30 December 2013
Latino Republicans win primaries; media says they don't
Someone please explain to me how it is possible to write an article about how "Hispanic candidates struggle to win statewide [Texas] Republican primaries" after Ted Cruz.
It's like writing an article about how African-Americans with funny names can't be elected president of the US, and at the end just glossing over some guy named Barack Obama. It's prima facie absurd. For the rest of this post, the blockquotes are from that article.
Fighting the perception that Hispanic candidates struggle to win statewide Republican primaries, many party officials have pointed to the 2014 land commissioner's race, which features George P. Bush, the odds-on favorite, whose mother was born in Mexico.
What perception? I've heard of the myth that Democrats repeat because they believe their own spin. Victor Carrillo's poor campaign (to the extent that you can even call it a campaign) for Railroad Commissioner aside, there is no evidence.
But many political observers in Texas say that Mr. Bush, the grandson of former President George H. W. Bush and son of former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, should not be seen as the start of a trend. After all, Mr. Bush has a famous -- and non-Hispanic -- name. Candidates with Hispanic surnames are still expected to face challenges in Republican primaries in Texas.
Boy, what a stroke of luck for George P. Bush that his last name doesn't end in an s or even worse a z, because then he'd never have a chance with those crazy Texas Republicans. Right?
Must've been my imagination.
Mike Baselice, a longtime pollster for Republicans in Texas, said that Mr. Bush would probably poll 5 to 10 points lower than his opponent if he had a Hispanic surname...
Baselice....me suena, me suena. Claro, ya me acuerdo, he was the pollster for David Dewhurst...¡y que encuestas! He's been consistently wrong about Latino Republicans in Texas. Baselice's polls consistently put Ted Cruz at least 5-10 points under Dewhurst. Remember how Baselice said Dewhurst was ahead by 5 points right before the runoff when the Dew was behind by 10? Remember when Baselice said Dewhurst was up 8 a few weeks before the runoff?
To put it bluntly, Baselice's polls lack credibility. He already screwed up on this exact question once before.
And now, 6 paragraphs and 337 words into the article, we get to the elephant in the room:
Steve Munisteri, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, dismissed the idea that Hispanic candidates were handicapped in the primaries by their surnames, citing Ted Cruz's victory in the 2012 race for the United States Senate and recent legislative wins by other Hispanic Republicans. In fact, Mr. Munisteri said, Hispanic candidates could "have a slight advantage, given the party’s awareness of the need to attract Hispanics."
6 paragraphs and 337 words before an article on Latino Republicans running for office mentioned Ted Cruz's victory. Hyperbole fails me. You. Can't. Make. This. Stuff. Up.
To even begin to think that Hispanic candidates "struggle" in Republican primaries, you'd have to be convinced that Texas Republicans are prejudiced. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense. The evidence says that Latinos do quite well in Texas Republican primaries.
29 December 2013
As of yesterday, December was the highest trafficked month for 2013. Thanks to the several thousand of you who visited and special thanks to those of you who linked. Feliz Año Nuevo.
26 December 2013
The year of Ted Cruz?
"Celebrate the year of Ted Cruz with 74 of his best quotes."
The news has just come out that Cruz will speak at the Gridiron Dinner. Last year, Obama elevated Cruz by taking a jab at his pointed Hagel questioning.
Cruz's performance will determine how much money is there for the nascent Cruz 16 campaign.
21 December 2013
John Cornyn, Steve Stockman and Facebook likes
I was going to get rid of the Facebook like buttons that currently occupy the bottom of individual posts. No one uses them, which doesn't really surprise me.
But then I saw that the post "Will Cornyn get a primary challenger?" got 42 likes.
The energy for a race against Cornyn was real. It was there, waiting to be harnessed if the right candidate came along.
But Steve Stockman has underwhelmed even my very low expectations. Despite columns suggesting that Stockman is a test of the Tea Party's potency, I don't see evidence that Tea Parties are backing Stockman.
20 December 2013
The sun will rise tomorrow
Blogger lobbyist Robert Miller has a very strange boast topping his blog right now:
I got it right in the City of Houston mayor's race from start to finish, correctly predicting that Mayor Parker would win without a runoff. I was correct when I stated that Sen. Davis would run for Governor. I fist pump these successes, because it is time to screw up my courage and climb back out on the trapeze.
In the ranks of political prognostication, this...doesn't rank at all. Ben Hall hired John Weaver, whose reputation involves cashing in, not winning campaigns. John Weaver proved true to his reputation. And Wendy Davis was obviously going to run for governor after getting so much love from Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. She thought she was a star.
Just for the record:
19 December 2013
UTexas admissions favoritism
Jon Cassidy has been doing some impressive investigative journalism lately. His latest researches the favoritism shown to the children of legislators:
Children of three Texas lawmakers who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law repeatedly failed the state's bar exam, highly unusual for the prestigious school where almost every graduate passes the bar exam on the first try.
Jeffrey Steven Carona, Carlos Manuel Zaffirini Jr. and James Ryan Pitts have taken the Texas bar exam 10 times between them, and passed it just twice. Pitts will get another chance in February.
Out of nearly 2,700 UT law school grads in that period, we found only 197 who had to retake the bar exam. Only four UT grads in that time failed the test more times than Zaffirini and Carona.
Despite the Hollywood mythology around the bar exam, it is simply a matter of putting in hard work over a brief period. Show up for BarBri, memorize, show up on time for the exam. As a friend of mine said before she took* the bar, "Trained monkeys could pass the bar exam."
Or as a different friend said while he was waiting for his bar results**, "Taking the bar is really more like fraternity hazing than it is an exam. You have to fail yourself out."
So if the children of our #txlege legislators are failing the bar exam, the most likely two possibilities are
1. There is a massive amount of favoritism being shown in UTexas law admissions
2. They can't be bothered to do the work that every other lawyer does.
While Chancellor Cigarroa says he is probing UT admissions favoritism, I'll bet they don't touch the recommendations made by regents and former regents. Hint, hint.
* It goes without saying that she passed.
** He passed. I hope the suspense wasn't killing you.
18 December 2013
Wendy Davis continues to audition for MSNBC
Wendy Davis must be auditioning for a gig at MSNBC. Why else would she go to New York to proclaim that the Texas model of prosperity and job growth is toxic:
Texas has the tendency and reputation of passing toxic policies that seem to spread across the country
Texas has been thriving. The rest of the country has not been. Picture via Willisms:
And yet to Wendy Davis it is a bad thing that others want to imitate Texas' policies and grow jobs. She'll even go to New York to bad mouth us!
Meanwhile, she makes almost $300,000 a year, yet only gives $500 a year to charity...but she owns $600 shoes.
17 December 2013
Bill White must be planning on running for office again
Former Houston mayor Bill White wrote a very interesting op-ed in the Houston Chronicle to promote his new book America's Fiscal Constitution. He illustrates just how far to the left the Democratic Party has moved in the last 50 years.
It is hard to imagine a Democratic party that would cut spending, or cut taxes. Those days are long over. Modern day Democrats characterize budgets as draconian when they increase spending by 2% instead of 3%. That's basically been every partisan budget battle for the last 20 years.
After President John F. Kennedy pledged in writing to support "a tighter rein on" federal spending, in 1963 Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills obtained House passage of a bill lowering personal income tax rates.
Everyone understood that high Cold War tax rates distorted economic decisions, but Mills reminded Kennedy of the public commitment to a simple idea: Without a surplus, "if you're gonna cut taxes, you gotta cut spending."
White likes to claim that he's fiscally conservative. His book publicity even proclaims him a "fiscally conservative politician." Unfortunately Bill White's record as Houston mayor was not fiscally conservative:
Not according to the city's finance department, which reports more spending than income for each of the six fiscal years White presided over the city.Not to mention that Bill White kicked the can down the road instead of solving the city's pension problems:
White borrowed money every year of his administration to meet the city's pension obligations, as much as $63 million in fiscal year 2007.
And then there's the higher taxes from Bill White's time as mayor.
Bill White must be planning on running for office again.
Ted Cruz charms...the CBC?
Cummings later proclaimed himself to have "no doubt" that Cruz will run for president.
HOH has confirmed that Cruz, who did not respond to email requests seeking clarification about any interactions whilst traveling, spent at least part of the 40-hour (round trip) voyage getting better acquainted with Reps. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., John Lewis, D-Ga., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Several of those aboard the flight said Cruz was seated next to Moore for both legs of the trip.
[A Gwen Moore staffer] categorized it as "a very friendly conversation;" they got so chummy, in fact, that the chatter eventually flowed into how each pol planned to spend the holidays.
Cummings does not, however, presume to have performed any Saul-to-Paul style conversions on the Canadian-born Cruz, a potential presidential hopeful.
"Hopefully, we planted some seeds in his head about why we are so concerned about things," he stated. "[Because] he's gotta run for president of all people."
The astonished tone that runs through the article is priceless.
Let's declare the obvious: Cruz is running for president already, just like Rick Perry is. The question is whether either gets enough encouragement as they go down that road to actually file an official committee.
16 December 2013
George P Bush for...Newt?
AP filed a story on George P Bush that tried to put him in an ideological box. C'mon, you knew it was coming whenever there was a slow news cycle.
But rather than campaigning on the mainstream Republicanism embodied by the family name, Bush says he's "a movement conservative" more in line with the tea party.
As if to underscore the point, he says he draws the most inspiration not from the administrations of his grandfather, George H. W. Bush, or his uncle, George W. Bush, but from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who engineered the 1994 Republican takeover of that chamber.
That's really a point worth exploring, but unfortunately we got little insight from the AP article aside from a 94 mention. I don't remember "P" endorsing Newt's presidential run, although that's hardly dispositive: it's definitely possible to admire Gingrich as a prolific fount of -- occasionally brilliant -- ideas even if you don't think he has the temperament to be president.
The "movement" is accepting of P for a few reasons that I think the article missed or glossed over:
1) His father Jeb was a more conservative governor than his uncle George W, despite the fact that Florida was and is a much less conservative state than Texas.
2) P's endorsements in high-profile races have been conservative. The Cruz endorsement came early in July 2011, and while personal connections may have played a strong role (they founded MavPAC together) in the Cruz endorsement, the Cruz campaign found George P to be a pleasure to work with. Likewise, P officially endorsed Rubio relatively early in Jan 2010 against Crist, but had scheduled a fundraiser for Rubio at least a month beforehand. At the time, Rubio had traction but was about 10 points back, per public polls. By contrast, John Cornyn didn't soft-pedal (and never rescinded) his Charlie Crist endorsement until March 2010, at which point Rubio was clearly winning the primary.
3) He's done the work. MavPAC and Hispanic Republicans of Texas have both been P projects, plus the fact that he's been available for speeches and fundraising for a long time.
15 December 2013
Annise Parker sees sexism in Rorschach test
I am amused by Houston Mayor Annise Parker's recent tweet:
Really? New pro sports team for Houston & the paper buries it w/ tiny notice on page 9. Would that be cause it's women? Dash #NWSL.-A— Annise Parker (@anniseparker) December 13, 2013
Yes, Annise Parker really thinks that sexism is behind lack of Houston Chronicle coverage for women's pro soccer. You. Can't. Make. This. Stuff. Up.
Here's a brief history of professional women's soccer in America over the last decade:
Yes, you read that correctly: the average player salary is $10,000 for about half a year's work, and the minimum salary is just $6000. Sure, as a women's soccer fan myself, I'd love it if people went to games and if the Chron covered it. But I'm not going to delude myself that the NWSL is a major league. Nobody would believe that spin.
2003 -- A major attempt at a women's league named the WUSA folds with cumulative losses of $100 million over 3 years. $100 million! Keep in mind that these losses occurred despite the attention from the US victory in the 99 Women's World Cup. The WUSA featured those stars, plus the only women's soccer player to ever transcend the sport: Mia Hamm.
2003-2009 -- no first division pro league in America.
2009-2011 -- A new league, the WPS, tries to make a go of it with 7 teams. The logo is a silhouette of of Mia Hamm. It falls apart after the 3rd season. Average attendance is under 4000. For comparison's sake, the Sugar Land Skeeters (who? exactly!) averaged almost 7000 a game in 2009.
Spring 2013 -- Another league called the NWSL launches. Considering that the salary cap per team is just $200,000 for 20 players, it is tough to call this a "major league." Even less promising, the median attendance is just 3000 during the first season.
Calling this a "pro" sports team almost seems like a bit of a stretch, and it hardly sounds like front page news...even for a paper like the Chronicle with a long history of boosterism.
Annise Parker's tweet reveals more about herself than it does about the Chronicle. I'm almost surprised she isn't protesting for a "living wage" for the NWSL players? I suppose I shouldn't give her any ideas.
11 December 2013
Does Stockman still oppose NAFTA?
Does Stockman still oppose NAFTA?
Two #txsen primary links
Two #txsen primary links
1. John Cornyn's Texas Monthly interview. I may have more to say about this later.
2. Top 10 Bad Votes of John Cornyn.
09 December 2013
Stockman for Senate?
Steve Stockman filing for US Senate seems to fulfill the desire many on the right have to show John Cornyn that they aren't super happy with him.
There's a reason Stockman's name didn't come up when people mentioned primary challengers: it doesn't make sense. He doesn't have the name ID, can't raise the money, and lacks Ted Cruz's oratory abilities. Plus he's starting late, having originally filed for re-election.
Put me down as skeptical that Stockman ever gets within 25 points of Cornyn in a poll.
08 December 2013
Van de Putte will not materially increase Latino turnout
The dumbest thing I heard in the last week was: "Leticia Van de Putte will increase Latino turnout."
This is where I get to go back to my old standby:
Why can Leticia Van de Putte do it if Tony Sanchez couldn't do it? If memory serves, Tony Sanchez spent $80 million in 2002. Wendy Davis and Van de Putte will be lucky if they can
scam raise half that out of donors.
The fundamental premise behind Sanchez's candidacy was that he would increase Latino turnout enough to win. I've experienced an election or two in Latin America, and let me tell you: I heard more sound trucks around Houston during 2002 in both Spanish and English than I did in those. Sanchez had a monstrous amount of field staff trying to gin up turnout. Didn't work.
In the aggregate, non-voters are less motivated to vote, by definition. How likely is it that a non-voter will turn out to vote for someone named Van de Putte if they didn't turn out for someone named Sanchez? Not to mention that downballot races are not very motivating for non-voters. That's why 2002's so-called "Dream Team" of Sanchez/Kirk/Sharp hid their least inspiring candidate in the lite guv slot.
tl;dr: 1) Sanchez spent more than Davis/Van de Putte will. 2) Sanchez > Van de Putte for last names. 3) Very few non-voters start voting because of the lite gov.
There's really one fact-based counterargument, which is that poli sci academic literature suggests that Latino turnout is low in Texas because the Latino population of Texas is young. I haven't checked recently but my understanding is that the median age of Texas Latinos has increased a bit since 2002. But that's not a reason for why Van de Putte will increase turnout, just an argument that turnout might increase.
I know that the Austin press corps is almost entirely white folks who don't get out of Austin enough, but ¡en serio! Se puede hacer mucho mejor.
06 December 2013
Tom Pauken dropped out. I'd gotten some flak from friends for not even mentioning Pauken whenever I mentioned the gubernatorial race.
I never really felt like he was running -- and he had no traction -- so I never bothered mentioning him. He had a big fallout with Rick Perry leading to him leaving the Texas Workforce Commission and deciding to run for governor. But he never really articulated a message, especially against Abbott.
Besides that, I heard was that his staff hires were less than stellar, and then he hadn't been great about trusting them anyway. He didn't seem willing to spend much on his own campaign.
With luck he will return to focusing on higher education reform.
04 December 2013
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the tycoon who has everything?
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, ever attentive to the economy, has moved decisively to respond to disappointing Black Friday sales by announcing his very own Cyber Monday. Yes, he has opened an online store where you can buy swag from his re-election campaign.
You too can contribute to Dewhurst's campaign! Looking for the maximum value in your shopping dollars? You contribute $20, he'll contribute $20 million. But wait, there's more! If you act now, he'll throw in a Dewhurst coffee mug with that yard sign!
03 December 2013
Two interesting Houston races to watch
I haven't been paying very close attention to the candidate filings but there are two candidates who I am curious to see whether they get serious primary challenges: Sarah Davis and John Zerwas.
Sarah Davis is the most liberal Republican in Austin. She's a staunch supporter of Speaker Straus. She used to have a swing district until Straus -- thinking he could shore up a moderate in her seat by doing her a favor -- gave her more Republican votes in redistricting. 134 now has a pronounced lean to the right -- and definitely will in 2014.
Some might think that Republicans in this close-in west-side district are moderates. They'd mostly be wrong. Plus, there is no district in the state in which Republican primary voters want to have the most liberal Republican as their representative.
Sugar Land Rep John Zerwas wrote the bill to implement ObamaCare exchanges in Texas (see eg, Zerwas interview with the liberal Texas Observer). If there's ever a single issue that could imperil an otherwise safe seat, it's aiding and abetting ObamaCare's implementation.
02 December 2013
Dan Patrick: You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean
BigJolly had a rather odd post up today in which he criticized a recent Todd Staples campaign email as the "worst press release."
The Staples campaign sent an ICYMI email to call attention to Mark Jones' analysis of legislative voting records which found Todd Staples and Dan Patrick to be the same:
neither can credibly be considered noticeably more conservative than the other. In sum, Staples' voting record was as conservative as Patrick's, and vice versa.
Dan Patrick has been crying loudly -- without much substantiation -- that he is the most conservative. He seems to believe that he can convince people of his conservatism through stupid stunts like backing Ted Cruz for President. Nevermind the fact that Dan Patrick was the most strident voice opposing Ted Cruz for Senate just a few months beforehand. In fact, Dan Goeb/Patrick even went so far as to ambush Cruz on his radio show.
He's also called for an end to the filibuster in the Texas Senate.
Look, the Staples email was very poorly messaged. The message should have been something more like "Politician Dan Goeb/Patrick can't be trusted. Another of his claims shown false" instead of "Todd Staples is just as conservative as Dan Patrick."
But then again, the Staples email got people talking about how Dan Patrick is not the most conservative candidate in the race. No matter how often Goeb/Patrick likes to repeat it, it isn't so.