidate with almost zero name ID, the first thing you'd want to do is get your name in the papers. If Gammage had announced first, he could've had a round of coverage across the state, and then repeated that coverage by filing. Color me puzzled.
16 December 2005
Politics as usual
Kinky Friedman has opened a campaign store for the next week on Burleson Road in southeast Austin.
Just your run-of-the-mill everyday campaign fundraising.
15 December 2005
Carlos Guerra with a column touching on John Sharp's Tax Reform Commission.
Gardner Selby writes on the ever-present Craddick and Dewhurst relationship. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, not that I'm saying that you get it here first or anything.
Chris Bell called for more sex ed in schools, more healthcare for lower-income women, and for ending abstinenceonly sex ed.
McNeely's latest column
Ex-Statesman political writer Dave McNeely has his latest column up, which isn't too keen on Strayhorn's chances.
"When we spend that first million on TV, that's when you'll see the numbers move,'' Strayhorn predicted.Gotta love the closing line from McNeely.
Her campaign office says Strayhorn, who is 65, will follow through on her goal to win the GOP nomination for governor. If she does change her mind and seek another term as comptroller, she would by no means be the first ambitious pol to choose re-election over another race at the last minute. For instance, then-Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower backed out of a U.S. Senate race in 1990, only to get beat for re-election by Perry.
Working against the re-election idea is that current Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs is running for comptroller, and state Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, is running for Combs' current job. Tough Grandma Strayhorn actually might lose if she and Combs go head to head.
To spectators, this is what makes Texas politics attractive. It is seldom pretty, but almost always interesting.
Strayhorn has a point about spending her first million on TV. Let's assume that she'll have $7 million to spend on the primary. In that case, if she starts on January 1st, she can spend almost $2 million per month on TV ads.
She may be behind in the polls, but it's not impossible for her to make that ground up, and that's why Perry has been on the offensive as of late.
14 December 2005
If you were Carole Strayhorn, would you go indie?
I would give you my answer to this question, except that I have an exam tomorrow.
So, maybe you'll get my answer on Friday. In the meantime, have a go at it in the comments.
UPDATE: Charles Kuffner answers my question.
DMN on the latest video
Nearly 10,000 supporters of Gov. Rick Perry received a video e-mail on Tuesday telling them his GOP primary opponent, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, is in cahoots with a lying, Bush-hating liberal.Nearly 10,000 supporters...and a bunch of journalists too.
The Democrat in question, former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, is on the host committee for a Strayhorn fundraiser scheduled for today in Austin.
"We're going to make sure that Republicans in this state don't forget Carole Strayhorn's close ties to Ben Barnes, a major political enemy of President Bush," campaign spokesman Robert Black said.
The Perry campaign called it "a teaser" but did not offer further details on any TV campaign.
Mrs. Strayhorn has defended her alliance with Mr. Barnes, calling him a lifelong friend. Her campaign aides said the video e-mail was a sign of desperation.
"Since he's sending it to his people, he must be worried that his support is slipping," spokesman Mark Sanders said.
I think that story is dead unless it gets resuscitated
This story should be officially dead now. Until somebody goes on the record saying that they heard it from Strayhorn, or until Strayhorn says it herself, it's just rumors.
First Kinky. Now Carole?
Her aides says it's all rumor, but Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has also refused to rule out the possibility that she, like humorist/entertainer Kinky Friedman, will run for governor as an independent.
Spokesman Mark Sanders was asked Tuesday to deny categorically that Strayhorn will become an independent candidate for governor and not, as she has announced, try to defeat Gov. Rick Perry in the March Republican primary. He wouldn't go that far. "She is a Republican candidate in 2006," Sanders said. "That's what my boss has said in the newspaper and I'm saying that."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Strayhorn said the same thing, even when pressed. She and her aides blame her opponent for the speculation.
Perry campaign playing offense
There were new questions Tuesday in the race for governor. Is Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn using taxpayer dollars in her run against incumbent Governor Rick Perry?
Campaign watchdog groups are concerned about a series of newsletters, mailed from the comptroller's state office, at taxpayer expense, that include letters from Strayhorn that are critical of Governor Perry.
Strayhorn launched her gubernatorial campaign in June. Since then, the outspoken critic of Governor Perry has gone virtually silent.
But now some newsletters sent by her state office are raising some eyebrows: the "Texas Innovator" and "Fiscal Notes" are mailed free to subscribers every two months. Since September, each has contained a commentary from Strayhorn that's critical of Governor Perry.
In one, she urges him to use a special session to send $200 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. In another, she criticizes Perry for not calling a special session, then proposes sending a billion dollars in tax relief to property owners.
Tom Smith runs "Public Citizen," a political watchdog group.
"I think it strays over the line and into a campaign piece," he said. "If you're an elected official you have to be very careful not to use state funds and the state office to promote your candidacy, and that's what it looks like is going on here.
Question: do you think the Perry campaign talked to KVUE about this? If not, do you think they fed the information to Tom Smith's Public Citizen who went to KVUE?
In case it's not clear, my guess is that the answer to one of those two questions is yes.
Combine this with the Ben Barnes web commercial, and it's clear that the Perry campaign is staying on the offensive. Comptroller Strayhorn doesn't have a firm public perception in Texas. With the campaign getting under way, Perry is trying to define Strayhorn before she can define herself. While Perry leads now in the polls, a decent amount of his support is soft. One way to firm up your support is to by making yourself look attractive in comparison to the other guy...or in this case, girl.
OK, back to studying.
13 December 2005
The AP on rumors
Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn said Tuesday she remains a Republican candidate for governor, despite speculation among supporters of rival Gov. Rick Perry that she's exploring an independent run.Were these rumors grounded in fact or did the Perry campaign manufacture them?
"I am a Republican candidate for governor in 2006," Strayhorn said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
But asked whether she was considering running for Texas governor as an independent or in another party, Strayhorn wouldn't confirm or deny it. She would say only: "I am a Republican candidate for governor in 2006."
For several days, some Republicans connected to Perry have said they know of Republican voters who recently received telephone polling calls asking about a scenario in which Strayhorn might run as an independent. They've also said they've heard indirectly about discussions among Strayhorn supporters about her running as an independent.
"You know, this is a rumor a day," Strayhorn told the AP. She said she's also heard the "rumor" that she will decide to run again for comptroller, a job she has held for two terms.
The Perry campaign likes multimedia
Remember how the Perry campaign taped Hillary Clinton and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison looking chummy in DC and then sent it around to Republican activists around the state?
Now they're sending out a video link from 60 Minutes (the Rathergate episode, if I recall correctly) that starts with Dan Rather asking Barnes what happened.
I'm procrastinating on studying for finals, so I'll describe the fifty second spot:
The screen freezes after the camera switches to Barnes from Rather, then fades to black and white, and ticks out like on a typewriter "In 2004, Liberal Democrat Ben Barnes appeared on 60 Minutes with Dan Rather with the intent to destroy President George W. Bush and help his fellow Liberal John Kerry win the Presidency." Then it shows side by side black and white spots of Rather and Barnes and types "Even his own daughter said he was lying. and Dan Rather's report was later discredited."The last shot of Strayhorn is a little creepy to me when juxtaposed with the music, and not in a negative-to-Strayhorn kind of way.
Then it switches to black and white side-by-side shots of Comptroller Strayhorn and Barnes and types out "Watch your television to learn what Democrat Ben Barnes and Carole Strayhorn have in common . . . coming in 2006." Then it ends with a grainy shot of Comptroller Strayhorn. Slow, dirge music is played in the background. Cello-sounding deep strings.
They Perry campaign sure does love its multimedia.
Rumors and gossip
I've heard unconfirmed rumors that Strayhorn has decided to make a bid as an independent.
I'll try to confirm whether this gossip is true.
UPDATE: I called Strayhorn's office and asked for Mark Sanders. He wasn't in, and he doesn't have voicemail there. I asked for anyone who would comment on rumors that the Comptroller had decided to run as an independent, and was told that no one was in. So I left my name and phone number. We'll see if I hear anything.
UPDATE 2: In response to my queries, Strayhorn campaign manager Brad McClellan responded that "Carole Keeton Strayhorn is a Republican candidate for Governor."
Texas redistricting thoughts
The Hotline (subscription required) on the SCOTUS review Texas redistricting:
At first glance, the SCOTUS decision to review the TX redistricting gives Dems a big chance to gain back some of the five seats they lost in '04. It also creates a messy winter of political and legal wrangling. The state's '06 primary is currently scheduled for 3/7, the country's earliest, at least three months before a ruling will likely take place. Will there be a delay in the primary until a decision is made, similar to NC's postponed -- and low turnout -- primaries last summer? Also, how will a decision to overturn the boundaries change the political landscape? Would the districts revert to the pre-'04 boundaries, or would an independent panel of judges redraw the lines?I highly doubt that this year's primary won't happen. I guess it's possible, but highly unlikely.
But the review doesn't just bode poorly for the GOP. Dems could be affected if the ruling makes it more difficult for state legislators to implement partisan redistricting in their favor. Minority groups are also often at odds with Dems, who want to spread out minorities in many districts, diluting their influence but helping the party. So Dems shouldn't cheer too loudly yet: What's good for them right now isn't guaranteed to be in their long-term interest.
Moreover, I agree with Kuff -- the power of incumbency has been overturned. The newly elected Republican Congressman will keep their seats no matter what happens.
Also, just one more note: if the Supreme Court overturned the maps, it might (depending on the SCOTUS ruling) actually be a bad thing for Democrats. Precedent was set years ago that when the redistricting is court ordered, the Texas Senate (through the Lt Gov's leadership) requires only a majority, not a supermajority to break a filibuster. Given the GOP majorities in the statehouse, Republicans will be able to further tinker with the lines. Granted, they'd have to comply with the court's order, but doing so would probably not require giving up any mapdrawing advantages. So, while there isn't much more Republicans can do to benefit the GOP...do Democrats really want that to happen?
On the other hand, a March 1st hearing is right before the primary in Texas. That'll be a round of bad press for DeLay right around primary time.
12 December 2005
Supreme Court to review Texas redistricting
In a surprise move, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal by Democrats on Texas redistricting.
The hearing will likely be on March 1, by which time Judge Samuel Alito will likely be Justice Sam Alito. Depending on when he is confirmed, it could be one of Alito's first hearings.
Kinky is on the air
A Kinky Friedman talking action figure stars in the independent gubernatorial hopeful's first round of campaign T-V ads.
Those ads began airing today in Texas.
The musician and writer plans to run spots in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso markets.
The ads feature a 13-inch figure at a podium -- answering questions from reporters.
"Can you get the Republicans and Democrats to work together," one reporter asks.
The doll responds: "I'm running for governor, not God."
Supporters can buy the talking action figure online or at Friedman's Austin headquarters for about 30 bucks.
11 December 2005
Houston City Council runoffs
Today, we had three run-off city council elections in Houston.
Anne Clutterbuck beat George Hittner in District C with 58% of the vote. A battle of two Republicans that turned nasty at the very end. Apparently, Clutterbuck got the better of it, because Hittner won the absentee ballots, trailed slightly on the early voting, and then got beat by 20% on election day. There's a maxim among political consultants: tread carefully when you have a male candidate against a woman candidate. Driving to my polling place today (I live in district C), I thought this maxim would come into play for a Clutterbuck victory in the high 50's.
In at large 2, Sue Lovell barely edged Jay Aiyer by less than 600 votes. A close battle between two Democrats for a city-wide slot. I expected Aiyer to win with about 55%, but city council elections are tough to follow, and I wasn't very confident of my prediction. Because of the very visible runoff in District C, District C ended up casting about 30% of the ballots in this race, even though it's only about 11% of the city.
In district B, Jarvis Johnson beat Felicia Galloway-Hall 60-40%. I don't live in this district; I didn't really follow the race in the slightest.
UPDATE: Here is the Houston Chronicle's take.
10 December 2005
House district 118
State Rep. Carlos Uresti's decision to challenge state Sen. Frank Madla has created an open house seat in San Antonio. So far, no Democrats are in the race. On the Republican side, the race includes 2004 Uresti challenger Steve Salyer and it looks like there's soon to be another Republican in the race.
Republican George Antuna, a staffer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is "seriously considering" a run for Texas House District 118 — a seat historically represented by Democrats.
"It's winnable by the appropriate (Republican) candidate," said Antuna, the regional director for Texas' senior senator. "Someone with deep roots in the southern sector and someone who can garner votes in the northern sector, which is the fastest-growing area."
Antuna graduated from South San Antonio High School, San Antonio College and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He lives in the Mission Del Lago neighborhood.
He has been Hutchison's regional director for nearly five years. Prior to that, he was director of protocol to Gov. Rick Perry and then-Secretary of State Henry Cuellar.
But he said his Republican ties don't preclude him from working with both parties.
"I've been able to cultivate strong relationships with Democrats in my current position since the majority of my region is Democrat," he said.
Antuna's middle-of-the-road politics should help him in a race for that district, said Harold Oliver, a former aide to state Sen. Frank Madla with roots on the South Side.
This is a winnable seat for the right Republican. In 2004, Bush defeated Kerry by almost 55-45%, after being edged out by Al Gore in 2000. In the '04 Railroad Commissioner race, Republican Victor Carrillo lost 49-51%. The statewide judicial races leaned a little to the Democrats, but this is definitely a winnable seat. Including the presidential race, the composite number for this was 50.3% Republican (though only 45% in 2000). (data link)
The Bexar County district is also 31% Anglo, 3% black, and 65% Hispanic (35% Anglo and 61% Hispanic among the voting age population), making Antuna's surname a valuable asset for a Republican.
If Republicans want to maintain their majority in Texas in the coming decades, the time to start grooming a farm team for future statewide office is now. It's probably a slightly uphill climb for a Republican in this district, but someone like Antuna, if willing to outwork his opponent, could definitely win.
09 December 2005
Friedman files for office
Yesterday, Kinky Friedman filed his paperwork to run as an independent for governor:
Humorist Kinky Friedman took his first formal step toward the governor's office today, promising, on a bitterly cold day, to work hard at putting "a chill up the spine of every politician."
The musician-turned-mystery writer officially filed his declaration of intent to run as an independent candidate for governor with the secretary of state.
But to get on the ballot next November, he needs to collect at least 45,540 voters' signatures — or 1 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election — from people next spring who don't cast ballots in any party primary or runoff.
Friedman told a few dozen supporters and reporters huddled for a brief, sidewalk announcement that his real opponent was not Gov. Rick Perry, but voter apathy.
Only 29 percent of Texas' voting age population cast ballots in the 2002 gubernatorial general election.
"If we can get the 29 percent who voted last time up to 39 percent, it'll all be over, and there will be a whole new spirit blowing through Texas," he said. "There will be a smile on everybody's face and a chill up the spine of every politician."
This amused me
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said Young was like "the second coming of Secretariat in a football sense."The first Aggie governor is rooting for the 'Horns?
"We're obviously all pulling for him," Perry said. "He probably means a thousand things to Texas in that we have one of the top three football players in America. It's probably a million things or more."
Perry must be up for election or something.
Houston legislative races
I thought I'd note that Dan Patrick is circulating a poll in state senate district 7 showing him at nearly 40%, with his opponents Mark Ellis, Peggy Hamric, and Joe Nixon stuck in the single digit range.
That seems a little overstated, but since Dan Patrick is still on the air everyday as a radio talk show host with KSEV, it's probable that he's leading on the basis of name ID alone. He's also been advertising his Chuck Norris endorsement.
Hamric and Nixon are currently state reps, while Ellis is a Houston City Councilman. City Council historically hasn't been a good steppingstone to higher office for Republicans in Houston. Hamric has certain advantages, being the only woman and she currently represents more of the district that Nixon. On the other hand, Nixon should have the edge in fundraising.
There are rumors that one of the candidates will file a lawsuit or complain to the ethics commission about Patrick being on the air while running for the seat (he hasn't filed yet, and when he does, he'll go off the air). Whether successful or not, it'll raise the decibel-level of the campaign.
SD7 is heavily Republican (about 73% Republican), so whomever wins the primary will be in the legislature. It'll be an interesting primary to watch.
* Hamric has opened up HD126, where Patricia Harless and John Devine are both running. Devine should have some name ID left over from his Congressional bid in 2004, where he took 39% of the vote in Harris County [Streusand took 28% and eventual runoff winner Mike McCaul took 13% -- Harris County makes up about 1/3 of CD 10.] With that name ID, you'd probably consider Devine the frontrunner.
Both house seats are Republican districts; 133 is about 56% Republican and 126 is about 67% GOP. So whoever wins the Republican primary in each district has a very good chance to win the general election as well.
* Meanwhile, former state Rep. Talmadge Heflin says he's planning to challenge current state Rep. Vo. Vo beat Heflin in 2004 by a few votes in a district (HD149) that leans to the GOP by about 52-48 or so. Of course, Heflin has also applied for a job at the Lottery Commission, and he can't do both.
The Texas ATM *
Texas Weekly (subscription required) writes that state Rep. Joe Strauss (who won the HD121 special election when Elizabeth Ames Jones was appointed to the Railroad Commission) had a special guest at his fundraiser: Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani wasn't advertised as a special guest, but was a surprise to the folks at the funder.
So, you think he's running for president? Sure sounds like he might be thinking about how to meet donors who might give him money.
Of course, Rudy is presumably spending more time in Texas lately, having become a name partner in the Bracewell and Giuliani law firm. B&G, while headquartered in Houston, has offices in both Austin and San Antonio, so it also makes good business sense for Giuliani to be meeting with political donors from San Antonio.
*The Texas ATM is a reference to complaints by Texas Democrats that national Democrats use Texas to fundraise, but don't campaign here. It doesn't really apply here, I just found it humorous.
Bells and Clocks
He didn't spell out fresh proposals, though he made it clear he'd favor expanding business taxes both to pay for reductions in local school property taxes and to spend more on education. He said he favors higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes.
Headline: Democrat advocates expanded business taxes to lower school taxes and bolster education.
That alone could distinguish Bell from Republican leaders, who have appeared wary of saying they want any additional taxes to pay for educational spending hikes.
Bell said that Perry "has basically tried to tell people that state government can meet all their needs and do everything that they want state government to do and they don't have to pay a penny more. And I think people are waking up to the fact that that is completely false."
08 December 2005
Who would be most likely to win a top-of-the-ticket statewide (Governor, Senator) race in Texas as an independent? If it helps you ponder potential candidates, then you can simply use the 2006 election cycle (without Kinky Friedman, as that'd complicate the analysis).
How high on that list is Kinky Friedman?
Thoughts without revealing my answers: the candidate would have to be well known, be famous for being a Texan (that is, someone like Roger Clemens still isn't particularly known around the state as a Texan), be able to raise money, and able to inspire deep enough support to get on the ballot.
[I wonder if I'd get more participation if I tagged certain other bloggers. Probably, but that's too pro-active for me.]
Strayhorn to switch?
"Comptroller won't say if she's behind survey of support for party switch" reads the sub-headline to Wayne Slater's blockbuster on Strayhorn.
It seems to me that if Strayhorn's campaign didn't do this poll, they would have at the very least indicated off the record to Slater that they weren't behind it. You wouldn't want to chance having a story like this come out if you could help it.
Some Texans have received calls from a polling company asking whether they would support Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for governor if she ran as an independent rather than as a Republican.
Gov. Rick Perry's campaign denies it is sponsoring the poll. Mrs. Strayhorn's campaign won't say.
"We don't discuss our polls," said Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders. "We are regularly in the field testing voter attitudes."
Mrs. Strayhorn has announced that she will challenge Mr. Perry in the March 7 GOP primary. Recent polls indicate she trails the incumbent more than 2-to-1.
In pursuit of the nomination, Mrs. Strayhorn has gotten a large number of campaign contributions from typically Democratic sources, such as trial lawyers.
She plans a fundraiser next week in Austin with a host committee that includes former Democratic Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes and Houston attorney Arthur Schecter, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas under President Bill Clinton.
According to a Strayhorn supporter from Houston, some backers have tried in recent weeks to encourage her to leave the GOP and run as an independent. One backer said she probably would lose a race against Mr. Perry in the GOP primary but would fare better as an independent on the November general election ballot.
As an independent, Mrs. Strayhorn would have to collect 45,000 signatures from registered voters who skipped the primaries to qualify for the ballot. Singer Kinky Friedman plans to try to get on the ballot as an independent.
Wow. Imagine a Perry v. Bell/Gammage v. Strayhorn v. Friedman general election race. What a free-for-all, but one that is still pretty likely to be won by Perry, because he has the largest base.
Ben Barnes helping raise money for Strayhorn
Strayhorn's son is White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan who has called Ben Barnes part of "a coordinated attack by John Kerry and his surrogates on the president."
In an ongoing effort to link Republican rival Carole Keeton Strayhorn to leading Democrats, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign on Wednesday chided her for having former Democratic Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes help host one of her fundraisers.
Barnes is among more than 100 people listed on a "host committee" for a Strayhorn fundraiser next week at an Austin home.
I'm not sure what they were thinking. Doesn't seem like the money will be worth the bad publicity for her.
This is the second time Barnes has surfaced in this cycle's GOP primary. Last year, there were rumors that Ben Barnes was going to head up a group called "Democrats for Hutchison."
1. Kinky Friedman interview by Bookslut. Always entertaining.
2. John Moritz's FWST take on the latest Texas poll, featuring this quote:
"Once Kinky is on the ballot, it becomes a two-candidate race -- us versus Perry," spokeswoman Laura Stromberg said.Amusing. Smart, of course, because Friedman is going to be competing with Chris Bell. His best shot at winning (assuming he's on the ballot, that ever-present caveat) means he has to minimize the Democrat's total.
3. Chris Bell got some good press around the state for blasting Perry and the Texas Enterprise Fund.
4. Gardner Selby's latest Statesman column states the obvious: Perry is "likely" to be re-elected. I think the well was a little dry when he was looking for material this week.
5. Comptroller Carole Strayhorn got some good press by travelling to Amarillo to blast the governor. It seems like a good strategy for Strayhorn would be to spend more time outside DFW, Houston, SA, and Austin and focus on local issues. I'm surprised that she hasn't done that to this point.
07 December 2005
More Texas Poll
'06 GOV GOP Primary Matchup
Perry 55% 46%
Strayhorn 24 28
Undec/Oth 21 26
'06 GOV Dem Primary Matchup
Bell 23% 10%
Alvarado 14 8
Undec/Oth* 63 78
General Election Matchups
Perry As Gov.
After Katrina and Rita, Perry's job approval went up. That's normal after an emergency, but Governor Perry also did a good job during those crises.
It's a little surprising that Strayhorn is running behind Perry in general election matchups.
06 December 2005
Texas poll writeups
Bob Gammage is running for governor, according to the Statesman. He and Chris Bell will duke it out for the right to be the Democratic nominee to face Rick Perry or Carole Strayhorn.
Bell's spokesman labelled Gammage "cut and run Bob." This could be fun.
But I still think Perry -- Strayhorn will be more fun.
05 December 2005
New Texas poll gubernatorial numbers
Via QR, these are the Texas poll numbers that tomorrow's newspapers will have articles on.
Republican primaryI have a final tomorrow, so you will have to do without my analysis.
Perry -- 45%
Friedman -- 13%
04 December 2005
December 3 -- Filing period began for primaries.
December 31 -- End of campaign finance period. Last day to contribute for upcoming report.
January 2 -- Filing deadline for the Republican and Democratic primaries
January 17th -- Campaign finance filing deadline for state races
January 31 -- Campaign finance filing deadline for federal races
I think I got all those right. Any that I'm missing?
03 December 2005
Tony Sanchez still thinking about running
Selby posts that Tony Sanchez is still thinking about running for governor in 2006.
A brief tour through a few Democratic blogs seems to suggest that they don't think Sanchez would win the nomination. I'm not so sure. If Sanchez entered the race, I think he'd be a formidable candidate. He can immediately self-finance his campaign into respectability. He'd certainly have the resources to tear down his opponents and run positive pieces on himself. There are lots of folks in the party who have already committed to Chris Bell, but there are lots of Democrats who haven't warmed to Bell, as evidenced by the Bob Gammage trial balloon. Bell's biggest problem is that he wasn't able to raise money, last time candidates were required to report fundraising (mid-July). We'll find out whether Bell has increased his fundraising rate on or before January 17th, which is the next filing deadline for fundraising.
02 December 2005
One year anniversary
One year ago this blog began. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and particularly those who link to me. My number one linker in the past year is Eileen at In the Pink Texas, so many thanks to the Pink Lady for that. Also thanks to those who contribute articles, story ideas, gossip, and comment on what an idiot I am. You're all appreciated.
Since it's the one year anniversary, I decided to update the bio page. The current version reflects on how the blog started and its evolution from there, while mentioning a few facts about me as well.
I always love to hear from the people that drop by this blog, so I'd be pleased if you left a comment or emailed me at perryvsworld-at-gmail-dot-com.
UPDATE: I went back and looked at my first real post. My comment still rings true:
If the race comes down to Perry and Strayhorn, Strayhorn will be a dogged opponent for Perry. She has criticized him repeatedly for the past few years, earning positive stories and editorials in the major state newspapers.
But much of Strayhorn's criticisms have focused on not spending enough money on education, health care, etc. Is this a winning formula [in a Republican primary]? I doubt it.
Perry campaign alleges that Strayhorn improperly using govt resources
Gov. Rick Perry's campaign alleged Friday that Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, his Republican primary rival, used her state office equipment to produce a campaign news release.
That prompted Strayhorn's camp to fire back and accuse a Perry aide of acting as a political operative even when he was working in the governor's press office at the state Capitol.
The clash signaled that the Texas governor's race between Perry and Strayhorn is intensifying as the March 7 primary approaches and that the campaign is almost certain to be a hard-hitting affair.
What triggered the verbal altercation was Strayhorn's Friday news release on campaign letterhead calling for a 10-percent property tax reduction and mandatory freeze on all property taxes for elderly and disabled homeowners.
The document criticized Perry, saying he would rather dole out money from his "slush funds" in the form of "corporate welfare" to his friends and contributors than keep his promise to lower property taxes.
Perry's campaign spokesman, Robert Black, later notified reporters that by pushing certain buttons on their computers they would be able to see that Strayhorn's document was created at the comptroller's office.
Black said Perry's campaign makes similar checks on all such documents from Strayhorn because, he said, she has used her state office before in a "clear, continuous, disturbing pattern of unethical behavior."
"It's a pretty sure bet that you're going to catch her with her hand in the cookie jar again, which is what happened today," Black said. "She very obviously used state resources and a state computer to create a campaign press release, and that's against the law, plain and simple."
Sanders acknowledged that at first the news release was worked on with the comptroller's state equipment because it was intended to be a policy statement from the comptroller in her official capacity.
"As we were putting it together and we began to point out in this document the governor's shortcomings, it became clear that this was a document that would be more appropriate coming from the campaign," he said, adding that the document then was moved to Strayhorn's campaign office and completed there.
Rick Perry and David Dewhurst
Are there perhaps signs of strain in the Dewhurst - Perry relationship?
Two One bit s of evidence:
If Perry and Dewhurst aren't getting along, then that's not going to help the effort to redo Texas' school finance.
1. Texas Weekly reports that Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst was upset with Speaker Tom Craddick, because Craddick decided that a joint House-Senate legislative committee was redundant, given the work that Rick Perry's tax commision is doing. Dewhurst is reportedly upset that Perry appointed his last Democratic opponent, John Sharp, to chair the commission. So he wanted a joint legislative committee to make suggestions as well, giving Dewhurst an opportunity for influence. So now, Dewhurst is probably upset with both Craddick and Perry over this matter.
2. Dewhurst recently hired longtime Republican operative David Beckwith. Beckwith had worked for Dewhurst before, of course, but his most recent gig was running Kay Bailey Hutchison's aborted primary challenge to Rick Perry.
Plus, Dewhurst and Craddick apparently have had an uneasy relationship after Texas Monthly named Craddick as most powerful in Austin, while leaving Dewhurst off the list.
[Sidenote: Beckwith worked in the George HW Bush White House as Dan Quayle's spokesman, while Perry's chief strategist and political consultant Dave Carney was political director in the HW Bush administration.]
UPDATE: Thanks to Gus in the comments for pointing out that Beckwith does indeed work for Cornyn, not Dewhurst. I'm not sure what I was thinking.
Candidates may begin filing in 30 minutes
The filing for the March primary begins tomorrow, Saturday December 3. The filing period runs until January 2.
[The title isn't true, of course. The office will not be open at midnight.]
Gammage "likely" to join race to be the Dems gov. nominee
Clay Robison appears to have talked with Bob Gammage, and he is "likely" to seek the nomination.
It's almost like I predicted that he would say something.
The most likely gubernatorial scenario
From an email I sent recently:
Actually, I think right now the most plausible scenario is that Rick Perry stays under 50%, with Kinky Friedman in 2nd. However, there's still a large chance that Friedman will blow up and say something stupid.I would note that I used the phrase "most plausible scenario." That means that it is more likely than any other individual scenario. Feel free to disagree.
EDIT: Obviously, Friedman still has to get on the ballot. I assume he will, however. If he doesn't, he clearly wasn't ready for primetime anyway. So it doesn't surprise me that Texas Weekly notes that Friedman advisers (Minnesotans, but we welcome them nonetheless) are telling folks that they are aiming for 100,000 or even 200,000 signatures.
01 December 2005
Former Statesman journalist Dave McNeely gives something of a lesson in Texas political history.
Memo to The Guardian: McNeely could have fixed the multitudinous problems in 10 minutes.
Friedman in the Valley
The McAllen Monitor reports on Friedman's visit to several college campuses in the Valley, and his fundraising on South Padre Island.