31 January 2007

What a fine day for a parade

Brownsville Herald:

And the strong presence of border Democrats allied with the leadership will serve the border well, he said. Valley and other border Democrats who supported Craddick worked together strategically to try to get as many positions of authority for all of the region, not just one city or county, Peña said.

"I think, without question, this is the strongest delegation in the history of the state that I can identify from the border," Peña said. "So we have the opportunity to accomplish great things."

...

Earlier in the day, House Democratic leadership released an analysis of Friday night's committee assignments saying Craddick did not fairly represent Democrats, women or minorities in leadership positions.

Democrats continue to hold 25 percent of the committee chairmanships, just as they did in 2005, even though they gained seven seats in the election last year, according to the analysis released by the office of Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

I didn't see Dunnam's analysis, but I imagine it was rather similar to mine.

The funny thing is, given what Craddick had to work with, he made committee assignments that appear to me to be color blind.

Also, Dunnam should win the award for most hypocritical press release of the year:

The Texas Constitution is clear that the Legislative process should be deliberative and thorough, and that no non-emergency measure should be rushed out without full public input. I am proud to have voted to uphold the Texas Constitution...
So, was Dunnam just shredding the Texas Constitution for the last 10 years?

And shame on some of the reporters who printed such a misleading quote. Even if the vote were reasonable -- though it doesn't seem so to me -- it clearly wasn't a desire to protect the Texas Constitution that motivated Dunnam.

Posted by Evan @ 01/31/07 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


30 January 2007

Kay opens the door

WashTimes:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the largest Republican vote-getter in the 2006 congressional elections and the most popular Republican in Texas, said yesterday she would consider an offer to run for vice president next year.

"If our party's nominee called me and said we are putting everything in the grid, and we think you are the best person, would I say no? I can't imagine that I would say no," she said.

"Would I seek it or do something to promote it? Absolutely not," she told editors and reporters of The Washington Times at a meeting at the newspaper.

...

Mrs. Hutchison said she is not seeking a spot on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket -- or planning a run for Texas governor in 2010, as some in her state predict.

Posted by Evan @ 01/30/07 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


29 January 2007

Newsflash at 11: People make stuff up online while pretending to be other people

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Blakemore. He says it isn't him. It's rather odd that someone would seem to claim to be Blakemore and post such odd gossip that doesn't pass the smell test. Maybe the question is: why do some people make stuff up and post it online, while insinuating that they are political consultants?

-------------------------

The Professors note a bit of gossip I haven't seen anywhere else.

Here are some juicy rumors for you from Houston political consultant Allen Blakemore, courtesy of Burka's Blog this morning:

John Cornyn will not run for Senate again, and has not decided whether he will run for Governor or retire.
Greg Abbott will be the next GOP nominee for the junior Senator spot.
Kent Sullivan will be the next GOP nominee for Attorney General.

The rumors were left by "Dallas GOP" who links to Blakemore's clients page.

Seems like the commenter is claiming to be Blakemore. I have an email in to Blakemore to find out whether it is indeed him.

UPDATE: Blakemore says that it is not him. I've notified the Professors.

Color me very skeptical that Cornyn won't run for re-election.

Posted by Evan @ 01/29/07 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Thumps up from HK

Kronberg seems to think that Craddick did a good job politically with his committee assignments.

Posted by Evan @ 01/29/07 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Inside gossip on Craddick and Pitts

I read the Pitts-Craddick back and forth when committee spots were assigned, and couldn't help but think there was much more to the story.

So, perhaps the real story is revealed by an anonymous commenter on Paul Burka's blog:

[Pitts] wanted to stay as Chairman of Appropriations, and if Craddick wasn't going to do that, for seats on both Appropriations and Ways & Means. The only way that Craddick could have accommodated the latter request was by making him CBO of Ways & Means, which would have meant denying John Otto a spot that he had earned through his background, outstanding work on the tax bill, and loyalty to the Craddick team. Craddick gave Pitts the option to turn in a blank pledge card and let Craddick find a CBO spot on a lower-tier committee, or to keep his pledge card and take a seat on Ways & Means. Pitts refused to make the choice, so Craddick made his choice for him.

To which Burka replied:
To the best of my knowledge, your description of what took place is accurate.

Posted by Evan @ 01/29/07 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


I've been on the lookout to see how the assignments get reported in some of the Craddick Democrats' districts. Here's what Elizabeth Pierson wrote for the McAllen Monitor:

Starr County's third-term Democrat has landed a coveted spot as vice chairman of the committee that writes the Texas budget.

Other Rio Grande Valley lawmakers came away with plum committee assignments, as well.

Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, stuck by House Speaker Tom Craddick when he faced challenges from fellow conservative Republicans earlier this month. Now, Guillen is likely to be among a handful of people at the table when the final version of the budget is written.

"I am humbled by Speaker Tom Craddick's confidence in my abilities, and I look forward to working hard to get the job done for the people of Texas," Guillen said in a statement.

In his own statement, Craddick said he looks forward to working with Guillen, too.

"As vice chairman of Appropriations, Ryan will provide leadership from the border during the budget process," said Craddick, who appointed Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Posted by Evan @ 01/29/07 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


The Globe-News profiles Amarillo's more-or-less hometown Approps Chair.

Unlike virtually all of his colleagues in the Texas Legislature, Rep. Warren Chisum never went to college.

Yet, in his 18-year legislative career, the Pampa Republican not only gradually became a key player, but now he is chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, the most influential committee in the 181-member, two-chamber Legislature

...

He didn't go to college because he and his wife, Omega, decided to get married when they were high school sweethearts. The couple, who has two children, Jeff and Kim, and five grandchildren, will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August.

"I hesitate to say we couldn't afford college, but it would've been easier for my family than her family, but together we could not have gone," Chisum said. "So we decided to go to work and I went to work in Pampa in the oil fields and I was fortunate to have made enough money" to eventually start a business.

But starting a business and eventually getting elected to the House were hard work, he remembers.

...

Compared to most of his colleagues, especially from the Panhandle and the South Plains, Chisum is also an exception. He got into politics late, at age 50. And during his first term, he considered not returning to Austin for a second time.

"I decided pretty quickly that probably this wasn't the place for me to stay so I had some second thoughts about it," he said. But he changed his mind after studying the House rules and procedures.

"I felt when I came back the second time that I had a distinct advantage (over other legislators) because I studied the procedures," he said.

Procedure is policy.

If memory serves, former House Appropriations Chair Talmadge Heflin doesn't have a degree either. That's a bit of a surprising coincidence. But then, getting a degree doesn't make you any smarter.

Posted by Evan @ 01/29/07 02:47 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


27 January 2007

More reactions

Defeated candidate Pitts:

In spite of his repeated assurances to members of the House and the public that there would be no retribution, it appears that the Speaker has chosen retaliation over reconciliation. Like many other members of the House, I am very disappointed in his choice.

The Speaker should consider every members skills and experience in making committee assignments. This Session, there will be a pressing need for members with experience on the budget and taxes. To that end, on my preference card I offered to serve Appropriations as Chair, as a Subcommittee Chair, or as a member of the committee. The Speaker and his staff flatly rejected each of these offers.

Craddick spokesman Alexis DeLee:
Rep. Pitts met and talked with Speaker Craddick several times about his committee appointments. Speaker Craddick offered Rep. Pitts a seat on the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Pitts declined that offer. His statements to the contrary are not an accurate reflection of the exchanges between the two of them.

Meanwhile, Talton used to be chairman of Urban Affairs. The speaker put him on Criminal Jurisprudence this session. Talton's response, via Janet Elliott:

"I never asked for Criminal Jurisprudence. I don't want to be on it. I'm not going to go to a committee I don't want to be on," said Talton, who added that he will read a statement from the back microphone next week.
Statesmen-like, really, isn't it? Jokes aside, is this the beginning of the Talton for Congress campaign? I heard rumors that Talton was aiming towards beating Shelley in 2008 in CD22, and perhaps this will seal the deal. It will be interesting to see how the CD22 field shakes out. Dr. Shelley might not even finish in second.

Posted by Evan @ 01/27/07 01:43 AM | Comments (1)

 
 


More House committee assignments

It pays to be with the Speaker. Given the Speaker's perilous position, he had to reward the Democrats who voted for him, and he largely did so.

As to the Republicans, you can check the list for yourself. You'll see quite a few Vice Chairs, which is pretty much the best that Craddick could offer his adversaries. It seems highly unlikely to me that Craddick can spare any extra slots on Appropriations or Calendars, and chairmanships were completely out of the question. [Note: there were a few. Elkins stayed on Calendars. Hopson stayed on Approps.]

If Craddick had chosen to reward those who fought against him by giving them chairmanships, would he have been able to make it through the session? That seems like an excellent way to encourage someone to foment rebellion. Craddick only won by a few votes, and with rumors that there was a group of folks who almost jumped to Pitts at the last second, pretty much Craddick voter feels like they were the margin of victory for the Speaker.

We'll see how the media frames it. It's a much easier to write the "Craddick retaliates" lede, but it seems to me that Craddick was an unretaliatory as he could have possibly been.

So, if you click the jump, you'll see a list of assignments for the reps who voted for the speaker, the reps who voted against the speaker, and others who seemed especially noteworthy.

[Read More]

Posted by Evan @ 01/27/07 12:44 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


26 January 2007

House committee chairs analysis

I crunched through the committee chairs, and here's an analysis:

Females: 7.
Ethnic: 4 African-Americans, 3 Hispanics
Party: 10 D, 30 R
Regional: 6 West Texas, 3 South Texas, 11 DFW, 10 Houston, 4 East Texas, 3 Central Texas, 3 San Antonio.

Regional is obviously very rough. I painted with a broad brush; for example, I included Victoria's Geanie Morrison in Houston's count.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/07 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


List of committee chairs

Speaker Pro Tempore: Sylvester Turner

Agriculture and Livestock: Sid Miller
Appropriations: Warren Chisum
Border and International Affairs: Tracy King
Business and Industry: Helen Giddings
Calendars: Beverly Woolley
Civil Practices: Byron Cook
Corrections: Jerry Madden
County Affairs: Wayne Smith
Criminal Jurisprudence: Aaron Pena
Culture, Recreation & Tourism: Harvey Hildebran
Defense Affairs and State-Federal Relations: Frank Corte
Economic Development: Joe Deshotel
Elections: Leo Berman
Energy Resources: Rick Hardcastle
Environmental Regulation: Dennis Bonnen
Financial Institutions: Burt Solomons
General Investigating & Ethics: Larry Phillips
Government Reform: Bill Callegari
Higher Education: Geanie Morrison
House Administration: Tony Goolsby
Human Services: Patrick Rose
Insurance: John Smithee
Judiciary: Will Hartnett
Juvenile Justice & Family Issues: Hal Dutton
Land & Resource Management: Anna Mowery
Law Enforcement: Joe Driver
Licensing & Administrative Procedures: Kino Flores
Local & Consent Calendars: Charlie Howard
Local Government Ways and Means: Fred Hill
Natural Resources: Robert Puente
Pensions and Investment: Vicki Truitt
Public Education: Rob Eissler
Public Health: Dianne Delisi
Redistricting: Joe Crabb (who gets redistricted now? judicial lines somewhere?)
Regulated Industries: Phil King
Rules and Resolutions: Ruth Jones McClendon
State Affairs: David Swinford
Transportation: Mike Krusee
Urban Affairs: Kevin Bailey
Ways and Means: Jim Keffer

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/07 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


House committee assignments are out

Check here for a quick download (unlike at QR).

Rumors were true: Chisum chairs Approps, Guillen vice-chair, Pitts not on cmte.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/07 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


The two factors

At dinner the other night, a friend asked me why so many people hate Rick Perry. For background, my friend doesn't follow Texas politics that closely, and would self-describe as quite liberal. Most of the friends that we share would self-describe similarly.

But, my friend said, before voting, he/she looked up Perry's record and was surprised to find it much less objectionable than expected. In fact, even if he/she disagreed, he/she felt like Perry had a pretty reasonable record. So why did so many people seem to viscerally oppose the guy?

Why indeed? I kept my answer as simple as possible -- two elements, that happen to work together.

1. The Austin press corps doesn't like Perry.
2. As Guv, Perry doesn't seem to care much about symbolism.

As to the first point, the Austin press corps doesn't like Perry much, and Perry seems to return the favor. I don't wish to belabor this point, because it's not really something that can be proved. However, I think if you were to survey the press corps and ask them, "On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you feel that your colleagues in the press feel about Gov. Perry's job performance?" then you would come up with a clear answer.

As to symbolism, I think the Ted Nugent brouhaha makes my point well. Governor Perry seems quite content to just hope the story blows over. He didn't say anything, allegedly his friend said something during the concert, but he's not going to call his friend a racist just because he wore a shirt of the Confederate flag. My guess is he feels something like this: while many who wear Confederate flags are racists, it doesn't make it always so.

But to people offended by Nugent's shirt/Nugent's alleged words, it's a huge deal. So, they're doing their absolute best to keep the story alive, even though Perry is doing his best to let it die. And, because the press doesn't like Perry too much, they're more than willing to cover it: It's an easy story! It's political war! Perry's not being politically correct!

And so, this story has continued on for something like 10 days. There's probably been more coverage of this story in the state's major metropolitan newspapers than there has been coverage of any particularly substantive issue. This is the sort of thing that filters down to the average voter. They aren't paying attention too closely, but this is the sort of drip, drip, drip that affects the collective consciousness.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/07 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


"Men may construe things after their fashion" - Shakespeare

Over on Paul Burka's blog, I left a comment that:

Patricia Harless also defected and then went back to Craddick.

An anonymous commmenter apparently didn't like my statement of the facts:

The blogger who stated that Patricia Harless was a "defector" obviously has little firsthand knowledge of this woman. She is a rising star who isn't afraid to think outside the box and be a reasonable woman with some courage and statesmanship. The blogger has seriously underestimated her. Look for great things from Patricia.

Here's how I responded:

As the "blogger" in question, this spin is hilarious to me. I made a factual assertion easily supported by the record (eg, Kronberg reported -- on Jan 3, if my often-faulty memory serves -- that Harless had rescinded her pledge). Harless then voted against Geren's amendment.

I fail to see how I "seriously underestimated her" [in this comment] by stating the facts.

My guess is that Ms. Harless has an overenthusiastic supporter or staffer.

It's quite possible that Harless' managed to negotiate for a favorable committee spot in return for coming back to Craddick. If so, then perhaps rescinding was a very savvy Machiavellian move by her. Having no first-hand knowledge, I don't know. However, Ockham's Razor seems to suggest that Harless did herself no favors by pledging to Craddick, rescinding, and then coming back to Craddick.

But like I said, I don't know. I'm not underestimating her, in part because I wasn't estimating her at all! I was just stating the facts as reported by others. Harless did eventually pick the correct side (that is, picking the winner's side is always the correct side in internal legislative leadership races, all other things being equal), and let's all hope -- for Texas' sake -- that Harless has a great session and is a statesman.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/07 06:35 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


25 January 2007

Not today

Kronberg reports that the rumored House committee assignments won't be out today.

Posted by Evan @ 01/25/07 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


24 January 2007

That's what I sound like

R.G. Ratcliffe interviewed Eileen, Matt, Charles, and I about bloggers and journalism.

I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast yet. I may have further thoughts when I do so.

Posted by Evan @ 01/24/07 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Remember when I only made snarky comments on gubernatorial races?

Wall Street Journal:

Global trade negotiators hope to restart the Doha round of world trade talks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, but a return to the bargaining table will likely be more symbol than substance.

The key players -- the U.S. and the European Union -- remain unwilling to cut farm subsidies enough to satisfy emerging economies like Brazil and India.

Until Bono's one campaign decides to make Doha a priority, I'll continue to view it as misguided. Why put together a campaign unless you're going to use it when it matters?

Though I'm sure it's not Bono's intent, his campaigns probably do more to allow the Western world to salve its conscience than to fight poverty in the developing world. In that, it's questionable whether they do more harm than good.

Posted by Evan @ 01/24/07 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Giuliani in town

Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to have a fundraiser in Houston on February 1st at a certain Galleria-area hotel. The Host Committee is Pat Oxford, T. Boone Pickens, and Tom Hicks. That's the national, southwest, and Texas fundraising chairmen for Giuliani, respectively. Those names were all known as Giuliani supporters already.

I continue to be surprised by some of the people supporting him, including the person who sent me the invitation. I never would've guessed that this person would jump on the Giuliani bandwagon.

Because of considerable anecdotal evidence such as this, at times I think about reprising my view that Giuliani has no chance, but I'm not there yet.

For various reasons on each, I'm not sure any of the Republican candidates look like winners right now. The more I think about it, the more I seriously think we should Draft Fred.

Posted by Evan @ 01/24/07 01:43 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


22 January 2007

Give me your tired, your poor...oh heck, just give us your overly educated

Cox News Service:

High-tech companies and other businesses are planning a full-court press to get Congress to increase the yearly allotment of H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers.

The current cap of 65,000 visas was met months before the start of the current fiscal year, leaving thousands of applications unanswered and companies without needed workers, proponents said.

"There is a very serious shortage of qualified tech workers. Because of that, companies have to recruit wherever they can," said Jeff Lande, senior vice president of the Information Technology Association of America, which represents more than 300 companies.

"There are many flaws in the H-1B program," including weak prevailing wage guidelines and limited enforcement mechanisms, said John Meredith, president of IEEE-USA, a unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

"It depresses wages for American workers. It hurts the visa holder as well, because some of the workers are taken advantage of," he said.

Wow. Even electrical engineers have their own special interest group to try to inflate their wages. Awesome place, this America.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/07 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


DMN:

Mayors from Texas border cities carried a united message to federal officials Wednesday: don't fence us off from Mexico.

After being largely ignored in last year's pre-election frenzy, they found a receptive audience and signs that a full 700-mile barrier may never come to pass.

The mayors were united, predicting the fence wouldn't get built.

"Mexico's our neighbor," Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas said. "You don't treat neighbors like that."

I'll support a fence for Mexico as soon as they start building one on the Canadian border.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/07 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


WashTimes writes up the debut of The Politico:

The Politico debuts tomorrow in print, online and on the air.

The newspaper will publish 30,000 copies to be distributed free of charge three days a week while Congress is in session, and one day a week during recess. The Web site, which also will be free, plans to be rich in video and is aimed at readers across the country.

"Will it be the only destination [for political news]? No, but there's no reason we can't be at the top of the list," Mr. VandeHei said.

Mr. VandeHei and Mr. Harris have persuaded an all-star cast to join them in a bet on the future of journalism. Since arriving at the Politico in November, the two have plucked Mike Allen from Time magazine, former Bloomberg News political writer Roger Simon and Ben Smith from the New York Daily News.

"There's no claim to the status quo as it existed," Mr. Harris said. "The urgent task is the same: defining what the future is for this business. This was an opportunity to start something from scratch, to hire people in pretty significant numbers and to define a journalistic product from the beginning."

The Politico will draw most of its advertising dollars from issue ads funded by interest groups targeting lawmakers. Robert Allbritton, chairman of the parent company, said he expects the venture to turn a profit in 18 to 24 months.

Mr. Morton said it will be interesting to see which Capitol Hill publication attracts more advertisers. "Are they just going to all start sharing ever-smaller pieces of a fairly static advertising environment?" he asked, noting that the continued prosperity of interest groups and lobbying firms is fortunate for political publications. "That's the part of advertising that's growing."

Roll Call and the Hill Newspaper did not respond to requests for comment.

The market for political news has been growing over the past few years, methinks, and will continue to grow. Roll Call would've been best equipped to try to take advantage of this, but didn't. Politics is the newest national soap opera.

And I bet there are plenty of potential ad dollars, if they do the site as well as Roll Call.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/07 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


2010 begins

Well, okay, gubernatorial cycle 2010 has already begun. Kinda like how the 2008 presidential race began sometime in 2004.

Professors Carnahan and Taylor have some speculation over on their blog:

Michelle thinks that Lt. Governor David Dewhurst will win the '10 gubernatorial nomination quite easily, simply because of his connections and money. That, and she thinks that Dewhurst will convince State Senator Dan Patrick to run for Lt. Governor as part of some sort of grand unification theory. Nuh uh. Nope. I am neither convinced of that, nor inclined to agree with her assessment. I not only think that Patrick will run for Governor, I think that in a multi-candidate field (which I will bet at least the garbage, if not the rent, that it won't include U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison), he could potentially do to Dewhurst what he did to the Senate District 7 GOP Primary field in 2006.

Also worth noting:

... the likely prospect of a GOP loss of the White House in 2008 (I place the likelihood at 70% or higher) and a failure to recapture Congress (I place those odds at 50-50).

I may get a chance to post some thoughts when I'm not at work.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/07 02:18 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


19 January 2007

Perry sits down with Congressional Dems

Todd Gillman in the Dallas News details how the Guv and Texas' Congressional Dems had a sit down.

An aide quipped that the comfortable chair reserved for the governor should have been labeled "hot seat," though Mr. Perry and the lawmakers agreed afterward that the meeting was cordial. It's time to work together, they said, to boost highway funding and address other issues of broad concern. They said the meeting helped build relations scarred by years of mistrust.

"I made commitments to be working with these folks to make for a better Texas," said Mr. Perry, who arrived for the 8 a.m. meeting with Ms. Johnson and received a warm greeting from the lawmakers waiting in Mr. Ortiz' office. Several exchanged hugs and backslaps with him.

"Here's how excited I was about it," the governor said afterward, striding out to a waiting SUV. "I told 'em, I said you get that transportation money up to where we're not a donor state anymore, I'm gonna become a Democrat again."

Now that's something that can get bipartisan support!

Of course, equitable transportation funding is probably something we should look to our senators for -- it's easier for them to hold a bill up by insisting that Texas be treated fairly.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/07 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


What constitutes retaliation?

Karen Brooks, DMN:

Two years ago, Mr. Craddick gave Mr. Pitts a plum assignment heading the appropriations committee, where he can wield great influence over the state budget. Capitol observers expect Mr. Pitts to be relegated to the backbench now.

About the challenge, Mr. Craddick says he "didn't take any of that personally," and he promised not to retaliate against members who opposed him.

"We're just looking at what people have asked for, and where we think they fit," Mr. Craddick said. "You can't have 149 people on appropriations."

Mr. Pitts said Thursday night that he has asked to be returned as appropriations chairman "because of my experience."

"I'm really worried about lack of experience on appropriations because of the big issues this session," Mr. Pitts said.

The headline reads "Craddick: No retaliation." I'd say that leaving Pitts on Appropriations at all would be a lack of retaliation, or even giving him reasonable committee assignments. Bringing him back as Appropriations chair is pretty much unthinkable. The Speaker has to rely on his Chairman of Approps...it's hard to imagine that they'd have the level of trust necessary to work together.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/07 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


18 January 2007

Party fighting for the sake of warfare

There are some folks trying to stop in impending crowning of Florida Senator Mel Martinez as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

It's a strange group of nativists, fans of Michael Steele, anti-illegal immigrationists, and people just disgruntled by the fact that the White House dictated the pick. Note: some of these people fall into more than one camp.

Hotline's blog reports that English First has purchased banner ads opposing Martinez. Meanwhile, various folks, eg Paul Burka, have noted that Texans are leading the charge.

It seems like an awfully silly fight. If I recall my history correctly, whoever wins the GOP nomination will probably replace Martinez with his/her (although I can't think of any female candidates running) own RNC Chair.

So, keeping in mind that the pick was likely to only stick around for about a year, what are the two main jobs of the RNC Chair? 1) Be a public face for the party, 2) Raise money.

I'd have been quite happy with Michael Steele. But like it or not, the White House has traditionally made the pick. Regardless of the merits of the White House picking the RNC Chair, now isn't a particularly good time to try to reform the process so that the grassroots make the pick.

Mel Martinez is certainly not out of the party's mainstream, despite the depictions of some who disagree with him on immigration. He'll be a great public face for the party, and he has a track record as a good fundraiser.

Therefore, it seems to me that the actions of RNC delegates Denise McNamara and Bill Crocker, as well as state party chair Tina Benkiser, only serve to make the party look bad. So why make quixotic stands? We aren't the party of Howard Dean. Hehe.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


I guess I'm not a new media triumphalist

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, so here we go. You may recall Joe Rago, who wrote the "The Blog Mob: Written By Fools To Be Read By Imbeciles" article for the Wall Street Journal. Afterwards, he appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show:

You're 24? 22? 23?

JR: 23.

HH: Okay, you're 23 years old. The Wall Street Journal allows you to set forth with a piece of writing that was mocked, in large part, across the blogosphere, for its many inaccuracies, satirized by people like Tigerhawk and Ace of Spades, and yet you're defending mainstream media's accumulated institutional culture that screens for originality, expertise and seriousness. Does your piece represent that tradition?

JR: Yes, I think it does.

HH: And so, what was original in your piece?

JR: I mean, what was original is that everyone is...you know, Time Magazine says the person of the year is everyone. What was original was that everyone seems to have acquiesced to the idea that technology and blogs are going to sort of revolutionize media and make it completely new, and I just don't see the evidence for it.

HH: And what's your expertise in blogs?

JR: The expertise, in this case, is criticism. It's the exercise of judgment and taste.

HH: Joe, you're 23.

JR: Sure.

HH: Can you be expert in anything? And I'm serious here.

JR: I think I can write a thoughtful article, even though I'm 23.

Apparently, at age 23, he can also win a debate even when his constitutional law professor opponent controls the flow and direction of the argument.

Criticisizing someone's age is a pretty sure sign that you're losing the debate.

Blogs are just a cheap form of publication. As Chris Anderson pointed out in The Long Tail, lots of things in the long tail are terrible, but sometimes there are niches of wonderful stuff.

So, I'm not much of a blog triumphalist. Most suck, but some are wonderful. Many of the best are from "old media" journalists, but not all. Glenn Reynolds deserves his place, and locally, one could read Kevin Whited's link blog alone (he wouldn't call it that) and have a much brighter knowledge of world affairs.

I'll have more comments on this soon, you'll probably see why.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 06:58 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


Inauguration

If you want to read the prepared text of Perry's inauguration address, the DMN legislature blog has reprinted it.

Meanwhile, some people are upset over Ted Nugent's actions while performing during the inauguration festivities. Personally, if we were going to get into the Guv's celebrity friends performing, I'd have rather had a Russell Crowe screening.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


WilcoWise

Welcome WilcoWise, a group of Republicans living in Williamson County. That's north of Austin -- Cedar Park, Round Rock and Georgetown, for those of you who aren't from Central Texas.

They have a post up purporting to have Craddick's choices for House committee chairs. Who knows, but it at least appears to be reasonable speculation.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Ouch

Michelle Mittelstadt:

Congress is still engaging in the high-stakes derby of committee assignments, with lawmakers scrambling to get on the panels of their choice. And sometimes not necessarily of their choice.

Though Lampson's 22nd District isn't primarily a farming area, the Democratic leadership has assigned him to the Agriculture Committee, to go along with his postings on the Science and Technology Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"It's interesting because I don't have a big ag base," said Lampson, the grandson of Fort Bend County farmers.

First Lampson got passed over for Appropriations, now they're shuffling him to whatever committee has an opening.

Doesn't look like House Democrats have much confidence in Lampson being re-elected. I would've thought they'd at least pretend.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Hrm

Wilmington News Journal:

Amtrak would receive $19.2 billion under bipartisan legislation unveiled Tuesday, kicking off a new chapter in long-running debate over how to fix the beleaguered passenger railroad.

The legislation by Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Trent Lott, R-Miss., would provide $3.2 billion per year over six years. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., are co-sponsors of the bill.

In recent years, Congress has given the quasi-private railroad about $1.2 billion even as some critics have said Amtrak is so poorly managed it should be turned over to the private sector.

...

The bill introduced Tuesday has 10 Senate co-sponsors: Carper and Biden; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

Why is Kay Bailey sponsoring this? Isn't Amtrak's service in Texas horrible? I mean, the Eastern seaboard senators love Amtrak because it provides them an easy, cushy commute to DC. But I don't understand Hutchison's sponsorship, unless she's getting something out of it on another issue.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/07 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


12 January 2007

Draft Fred?

A couple months after me, Professor Bainbridge wants to hop on board the Fred Thompson for president bandwagon.

Posted by Evan @ 01/12/07 01:04 AM | Comments (5)

 
 


Ron Paul to run for president.

Dr. Ron Paul, from Texas' 22nd district, has announced a run for President. No word yet as to whether he will give up his congressional seat or not.

Paul ran in 1988 as a the Libertarian Party nominee, but he's running as a Republican this time.

Kronberg reports Mark Henry as a name that's interested. I bet Kyle Janek will get in the race if the seat really opens up, and I think he'd probably be the clear favorite.

Posted by Evan @ 01/12/07 12:04 AM | Comments (1)

 
 


09 January 2007

Texas GOP, we have a problem

As the recent speaker race indicated, the Texas GOP has a cultural problem: it's okay to vote for the Democrat's choice for leadership, as long as that person is a Republican. Although Republicans in this state labored towards the majority for a time spanning 3 centuries, we're not doing very well in electing our own leadership. It's time for that to change, and the party leadership needs to be the ones to do it.

The Texas Republican Party is perpetually debating how to force its elected officials to stick to the platform. It is, frankly, a very silly notion. People don't run for office so that they can rubberstamp whatever a small portion of the party grassroots comes up with as the party platform. The very notion of a republic is that good men and women are supposed to do what they think is right for the Republic. [You've been watching Rome, haven't you?-- ed. Yup!] Or note that the Harris County GOP officially backed Dan Patrick's call to end the filibuster in the Texas Senate. It obviously wasn't going to happen. [As people skeptical of the government's halcyonic abilities, I thought we were supposed to like it when it's harder for the government to pass bills?]

Instead, we should focus on a bigger problem, that the party can do something about: Republicans letting Democrats decide which Republican becomes the leader.

Go back to January 2001, when State Senator David Sibley had the backing of most -- if not all, Ratliff excepted -- of the Senate Republican membership. The chamber was controlled 16-15 by Republicans, leading observers to assume Sibley would be made the next Lieutenant Governor of Texas. [Perry had left the Lt. Gov's seat open when he became governor following the 2000 election.]

Nope. Bill Ratliff ("I am a Republican because I agree with the Republicans at least 51 percent of the time") galvanized Democratic support and was elected Lt. Gov. 16-15, because of his Democratic support.

Fast forward to today, when the choice of the vast majority of House Republicans (~85% or so) nearly lost.

This isn't about David Sibley, Bill Ratliff, Jim Pitts, Brian McCall or Tom Craddick. It's about Republicans being beholden to Democrats for their leadership post. It hasn't been too bad so far, but cancers metastasize when left unchecked.

It's about the fact that Democrats are forcing their elected officials to hew to the party line. The House Democratic Caucus even requires its members to vote for a Democratic candidate for speaker, if there is one. Plus, the Texas Democrats are purging any of their members who work with Republicans. [Note to the press corps: if Republicans were purging our own moderates as effectively and thoroughly as the Democrats are, would we be reading lots of editorials and news articles about how the zealots were taking over the party? Y'all freak out about Leininger, but miss the real story.]

Look, I'd be happy if the "good old days" of leadership elections were still here. But they aren't. Democrats have effectively changed the rules. Republicans have two options: adapt to the new way or let the Democrats pick our leaders.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 10:00 PM | Comments (2)

 
 


Tom Craddick re-elected Speaker

Tom Craddick was re-elected Speaker this afternoon by a vote of 121-27. In reality, the vote was much closer, with Fort Worth Rep. Charlie Geren's amendment to an amendment in favor of a secret ballot being defeated 68-80. With the writing then on the wall, the House passed the rules for the election 96-51.

Apparently the 68-80 vote will be made public, but it has not been yet. So Pitts came up somewhere around 7 votes short. Not exactly seven, as some Craddick supporters -- like Joe Straus -- voted for secret ballots, I presume, based on their public statements.

You know who looks silliest? Patricia Harless and Thomas Latham, both House Republican freshman, who rescinded their pledges to Craddick on January 3rd, which was about the time it was starting to look like the Craddick challengers would come up short.

I guess the new Capitol parlor game is this: who will be appointed chair of Appropriations?

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 08:34 PM | Comments (2)

 
 


Today's legislative happenings

If you're looking for a place to follow the speaker race right now, the Chron's politics blog is it right now. They're liveblogging the first day of the Texas legislature.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


The vagaries of the federal tax code

Gary Martin:

Members of both parties introduced legislation Friday that would allow residents of seven states, including Texas, to permanently deduct sales taxes on their federal income tax returns.

Congress, which initially approved the deduction for the 2004 and 2005 tax years, extended it in December for two more years.

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, joined Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., on a bill introduced in the House that would make the deduction permanent.

...

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, filed a bill Thursday that includes a provision to make the sales tax deduction permanent, something she said was a legislative priority for 2007.

That legislation was co-sponsored Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Our representatives should really not come home if they don't get this made permanent. Do whatever you have to do; it's a basic issue of fairness to Texas.

Of course, local and state taxes of any kind really should NOT be deductible from federal income taxation, because doing so unfairly penalizes low-tax states while incentivizing higher state taxes. It's basically a transfer of wealth from the South to the Northeast.

Plus, local and state tax deductions skew heavily to the wealthy. My intuition would be that it skews towards the wealthy in total percentages greater than any income tax cuts. Just a guess, but I feel confident saying it. Don't tell it to Chuck Schumer though, he loves the local and state tax deduction.

And really, if City A decides to tax itself to pay for a big new shiny pro sports stadium, and City B doesn't, why are we making City B disadvantaged tax-wise? It makes no sense. But then, sense is often in short supply when it comes to Ways and Means committees.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 01:14 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


Mitt Romney's big day

Wow.

Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said he was "blown away" by the $6.5 million his friends and family raised and pledged toward a presidential campaign today, a figure that may shoot a bright flare in the direction of Romney's potential 2008 rivals, most notably Sen. John McCain and Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Fundamentally, the telephone-a-thon Romney led here today demonstrats [sic] the breadth of his personal network of supporters and associates

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is also planning to endorse Romney.

$6.5M! In a day! Wow! First tier Democratic presidential candidates raised less than that in quarters in 2004. In fact, I want to say that in Q2 2003 John Edwards raised the most money of the Democratic contenders, and it was about $6.5M.

I confess, I have long laughed at the idea that Romney was going to be a serious presidential contender. So, I'll eat some crow: it's been very apparent for at least a few months that Romney is probably the second most likely person to win the GOP nomination (McCain is first). He just has so many networks to raise money: Harvard Law, Harvard MBA, Mormons, consulting (was partner at Bain), venture capital (founded Bain Capital), plus the 2002 Olympics.

He also just has such an incredible bio -- slightly overly gushed here, and he looks presidential. In fact, I'd sorta figured that I'd back McCain (after years of figuring that I'd never back McCain), but I may switch to Romney. I don't really see McCain as president. He's a maverick, but that's much better suited to the Senate, where he doesn't have to lead and build consensus. But I don't know. Still early. We'll see.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 01:00 AM | Comments (2)

 
 


"Yeah I'd jump off a bridge."

Since everyone else is linking to it, I guess I will too. Here's the video of Craddick's folks going to dinner.

The same user also posted just the Democrats going in. That seems to support my thesis that it's an anti-Craddick Dem.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/07 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


07 January 2007

Overplaying your hand

I said a few days ago that Craddick appeared to have gained an edge in the race to be Speaker, unless he overplayed his hand.

Craddick unveiled a new pledge card that also asked for a public vote. Rep. Pitts and Burka both seem to think that Craddick is overplaying his hand. And indeed, I must agree. Why publically signal weakness by unveiling a new pledge card? Why publically commit to a public vote?

The question is whether he has overplayed his hand enough. I doubt that this alone is enough.

On the other hand, Clay Robison reports that someone was standing outside the Austin Club, videotaping to see who went into a meeting of Craddick's supporters. Pitts denies it was anyone related to him, and that seems plausible enough. But the fact that there is someone out there (the new anti-Craddick Dem PAC?) playing hardball makes Pitts look less pure, whether he was behind it or not.

[By the way, it's worth pointing out, as Harvey Kronberg did today, that the newspapers were very exercised about the importance of a public vote in 2002, when it would mean a less conservative speaker. In 2007, these same newspaper editorial boards seem entirely uninterested in the supposed necessary governmental transparency of a public votes, when a public vote appears to mean a more conservative speaker. But they didn't want a public vote in 1991, when conservative Dem Gib Lewis was up for Speaker re-elecition. Notice a pattern here? The editorial boards seem to be willing to flip-flop editorial positions whenever it befits a more liberal candidate. Hmm. Perhaps newspaper editorial boards are really no more principled about process than politicians? Youdon'tdaresay!]

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 11:55 PM | Comments (2)

 
 


Worst logic I've heard

RG Ratcliffe:

Meanwhile, Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez, D-Weslaco, removed his name from the Craddick pledge list without moving to Pitts.

"When you are continuously questioned about that pledge, it has led me to believe that my pledge is not good enough; therefore, I have decided to make my decision on the House floor," Martinez said.

To illustrate how convoluted I believe this logic to be, let me analogize:
[The scene: a husband, explaining to his wife why he cheated on her] "Yes I was going to be faithful to you, honey. But then you kept asking, "Do you love me?" Because you asked me to re-affirm, obviously my love and fidelity is not good enough, so I cheated on you.
Pardon me, but I don't think either makes much sense.

Look at me, I'm blogging like there's no tomorrow. [Does that mean there will be no blogging tomorrow? --ed It just means that I finally had some free time.]

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


The latest math

Here's Paul Burka's latest math on the Speaker Race:

All in all, this has been a pretty quiet day, especially compared to yesterday. Geren and Kuempel coming out for Pitts was not news; most people had them as ABCs all along. Raymond, unlike most of the other Craddick Ds, didn't have plum committee assignments that would be at risk if he switched, so his defection was not a shock. That move was nullified by Democrat Eddie Lucio III's weather-vane endorsement of Craddick. This movement of Ds does help Pitts, but some switchers are more important than others--specifically, what Pitts needs is Republican votes. The math of the speakers race continues to be that Craddick had 69 Rs and 17 Ds pledged to him on December 28. Three of the Ds have defected, leaving him with 83 plus the switchers; Lucio makes 84. That's 9 more than he needs. For Pitts to win, Craddick must lose 10 more votes. Most of them are going to have to be Republicans who are currently pledged to Craddick. Looking at the list of R pledges to Craddick, I can find 10 who OUGHT to switch, but not 10 who are likely to.
Kuempel and Geren have long been known as ABCs, so it's certainly no shock that they are switching.

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Things that make you go "hmm"*

Michelle Middlecity in the Chron:

But Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, acknowledged that there are plenty of Democrats champing at the bit to make Republicans feel their minority status.

But Johnson says she's been telling her GOP friends, "We're not going to be nearly as mean to you all as you've been to us."

I don't doubt Johnson is well-intentioned (although she's not the one who will make the decisions to be nice or not), but it's clear that House Democrats in the majority aren't going to treat the minority party any better than House Republicans in the majority.

They've already broken promises that they would allow the minority to participate. Here's Michael Barone, generally the wisest commentator on politics in Washington:

House Democratic leaders have promised that they will treat the minority more fairly than House Republicans treated them; House Republicans promised the same thing 12 years ago. But House Republicans didn't do so: The three-hour roll call they prolonged to pass the Medicare prescription drug bill in December 2003 was arguably greater abuse than anything the Democrats did in their 40 years in the majority in the House. Now, though Democrats say they'll be fairer after the "100 hours" vote, it looks like the Democrats are going to renege on their promise, too. So are the House Democrats and the House Republicans before them to be condemned as hypocrites? Not by me. I think both sides were sincere when they made their promises. But once in the majority, the Democrats are finding, as the Republicans did before them, it's difficult if not impossible to run a legislature with 435 members without tightly controlling procedure. That means limiting debate to a considerable extent.

Still, I'm puzzled that the Democrats aren't at least going through the motions of committee hearings.

I agree with every word. I remember how embittered House Republicans were when Jim Wright held a vote open for 30 minutes. But, of course, the precedent was set.

*Aw yeah, I'm bringing back the C&C Music Factory.

Posted by Evan @ *"> 01/07/07 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Dallas-based pizza franchise to accept Mexican pesos

Karen Robinson-Jacobs in the DMN:

Starting Monday, patrons of the Dallas-based Pizza Patrón chain, which caters heavily to Latinos, will be able to purchase American pizzas with Mexican pesos.

Restaurant experts and economists said they knew of no other food chain with locations so far from the Mexican border offering such a service.

"We're trying to reach out to our core customer," Antonio Swad, president of Pizza Patrón Inc., said Friday.

I'm surprised no one has done this yet. If there are people willing to pay in pesos, then why not accept pesos?

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 11:15 PM | Comments (1)

 
 


Mack: New Houston legislators

The Chron's Kristen Mack has brief portraits of Houston metro's new legislators:

Republicans will hold a 20-11 majority in the state Senate, and Patrick says Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the chamber, will shoulder much responsibility for its direction.

"Will he lead us to the right or to the middle? If he leads us to the right, I think he'll have tremendous support. If he leads us to the middle, there will be significant opposition," Patrick said.

I'm sure that those are Patrick's candid thoughts, but it also provides a great platform for a potential gubernatorial campaign!
Though not as well-known as Patrick, Miles also has made a splashy and not entirely favorable impression.

He caught the attention of some Austin lobbyists by hosting a fundraiser there and seeking contributions of as much as $5,000, a freshman faux pas.

"We asked for that, and we got it," Miles said, and he added that he doesn't think it was a mistake. "Mr. Miles is coming up here to play. I'm not going to Austin to play plantation politics." Good for him for asking for more, but he might want to re-think the third person references to self. Bob Dole can get away with it. He can't.

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


Amarillo's paper, the Globe News, has been running a series of profiles on area legislators. What a wonderful idea that some of the other dailies in Texas might want to adopt.

Today's is on Sen. Robert Duncan:

Imagine representing an area larger than Mississippi.

State Sen. Robert Duncan has been doing it for 10 years. District 28, which includes 46 counties, is the second-largest state Senate district, not only in Texas but in the continental United States. Only neighboring Texas Senate District 19, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso County, is larger.

...

Duncan, a lawyer who served for four years in the Texas House before being elected senator in 1996, is a key player in the Legislature. He chairs the influential Senate State Affairs Committee and sits on the powerful finance and education committees. In the 79th session he was also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Funding for Higher Education, Natural Resources, Jurisprudence, Joint Select Committee to Study the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool Deficit, Interim Committee to Study the Power of Eminent Domain and the Joint Select Committee on Windstorm Coverage.

"He's very well-respected," said Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, an online newsletter that focuses on the Texas Legislature.

...

One of Duncan's goals for the upcoming session is to give the governor more of a say in appointing judges. Under the current system, even if a judge is appointed, before his or her term expires, he or she must run for the post and that is not always the best way to retain experienced jurists. As it happened in the Nov. 7 election in Dallas County where the Democrats swept all the local races, judges are often kicked out of a courtroom because they are affiliated with a losing political party, Duncan said.

Under his proposal, the public would periodically vote on whether to keep judges but the vote would be based on the jurist's record, not party affiliation.

Retention votes for judges are much better idea than partisan votes. But it requires a bunch of legislators sticking their neck out because they care about justice.

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 10:40 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


A thorn even on the one rose petal

McClatchy wire:

President Bush's hopes of securing a comprehensive immigration overhaul have brightened considerably in the new Democratic-controlled Congress, but resistance from organized labor - one of the Democratic Party's most loyal constituencies - could complicate those efforts.

The AFL-CIO, which represents 53 unions with more than 9 million members, is ratcheting up opposition to a temporary guest worker program, a key element of Bush's immigration plan. At the same time, two powerful unions in a breakaway labor coalition, Change to Win, have tended to support the provision.

You could call the bifurcation a difference between the "haves" and the "have nots," in John Edwards' parlance!

I'd hoped immigration might actually be a good thing a Democratic-controlled Congress might get done. We'll see how slavishly devoted Nancy Pelosi is to John Sweeney.

This part amuses me:

The outlook is a bit more fluid in the House, which under Republican control never seriously debated a comprehensive measure. But Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the incoming chairwoman of the House immigration subcommittee, said she is optimistic that House members eventually can find accord on legalization, guest workers, and other contentious provisions.

"We're at the beginning here," she said. "I believe that if we stop yelling at each other and just methodically work our way through the outstanding questions, that we can come up with a practical solution."

The history of immigration bills is largely one of unintended consequences.

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/07 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


05 January 2007

If the Austin press corps could vote...

So if the Austin press corps could vote for speaker, how many votes would Tom Craddick get?

Would he get any?

Posted by Evan @ 01/05/07 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


My analysis of the Speaker's race

I've kept mostly quiet about the speaker's race, because I don't have any inside information. And I question the value of some of the supposedly inside information that is being given out.

That said, it seems to me that Speaker Craddick is quite likely to remain Speaker Craddick. Mainly because I second Paul Burka's assertion that "perceptions become reality, and if you are perceived to be playing a strong hand--not by me, not by the media, but by the players in the game--and then turn out to be bluffing, you are going to lose your credibility. That's what I think happened to Jim Pitts yesterday when he failed to produce a list of supporters."

We know for sure that McCall couldn't beat Craddick. Otherwise, McCall would not have dropped out of the race. Quite clearly, McCall could not garner enough Republican support. McCall says this, and so he dropped out and endorsed Pitts.

Are there enough Republicans to put Pitts over the top who might vote for Pitts but wouldn't vote for McCall? There may be. It seems like quite a few Representatives are unhappy with Speaker Craddick. But even if there is, are these members willing to publically oppose Craddick?

The answer at this point seems obviously no. If Pitts had 75 people who were going to vote for him, he would make that list public. Sure, Craddick and his allies might mobilize a campaign to pressure some who might be wavering, and that is a risk for Pitts. But the far bigger risk for Pitts is looking like he doesn't have the votes. And right now, that's the way it looks for Pitts. If his supposed supporters aren't willing to say publically that they'll vote for Pitts now, then why should we think that they will be willing to say publically that they'll vote for Pitts in a few days?

Leadership races -- whether in Austin or DC -- are always about perception. And the perception right now is that if Pitts were going to win, he would have made his list public.

Note: I'm not entirely saying the race is over. There's always the possibility that the perception could shift, but presumably Pitts has mostly played his hand, and there's not much left. That leaves Craddick overplaying his hand as the most likely determinant of a change in outcome.

Posted by Evan @ 01/05/07 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


04 January 2007

Pena predicts Craddick to remain speaker

Democratic Rep. Aaron Pena predicts Craddick will remain speaker.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/07 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


03 January 2007

Dems backing Weber in HD29?

Via Charles Kuffner, I find that Democratic candidate Dr. Anthony DiNovo and his campaign manager have both endorsed Republican Randy Weber over Republican Mike O'Day.

Fascinating, considering that O'Day picked Democrat Shane Sklar over Dr. Ron Paul in the recent election. Also, most reports put Weber more to the right than O'Day

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/07 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


02 January 2007

Texas native Dempsey to join Premiership

Nacogdoches product Clint Dempsey has a deal to join English club Fulham.

Major League Soccer has agreed to send Clint Dempsey to Fulham of the English Premier League for what would be the largest transfer free in MLS history -- if the New England Revolution midfielder can obtain a British work permit.

Dempsey has played three seasons with the Revolution and has six goals for the national team. He would be the third American player to join the south London team, following defender Carlos Bocanegra and striker Brian McBride, who both arrived at Craven Cottage in January 2004.

The US has had players denied work permits before, such as Bobby Convey's 2003 deal.

Dempsey is a dangerous attacker from the flank, but I have doubts that his defense is good enough right now to play in the English Premier League. But his best days are certainly ahead of him. Plus, it'll be good for him to have a few friendly faces around, on a team where Americans are respected: McBride was Fulham's player of the year last year.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/07 07:39 PM | Comments (2)

 
 


Post-election spinnage

The Washington Times editorial board must've gotten spun pretty hard by 2006 NRSC Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole.

More than 50 days after Democrats defeated six Republican incumbents to capture a de facto 51-49 majority in the Senate . . . when numerous Republican senators ignored calls to transfer a portion of their own bulging war chests to a handful of pivotal states.

...

Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison won her 2006 election (62-36) and finished her campaign with $7.3 million in the bank. All she gave the NRSC was a $115,000 donation. Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who had $2.8 million in the bank on Sept. 30 in preparation for his likely cakewalk in 2008, gave the NRSC $50,000 in 2006.

...

In the end, Mr. Talent lost in Missouri by fewer than 50,000 votes among the more than two million cast (49.6 percent to 47.3 percent); Mr. Allen lost in Virginia by fewer than 10,000 votes among the nearly 2.5 million cast (49.6-49.2); and Mr. Burns lost by fewer than 3,000 votes among the nearly 400,000 cast (49.1-48.4).

I've got a few problems with this.

1. The NRSC did not do a good job this election cycle. It didn't raise enough money, failed to recruit good candidates in a few races ( Florida anyone?), and then wasted money. For an example of the latter, see the horribly misleading ads they ran against Steve Laffey. While I would've likely voted for Chafee since Laffey had no chance to win, some of those ads were thoroughly inexcusable.

2. Senators are accountable to their donors. If I'd given money to a senator, and he/she turned around and sent too much to the NRSC, it'd be the last dollar of my money they'd ever get. People raise money for their own careers and for future races. They shouldn't get overly pressured into giving it away to people who should've raised more money.

3. Spending more money wouldn't necessarily have helped. The law of diminishing returns definitely kicks in. The TV markets were probably so saturated in Missouri, Virginia, and especially Montana that I doubt any more NRSC ads would've been the proximal factor in changing election results. Besides, good campaigns (Virginia and Montana would not qualify) have closing strategies which can get sidetracked by outside ads.

What is also amusing about the WashTimes op-ed is that it specifically lauds Thad Cochran of Mississippi for giving $225k -- only $110k more than Hutchison -- because he didn't have much cash on hand. Well, WashTimes editorial board, riddle me this: why wasn't Senator Cochran out raising money to help his colleagues? He's the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee! Chairman. Of. Appropriations. Raise some money, Senator, if you want to stay one of the most powerful people inside the Beltway.

So, given that Hutchison was actually up for re-election, it seems to me that Senator Cochran should be more of a target for criticism than Senator Hutchison.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/07 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

 
 


The ones we won't hear from

Peggy Fikac has an article on the gubernatorial race losers:

[Kinky] Friedman, mindful of the difficulty of seeking public office as a relatively underfunded independent, doesn't know if he'll run again.

"I think if I did, I would be a Republican or a Democrat," he said, adding he first wants to see "a large amount of dead presidents" — meaning, "If you can get enough money at the beginning, then it makes sense."

Doesn't that kind of undermine the central message of his 2006 campaign? I'm confused.

Democrat Chris Bell, a Houston lawyer trying to decide what's next professionally, also is writing a book about the race and his outlook on Texas after that experience. Its working title is (again, what else?) "From Behind the Rock," taken from a Texas Monthly reference to him as Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology was doomed to forever roll an enormous rock uphill.

I hate to be catty, but I have a question: was Chris Bell more deluded to think people might read his book or to think he had a shot at being governor? I mean, he's a losing candidate for governor. By his own admission, he did worse than a corpse would do on the ballot. I find it hard to believe that he's going to produce a book that will get published.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/07 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

 
 


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