30 August 2005

Tom DeLay to face primary opponent

Chris Elam breaks the story:

Patricia Baig forms an Exploratory Committee for a potential primary run against Tom DeLay in Congressional District 22. Baig joins G-Mike Fjetland as the second local DeLay critic who has formed such a committee.

Will both end up running against DeLay in the March primary?

Will Pete McCloskey and the "Republican elders" come down to interview Baig and make it a race between her and Fjetland to $50K?

A search of Elam's blog turns up some other interesting information. She's surfaced over the past year as a DeLay critic, buying ads criticizing the Majority Leader and sponsoring an upcoming GOP picnic in October. She's also the wife of an oil man, so it looks like she'll have some money if she chooses to self-finance her challenge.

However, it looks as though she may have a difficult time in a Republican primary, even if she wasn't facing Tom DeLay. Fort Bend GOP Chairman Eric Thode has emailed previously: she's never voted in a Republican primary, never given money to the GOP (until the picnic), and she gave money to Richard Morrison in 2004.

Elam is the first one to have this story. We'll see how long it takes to get into the local newspapers.

Posted by Evan @ 08/30/05 12:03 AM | Comments (1)        


29 August 2005


Jay Root -- FWST:

The Perry camp woke up to a vivid reminder Aug. 22, when Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn fired off the first wave of broadcast advertising in the race -- radio attack spots that the Perry campaign estimated cost over $600,000.

The ads aired just three days after the Texas Legislature ended its second special session of the summer -- called by Perry -- without passing long-touted education and tax overhauls.

"I stayed silent all during the session," Strayhorn said. "I wanted this governor to succeed for the schoolchildren of Texas. He failed miserably, and now I will not be quiet, and I will be taking this debate all over this state to the people of Texas."

The ad campaign -- Strayhorn aides won't confirm or deny the $600,000 figure -- will probably be a mere down payment on one of the most expensive primaries in Texas history.

Aides say privately that Perry, who has amassed $8 million, is prepared to spend as much as $20 million on the March primary alone. Strayhorn already has more than $7 million in the bank.


Taylor, the political scientist from University of St. Thomas, said that if Friedman faces off with a weak Democrat and a battered Republican, he could defy the odds and pull off a Ventura-like upset.

"It sounds kind of crazy to say, but at this point ... I can see the Friedman campaign taking that kind of scenario," Taylor said. "I can see Friedman more likely winning than a Democrat in 2006."

600k seems like a lot to be spending on radio right now, but that's Perry's estimate only.

Taylor is the first pundit that I've seen mention that Friedman might have a better chance than the Democratic nominee, which is beginning to look like a plausible possible scenario.

Much of the part that I didn't excerpt was talk about how Republicans are acting like Democrats did once upon a time in Texas.

Posted by Evan @ 08/29/05 08:30 AM | Comments (0)        


28 August 2005

I mentioned on Friday that Chris Bell had gotten an endorsement which seemed to be less impressive than initially appeared. That is, a Chris Bell staffer is an officer of the PAC. However, I didn't read the endorsement.

Kevin did, and this is what he found:

[Chris Bell's] legacy parlayed itself into his mayoral campaign, where once again, he astounded the city by backing out of a run-off race, and endorsing Lee Brown. Rather than put the city through a divisive three-way run-off, Congressman Bell decided to back out and serve elsewhere.
The notion of a three-way runoff is hilarious to me. The notion that Bell decided to back out serve elsewhere is simply factually incorrect. He lost with about 16% of the vote.

Those mistakes will certainly make your PAC look a bit amateur-ish.

Posted by Evan @ 08/28/05 08:21 PM | Comments (2)        


26 August 2005

Buy some Kinky Friedman

This won't be news to regular readers, but I'll quote Jay Root's FWST article anyway:

Friedman is marketing his own talking action figure, selling it on the Internet to raise money for his campaign. He's already pulled in more than $90,000, and the dolls aren't even available yet for shipping, officials say.

"How hard can it be?" the Kinky doll says at the push of a button.

"It's much more than I expected, and it's still going, still going strong," Friedman said in a telephone interview from his ranch near Kerrville. "It's gone over the top. It looks like it's going to hit $100,000."

Friedman, a novelist and songwriter, plans to sell the dolls, which utter some of the Kinkster's famous one-liners, for about $30 each or $100 for people who want a signed first edition, if they pledge by Labor Day.


He's about to order the first batch of about 15,000 dolls from a Chinese manufacturer. The campaign said it couldn't find a Texas doll maker.

Smart politics for the Kinky campaign to release that it was using a Chinese manufacturer upfront. If they didn't, someone would find out, and if Kinky happens to become a serious contender, then the word would get out.

Posted by Evan @ 08/26/05 01:18 AM | Comments (0)        


Critics upset with sale of part of Big Bend State Park

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering a proposed sale of about 15% of Big Bend Ranch State Park, or 46000 acres, to Houstonian John Poindexter.

Comptroller Strayhorn makes an appearance:

Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is running for governor, said that 97 percent of the land in Texas is privately held and that the department shouldn't sell what little land it has for state parks.

But if the agency is determined to complete the transaction, it needs to pursue a more open process, she said. "This is a backroom, behind-closed-doors, secret contract," Strayhorn said.

Many Texans might be skeptical to hear that part of the park is being sold, unless a particularly good price is being offered, regardless of what Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Lydia Saldana says:
Parks and Wildlife Department spokeswoman Lydia Saldana has said that staff members recommended the transaction in part because there is no public access to the northern area and that the department can use the proceeds to buy other land for the park.

She said the department is well aware of concerns about the proposal.

Since Perry appointed most of this board (nope, I ain't factchecking yet, I'm just assuming), Strayhorn might try to make this a campaign issue.

UPDATE: A few minutes after I posted this, I see:

A hotly contested plan to sell 46,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park evaporated Thursday when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission unanimously rejected the $2 million deal.


The land in question makes up the northern panhandle of the 300,000-acre park, established when the state acquired 222,000 acres in 1988.

The commission explained that it had hoped to use the proceeds from sale of the land to Poindexter at $43.68 per acre to purchase up to 28,000 acres in privately owned pockets of land within park boundaries. Specifically, they wanted to open public access in the southeastern portions of the park.

Interestingly, both articles quote the sale as selling about "1/6" of Big Bend. In fact, 1/6 is about 20% more than the actual figure.

Posted by Evan @ 08/26/05 01:13 AM | Comments (0)        


Chris Bell news

The Midland Reporter Telegram covers Chris Bell's recent swing through Midland with the headline "Bell say time right be right for Texas governor." [sic]

Chris Bell announced the endorsement of a PAC of South Asians called Desis for Texas. One of Bell's campaign staffers is the treasurer. Dheeraj Chand, the president of the PAC used to work for that particular Bell staffer, Jason Stanford. Chand has "previously worked for Grassroots Campaigns, a company that handles canvassing and phone-banking strategies for prominent political groups like The Democratic National Committee, MoveOn PAC and The AFL-CIO/Working America, and for Stanford Research." (Desis link)

Posted by Evan @ 08/26/05 01:01 AM | Comments (0)        


24 August 2005

Kinky spam?

This morning, while sitting in my first class, I noticed that someone was leaving a run of spam on every succeeding post. They all came from the same IP address in Lubbock but put different names on each comment. Each comment read "www.kinkyfriedman.com"


Posted by Evan @ 08/24/05 09:53 PM | Comments (0)        


23 August 2005

An interesting catch by today's Blogometer by the National Journal:

DLCers Marshall Wittmann and Ed Kilgore both have written favorable posts focusing mostly or in part on writer/musician/indie TX GOV candidate Kinky Friedman in the past few days.

Posted by Evan @ 08/23/05 05:38 PM | Comments (0)        


The Guv likes some new media

From Eileen, there's a Statesman article by Selby about how Rick Perry likes talk radio:

Robert Black, Perry's deputy press secretary, said the governor seeks a general audience by accepting station invitations and initiating calls — sometimes without telling aides ahead of time.

"If we've got a message we want to get out, we'll call," Black said. "There's a relationship built up over the years. Talk radio allows him to get his message directly to Texans, completely unfiltered.

"He enjoys talk radio. Talk radio shows are hometown shows. They're usually pleasant, not that controversial, though they will tackle tough subjects."

As Eileen notes, Perry doesn't seem to fond of that other new media -- blogs.

Posted by Evan @ 08/23/05 01:40 AM | Comments (1)        


Online fundraising drives

Chris Elam notes that Chris Bell and Kinky Friedman are both having fundraising drives.

According to Elam, so far Kinky has raised over 86K, and Chris Bell has raised over 7K. Bell's goal is 25K by August 31.

To be fair to Bell, Friedman did start his fundraising drive before Bell's. Still, that's probably why Charles Soechting is thinking about trying to recruit Kinky to run as a Democrat.

In other Bell news, Dem state Rep. Pete Gallego will be chairman of his campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 08/23/05 01:34 AM | Comments (0)        


Carole Strayhorn is on the air

Carole Keeton Strayhorn has launched radio commercials attacking Rick Perry for wanting to raise taxes.

"Some politicians think it is easier to tax than to lead," Strayhorn says in the commercial.

"Now, you might expect that kind of thing from a big taxing liberal in Washington, but here in Texas? From a Republican governor?"

Strayhorn says Perry raised state fees $2.7 billion in 2003 and then this year proposed "the largest tax increase in Texas history ... and not one penny for education.

"No wonder our Republican Legislature had to tell him no twice."

Perry re-election campaign manager Luis Saenz said, "It's typical Carole, talking without a solution."

Saenz said Strayhorn is "taking a page out of the Tony Sanchez playbook and attacking without offering a solution." Sanchez was Perry's Democratic opponent in 2002.

Saenz said since Perry has been lieutenant governor and governor, the state has increased education spending by $10 billion. Saenz said many of the fees Strayhorn is criticizing were adopted by lawmakers on her recommendation.

Posted by Evan @ 08/23/05 01:28 AM | Comments (1)        


21 August 2005

School finance is dead. Does it matter?

School finance is dead. Does it matter for the folks who were voting on it? Does it matter what the Supreme Court rules?

(sidenote: Am I the only one who is surprised that gambling never came up in the special sessions? Strayhorn supports it, so Perry is covered politically for the priamry. It's a relatively pain-free revenue stream for legislators, but maybe anti-gambling forces loomed forcefully in the upcoming GOP primary.)

If the Supreme Court rules that the Legislature must fix school finance, then that will be a much easier bill to pass. A Supeme Court ruling will give the legislature a clear idea of what has to be changed, per the Texas Supreme Court. Legislators will have a pass at home ("I had to vote for the bill. The Supreme Court made me.") This is the solution that Speaker Craddick has favored from the beginning, as he has the hardest assignment: pass a school finance bill among 150 Reps. in the House who all feel differently.

I've been a little skeptical from the beginning that a school finance bill would pass. It's hard to do, and Craddick has been public with his reluctance. Perry preferred to very aggressively pursue passing school finance, pushing for negotiations and calling special sessions.

If the Supreme Court finds in favor of the defendants, then that will leave us in the current position: the many political forces are too strong and blow in too many different directions in order to find enough votes to pass a school finance bill. It may not be perfect, but it's the political will of the people as reflected in the current Texas Legislature.

So here are my current thoughts on who is hurt by the failure of the legislature to change school finance in the past few sessions.

Democrats in the House and Senate: Probably not. They're the minority; most of them are in safe seats.
Republicans in the Senate: Who is vulnerable because it failed? They're all safe.
Republicans in the House: Maybe some are in non-safe seats who might have to worry. Quite a few ran in the 2002 primary by saying that they could fix/get rid of Robin Hood. They might be vulnerable. But the powers of incumbency are strong, so I doubt it. Of course, some may be vulnerable because of their votes on particulars of the school finance bills, but I don't think the failure in and of itself will adversely affect many of them individually.
Tom Craddick: He's safe in Midland, and I doubt that the rumblings out of the House about changing speakers are serious. But then, leadership contests are hard to guess at from the outside.
David Dewhurst: I've got a hard time seeing Dewhurst held responsible by voters. Who holds the Lite Guv responsible for much of anything?
Rick Perry: There's certainly frustration around the state right now, and voters tend to aim anger at executives more than legislators. Voters get upset at Congress or the Legislature, but stay happy with their own congressman or representative. Whether voter frustration will actually hurt Perry is two-fold: one) will voters' anger dissipate in a few months?; and two) how will voters react when Perry responds via paid media?

Rick Perry took a gamble by pushing so hard on school finance: he's gambling that voters will forgive him more for pushing school finance (calling special sessions, etc) than they will be upset at him for failing to get a deal. By calling more special sessions, he temporarily is identified with the failure of the legislature to pass school finance. Still, Perry knew that he'd be attacked if he didn't get a deal, so he chose to try to get one.

Back to my two questions: will voters' anger dissipate? I don't know. It often does. Once the legislature stops meeting, the lack of a school finance deal isn't news. Chris Bell, John Sharp and Kinky Friedman can send out multitudes of press releases, the issue will undeniably fade to some degree. When it isn't in the headlines everyday, it's tough for voters to stay as mad .

Second question: how will voters reaction when Perry responds via paid media? Right now, Perry is identified more strongly than anyone or anything else (Craddick, Dewhurst, Legislature, Democrats, etc) with the failure of school finance. But, since newspapers cover the day-to-day news, they haven't really covered Perry's response: that he pushed this Legislature as hard as he could. Whether you think he actually pushed the Legislature as hard as he could isn't really relevant: he'll probably make a compelling case in his TV commercials.

And of course, the preceeding is simply over whether the issue hurts Perry. It doesn't address whether it hurts him enough to make him truly vulnerable. As of yet, I haven't seen any indication that would indicate that any announced or rumored candidate has a significant chance to beat Rick Perry. Carole Strayhorn would be the most likely as of now, and I think that she's currently a longshot. So far, the professionals agree with me.

Other takes: RG Ratcliffe - Chronicle, Kelley Shannon - AP, Jason Embry -- Statesman

Posted by Evan @ 08/21/05 08:59 PM | Comments (0)        


Jeff Fisher, Carole Strayhorn and maybe it'll be fun after all

Republican Party of Texas Jeff Fisher was quoted objecting to the Stayhorn campaign's strategy of reaching out to liberals and moderates outside the usual GOP primary electorate. Strayhorn campaign manager Brad McClellan found that objectionable. The entire quote which McClellan found objectionable was:

It's one thing when a candidate tries to invite like-minded conservative Democrats and independents to make a lasting commitment to the Republican Party. It's quite another to encourage liberals to vote in the primary like a "one-night stand."

McClellan sent State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) members a note saying that he "called the executive director of our Republican Party of Texas and demanded he publicly apologize for the inappropriate and degrading comment he made about Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Republican candidate for Governor and my Mom."

Perry, not surprisingly, refused to comment, calling it "politics."

Seven SREC members (there are 62 total, 2 for each state senate district) replied to McCllean saying that they were "perplexed . . . about Comptroller Strayhorn's plan to undermine the integrity of the Republican primary. Like millions of grassroots Texas Republicans, we also have serious reservations that Comptroller Strayhorn wants liberal Democrats to choose Republican nominees for public office."

So who knows? I know I'm on record as saying this primary would be less fun without Kay Bailey Hutchison, but maybe it'll be fun after all.

Related: Rachel Toalson, SAEN

Posted by Evan @ 08/21/05 07:58 PM | Comments (0)        


Friedman roundup

The New Yorker has a lengthy profile of Kinky Friedman in its newest issue. Reporter Dan Halpern follows candidate Friedman around on the trail, while detailing some of Friedman's bio and vulgar jokes.
In general, the profile is favorable, although candidates generally wouldn't like their ill-tempered rants getting out into the public domain. For example, saying this about your campaign contributors in front of a reporter is generally not smart:

"I'm sick of being a performing monkey," he said after a while. "I'm sick of these rich motherfuckers. But I'm also sick of people asking me if this is a joke. God damn it, I am serious. And they're going to see that I am, eventually." He paused, then added, "People are always misunderstanding each other. You can never think you have the last word on any human heart."

Meanwhile, Kinky won $45,612 playing a slot machine at Harrah's New Orleans. That's a dollar for every signature he nees to collect to get on the ballot.

Former KBH lawyer Dick DeGuerin has officially become one of Kinky's political advisers in the campaign.

Another Friedman supporter, Willie Nelson is holding a fundraiser on September 24th. For $5000 you can play 9 holes with Willie, Jesse Ventura, and have lunch with at Willies' ranch. Billy Joe Shaver will be on hand for music at lunch, which you can go to for just $1000. Bud Kennedy notes all this in a column at the FWST, but he doesn't seem to think much of Friedman's -- or a "sacrificial Democrat to be named later" -- chances.

Posted by Evan @ 08/21/05 07:34 PM | Comments (0)        


20 August 2005

Politics, smart and otherwise

The AP picks up the story of Carl Basham, who was denied in-state tution to Austin Community College after a tour in Iraq with the Marines. Comptroller Strayhorn, smartly seeing a chance for favorable publicity, wrote a letter to the state higher education board asking that Basham be given in-state tuition.

Land Commish Jerry Patterson then found a waiver provision in state law, and helped Basham get waived into cheaper tuition.

Good for both of them.

Around the same time, Comptroller Strayhorn gave a speech to the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club which resulted in a headline of "Strayhorn says state has responsibility to immigrants."

I'm guessing that's not the headline that Carole Stayhorn and her campaign wanted from a significant speech.

Posted by Evan @ 08/20/05 07:35 PM | Comments (0)        


When you fall behind...

it's sometimes quite a dilemma as to how to proceed.

Summarize the events of the past week in a longish post?

Backdate posts and pretend that you were up to speed the whole week?

Lots of different posts today?

I don't know. I do know that I have reading to do for law school, so I'm likely to want to blog rather than work.

UPDATE: Or I could just pretend that the last week never happened. Hmm.

UPDATE DOS: I decided to backdate.

Posted by Evan @ 08/20/05 01:47 PM | Comments (0)        


17 August 2005


Apologies for the lack of updates.

Chris Bell announced. Strayhorn's campaign is upset at the RPT exec director.

And I still don't have internet access at law school orientation. When I do, there will be updates, because there is nothing better to do.

UPDATE: If you come across this post later, you'll probably not understand. This is because I added posts later, and backdated them.

Posted by Evan @ 08/17/05 02:04 AM | Comments (1)        


15 August 2005

Non Gov race notes

1. Gary Martin in the SAEN wrote a column on the legislation that Henry Bonilla proposed that would rename 16th St in DC after Ronald Reagan.

Martin's column isn't complimentary of Bonilla, but it's not terribly unfair either.

Bonilla doesn't have any constituents in DC. No one will get upset that will ever cast a ballot for or against him. But some people will definitely like that Bonilla has taken a stand to honor Reagan.

2. In the ongoing Love Field feud, Senator Hutchison has offered a compromise. She would allow "through ticketing" while keeping the flight restrictions at Love Field.

3. Tom DeLay was on hand as his foundation opened a 50 acre planned community for foster children. DeLay has a long history of working hard for foster kids, but you'd never know it from reading the newspapers.

Posted by Evan @ 08/15/05 06:40 PM | Comments (0)        


13 August 2005

School finance dead, and it's Grover Norquist's fault

A few takes here.

Christy Hoppe from the DMN writes:

For three years, the pledge to lower property taxes and fix schools has splintered the Legislature, shredded its leaders and, for the $5 million cost of three special sessions, produced exactly nothing for taxpayers or schoolchildren.

But it has prompted state leaders to produce competing radio ads, denunciations of one another and enough posturing to turn a schoolyard squabble into a statewide embarrassment for Republicans – and that assessment comes from GOP stalwarts.


Many pollsters, politicians, consultants and civic leaders say that one central issue has caused the quagmire: the Republican no-new-taxes pledge. Funding schools, always a difficult task, and even the politically desirable effort to slash property taxes have been rendered all but impossible.

Thirty-five House members, including Speaker Tom Craddick, and four senators, all Republican, have signed a no-new-taxes pledge advanced by national anti-tax guru Grover Norquist. The governor has visited with Mr. Norquist on numerous occasions, even taking him on a retreat to the Bahamas.

Reading Hoppe's article, you might get the idea that raising taxes would be a political winner for Republican politicians. I don't think she's right.

Posted by Evan @ 08/13/05 07:18 PM | Comments (0)        


Chris Bell announces

Chris Bell announced that he was running for governor with a speech in Austin. The full text is here.

Posted by Evan @ 08/13/05 06:08 PM | Comments (0)        


Strayhorn announces local govt tax allocations

Comptroller Strayhorn announced $466 million that the state was turning over to local governments.

It's the sort of positive coverage across Texas that candidates like to see, eg Victoria and Lufkin.

Posted by Evan @ 08/13/05 05:44 PM | Comments (0)        


12 August 2005

Texans for Lawsuit Reform endorses Rick Perry

I haven't yet noted that Texans for Lawsuit Reform endorsed Rick Perry the other day.

It's not too much of a surprise. Perry has been favorable to their issues and is running for re-election. Carole Strayhorn has taken a signifcant amount of money from trial lawyers, and the PAC of Texans for Lawsuit Reform has endorsed candidates before who were virtually similar on the issues, but one took money from trial lawyers.

Perry campaigned for Prop 12, which granted the Texas legislature the power to limit non-economic damages in tort law suits in the Texas Constitution. It's a good endorsement to have, but not much of a surprise.

Posted by Evan @ 08/12/05 03:44 AM | Comments (0)        


10 August 2005

Kinky Friedman suggests Hutchison might be on his side?

mywesttexas.com has a two part interview with Kinky Friedman. Here's a link to the 2nd part, where Kinky says:

MyWestTexas.com: You have received an endorsement from Willie Nelson, correct?
Kinky: Well, it's kind of hard to get an endorsement from someone when you're not officially on the ballot, but Wilie is supporting me, and we're hoping to be meeting with (former governor) Mark White, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Lamar Smith, Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson, a whole host of people who have been friendly to the campaign.
That's quite a claim of Friedman to make. Hutchison obviously doesn't like Rick Perry too much, that's no secret.

But Friedman appears to intimate that Hutchison is already or he thinks might become a Friedman supporter.

I don't see it. Hutchison will cruise to re-election (national political analyst Chuck Todd has Hutchison 31st out of 33rd on a list of possible vulnerable Senate seats), but it would make no sense for her to endorse or otherwise help Kinky Friedman in any way.

Most prominent politicians don't get there by doing stupid things. Helping Kinky would upset quite a bit of KBH's base. I highly doubt KBH will offer support to Kinky.

So, the question is, why is Kinky mentioning a meeting with KBH?

Posted by Evan @ 08/10/05 10:39 PM | Comments (2)        


Rich Connelly isn't a fan of Chris Bell

A friend sent me a link to this blurb by Rich Connelly about the only declared Democrat for governor, Chris Bell:

The Texas political world is eagerly awaiting Chris Bell's official announcement August 14 that he will run for governor. Well, at least that part of the Texas political world that wants to see if Bell can pull off an impressive triple play -- losing elections at the local, federal and state level.

To be fair, he's won along the way -- two City Council races and a single congressional race. But still, after losing a mayoral run in 2001, after being beaten for his redistricted congressional seat in 2004, does Bell think the way to reverse the losing streak is by running for governor as a Democrat in Texas?

Yes, apparently.

"It's a difficult way to learn lessons," he says, "but you always learn more from the races you lose than the ones you win…You win and you think you did everything right, and you lose and you go back and figure out everything you did wrong."

Armed with such knowledge, Bell will be, it appears, Houston's lone representative in the gubernatorial race.

"This is a big step, and I'm swinging for the fence," he says. "But that's the way political careers are made. Sometimes the ball clears, and sometimes you…have to sit on the bench. I'm on the bench right now."

Bell -- who says he'll be a "fresh face" for the rest of the state -- will no doubt once again struggle to overcome an image of stolid earnestness.

Like when he announced August 3 that he'd be formally announcing August 14. "Not to get too terribly deep," he told an Austin crowd, "but something I've been telling folks for months is that I wasn't interested in running for governor because I lost my seat in Congress but because we've all lost our seat -- at the table."

Hey -- no worries about that "too terribly deep" thing, dude.

The Houston Press is normally very left-leaning. So, as my friend writes, "what in the world did he ever do to Rich Connelly?"

Good question.

Posted by Evan @ 08/10/05 10:14 PM | Comments (0)        


Chuck Todd's rankings

The Hotline editor Chuck Todd publishes regular rankings of vulnerability of both senators and governors. Today, his new rankings of governors came out. Todd's definition of vulnerability is whether partisan control of the governor's office will switch.

Out of the 38 races, Todd lists Perry at 27, moving him upward from 23. Here's what Todd has to say about races in those categories:

The last 12 races in our rankings don't appear to have any chance of the "out" party losing, though we wouldn't be surprised if the incumbents were held to under 60 percent. Also, the GOP primaries in both Texas and Nebraska promise to be interesting and competitive. Still, no matter how damaging the primaries are to the eventual winner, it's hard to see a scenario where the incumbent party actually loses the governor seat.
Seems about right.

Posted by Evan @ 08/10/05 03:01 PM | Comments (0)        


Millions of Texas schoolchildren upset...

Perry signed HB1, allowing state funding for schools, so Texas schools will indeed start on time.

I suppose this just proves another maxim of politics: the young don't vote.

Posted by Evan @ 08/10/05 08:26 AM | Comments (0)        


Chris Bell

Chris Bell's transformation from pseudo-Republican mayoral candidate to partisan Democrat amuses me.

Before Orlando Sanchez was rumored to be entering the race for mayor in 2001, Bell was set to be the de facto Republican candidate. He was criticizing Lee Brown, meeting with Republicans, attending more Republican meetings than I was, and generally downplaying his partisanship to every degree possible.

Owen sums up why his similar thoughts on Bell:

I particularly recall how, during his failed mayoral campaign, he tried to fool the voting public into believing that he was a conservative Republican. His campaign people were even signing up for awards from Republican websites who were oblivious to the fact that he’s a liberal Democrat.
Of course, Bell ran for mayor as a pseudo-Republican out of convenience. White liberals and African-Americans were mostly voting for Lee Brown. In order to have a chance at making a runoff, Bell had to appeal to Republicans.

Still, it's been amusing to watch as he's transitioned from pseudo-Republican to very partisan Democrat and a favorite of the folks over at DailyKos.

Posted by Evan @ 08/10/05 07:37 AM | Comments (2)        


09 August 2005

Dems Party Chairman wants Kinky

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Charles Soechting wants Kinky Friedman to abandon his independent gubernatorial bid and instead run for governor as a Democrat.

Declared Democratic candidate Chris Bell can't be happy. It usually stings a little when you get slapped in the face...by your own party's chairman. It's an implicit admission by Chair Charles Soechting that the one-term congressman would be a weak candidate in a general election.

A Houston lawyer said he recently told Soechting that he was supporting Friedman and that Soechting replied: "He ought to run as a Democrat."

The lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, who backed Democratic gubernatorial choice Tony Sanchez in 2002, said Soechting seemed serious about considering Friedman.

"Politics has gotten to be such a mess," DeGuerin said. "It's gotten so polarized that someone needs to shake up the status quo. The Democrats have been in disarray. They've let the Republicans run all over them."

Soechting confirmed DeGuerin's recollection, saying he'd like to visit Friedman to gauge his Democratic Party values.

"No question he's a real smart guy; people like him," Soechting said. "A lot of people would like to see a candidate for governor appear to have a little wild man like Kinky in him. There's something to be said about being a little wild, a little unpredictable. I've been accused of that myself."

Friedman, who has previously indicated no yen for running as a Democrat, said: "I'm flattered at the possibility of being the Democratic pallbearer, I mean standard-bearer. . . . I'm open to talking to them. I don't think it's going to happen."

It's got to be attractive to Kinky: if he was the Democrat's nominee, he wouldn't have to gather 45,000 signatures of non-voters in the primaries to get on the ballot. Still, I doubt it will happen. Kinky has spent too much time touting the benefits of being independent.

More importantly, Kinky's campaign manager, former Senator from Minnesota Dean Berkeley (appointed by indepedent governor Jesse Ventura as a caretaker for several months after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone), is very committed to independent and third party candidates. It's hard to imagine that he and the other consultants he brought on board would be willing to run on a major party line.

Meanwhile, Kinky confirms that he didn't vote between 1992 and 2004. Maybe that's a plus since he's asking people not to vote in the primary!

Posted by Evan @ 08/09/05 08:26 PM | Comments (0)        


08 August 2005

Strayhorn on Perry

Strayhorn at a press conference on the sales tax holiday:

"I am here today to talk sales tax holiday. I'm not here today to talk about the lack of leadership from this governor and the failure of this governor's leadership where he has proposed the largest tax increase in history without a penny for education in his proposal, and he has not given any property tax relief to the people of this state. But that is not my topic today."

I'm guessing that this is the refrain we will hear for the next 7 months.

Do you ever get the feeling that she and Rick Perry just don't get along?

As someone famous might say: heh.

Posted by Evan @ 08/08/05 02:35 PM | Comments (0)        


Kinky may face a fine

Remember the travel expense advances?

Gardner Selby reports that Kinky Friedman may face a fine for failing to report where the travel expense money went.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman risked a state fine because his campaign reported giving him $15,700 in cash advances for travel without specifying who ultimately got the cash. The information was included (or not included) in his contributions and expenditures report filed last month.

State law requires candidates to report the final recipient of funds. For instance, if a candidate purchases pens, the pen vendor should be listed.

Natalia Ashley, general counsel of the Texas Ethics Commission, said the commission could act on a failure to give such details if it fielded a complaint. Violations are subject to a fine of $5,000 or triple the amount in dispute.

Posted by Evan @ 08/08/05 01:55 PM | Comments (0)        


07 August 2005

Bell and money

Gardner Selby of the AAS:

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Bell had only $10,741 in campaign cash on hand through June — but that doesn't mean he wasn't raising money.

Bell collected nearly $150,000 the first half of the year.

He spent nearly $94,000 of that on three consultants, including close to $50,000 on a professional fundraiser from Houston.


Bell spokesman Jason Stanford said he doesn't think so.

"We don't spend five seconds worrying about how much we're spending. The problem is we're raising too little; we're going to do what we have to do to raise a lot of money."

Bell's campaign sends $100 a month to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which describes itself as the nation's largest gay and lesbian organization. Bell started the expenditures to honor a friend who asked him to contribute to the rights campaign as he battled AIDS, Stanford said.

I can't imagine very many people would want to contribute to a campaign that doesn't worry about what it is spending. Campaigns that aren't worrying about costs usually have one of two qualities: they're self-funded by the candidate or they lose.

Maybe it's just me, but the fact that Bell sends CAMPAIGN money rather than personal money to honor a friend seems like a poor attitude on behalf of the campaign towards the money it raises.

Posted by Evan @ 08/07/05 11:55 PM | Comments (2)        


04 August 2005

Craddick wants sine die

Harvey Kronberg reports that Speaker Craddick suggests sine die adjournment for the House.

That would mean that school finance reform is dead.

Question: does Perry's repeated call for special sessions on school finance help him or hurt him now that we know that they failed?

Posted by Evan @ 08/04/05 06:53 PM | Comments (1)        


Leaving the door open?

Gary Scharrer has Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's comments today:

"Of course I'm disappointed, as every Texan is, that we are not fully funding our schools and that we are not (lowering) these onerous property taxes on many of our citizens," she said after speaking to the Texas Association of Broadcasters.


"I thought when I bowed out of the governor’s race that it would take the politics out of the Legislature. That's one of the reasons why I announced early," she said. "I really thought that would help. I see no change, and I’m disappointed."

But she is proceeding with her Senate re-election plans.

Posted by Evan @ 08/04/05 05:32 PM | Comments (0)        


02 August 2005

Bush staying out of the fray

It's not too surprising that President Bush has decided to stay out of the gubernatorial primary. I'm pretty sure George W has better things to do, and I'm guessing that almost any ex-governor of Texas would rather think about anything other than school finance:

One thing Bush said he will not do during his visit home is get involved in the looming gubernatorial primary battle between Gov. Rick Perry and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, whose son is White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

"I held a high position in Texas at one time in my life and I have made it clear to all parties that I am not going to get involved in the race," Bush said.

"They are both friends."

It'd be hard to go against your former #2, and it'd make for an awkward situation at the White House with Scott McClellan if Bush came out for Perry.

Posted by Evan @ 08/02/05 08:50 PM | Comments (0)        


Half-full or half-empty for Perry?

The news du jour for school finance is that Perry says he'll take compromise on school finance. Jay Root in the FWST:

With yet another legislative session teetering on the brink of failure, Gov. Rick Perry indicated Monday he would welcome a partial solution that includes new education funding now, even if Texans have to wait a little longer for property tax relief.

Perry was asked if he could support efforts to fund teacher pay raises and textbooks now and leave the more controversial reforms, including the complicated tax swap needed to grant property tax reductions, on the table for now.

"If you can get a half loaf versus a full loaf ... you generally take a slice or two if you can get that," Perry said. "We understand how this process plays out here."

He said lawmakers would have to face the wrath of the electorate if they don't provide tax relief to property owners right away. The primary elections are scheduled for March and the general election will be in November 2006.

"There's going to be an election in the not-too-distant future," Perry said. "We can either do it now or we will talk about it in March and November of 2006."

In the comments of a post at the always-excellent BlogHouston, Kevin Whited has an intriguing idea -- though I highly doubt a Democrat would try it:
I don't think [Chris Bell] can win, BUT wouldn't it be interesting if he had the intestinal fortitude to make the race truly interesting, and get to the right of Perry and Dewhurst on property taxes AND school finance?

He could run as more of a moderate than Perry on social issues, and try to frame Perry as beholden to the religious right for political survival (mind you, I'm not necessarily making that assessment of Perry, I'm just saying that's how I'd try to frame it if I were advising Bell).

The combination of getting to the right on fiscal issues and the middle on social issues might actually make the race interesting. But it's not going to happen.

Kevin's right. It's not gonna happen, but it would make the race interesting.

Posted by Evan @ 08/02/05 03:47 PM | Comments (2)        



Cheers to our state's congressional delegation for improving our share of transportation money to 92% of what we send to Washington.

Of course, it's not 100% like it should be. But it's better than what it was. If we could get 100% back, we probably wouldn't even need to have debates about toll roads.

Posted by Evan @ 08/02/05 02:21 PM | Comments (0)        


Kay Bailey -- 87th most powerful woman in the world

Kay Bailey Hutchison ins 87th on the Forbes list of powerful women. Here's the blurb:

As the three-term vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, Hutchison, 61, is the fifth-highest-ranking Republican senator. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1993, after serving in the Texas House of Representatives and as the Texas state treasurer, Hutchison is now in her third term. The senator chairs the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, where she helped pass legislation to improve national security measures in the aftermath of 9/11. Hutchison will also help oversee the country's space exploration program this year as she takes on the role of chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee. The author of two books about American female political leaders, Hutchison has a rich Texas legacy. Her great-great grandfather signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Not bad for a girl who says big law firms wouldn't hire a girl when she graduated from Texas Law. Good for her.

Posted by Evan @ 08/02/05 11:12 AM | Comments (0)        



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