30 January 2006

Teachers, unions, wooing

The Waco Tribune's David Doerr and Dan Genz write about the political wooing of teachers this year.

Nonetheless, politicians are courting educators because they hold the key to many thousands of votes, said Thomas Myers, a Baylor University associate professor of political science.

"The strength of teachers is in numbers," he said. "Every county, every city has a number of teachers in it. So if your strategy is to go after blocs, that's a fairly big bloc."

The four teachers groups are poised to make a statement in the 2006 elections, said Harvey Kronberg, editor of "The Quorum Report," an online newsletter on Texas politics.

"They all are really fanning the flames to get their people to vote and to communicate that public education and teachers are under assault," he said. "This may be insider myopia, but I think it's going to resonate this time."

Kronberg said opinion polls show a surprising number of people are aware of the failed special sessions and partly blame the problem on the Republicans in charge, including Perry.

How many extra voters can teacher's unions push to the polls? Will they all vote as a bloc? If they don't vote as a bloc, then the influence of any extra voters will be diluted.

Turnout might be higher this year, but I don't see how it will matter, except in a very close election.

Posted by Evan @ 01/30/06 12:27 PM | Comments (0)        


Democratic primary coverage

Bud Kennedy's column in the FWST mocks the Democrats running for governor:

The Democratic candidates for governor will campaign tonight at a chili supper in Hurst.

This seems haywire in so many ways.

First, who knew the Democrats had a candidate for governor? Much less two?

All we hear about is the latest globetrotting jaunt of Gov. Rick "Proud of Texas" Perry. Or the latest wisecracks by his independent challengers, who I think are really the same person dressing up as One Kinky Grandma.

It gets worse from there.

Meanwhile, Gromer Jeffers takes the "Dirty Thirty" narrative and writes about Bob Gammage, Ben Grant, and Fred Head's respective bids for the Democratic nomination for governor, lieutenant governor, and comptroller.

Appalled by corruption, a mixed group of reform-minded Texans rises up and, against all odds, defeats the powers that be.

It's a story line from the 1970s, but some of the players are hoping for a repeat more than three decades later.

Several former Democratic state House members who were part of the anti-corruption group called the "Dirty 30" are running for statewide office. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage, a candidate for governor, tops the Dirty 30 ticket. Joining him are former District Judge Ben Z. Grant, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Fred Head, who is running for comptroller.

Republicans say the group's portrayal of widespread wrongdoing is absurd, and they note that a 1970s revival shows how Democrats are bereft of strong candidates. But the Democratic crusaders have brought new attention to a group of legislators whose exploits had nearly faded from the political scene.

"They threw a speaker of the House out before, and half the House and half the Senate out before, when the Dirty 30 focused the light of day on what was going on," Mr. Gammage said. "If I can help focus attention on what's going on in Austin today, that's my mission."


"If everybody who ever heard of the Dirty 30 voted for Bob Gammage, Chris Bell would still be the winner of the Democratic primary," said Jason Stanford, a spokesman for Mr. Bell. "It's hard to base a campaign on a history lesson."

And Ms. Farenthold, the group's den mother, is backing Mr. Bell over Mr. Gammage. Mr. Moreno, though, supports his former colleague.

"Just as the Dirty 30 bonded long ago, we need to rally behind Bob Gammage," he said. "We were needed then, and we're needed now."

Posted by Evan @ 01/30/06 11:57 AM | Comments (0)        


28 January 2006

Bob Gammage and Chris Bell on the trail

Robert Garret writes on the Democratic primary in the Dallas Morning News:

They might be fighting for the right to come in third – or even fourth – in the race for Texas governor, but that doesn't mean Chris Bell and Bob Gammage are going through the motions.

Rather, they're scrambling to convince voters that the race can be won by a Democrat – if not by the other guy.

They take similar positions on school finance, taxes and social issues. But that's where the similarities end.

Mr. Bell, a former congressman, pitches himself as the "candidate of the future" who has plans to lower school dropout rates and make college more affordable.

Mr. Gammage says he's "a messenger" about a state government that's in bed again with big political donors.

Mr. Bell is almost professorial in his approach, reading from handwritten notes on school-binder paper at the Alamo last week. (He has two sons in grade school.) In five minutes, he was through.

He believes he'll win because Democrats appreciate his courage for jumping into the race last February.

"I was the only one out there carrying the message about the need to continue the fight, not to give up just because 2004 wasn't a banner year for Democrats," he said.

Mr. Gammage is a dynamic speaker who says he felt compelled to run after recognizing there was no Democrat in the race with a "fire in the belly and energy in their blood."


Mr. Gammage's decision last month to run upset Mr. Bell, who had been cruising to the nomination after several big-name Democrats declined to run.

But even as Mr. Bell says the competition will probably improve his name recognition and sharpen his game, he's trained unrelenting fire on Mr. Gammage in recent days.

He says that when Mr. Gammage served a term as a Houston-area congressman in 1977-78, he cast votes against raising the minimum wage and letting Medicaid cover the costs of abortions for rape and incest victims.

"He was very much out of synch with what I consider to be Democratic values," Mr. Bell said.

Mr. Gammage responded that he cast "a lot of good votes" while in Congress, though he regrets some.

"Are you going to grade my whole political life on two years I spent in Washington?" Mr. Gammage asked. He touts his 23 years in public life, including two years as a state senator and 13 as a judge.

Mr. Gammage acknowledges having to play catch-up. He's been out of politics for more than a decade, and he got a late start. But, he says, Mr. Bell has made little headway.

This primary fascinates me; I only wish Alvarado were still in the race. How important will it be for Bell to have spent more than a year campaigning? Will Bell and Gammage end up trying to out-liberal each other? Given the dynamics of the general election, it would seem to make sense right now for them to do so.

Posted by Evan @ 01/28/06 10:43 AM | Comments (0)        


27 January 2006

Rudy Giuliani endorses Rick Pery

Shannon -- AP:

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for re-election, calling him a "strong and determined leader" and urging Republicans to contribute money to Perry's campaign.

Giuliani's comments are contained in a national mailer to potential Republican contributors in Texas and other states. The mass mailing was paid for by the Perry campaign, which would not disclose the cost.

Giuliani, who shepherded his city through the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and is a potential Republican presidential contender, praised Perry in the campaign literature for his response to hurricanes that hit Louisiana and Texas last fall.

"A few months ago, in the aftermath of the terrible tragedies caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, our nation watched the state of Texas and its leader, Gov. Rick Perry, step up to support those in need," Giuliani's letter states.

Hmm. Remember how Mayor Giuliani was in San Antonio not too long ago?

Posted by Evan @ 01/27/06 09:01 PM | Comments (0)        


Wes Clark speechifys for Bob Gammage

Kristen Mack has these quotes from Wes Clark's endorsement speech at a rally for Bob Gammage:

"I support Bob Gammage because he's the strongest Democrat in this race and has the most progressive platform for the people of Texas," said Clark, who unsuccessfully sought the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

"He is a proven leader who will fight for the needs of all Texans, not the lobbyists, the special interests or the powerful partisan elites. He's grown up with Texas values of independence, integrity and commitment to family and neighbors and he will carry those values into the governor's office. I look forward to helping him in his fight to build a better Texas."

Gammage chaired Clark's '04 campaign in Texas, so it's not too surprising. I'm more interested in how much Gammage raised from the Clark fundraiser. I have an email in to the Gammage campaign to find out.

Posted by Evan @ 01/27/06 03:10 PM | Comments (0)        


26 January 2006

Chuck Todd's latest

National political handicapper Chuck Todd column-izes ten statewide races across the nation, five of which look more competitive, and five of which look less competitive.

Five races that appear less competitive now than a year ago:

2. Texas Governor: A year ago, Rick Perry (R) was trailing by double-digits in polls to likely primary challenger, Kay Bailey Hutchison. Now that Perry has no primary opposition, there are two independent challengers more serious than any potential Democratic nominee. Plus, Perry now has a record of accomplishment during Katrina that forever buried the "empty suit" description many a Republican used to whisper about him. Look, we're as fascinated by the two independents (Carole Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman) as the next junkie, but given how things looked for Perry a year ago, there's a lot of light at the end of his re-election tunnel.

It was around this time that Hutchison hired Terry Sullivan and Chad Wilbanks, and every indication was that she'd run.

Folks like Todd go a long way towards shaping the conventional wisdom, which is why I excerpt them here every now and then.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/06 11:43 AM | Comments (1)        


Candidates on national TV

Rick Perry is visiting Texas troops in Iraq.

Gov. Rick Perry, during a surprise visit with Texas troops in Iraq Tuesday, urged Americans to remain patient despite fresh reports of a rebuilding effort mired in problems.

"Obviously, you're not going to rebuild a country overnight, but I think this is going along very well," Perry told Fox News Channel in a televised interview at 10:10 p.m. Baghdad time.

"I think it's going along about as well as it can be considering the lack of infrastructure that was here even before the war started," he added.

The Texas governor was responding to published reports that an upcoming government study will show America's $25 billion reconstruction efforts in Iraq have been complicated by understaffing, infighting, a lack of technical expertise and other problems.

Perry's trip to the Iraqi war zone, along with three other governors invited by the U.S. Department of Defense, was announced at the Texas Capitol by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Perry landed in Kuwait on Monday with Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Democratic Govs. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, he said.

Perry got some face time on MSNBC and Fox News.

Meanwhile, Kinky Friedman was on Jay Leno. Nothing really notable about the show, most of his usual lines. Except at the end he said that Kate Beckinsale -- the headlining guest -- was a candidate for First Lady. Can't blame him for trying, but really, Kinky, she's married.

Posted by Evan @ 01/26/06 12:06 AM | Comments (1)        


25 January 2006

Kinky Friedman on Jay Leno tonight

Kinky Friedman will be on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight.

Posted by Evan @ 01/25/06 05:27 PM | Comments (0)        


Bell: No school testing

Chris Bell has come out against school testing.

Posted by Evan @ 01/25/06 02:26 PM | Comments (3)        


24 January 2006

Bell hits Strayhorn on school vouchers

Shannon -- AP:

Independent candidate for governor Carole Keeton Strayhorn now says she's against private school vouchers but in the past took $100,000 in campaign donations from a millionaire voucher advocate, Democrat Chris Bell said Tuesday.

Bell criticized Strayhorn for saying she opposes using taxpayer money to send children to private schools. Her comments last week were aimed at Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who favors a pilot voucher program.

"Texas needs to trust that its leaders will have the courage of their convictions," Bell said. "When she says that vouchers are off the table, well, for how long? And when will they be back?"

Bell is vying for the Democratic nomination for governor against Bob Gammage in the March 7 primary. But Strayhorn's entry as an independent in this year's election means candidates aren't just concentrating on the spring primary but are looking ahead to potential opposition on the November general election ballot.
Bell said he always has opposed private school vouchers. He said Strayhorn - who has collected a large amount of her recent campaign cash from traditional Democratic donors - is trying to erase her past.

Strayhorn's campaign said Tuesday it would have no comment on Bell's criticism.

From 2000 to 2003, she accepted contributions totaling $100,000 from conservative San Antonio businessman James Leininger, a voucher supporter. Late in her 1998 run for state comptroller, Leininger secured a $950,000 loan to Strayhorn's campaign, and in the 1999 legislative session she supported a voucher plan that failed, Bell said.

If you were Bell's campaign, then why not? You need name ID, and don't have the money to easily buy it. Attacking is one way to get your name out there. It's a fair attack, since Strayhorn has supported vouchers in the past, so it shouldn't hurt Bell the way negative campaigning can.

Also, Strayhorn has the potential to undermine Democrats as well. Folks won't give money to Democrats if Strayhorn is outpolling them.

Posted by Evan @ 01/24/06 11:48 PM | Comments (0)        


23 January 2006

There's no marketing like self-marketing

I've been writing frequently about the Chronicle's poll and the flaws I see in it over at Tom DeLay vs World.

Posted by Evan @ 01/23/06 12:46 PM | Comments (0)        


22 January 2006

"Strayhorn supports more school funding"

Strayhorn calls for more money to be spent on education:

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn quickly agreed for more state spending on public education Friday amid rousing applause from some 800 community leaders attending a workshop to learn how the Texas tax system works.


"Let's be honest," said Strayhorn, an independent running for governor. "We need to say out loud that we need more dollars for education."

About 37,000 Texas teachers are leaving each year, she said, while 50,000 students drop out. It takes about $750 million a year simply to pay for the additional 75,000 to 80,000 students moving into the state every year.

She supports a $3,000-a-year raise for teachers.

"We're at a critical crossroad in this state," she said. "We're either going to have public education or we're not going to have public education."

Strayhorn also wants to transform the state's current elementary and secondary public education system into a 14-year program, with two years of community or technical college for all students.

So, oddsmakers, what are the chances that Strayhorn comes out for some type of gambling during the campaign? I've heard whispers, but Strayhorn was one of the big critics of Perry's VLT plan. Will she favor a different type of gambling, eg. poker?

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/06 12:58 PM | Comments (1)        


Kinky Friedman on 60 Minutes and gay marriage

Kinky Friedman is appearing on 60 Minutes tonight at 6pm, Texas time -- not to exclude El Paso, which is an hour behind. I'll probably miss the piece, because the timing coincides with the beginning of the NFC conference finals between Seattle and Carolina. Football wins out over politics, though I'll try to hit the Friedman spot during commercials. I'm curious to see how the footage from the Willie Nelson golf fundraiser turns out.

Kinky also gave an interview to Dallas Voice, the "community newspaper for gay & lesbian Dallas" on gay marriage.

"I support gay marriage," said Friedman, who said he was raised in a Jewish family where there was no tolerance for racism or other types of discrimination.

"Not only do I support it, it's the right thing to do and the Christian thing to do," he said.


Part of that message is that he believes gay men and lesbians are weary of the Democratic Party's promises.

"Frankly, I think the gay and lesbian community is tired of slaving on the Democratic Party plantation," Friedman said. "They just never do a damn thing."

An interesting quote in the wake of Hillary Clinton's MLK Day plantation comments.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/06 12:54 PM | Comments (1)        


Paul Burka on Dewhurst and the 2/3 rule

Texas Monthly has a preview of Paul Burka's column on Dewhurst and the 2/3 rule. Dewhurst finds himself in a dilemma, caught between party activists who want the Senate rule amended to require only majority votes and the tradition probably favored by most of the press.

As Dewhurst positions himself to run for governor in 2010, it should be interesting to watch.

Posted by Evan @ 01/22/06 12:39 PM | Comments (0)        


19 January 2006

Zogby online poll numbers

Greg Wythe posts numbers from Zogby:

Perry (R) - 38.3%
Strayhorn (I) - 20.5%
Bell (D) - 17.9%
Friedman (I) - 14.4%

Perry (R) - 38.6%
Strayhorn (I) - 21.3%
Gammage (D) - 15.3%
Friedman (I) - 15.7%

Kay Bailey Hutchison - 56.9%
Radnofsky - 31.8%

Greg doesn't post a link to the data, and I couldn't find any of these numbers on the Zogby website. But I do know that Zogby Interactive recently polled for the gubernatorial race, so I definitely believe Greg.

General caveats apply: this is an online poll. Most people consider online polls much less reliable than telephone polls. We don't know anything about the poll yet, having not yet seen crosstabs, number of respondents, margin of error, etc. Sometimes, as in the flawed Houston Chronicle poll on CD 22, the devil is in the polling details.

These numbers are all similar to the Rasmussen numbers from a week ago, so my analysis then still applies.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/06 10:23 PM | Comments (3)        


Alvarado off the ballot?

Breaking news: Felix Alvarado is apparently off the ballot for the March Democratic primary.

His check bounced.

If Alvarado is out of the race, the chances of a run-off go way down, which means that Friedman and Strayhorn are likely to have an extra month to gather signatures for their petition.

UPDATE: There have been several comments attacking and defending Alvarado in a very personal manner. Since Alvarado isn't even a candidate anymore, I'm going to delete those comments and any future comments on the subject.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/06 08:21 PM | Comments (4)        


One Independent Strayhorn

AP, on Strayhorn dropping "Republican" from her ads:

Apparently trying to bolster her image as an independent in the race for governor, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has dropped the label "Republican" in her latest television commercial.

Strayhorn's first television ad explained that she was still a Republican but had "decided to put partisan politics aside to run for governor as an independent."

In a new version of the ad that began airing this week, she leaves out the word, "Republican." She calls herself an "independent Texan" who wants to put "principle above politics" and "cut property taxes and fix our schools."

Did polls show voters to be confused? Does this signal a shift in strategy? Does Strayhorn think she can become the de facto Democratic nominee?

Perhaps Clay Robison's report is a clue? I don't know.

Strayhorn also met last week with the Texas AFL-CIO's executive committee, which made no recommendations in any statewide races, said AFL-CIO spokesman Ed Sills. Endorsements, if any, will be made at the Committee on Political Education convention in May.

All statewide candidates were invited to meet with the committee, but the only gubernatorial candidates who did were Strayhorn and Democrats Chris Bell, Bob Gammage and Felix Alvarado, a school administrator from Fort Worth.


Some individual unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Texas State Association of Firefighters and several police organizations, have endorsed Perry. Not all are affiliated with the Texas AFL-CIO. and those that are aren't bound by the state AFL-CIO's endorsements.

Sills said he didn't think the umbrella Texas AFL-CIO has ever endorsed a Republican for statewide office, but he couldn't predict what might happen this year.

"I don't have a good read on it. I think the 2006 election presents unique circumstances," he said.

For starters, two candidates — Strayhorn and humorist Kinky Friedman — are running for governor as independents. And Strayhorn, so far, is second in fundraising only to Perry.

Sanders said Strayhorn is seeking the "support of every hard-working Texan out there."

Spokesmen for Bell and Gammage, two former congressmen from Houston, said they weren't ready to write off labor's endorsement. And each predicted significant support from rank-and-file workers, regardless of which candidate, if any, the AFL-CIO endorses.

It's hard for me to believe that a few months ago, I thought this was going to be a dull race. Because it's a four way race (assuming it is), there's plenty of fluidity to the situation.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/06 02:59 PM | Comments (0)        


Tres on Kinky, uno on Bell

1. Friedman is having house parties today and Saturday. The BYOB parties will feature a open mic for musicians and a conference call with Friedman. (hat tip to the Tyler Morning Telegraph)

2. Technical difficulties are keeping the Friedman campaign from filing its overdue campaign finance report, according to the SAEN.

3. The 60 Minutes report on Kinky Friedman will be this Sunday at 6pm Texas time. Good for Friedman: 60 Minutes follows Pittsburgh v. Denver on CBS. Bad for Friedman: Carolina v. Seattle starts at 5:30 on Fox.

4. Chris Bell launched a new part to his website aimed at college students, Student Union.

Posted by Evan @ 01/19/06 02:39 PM | Comments (1)        


18 January 2006

Paul Burka, Royal Masset, and Felix Alvarado

Texas Monthly's Paul Burka writes in and explains why Royal Masset might be right when he predicts Felix Alvarado as the Democrats' standard bearer in November:

Royal Masset may be right. Anyway, I'm jealous of him for saying it first. Here's the case for Alvarado. The Democratic party will have a small primary. There is no interest in their statewide ticket. Bell and Gammage won't draw voters to the polls. Locally, the party doesn't have a lot of strength at the courthouse level in major counties, Bexar excepted and, increasingly, Dallas. But the Ds are strong in South Texas, where the primary is the only race that matters, and the turnouts are huge. Alvarado will get most of those votes. The precedent, of course, is that school teacher Victor Morales won the Senate nomination, in 1996, beating two sitting congressmen, John Bryant and Jim Chapman. Then Morales made it into a runoff with Ron Kirk in 2002, beating out Ken Bentsen. If Alvarado makes it into a runoff, virtually all of the runoffs will be in South Texas (if history is any guide). Morales got a lot of free publicity with his pickup truck, and Alvarado may not get that. But his name may be enough.

That's a pretty convincing case. The battle in CD28 will certainly drive turnout up in South Texas.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/06 05:45 PM | Comments (3)        


Wes Clark coming to town for Gammage

Perry Dorrell notes that presidential candidate Wes Clark is coming to Houston on 1/26 to do a fundraising reception for Bob Gammage.

Posted by Evan @ 01/18/06 12:06 PM | Comments (0)        


17 January 2006

SurveyUSA poll

A Survey USA poll done for WOIA in San Antonio and KEYE in Austin:

Candidate Favorable/Unfavorable/Neutral/Unfamiliar
Felix Alvarado: 8% / 7% / 14% / 70%

Chris Bell: 6% / 14% / 13% / 67%

Bob Gammage: 3% / 11% / 16% / 70%

Kinky Friedman: 21% / 22% / 20% / 37%

Carole Strayhorn: 40% / 19% / 22% / 19%

Rick Perry: 42% / 37% / 18% / 3%

I found this poll while browsing Felix Alvarado's blog in search of support for Royal Masset's claim (of which Kuffner and I are both skeptical) that Alvarado was likely to win the Democratic primary. The poll is of 499 registered voters, +/- 4.5%.

When SurveyUSA came on the scene, it was widely criticized by established pollsters. Those criticisms have largely died down, because SurveyUSA has a very solid track record in polling for elections.

A poll of registered voters for favorable/unfavorable/neutral doesn't tell us too much right now, but I thought I'd pass it on as a data point. I don't think SUSA polled party preference, but if they did I would have loved to see crosstabs on Strayhorn's numbers. I'm also a little surprised that Friedman has more unfavorables than favorables.

Posted by Evan @ 01/17/06 11:33 PM | Comments (3)        


Fundraising tally

Reporting period: 7/1/05 - 12/31/05

Total raised 2nd half of 2005:
Rick Perry: $4.6 million
Carole Strayhorn: $2.4 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.97 million to $1.26 million
Bob Gammage: $67k ($0.07 million)
Chris Bell: $356k ($0.36 million)

Cash on hand:
Rick Perry: $11.5 million
Carole Strayhorn: $8.1 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.25 million
Bob Gammage: $53k ($0.05 million)
Chris Bell: $165k ($0.17 million)

Approximate amount spent in 2nd half of 2005:*
Rick Perry: $1.85 million
CaroleStrayhorn: $1.4 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.75 million to $1 million
Bob Gammage: $14k ($0.01 million)
Chris Bell: $201k ($0.2 million)

* I calculated this myself, based on previous fundraising numbers.

I have errands to run now, but hopefully commenters will do the analysis for me. I can hope anyway.

Posted by Evan @ 01/17/06 04:43 PM | Comments (0)        


Money money money

Shannon, AP:

Former congressman Chris Bell, who's competing against former court justice Bob Gammage in the March 7 Democratic gubernatorial primary, raised $356,422 in the six-month period that ended Dec. 31 and had $165,444 in cash on hand.

Gammage, who formally entered the race in December, raised $67,109 and had $52,940 in cash available at the end of the reporting period, his campaign said.

Those numbers were dwarfed by the figures revealed Friday by Perry and Strayhorn, the state comptroller. Both filed their official reports Tuesday with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Perry raised $4.6 million and had $11.5 million in cash on hand, while Strayhorn raised $2.4 million and had $8.1 million in cash. Independent candidate Kinky Friedman said he raised about $1 million in the six months, but spent most of it.

The only new numbers are from Democrats Chris Bell and Bob Gammage. Gammage raised $67k in two weeks, while Bell raised $356k in 6 months.

Be careful into reading too much into that though. Usually the early fundraising is the "low hanging fruit" of loyal friends and supporters.

Here is a compilation of the fundraising numbers.

Posted by Evan @ 01/17/06 04:33 PM | Comments (0)        


Royal Masset: Perry a 9:1 favorite

Republican consultant and Quorum Report contributor Royal Masset writes that he thinks Rick Perry has a 90% chance of winning.

His breakdown:

Rick Perry 40%
Carole Strayhorn 30%
Felix Alvarado 25%
Kinky Friedman 5%
Masset thinks Alvarado will win the Democratic primary like Victor Morales, whose underfunded campaign had strong enough support largely from Hispanics to beat two Congressman in 1996.

What's interesting to me is that Masset predicts 90% chance for Perry, but then spends much of his analysis hedging his bets by writing how Strayhorn will run a strong campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 01/17/06 04:27 PM | Comments (2)        



1. Perry says he'll call the required special session on school finance in April or May.

2. SAEN covers RAdnofsky's trip to San Antonio.

3. The Beaumont Enterprise writes up Texans for Texas, which aims to track the political donations of trial lawyers. There's a few interesting quotes in there from some of the trial lawyers.

Posted by Evan @ 01/17/06 04:07 PM | Comments (0)        


16 January 2006

Quick links

Part two of the Midland Reporter Telegram's gubernatorial race series.

Brownsville Herald previews the governor's race as well.

Posted by Evan @ 01/16/06 08:48 AM | Comments (0)        


15 January 2006

Perry interview

Apparently while swinging through Abilene, Perry gave an interview to Bob Campbell of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. It's a two-parter, the first is today.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry and Bill White are firing the starting guns at the Houston marathon this morning. Perry is then running the half-marathon.

Posted by Evan @ 01/15/06 01:28 PM | Comments (0)        


14 January 2006

The debate about debates


arole Keeton Strayhorn wants to debate Gov. Rick Perry any time, anywhere. Kinky Friedman also wants in on the action.

But Perry won't commit to debating anyone until he knows exactly who is going to be on the November election ballot. That won't be clear for a while, given the strange circumstances in this year's Texas governor's race.

Whatever arrangements are made, it's already evident that Strayhorn and Friedman — the two independent candidates running for governor — expect televised debates to help them in their respective bids to defeat Perry, the entrenched Republican incumbent.

"We want to debate early and often," said Mark Sanders, spokesman for Strayhorn, the state's comptroller. "The comptroller is an amazing speaker with a clear vision of where she wants to take the state."

In Friedman's case, getting on stage and on the air with the major candidates in the race should boost his candidacy and expose the humorist's plain-talking message to a wide audience, say his advisers and an outside political expert.


In deciding whether to include candidates, the partnership in the past has looked to criteria such as whether a candidate is legally on the ballot; whether a candidate is actively campaigning, including operating a campaign headquarters; and whether a candidate has received at least 6 percent in an independent poll or average of polls.

When we get close to having debates, it should be a very interesting debate about debates.

Who will want who in all depends on where the polls are at that stage in the game.

Posted by Evan @ 01/14/06 11:32 PM | Comments (0)        


13 January 2006

Fundraising numbers!

UPDATED 1/17 to include Democrats

Reporting period: 7/1/05 - 12/31/05

Total raised 2nd half of 2005:
Rick Perry: $4.6 million
Carole Strayhorn: $2.4 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.97 million to $1.26 million
Bob Gammage: $67k ($0.07 million)
Chris Bell: $356k ($0.36 million)

Cash on hand:
Rick Perry: $11.5 million
Carole Strayhorn: $8.1 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.25 million
Bob Gammage: $53k ($0.05 million)
Chris Bell: $165k ($0.17 million)

Approximate amount spent in 2nd half of 2005:*
Rick Perry: $1.85 million
CaroleStrayhorn: $1.4 million
Kinky Friedman: $0.75 million to $1 million
Bob Gammage: $14k ($0.01 million)
Chris Bell: $201k ($0.2 million)

* I calculated this myself, based on previous fundraising numbers.

Chris Bell and Bob Gammage have not provided numbers yet.

Kelley Shannon has the AP coverage.

My thoughts:

1. Perry spent the most, but he also has the most to spend. Also, Perry's campaign often picks up the tab when he travels, so that's not too surprising.

2. The difference between Perry and Strayhorn might be partly explained by the money Perry spent attempting to pressure the legislature on school finance. Both Perry and Strayhorn spent reasonable amounts.

3. Kinky Friedman is still burning through money. His burn rate last time was bad (last reporting period he raised
$300k and spent $285k), and it doesn't look any better this time. There's two main reasons this is bad for Friedman: 1) big donors are less likely to give if they see you have a high burn rate, 2) Friedman needs money in the future. Not only does he need to spend to get on the ballot, but he'll need money for a media campaign.

4. Kinky's burn rate may not be as bad at it initially looks (and initially, it looks very bad). Some of their money raising tactics (campaign store, Kinky Friedman dolls) were undoubtedly expensive. If they've spent lots of money on dolls that they are able to sell, then the report might be misleading. We won't know this until they file their official campaign finance report, and we get to look through it sometime mid-next week. I'll have a post when I get a chance to look through the reports.

5. Strayhorn was a Perry primary challenger during this reporting period. She did not declare her independent candidacy until AFTER the period was over.

UPDATED 1/17, 4:30pm with numbers from Democrats

Posted by Evan @ 01/13/06 05:26 PM | Comments (0)        


Quick shorts

1. Kristen Mack on Kinky Friedman's Houston fundraiser. Friedman described his base as "unlikely and disgusted voters of Texas" while saying he didn't know who Strayhorn's base would be. He also promised not to run for re-election, if elected. The fundraiser raised $80k for the campaign.

2. Longer writup of all the particulars of a Perry campaign stop. My favorite part:

Unopposed in his March 7 primary, except by a couple of little-known Republicans, Perry creates a festive, rurally oriented environment in his rallies, whose rhythms are set by such recordings as "Like Texas in the 1880s," and George Strait's "Heartland, If It Wasn't for Texas" and the Texas-based Fabulous Thunderbirds' "Tough Enough."
Radney Foster! I can't believe the reporter left out Radney Foster -- and the song is called Texas in 1880 -- but good choice by the Perry campaign.

And the article even has Perry bantering with reporters.

Posted by Evan @ 01/13/06 05:09 PM | Comments (0)        


12 January 2006

Gammage fires back at Bell on abortion

Kelley Shannon, AP:

The Democratic race for governor grew more contentious Thursday as Bob Gammage said his record in public office is being distorted by opponent Chris Bell and that he would be willing to debate Bell in the coming weeks.

"If he wants to misrepresent and distort my record, that's his call," Gammage told news reporters in Austin. "If he wants to debate, that's fine with me."

Bell's campaign is interested in a debate, and campaign officials are having internal discussions about it, spokesman Jason Stanford said. The two campaigns have not talked to each other about it. The Democratic primary is March 7.

"I've said all along that this is an exciting choice for Democrats — about looking into the future or reaching in the past," Stanford said. "I'm sure there will be discussions. I'm sure there will be debates."


"I was pro-choice before women had a choice," [Gammage] said, adding that his votes in Congress were about whether the government should fund abortions, not whether women should be able to have them. The ruling governing abortion was still unclear at the time, in 1977, he added.

"Today I wouldn't vote that way," [Gammage] said. "You learn things with time."

My quick thoughts:
1. Gammage now says he'd have voted for governmental funding of abortion. He isn't going to let Bell try to get to the left of him on abortion.

2. The TSTA teacher's union endorsement of Carole Strayhorn hurts Democrats. In a four or five way race, Democrats have a chance if they can hold on to the Democratic base. However, when the TSTA breaks with its own Democratic tradition to endorse Strayhorn, it's a bad sign for the Democratic nominee.

So it makes eminent sense to try to rev up the Democratic base by focusing on something like abortion. By fighting over it in a primary, they might fire up the activists on the left and get them to stick with the Democratic party.

Posted by Evan @ 01/12/06 04:47 PM | Comments (0)        


11 January 2006

DeLay vs World reminder

A reminder that my new blog Tom DeLay vs World is up and running. Click on through and check it out.

So far, all four Houston network affiliates and Time Warner Cable have refused to air the anti-DeLay ad.

Posted by Evan @ 01/11/06 08:13 PM | Comments (0)        


Strahorn for governor

Comptroller Carole Strayhorn's campaign for governor filled out her declaration to filed as an independent...but didn't spell her name right. Comptroller Strayhorn still signed her name the correct way, but the form (filled out by her lawyer) spelled her name as "Strahorn" twice.

Well, she hasn't ever run for office as Strayhorn before.

Meanwhile, the Texas State Teachers Association PAC endorsed Strayhorn. TSTA represents 65,000 "educational employees." A teacher's union, the TSTA has always endorsed Democrats in the past, even endorsing Democrat Marty Akins over Strayhorn in her 2002 Comptroller race.

Perry has a big advantage in the endorsement game. Since most political observers didn't believe Strayhorn had a chance in the primary, most organizations have been endorsing him. He counts 140 endorsements, while this is Strayhorn's first.

It's a bit of a blow to Democrats, because a stalwart Democratic union is essentially offering their view of who is more likely to win. They apparently think Strayhorn has a better chance to win than the Democratic nominee -- witness the quote from the group's president, "It comes down to electability."

Updated 10am, 1/12.

Posted by Evan @ 01/11/06 08:02 PM | Comments (0)        


Bell flanks left on abortion

Chris Bell released a letter criticizing Bob Gammage on abortion:

A dozen abortion-rights activists charged in a letter released Wednesday that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Gammage abandoned their cause in Congress almost 30 years ago.

In a letter circulated by former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell, who is facing Gammage in the Democratic primary, 12 women said they could not trust Gammage "to take the heat and fight for our rights." Signers of the letter include Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who won the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion; Peggy Romberg, executive director of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas; and Heather Paffe, political director of the Texas Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. Bell aides said the women signed the letter as individuals and not on behalf of their groups.

The full text of the letter is here.

If the Democrat were set to face a Republican head-to-head, then perhaps flanking left on abortion might be a little more surprising. But Democrats are hoping to hold their base together, so they can move left in a multi-candidate election, instead of moving to the center.

Posted by Evan @ 01/11/06 07:53 PM | Comments (1)        


DeLay joins Perry at Perry's Houston re-election announcement


Wednesday, a surprise guest accompanied Texas Governor Rick Perry as he came to Houston to launch his re-election campaign.

Controversial Congressman Tom DeLay offered his support to Perry in what is turning into a ruthless race for governor.

Rick Perry brought his re-election waltz across Texas to Houston.

"Our jobs are at an all time high. Frivolous lawsuits are on the decline," said Governor Perry told the crowd.

Outside he attracted four young cheerleaders and five detractors who were old enough to vote.

"He's done nothing in education," a protester said.

In theory a republican running for re-election in a republican state should feel pretty comfortable.

"Our work isn't done, not by a long shot. Which is why I'm a candidate for governor in 2006," Governor Perry said.

But here's where it gets interesting.

Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn is a Republican, though she's running against Perry as an Independent.

Only even as she says it on a television commercial, a close look reveals it says Republican under her name.

Perry didn't want to talk with 11 News.

But Congressman Tom Delay weighed in on independents.

"I think they're a novelty that Texans kind of enjoy and they make the race kinda funny," said Tom Delay, R-Sugar Land.

It's Carole Strayhorn, but plenty of people search for Carol, so I won't correct it for them.

The Houston Chronicle's coverage is here.

Posted by Evan @ 01/11/06 07:46 PM | Comments (0)        


10 January 2006

January 17th -- fundraising report deadline

January 17th is the deadline for gubernatorial campaigns to file their campaign finance reports, for the period ending December 31, 2005.

In the next few days, the campaigns should start playing the expectations game and announcing how much money they've raised.

This is particularly a big deal for Chris Bell and Bob Gammage, as they both have a primary coming up in two months. For Friedman, it's a chance to show the state's politicos that he is a serious candidate. It'll also be interesting to see how much Strayhorn was able to raise while she was still a Republican primary challenger rumored to go independent (Strayhorn declared she was running as an independent after the fundraising period was over).

UPDATE: A nod to "Democratic Skeptic" in the comments, for the reminder that Kinky burned through lots of money that he'd raised in the last fundraising report. It will be interesting to see if that is true again. If the burn rate is as high as it was on the last report, that might slow his fundraising.

Posted by Evan @ 01/10/06 01:48 PM | Comments (2)        


New Rasmussen poll numbers

Via Greg, Rasmussen released polls on the Texas governor and Senate races.

It's the first poll I've seen that tested the new four-way race. They tested Chris Bell as the Democratic nominee, and plan to test Bob Gammage next week. At this stage in the game, the numbers should be similar for either candidate the Democrats nominate.

Rick Perry 40%
Strayhorn 21%
Chris Bell 14%
Friedman 12%

Kay Bailey Hutchison 64%
Barbara Ann Radnosky 25%
Other 4%
Not Sure 6%

Both polls are of 500 likely voters, +/- 4.5% MoE.

They don't provide any crosstabs for free, so it's hard to dissect the poll to make sure the poll is accurate or to draw precise conclusions. Instead, we have to rely on the fact that Rasmussen has a reasonably good track record. The screen they used for likely voters could matter if voter interest in the race is high (which is possible). So let's view this poll as a general fuzzy indicator of where the race stands at this point.

Quick thoughts:

1. The numbers are generally believable, and more or less comports with my analysis.

2. About 15% remains unaccounted for/undecided in the governor numbers, and thus still up for grabs.

3. Strayhorn appears to be winning at least a few points from Democrats, Republicans, and swing voters. That's not too surprising. She also may benefit a few points from the fact that the poll was done immediately after she announced her run as an independent.

4. Friedman is taking most of his support from the Democratic nominee, and shows that Strayhorn's decision hurts him the most.

5. A four way race is very fluid. In a race like this, there will be people who switch close to election day from one candidate to another because the other candidate has a better chance to win.

6. I think the Democratic nominee is very likely to garner more than 14% on election day, unless Democrats decide en masse that they'd prefer Strayhorn to Perry (I think this is still an open question, though unlikely).

7. This race is fascinating. Because it's so fluid, there are so many ways the race could play out, which makes prognostication an exponentially more difficult task than normal.

The Senate numbers are no surprise. Hutchison is like George W. Bush: she's simply too popular to be beaten in a Texas general election. She wins at least a few points more in a general election now than even W would.

Posted by Evan @ 01/10/06 09:47 AM | Comments (1)        


09 January 2006

SAEN on Kinky

San Antonio Express News has a longish piece on on the Friedman campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/06 11:03 PM | Comments (0)        


Dueling takes on Gammage's announcement

Bob Gammage has begun his announcement tour. Here are two different takes. One, from Jason Embry at the Statesman (who took advantage of his time in Sugar Land to also collect quotes on DeLay)

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Gammage took aim at Gov. Rick Perry and President Bush this morning but said little about his opponents in the Democratic primary as he launched a three-day swing around the state to draw attention to his fledgling campaign.

Gammage stopped in an airport terminal with Ben Grant, a former lawmaker and judge who is running for lieutenant governor, in embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's hometown. Gammage used to represent the area in Congress.

"I have a son who just returned from Baghdad," said Gammage, a former Supreme Court justice, congressman and state representative. "He did his duty, and I'm going to do mine. Duty requires us to tell the truth. The truth is that Rick Perry is failing Texas. The bitter truth is that George Bush is failing us, too."

Gammage and Grant are talking up their role in the Dirty 30, a group of state lawmakers who pushed for ethics reform in the early 1970s.

As he did when he announced his candidacy, he brought along a photo of a yacht to draw attention to Perry's 2004 trip to the Bahamas to discuss school finance reform. Perry made the trip with, among others, anti-tax guru Grover Norquist and James Leininger, a heavyweight GOP campaign donor who supports allowing students to use public money to attend private schools.

Gammage listed among his priorities clean air and water, ethics reform, stronger corporate regulations, prescription-drug price relief, affordable health insurance and fair funding for schools.

Second take is from the AP:
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage launched his campaign for governor Monday, ignoring his opponents in the March Democratic primary election and instead targeting Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Gammage, who was a member of the "Dirty 30" state legislators known for battling corruption in the early 1970s, called Perry a weak leader who can't fight corruption or solve the state's problems. He said his campaign would focus on "the corrupt out-of-control political machine that stretches all the way from Washington, D.C., to Austin, Texas."

Gammage, 67, linked Perry to U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, whose legal problems prompted him Saturday to permanently relinquish his majority leader's post.

"Tom DeLay is at one end and Rick Perry is at the other," Gammage said during a news conference in DeLay's congressional district that Gammage once represented.

A spokesman for Perry's campaign called Gammage's remarks "hollow criticism."

Gammage, who was beginning a four-day, 13-city campaign tour, has served in the Legislature and the U.S. House, and has been an appellate and state Supreme Court justice.

"We need a governor strong enough to stand up and speak out when Washington policies are hurting ordinary Texans," Gammage said. He said Perry is a "weak governor with a record of failure" on school finance, the environment, tax policy and health care, Gammage said.

Gammage displayed a photo of a luxury yacht similar to one Perry visited in the Bahamas with contributors to discuss school finance reform.

"I'm running against government conducted from yachts," Gammage said. "I will not make policy as governor of Texas from the Bahamas. I'll do it from the state capitol in Austin."

Perry spokesman Robert Black noted that the Texas Ethics Commission cleared Perry of any wrongdoing on the Bahamas trip.

"It's very easy to criticize, but leaders actually produce solutions," Black said. "Bob Gammage is offering little more than hollow criticism."

Gammage promised to raise the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour, amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to clean air and water, pass ethics reform and corporate responsibility acts, reform the Texas tax code, regulate prescription drug costs, guarantee fair funding for Texas school districts and work with Congress on affordable health care.

"Stand up and speak out" about Washington policies? That's an interesting line.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/06 10:57 PM | Comments (0)        


"Minorities don't feel top-ticket excitement"

...is the headline of Gromer Jeffers' DMN article.

Not long after candidates had filed to run in this year's local and state elections, La Joya Mayor Billy Leo went to work trying to help Democrats win.

But the South Texan's focus was not on the races for governor, lieutenant governor or other statewide offices. In Hidalgo County, the hottest primary race pits County Judge Ramon Garcia against challenger J.D. Salinas.

"Nobody is paying any attention to the top of the ticket," Mr. Leo said. "We're all wondering, who are these people? There is no excitement at the top of both parties. Other than Carole Strayhorn, there is nothing to talk about."

In a state where minorities are expected to one day be the key to political power, Mr. Leo and others are wondering why the biggest races this year are devoid of any popular, well-financed Hispanic or black contenders – in either party.

Some blame the Democratic and Republican parties for not stepping up their outreach and grooming minorities to run for the state's highest offices. Others say minority candidates are still waiting for demographic shifts that would make statewide candidacies more feasible.

"The Democratic Party is not really spreading out," Mr. Leo said. "Where is the diversity? Where are the fresh candidates?"

All of the major Republicans running for statewide offices this year are white, except two incumbent Supreme Court justices. Democrats can claim Hispanic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, but they are little-known.

If this gubernatorial election ends up as a base/turn out election, it wouldn't be good for a substantial portion of the Democratic base to be unmotivated to vote.
...is the headline of Gromer Jeffers' DMN article.
Not long after candidates had filed to run in this year's local and state elections, La Joya Mayor Billy Leo went to work trying to help Democrats win.

But the South Texan's focus was not on the races for governor, lieutenant governor or other statewide offices. In Hidalgo County, the hottest primary race pits County Judge Ramon Garcia against challenger J.D. Salinas.

"Nobody is paying any attention to the top of the ticket," Mr. Leo said. "We're all wondering, who are these people? There is no excitement at the top of both parties. Other than Carole Strayhorn, there is nothing to talk about."

In a state where minorities are expected to one day be the key to political power, Mr. Leo and others are wondering why the biggest races this year are devoid of any popular, well-financed Hispanic or black contenders – in either party.

Some blame the Democratic and Republican parties for not stepping up their outreach and grooming minorities to run for the state's highest offices. Others say minority candidates are still waiting for demographic shifts that would make statewide candidacies more feasible.

"The Democratic Party is not really spreading out," Mr. Leo said. "Where is the diversity? Where are the fresh candidates?"

All of the major Republicans running for statewide offices this year are white, except two incumbent Supreme Court justices. Democrats can claim Hispanic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, but they are little-known.

If this gubernatorial election ends up as a base/turn out election, it wouldn't be good for a substantial portion of the Democratic base to be unmotivated to vote.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/06 10:36 PM | Comments (0)        


Democratic primary rumor

Perry Dorrell:

Want some news that's not quite ready for publication? One of the leading 2008 Democratic presidential candidates will be in Houston before the end of January to campaign for his friend who's on the ballot.
I have no idea if the rumor is true, but considering the work that Bob Gammage did for Wes Clark, I would assume that is the 2008 candidate in question.

Posted by Evan @ 01/09/06 03:15 PM | Comments (0)        


08 January 2006

The prognostication never ceases

RG Ratcliffe writes up The Strayhorn Effect:

Mike Baselice: Pollster for Perry
Baselice said he thinks Strayhorn's decision to run as an independent increases Perry's chances of re-election.

"I don't know how this works. It's a Republican-leaning state," Baselice said. "There's only so many disenchanted party loyalists who are willing to take a stab at an independent candidacy."

Baselice said Texas has a base Republican vote of 50 percent and a base Democratic vote of 35 percent. He said if each party loses 5 percent of its vote and it is added to the independent, the swing vote just reaches 25 percent.

" If you gave it all to Strayhorn and none to Kinky, she's still woefully short," Baselice said.

He predicted Friedman's campaign will be meaningless by Election Day because he will not have the money to mount a statewide television-advertising campaign.

"It cost $1.6 million to run a week of TV properly in Texas," Baselice said.

Tom Pauken: Former Texas GOP chairman
Pauken said there is enough dissatisfaction with Republican voters about Perry's administration and inability to pass a public school finance plan than either Strayhorn or the Democratic nominee can defeat Perry in a multicandidate race.

"It's not a given that Perry will be re-elected," Pauken said. "He's alienated a lot of Republicans."

Pauken said gathering the signatures to get on the ballot may be a problem for Strayhorn.

"She doesn't have a strong organization, and Friedman has been preparing for the past year for what you have to do to run as an independent," Pauken said.

"Assuming she gets on the ballot, she can be a tough candidate in the fall. She hurts Perry, and she hurts him quite badly."

Pauken said Strayhorn's candidacy will be a big boost for the Democratic nominee because it increases the impact of the Democratic base vote in a divided turnout.

But he said Strayhorn has a shot at winning because voters have become disenchanted with both Republicans and Democrats.

"They're angrier at the Republicans at the moment than the Democrats, but there's a little bit of pox on both your houses," Pauken said.

He said Strayhorn's independent candidacy will take the wind out of Friedman's sails.

" I see him more as a protest vote or a joke. Now, with Strayhorn in the race, his hopes will fade dramatically," Pauken said.

Brad McClellan: Stayhorn's son and campaign manager
McClellan said Strayhorn knows it will be tough to win as an independent.

"It has been 147 years since this has been done, and Sam Houston probably needed fewer votes to win than we need signatures (to get on the ballot)," McClellan said.

Houston won his 1859 race with 33,375 votes, according to Richard Rice, historical interpreter at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. That's 12,075 fewer voter signatures than Strayhorn and Friedman each need to get on the ballot.

McClellan said no one should discount the fact Strayhorn will be the only woman in a field of male candidates running for governor.

"It's just another perspective. It's that tough grandma. There are more females that vote in the general election than, say, in the Republican primary," he said.

McClellan said his mother will take a large portion of the Democratic and independent vote as well as the Republican base because voters are "fed up" with both parties, particularly on issues such as educating children.

"We're the one that's going to win this race because we cut into that conservative base. And there's a big base out there. There are people out there who say they're tired of the labels, and they want to see stuff get done," he said.

Jason Stanford: Bell's chief consultant
Stanford said the complexity of building a voting bloc from Republicans, Democrats and independents will make it difficult for Strayhorn to win.

"There are too many cross- purposes. Before, it was simple: She needed to create a general election in a primary," Stanford said. "Chris Bell's challenge is to get Democrats to vote for the Democratic nominee."

Stanford said Democratic nominee Tony Sanchez got 40 percent of the vote against Perry in 2002. He said that vote will be enough for the Democratic nominee to win in a multicandidate race against Perry.

"Everyone in this race is making a persuasive case to fire Rick Perry," he said.

Stanford said the cost of a Democratic campaign will be less because it can target Democratic voters. He said the multicandidate race also will make it difficult for Perry to attack any one opponent with negative television commercials.

"If he puts up $5 million on TV against Chris Bell, none of those votes are going to go to him. They're going to go to Carole Strayhorn or Kinky Friedman. His return on that dollar is marginal at best," Stanford said.

The other candidates can go after Perry, though.

"This isn't a circular firing squad. We're all pointed at Rick Perry, and he's got to spend the entire time on defense."

Dean Rindy: Gammage adviser
Rindy said he thinks the Democratic nominee will benefit from Perry and Strayhorn viciously attacking each other in the first half of the year as Perry tries to "crush" Strayhorn's ability to build momentum.

"While the two dinosaurs thrash about in the jungle, we can remain relatively unscathed for the midpart of the campaign year," Rindy said in a memo to Gammage supporters. "We will hammer home our message to hold our base, while looking far cleaner than our two Republican rivals."

Rindy said Strayhorn's independent campaign will finish off Friedman.

"She simply sucks the air out of Kinky's message, hogs the media spotlight, steps on his story line and makes it very difficult for him to attract significant numbers of Perot-type conservatives," he said.

Rindy said the Texas governor's race is developing into a contest like the 1992 presidential contest when Bush barely carried Texas despite Perot's insurgent campaign.

"Bush Sr. barely scraped by in that election, and Rick Perry is not George Bush," Rindy said. "Her image as an independent is much weaker than Perot's, and it will be extremely easy to discredit her with Democratic voters."

Dean Barkley: Friedman's campaign manager
Barkley ran Ventura's surprise independent victory in Minnesota. He said Friedman can replicate it in Texas.

"It's real simple. What an independent candidate has to do to win is they have to motivate the traditional nonvoting public, or disgruntled voters who have stopped voting, to return to the polls to vote," Barkley said.

"If Carole could pull off the illusion that she is really an independent, it could make it more difficult for us. The jury is out on whether Carole has the qualities to motivate nonvoting people to vote. I know Kinky can."

Barkley said he thinks that in a three-way race the winner will need 40 percent of the vote. In a four-way race, he said the victor could take it with as little as 30 percent.

"There's a lot of dissatisfaction with Perry among conservatives," Barkley said. "Now that will be a battle between Carole and Kinky as to which one they are going to go for."

He said Friedman also will be able to appeal to Democrats on environmental issues and social libertarian stands such as supporting gay marriage.

Barkley said Texas voters also will see a difference in the contest in March and April during the 60 days when Strayhorn and Friedman are gathering signatures to get on the ballot. Both will need to collect about twice as many signatures as they need to guarantee they have enough valid signatures.

Valid signatures come from registered voters who cast no ballots in either party's primary or runoffs. They also cannot sign both the Strayhorn and Friedman petition.

"A lot of people are going to be bugged to put their signature on a petition. Make sure it's the Kinky petition you sign, not the Strayhorn," Barkley said.

You already know my opinion on this.

Posted by Evan @ 01/08/06 10:37 PM | Comments (0)        


07 January 2006

Sanders switches from state to campaign

Mark Sanders, who made the phone call suggesting that Chris Bell run for Comptroller, has moved from his Comptroller job to the Strayhorn campaign:

Mark Sanders, a top aide to Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, left his state job this week to focus full time on Strayhorn's independent gubernatorial campaign.

Sanders resigned Monday as special assistant for communications at the comptroller's office, a $12,000-a-month state job.

"The comptroller filed for governor on Monday," Sanders said. "I resigned my position with the state on Monday, and I will be working as her campaign spokesman."

Using about 150 hours of vacation time, Sanders helped with the Strayhorn campaign from June through mid-October in chunks of two to eight hours a day, records and interviews show.

Sanders was also Tony Sanchez's campaign spokesman in 2002.

Posted by Evan @ 01/07/06 10:19 AM | Comments (0)        


06 January 2006

Peggy Fikac -- San Antonio Express News:

What's in a name? When it comes to getting information from Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, apparently quite a bit.

The tax-reform panel named by Gov. Rick Perry asked Strayhorn's office almost six weeks ago to analyze proposals to provide a longer August sales-tax holiday and to allow local-option sales tax increases to cut property taxes.

"It's a little bothersome that 99 percent of the Capitol is extending their hand to help us and we haven't heard back from the comptroller," said Robert Howden, staff director of the Texas Tax Reform Commission.


"Our agency policy is, the request should come from the elected official," [deputy comptroller] Ancira said. "One of the reasons is we want to make sure it's the official request of the office, whether it be a state representative or state senator, or in this case, Mr. (John) Sharp's commission."

This request, Ancira said, should come from Perry or Sharp, the Democratic former state comptroller named to head the commission. He said Strayhorn's staff told the commission staff about the policy "soon after if not the same day that request came in. We have not heard back."

Howden said neither he nor other commission staffers got that call.

"It would have been nice if somebody called me and told me that," Howden said.

Sometimes, I almost get the feeling like Strayhorn and Perry just don't like each other.

Posted by Evan @ 01/06/06 08:48 AM | Comments (0)        


"Strayhorn bashes Perry's politics"

Beth Gallaspy at Beaumont Enterprise:

Independent candidate for governor Carole Keeton Strayhorn criticized incumbent Gov. Rick Perry Thursday for putting politics ahead of solving the state's problems.

Her speech at Southeast Texas Regional Airport was the third in a day of campaigning that included earlier stops in the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi. After about 30 minutes with media representatives in Southeast Texas, she headed for Longview.


"He has given us higher property taxes, bigger government, higher insurance rates, toll roads, has abandoned our border and ignored our broken schools."

Strayhorn brushed aside the idea that by challenging Perry in November rather than in the Republican primary, she and Perry might split the Republican vote and make it easier for a Democrat to win.

"Unless we set aside partisan politics, we're never going to fix our problems," Strayhorn said, adding she has support from Republicans, Democrats, independents and people whose political affiliations she does not know.

Posted by Evan @ 01/06/06 08:44 AM | Comments (0)        


Teaching intelligent design

Selby -- Statesman:

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who has made outreach to Christian conservatives a theme of his gubernatorial portfolio, thinks Texas public school students should be taught intelligent design along with evolutionary theory, his office said Thursday.

Three Democratic challengers for governor this year and independent hopeful Kinky Friedman disagreed. Independent candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn had no immediate comment, and a little-known Democratic hopeful sided with Perry.


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell, a former U.S. House member from Houston, said: "Things we teach kids in science class should have a scientific basis. Based on everything I have seen and heard, I fail to recognize the scientific basis for intelligent design."

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage of Llano, another Democratic hopeful, said he supports the judge in the Pennsylvania case in that "teaching intelligent design is inappropriate for the class- room.

"There is a difference between physics and metaphysics, and I believe that we should teach the first in schools and the second in church," Gammage said.

Rashad Jafer of Houston, another Democratic aspirant, sided with Perry, saying he personally believes the universe was willed by a creator who will "one day take it away." He said evolution and intelligent design should be taught side by side.

Democratic candidate Felix Alvarado of Fort Worth said he opposes teaching intelligent design in science.

"In science, you teach science. In social studies, you cover religion," he said.

Friedman, of Kerrville, said of teaching intelligent design in science: "I'm agin it; there's nothing intelligent about it."

Posted by Evan @ 01/06/06 08:42 AM | Comments (0)        


Texas Weekly

Texas Weekly (subscription required, but they're a mustread):

Call some pollsters and they'll talk to you about the votes due to a candidate just for the party label attached to that candidate's name. You can argue about the numbers, so we'll just be arbitrary about it: In the 2002 elections, David Dewhurst won with the smallest share of votes collected by any statewide Republican in a race with a Democrat: 52 percent. Marty Akins was on the Democratic end of that scale, getting the smallest share of the vote for a Democrat running against a Republican in a statewide race: 33 percent.

Some pollsters — reputable people, from good families, even — will tell you that Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn will be fighting over what's left, plus whatever they can whittle away from those two party base votes. The conventional wisdom is that a five-way race with a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian and two independents would produce a Republican governor who gets into office with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Rick Perry's camp subscribes to that idea and so do many consultants we've jabbered with who aren't directly involved in anyone's campaign for governor. But there are some interesting possibilities out there that Friedman and Strayhorn hope to see to fruition.

They note a few ways the analysis could change: a Perry mistake, a school finance disaster, or Kinky/Carole gaining traction.

They also note the Democrats' plan, which is to focus on the base, and hope Strayhorn/Kinky split independents and leech GOP votes from Perry.

I agree with most of this, as it's remarkably similar to my analysis of the race several days ago when Strayhorn made her announcement.

Posted by Evan @ 01/06/06 08:28 AM | Comments (0)        


05 January 2006

Perry and Strayhorn are dueling on the air

Robison -- Chronicle:

Gov. Rick Perry and independent challenger Carole Keeton Strayhorn both launch television commercials today, but with different spins on Texas' state of affairs.

Perry's spot brags about advances in economic development, job creation and education during his administration.

Strayhorn's ad focuses on the prolonged inability of Perry and legislative leaders to overhaul the school finance system, a problem she blames on "partisan politics."


Meanwhile, she continues to collect campaign cash from high-profile supporters. She received a $100,000 check from famed plaintiffs attorney Joe Jamail of Houston, on Wednesday, her son and campaign manager, Brad McClellan, said.

McClellan said Strayhorn's TV ad campaign cost at least $1 million.

Black said Perry's television buy was "substantial" but didn't provide a figure.

Posted by Evan @ 01/05/06 06:40 PM | Comments (0)        


Strayhorn challenges Perry to debates

Odessas American -- Bill Modisett:

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn challenged Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday to debate the issues in the governor's race in the Permian Basin.

"I want to debate the issues with him anytime, anywhere, anyplace, and I think the Permian Basin would be as good a place as any," she said.

Strayhorn stopped at Midland International Airport Wednesday to announce she is seeking the governor’s office as an Independent. She was elected to the comptroller's office as a Republican.

Charging Perry has fractured the state politically, Strayhorn said, "He has made the politics of division worse in Austin, not better." She also asserted he has failed to provide leadership on such vital topics as school finance.

Strayhorn said the Texas Legislature has met nine times in five years without resolving the school finance problem.

"The Legislature is going to meet for the 10th time in five years this year, and we still don't have a school-finance plan. He's the reason there is no school-finance plan," she said. "Instead of fixing our problems, we see that our school funding is in crisis, property taxes are up and judges are having to do our governor's job."
Strayhorn said it makes sense to run as an Independent.

"I am a Republican, but I know we must set partisan politics aside and do what’s right for Texas," she said. "That is why I am running for governor as an Independent. We can't wait any longer."

I can't imagine that Gov. Perry is going to have a debate with anyone who isn't yet on the ballot.

Posted by Evan @ 01/05/06 03:42 PM | Comments (0)        


04 January 2006

The Strayhorn Effect

One thing I want to stress: four way general elections are rare and put the race in a perpetual state of flux. The reason so many talking heads are saying different things is because there are so many different ways that the race could develop.

Each candidate will have to be continually evaluating and readjusting their tactics vis a vis each candidate based on what each of the other 3 candidates are doing.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 06:43 PM | Comments (0)        


Bell vs. Gammage

I'm not a Democrat. I don't know who will be endorsed by what organization. I couldn't tell you who has deep long-term connections with who.

That said, my intuition is that Bell is the favorite here. He's locked up lots of endorsements from Democratic officeholders and recent former officeholders (or at least that's my perception). He's been raising money, whereas Gammage has only been able to raise money for less than a month. The primary is only about 65 days away right now, and fundraising takes time. Every hour Gammage spends catching up to Bell (who probably hasn't raised that much money himself).

Bell's also been touring the state, and picking up the occasional news article. He has to have some name ID by now with Texas Democratic primary voters? Does Gammage have name ID? After not being in office for over 10 years (and even then, only a Texas Supreme Court justice), I doubt it. Not only is he starting from scratch money-wise, he's starting out close to scratch name ID-wise.

Further, because Bell has locked up a reasonable amount of endorsements, he's ahead in that game too.

So far as I can tell, neither Gammage or Bell intends to attack each other too harshly, and I don't see evidence yet that either will try to be more liberal or more of a "real Democrat" than the other. Surely there will be some of that and definitely the occasional sly insinuation, particularly by whoever is behind going into the closing weeks, but so far it looks like that may be small.

One thing I've noticed that bodes well for whoever wins the Democratic primary: it looks like both Bell and Gammage want to talk about reform and who the real reformer is. If the race stays this way, it segues perfectly into either's preferred general election theme. Because they aren't trying to out-ideology each other, they won't have to change the campaign message when the primary is over. Now I have my doubts about the efficacy of reform as a general election theme, but Gammage and Bell both seem committed to the theme, so two voices on the same period for the primary time period are definitely better than one.

What would change my mind that Bell is the favorite? Money. If Gammage announces a large amount raised in his short time raising money, then that would signal that the party's donors consider him worth backing. Further, it would help alleviate Gammage's name ID problem.

If any Democrats want to send me their analysis of the primary, I will consider printing it.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 06:26 PM | Comments (3)        


Strayhorn is going on the air

From the AP:

Independent gubernatorial candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn will reintroduce herself to Texans tomorrow via television.

The 30-second T-V ad will remind voters that the state comptroller is still a Republican and "one tough grandma."

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 05:25 PM | Comments (0)        


Tom DeLay vs World

In case you missed it, I renamed my new blog to Tom DeLay vs. the World instead of DeLay vs. Lampson.

DeLay vs World seemed apt given the number of opponents and the similar branding with this blog. Thanks to the smart people who suggested it.

There's a few background posts up now, and I'll try to get more in during the next day or two. Check it out.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 12:00 PM | Comments (0)        


Casey on Friedman

Rick Casey has a column in the Houston Chronicle today about Kinky Friedman. I'm not sure how to summarize it or excerpt it. I think he's arguing that Friedman is too independent to win, but I'll just point you to it and let you decide for yourself.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 09:48 AM | Comments (0)        


No runoffs

A reader asked me this question yesterday:

I remember Ann Richards being in a runoff one year. Are there still runoffs for Gubernatorial Candidates- if so that could drastically change your predictions.
I replied thus:
My guess is that you remember a primary runoff.

The law is written such that all elections are decided by plurality vote unless otherwise specified. Primaries are the only elections that require a majority vote and thus runoffs.

Good question though. You made me nervous enough to go re-check the election code.

So, under some crazy scenarios, the next governor could be elected with a mere 33% of the vote.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 09:37 AM | Comments (3)        


Prognosticating is fun

Jason Embry has his own analysis article up at the Statesman:

"You'd have to say as of today (Perry) is still the favorite but a new dynamic was introduced," said Bruce Buchanan, who teaches government at the University of Texas. "The new dynamic is that Perry will have an opponent with relatively deep pockets and a relatively high profile for eight more months than he would have if Strayhorn had stayed in the Republican primary."

A candidate does not need a majority of the vote for victory.

The first obstacles in front of Strayhorn and Friedman, though, are landing on the November ballot by getting 45,540 signatures from registered voters who do not participate in this year's Republican or Democratic primaries.

"What somebody like Strayhorn has to do is capture all the independent vote, which is not much more than 15 or 20 percent, and then detach a significant number of Republicans and Democrats in order to get to a margin as great as the margin that Perry would get," Buchanan said.

Mike Baselice, a pollster who works for Perry, said the 2002 statewide elections indicate that about 50 percent of Texans are Republicans and 35 percent are Democrats.

"Give Strayhorn all the independent votes and give her 5 percent more from Republicans and Democrats, and she's up to 25 percent," Baselice said. "That's like the worst-case scenario for the Republican and Democrat and the best case for her. And what about Kinky Friedman getting some of the independent vote?"

He said he has not done any polling on a four-candidate race. Strayhorn's camp last month declined to say whether they were behind a poll that asked voters whether they would support her as an independent.

Perry, who faces three little-known challengers in the GOP primary, will have to deal with potential Republican pitfalls. Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Perry could lose moderate Republicans who were suspicious of the 2003 congressional redistricting plan that Republicans pushed in the Legislature and which the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review.

Is Jillson serious? Redistricting is a process issue, and process issues are not persuasive issues to voters unless they can be placed in a larger context. That's not easy to do. As a political issue, redistricting is something that is best used to raise money through direct mail.

I've long respected Baselice as one of the best, and I basically agree with him, since what he says is similar to what I said yesterday my own long analysis.

It's definitely possible for Strayhorn or Friedman to draw large numbers away from the Republican or Democrat lines, but it's a very high hurdle to jump. There's still a large segment of voters who will vote for their party's nominee.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 09:34 AM | Comments (1)        


On petition gathering

AP -- Kelley Shannon on Strayhorn and Friedman's adventures in petition gathering:

To make it onto the Texas ballot for governor in the November 2006 general election as an independent, a candidate must gather the signatures of 45,540 registered Texas voters. None of those names can be voters who cast ballots in either the Republican or Democratic party primaries March 7 or runoffs in April.

The campaigns will have 60 days to meet the requirement, but that time frame would be shortened by runoffs.

Friedman, a musician and author, has been saying for months that his campaign has volunteers gearing up to gather signatures all over Texas.

Strayhorn, who announced her independent candidacy Monday, was asked by a news reporter if she had the political operation in place to gather 45,540 signatures. Her reply hinted that she hopes to get much of that petition support from educators.

"Listen," she said, "there are not just 45,000 teachers in this state, there are 280,000 teachers and they have families and ... it's about education."

Because some political firms are accustomed to hiring people to circulate petitions for local initiatives, gathering the names of registered voters for a governor's race shouldn't be difficult for Friedman or Strayhorn, said Harvey Kronberg, publisher of the Austin-based online newsletter The Quorum Report.

"I don't think either is going to have any trouble," he said.

Kronberg placed the cost of gathering the signatures at about $1.75 to $3 per name. That totals about $136,000 on the high end. Petition gatherers would presumably try to get some extra signatures just in case some of the signatures proved to be invalid, he said.

There are 12.5 million registered voters in Texas.

The going rate for petitions is about $2 per name. I'm interested in how much of a premium will be charged. Before, I'd estimated that the price might be 50-100% higher per name.

Also, because both campaigns will gather more signatures than is necessary, I'd suggest that the cost will likely be closer to $200,000 than the cited $136,000 for each campaign.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 08:53 AM | Comments (0)        


Be careful who you marry

Via Drew at Safety, the AP:

The wife of a state representative filed Monday to run against her husband in a South Texas race that both candidates said coincides with an impending divorce.

Democratic state Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez, an incumbent from Weslaco, faces a primary challenge from his wife, Jessica Reyes-Martinez. The District 39 seat covers part of Hidalgo County.

Reyes-Martinez, 28, filed as a candidate in the March 7 primary only 30 minutes before the Monday deadline, The Monitor reported in its Tuesday edition. She's making her first bid for public office and is now a homemaker.

"I'm actually running for office, not against him," Reyes-Martinez told the McAllen newspaper. "It just happens he's in office right now."

Seems like this happens somewhere every couple of years, but it's still amusing.

Posted by Evan @ 01/04/06 08:39 AM | Comments (0)        


03 January 2006

DeLay vs. World launches

As hinted at yesterday, the Rick Perry vs. the World Media Empire, Inc. is expanding. It is not long before I will practically be Rupert Murdoch.

As a trial, I'm going to do Tom DeLay vs the World. It'll be like this blog, only the focus will be on congressional district 22. You knew that though, right? The site is still a little rough, but there's already a background post on CD22 demographics, and I'll be putting a few posts up in the next day or so.

If people start coming by regularly, then I'll keep doing it. My GoogleAds revenue will increase exponentially. How else will I become Rupert Murdoch?

(yeah yeah, I know I'm not as funny as Eileen.)

UPDATE: I changed the name to Tom DeLay vs. the World.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 06:24 PM | Comments (3)        


White House reaction

Julie Mason has the White House's reaction to Strayhorn's decision to run for governor as an independent:

The Texas governor's race is just getting started and already White House loyalties are divided, with President Bush backing Gov. Rick Perry and White House spokesman Scott McClellan supporting his mother, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

"The president will support the Republican nominee, and it's pretty clear the Republican nominee will be his friend, Rick Perry," McClellan said today.

Strayhorn, the Texas comptroller elected as a Republican, announced Monday that she will run as an independent in the governor's race.

The White House spokesman is the youngest of her four sons.

"My mother cares deeply about Texas, and she has my full support," McClellan said.

By running as an independent, Strayhorn avoids facing the incumbent in a GOP primary battle that tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

Strayhorn, campaigning as "one tough grandma," said she is still a Republican and understands Bush's decision to support Perry.

Perry, who like Strayhorn was once a Democrat, served as lieutenant governor when Bush was governor.

"I respect what he's got to do, he is still my good friend," Strayhorn said of Bush during a campaign swing around the state. "He's got to do what he's got to do. My focus is Texas."

The president generally refrains from making endorsements in contested Republican primary races, but Perry did not draw a primary opponent this year. So Strayhorn's decision to run as an independent saves Bush from having to answer a lot of awkward questions about his choice in the primary.

"The president considers my mother a friend," McClellan said.

Given that Strayhorn left the GOP primary to run as an independent, this made it much easier for the White House.

I doubt the White House has made firm decisions yet on how involved to be in the race. If the race shaped up where Strayhorn wasn't garnering much of the vote, but there was a Democratic nominee who looked capable of winning, then I think you might see some involvement. On the other hand, if it's a blowout like in 2002, then they will keep their powder dry. In between is where the interesting decisions would happen.

Also, Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee issued this statement:

Rick Perry is a strong leader who has championed the conservative principles that have made Texas a beacon of opportunity for the whole nation. The Republican Party wholeheartedly and strongly supports his campaign and will work for his re-election.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 06:22 PM | Comments (0)        


Where the race stands today -- overview and analysis

My thoughts on the Strayhorn announcement:

1. Why it is good for Democrats:
It shakes things up, and makes the race more fluid. Anything which gets the Democrats out of a standard Republican vs. Democrat election cycle is good for Texas Democrats right now.

If Strayhorn qualifies for the ballot, then Strayhorn will be another voice that criticizes Rick Perry for the duration of the election cycle. Campaign messages are all about repetition, and this campaign will (if ballot qualifications are met) feature three candidates who likely spend a majority of their time criticizing

Clearly, there's also the possibility that Strayhorn and Perry will split the Republican vote to the point where Bell/Gammage can hold the Democratic base and win.

Of course, it's bad for Democrats in three major ways: 1) trial lawyers may decide to give Carole Strayhorn money instead of the Democratic nominee. Since plaintiffs' lawyers are the primary funder of Democratic campaigns in Texas these days, this could bode poorly for the Democrats. 2) Strayhorn may drown them out, and Bell/Gammage may not be able to distinguish their criticisms of Perry from Strayhorn's, giving the Dem nominee little chance to reach beyond the base. 3) The anti-Perry vote is split.

2. Why it's good for Perry:
As Perry's campaign sent out post-Strayhorn announcement, Strayhorn is essentially conceding that she couldn't have beaten Perry in the primary.

A year ago, it looked very precarious as to whether Perry would survive the GOP primary, and now he is unopposed. Nobody could have forseen that a year ago.

He's also still a strong favorite for re-election.

3. Why it could be good for Kinky Friedman:
Friedman's campaign is being run straight out of the Jesse Ventura playbook. That's not a slam on Friedman's campaign; after all, Ventura won.

But one of the reasons Ventura won in 1998 was because he was the voice of reason. While respective Dem and GOP nominees Humphrey and Coleman (now Senator) argued and bickered partisanly (with the partisanship of impeachment as a backdrop to the election), Ventura appeared to be above the fray.

There's a lesson here for Friedman.

4. Why it's good for Carole Keeton Strayhorn:
Comptroller Strayhorn wasn't going to win the Republican primary, unless she really found a way to bottle lightning. Going independent probably improves her chance of being elected governor, although it's still going to be an uphill battle.

How it all plays out:
Politics is about math [wait, I thought all politics was local. Which is it? -- ed. Shut up.] and Rick Perry is the favorite in a four candidate scenario because he has the largest base. I estimate Perry's absolute minimum base at 35%. If we assume that the Democrats base is about 30%, then that leaves only 35% for Strayhorn and Friedman.

Who is the Democrats' base? It's white liberals and African-Americans. Now, is the Democrats base solid? Quite possibly not. Like Kuffner, I see significant numbers of cars with Kinky Friedman and KerryEdwards bumper stickers. These aren't African-Americans. I always check the ethnicity of the driver, and it is invariably white, and it is invariably an expensive car.

Why? Gay marriage. Right now, gay marriage is probably the most polarizing issue in America today, moreso even than abortion. Whether you think gay marriage is right or wrong, political reality right now is that gay marriage is a strong motivating factor for voters [though I wouldn't be surprised if the political landscape is much different 20 years from now]. I actually think there are a large contingent of both left-leaning and right-leaning voters who would consider Friedman as a candidate, however, enough of the middle-class white voters that Friedman needs most will probably not vote for him. And yes, I know Friedman isn't running on gay marriage, but if Friedman were ever in striking distance of winning, I feel confident that there would be a media campaign on the issue. Thus, given the lack of current support for gay marriage in Texas, Friedman probably has no chance of winning unless he's able to neutralize the issue, a la Mitt Romney did in 2002 with abortion in Massachusetts.

I think Friedman ultimately draws slightly more from the Democrats' base than he does from disaffected right-leaning swing voters.

So, that leaves us with Perry 35%, Bell/Gammage 25%, Friedman 5% (5% being 1/3 of white liberals). That leaves us with 35% of the vote left, probably 2/3 (23%) of which lean rightward and 12% of which lean leftward.

Given that Perry will raise the most money, do we really not think that Perry will be able to win enough of this remaining percent of the vote? I do, though if a Democrat can successfully hold all white liberals and African-Americans together while reaching some swing voters, and Strayhorn is able to siphon off a large portion of Perry's softer right-leaning support, then the Democrats have a chance. Notice that there are a few conditions on that statement.

As I write this, I've been wondering how people will disagree with me. My guess is that people will quibble with my assumption that Perry's absolute minimum base being 35%. To those people I ask this question: even if school finance were to fail miserably and everything were to go wrong for Rick Perry, do you really think that any Republican nominee will get less than 35% of the vote? If you do, then -- barring an ethics scandal on the order of Watergate -- we fundamentally disagree and I think you should go examine recent election results.

You could also argue that I'm wrong about Friedman...that could be. With independent candidates (this applies to both Strayhorn and Friedman), it is very hard to be seen as a reasonable alternative. Voters don't see you as a possible winner, and so they won't vote for you. This is a very difficult perception to overcome. Also, Kinky Friedman is a first-time candidate, and first-time candidates for big offices like governor of Texas generally lack the discipline necessary to win. The chance that Friedman blows up is definitely above negligible.

My analysis doesn't sound good at all for Carole Strayhorn, which I didn't fully realize until I started writing it. But quite simply, Republican voters will need a strong, strong reason to depart from the Republican party line. That's very difficult to do, although not impossible, when you are as good of a campaigner as she is. Unfortunately for her, as election day draws near, if Democrats appear to have a chance of victory, Republicans will probably vote for the Republican most likely to win, which would likely be the incumbent.

One more point about Strayhorn: her once-favorable editorials have turned considerably more negative lately. She once seemed to be receiving the most favorable coverage of any candidate, however her coverage has been much less favorable in the last few months. If she is to have a chance, this needs to be turned around.

Bottom line: Perry is still a strong favorite, because he will have partisan loyalty, the powers of incumbency, and the most money to spend. It will be difficult for Strayhorn to position herself as having a chance to win, but if she can, she may be able to counteract the partisan loyalty. Strayhorn's entry of the race is definitely good for Democrats, because it shakes up the race and adds considerable fluidity. However, this is still a strongly Republican state. While my analysis shows that the race will be tough for the Democratic nominee, it's not impossible if Strayhorn is able to split the Republican vote with Perry and the Democratic nominee can hold the Democratic base together. With Kinky Friedman in the race, that may be tougher than it appears.

UPDATE: I should note that Perry Dorrell has his own analysis, which I obviously don't agree with, for the reasons I delineated.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 05:23 PM | Comments (0)        


Campaign announcements

1. Chris Bell announced former Rep. Max Sandlin's endorsement.

2. Rick Perry announced his announcement tour next week, from the 10th through 12th.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 05:22 PM | Comments (0)        



Y'know, I originally named this blog "Rick Perry vs the World" because there were lots of rumors about prospective primary challengers.

Now we may have one of the largest (THE largest?) general gubernatorial elections in Texas history. So I guess the name is still apt.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 02:44 PM | Comments (0)        


Stinson's SAEN editorial

Roddy Stinson's op-ed in the San Antonio Express News:

However, when a Pulitzer Prize-winning metropolitan newspaper begins to take Friedman seriously, somebody has to spotlight the lunacy before it gains momentum and embarrasses the journalism profession permanently.

The only "serious" point that can be made about candidate Kinky is that he has become the poster child for the crippled Texas Democratic Party.

The most significant number in the Zogby poll wasn't Perry's 42 percent, but the measly 25 percent garnered by the Democrats' leading candidate, Chris Bell.

Whom did other Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents select?

Here's a clue:

Four years ago, in the state's top three races — governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. senator — the Democratic candidates received, respectively, 40 percent, 46 percent and 43 percent of the votes cast.

If you take 46 percent (the number of voters willing to vote Democratic in at least one statewide race) and subtract 25 percent (Bell's support), you get 21 percent ... Friedman's poll number.



I disagree with Stinson: Iactually think that there is a way for Friedman to come close to beating Rick Perry, but I'm generally not in the business of giving away too much free advice. I think he is a serious candidate, and has potential although I probably didn't make that clear in my analysis (probably because I don't see it as likely right now, given the strategy their campaign appears to be following).

However, I do agree with Stinson that right now Friedman is more likely to draw from Democrats than Republicans, though I think he's overstating the case.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 02:42 PM | Comments (1)        


Random observation

The Texas blogosphere did an excellent job covering the filing deadlines yesterday. The usual suspects were to blame. In particular, Chris Elam, BOR, Kuffner, and Greg.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 12:54 PM | Comments (0)        


The prognosticators

As promised in the last post, here is a little roundup of prognosications.

1. Selby -- Statesman:

Among Democratic hopefuls, former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell said through a spokesman, "In this crowd, it's going to be pretty obvious that Chris Bell is the only candidate offering new ideas about how to get Texas headed in the right direction."

Another Democratic candidate, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage of Llano, called Strayhorn's decision bad news for Perry and great news for Texas.

"This guarantees that (Perry) will have two strong opponents shedding light on his shortcomings all the way to November," he said.

2. Chron -- Ratcliffe and Robison:

The two top Democrats in the race — Chris Bell and Bob Gammage — praised Strayhorn's decision as a positive step for Texas and their own campaigns.

"The current Republican leadership has turned its back on the needs of our families and children," said Gammage. "Strayhorn's defection is just the beginning of an exodus of thinking and caring Republicans from the ranks of a badly served GOP."

Bell spokesman Jason Stanford said having two independents in the race against Perry will help a Democrat like Bell.

"All Chris Bell has to do to win is get Democrats to vote for a Democrat," Stanford said.

3. Hoppe and Slater in the DMN:

Perry aides dismissed it as the desperate stunt of a flailing candidate.

By running as an independent, Mrs. Strayhorn avoids an almost certain loss to Mr. Perry in the March 7 GOP primary. Her aides hope that the more moderate general-election voters in November will be receptive to her cross-party appeal.

"Otherwise, she's dead right after the Republican primary. Now she lives on to fight another day," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas. "This is the only way she can stay alive, and she's putting the best face on it."

Democratic consultant Chuck McDonald said the decision, announced just hours before the deadline for candidates to file to run in party primaries, presents Mr. Perry with both good news and bad.

"The good news is this is an admission by her that she can't beat him," he said. "But it also means he's going to have Carole Strayhorn bashing him over the head until November."


"Obviously, the present leadership has had enough chances to do that and have failed," said Dallas lawyer Michael Boone, a Republican who supports Mrs. Strayhorn. "I believe she will bring new light on this issue."

GOP consultant Bill Miller said anything can happen over time, but barring the catastrophic, Mr. Perry appears unbeatable.

"For him, he's in that enviable position where all he has to do is not make mistakes, not lose the race. It's his race, right now, to win," Mr. Miller said.

Republicans are ignoring a rising exasperation with politics as usual, pocked by scandal and corruption, said Mike Lavigne, a Democratic public relations consultant.

"To beat Rick Perry, you need the perfect storm of voter outrage," he said. "But this is politics. No storm is too far off."

He said the Democratic contender will point to "corruption, corruption, corruption," including the money laundering indictment of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a trip to the Bahamas Mr. Perry took last year with top donors.

Criticism was swift from the Texas Republican Party. State GOP Chairman Tina Benkiser issued a statement dismissing "Carole's one-night stand with Republicans" and removed her photograph from the wall at state GOP headquarters.

Mrs. Strayhorn switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP in 1985. Mr. Perry, who also began his political career as a Democrat, became a Republican in 1989.

George Strake, former chairman of the Texas Republican Party, echoed a common GOP refrain that Mrs. Strayhorn was a political opportunist who had "abandoned the principles" of the party.


Spokesmen for both Democrats said Mrs. Strayhorn's decision helps their campaigns.

Spokesman Jason Stanford said Mr. Bell "looks pretty good in a four-way race that includes a flawed and vulnerable incumbent and two extra campaigns trying to sack the castle."

Mr. Gammage said: "This guarantees that Rick Perry will have two strong opponents shedding light on his shortcomings all the way to November."

Mr. Friedman's campaign director, Dean Barkley, said it would be up to voters to decide who is the true independent: "Kinky Friedman, who has never been a Democrat or a Republican, or Carole, who has been both."

4. News 8 Austin:

“Rather than spend money trying to drive up turnout [in the primary], it makes more sense for her to deliver a message to Republican voters,” political analyst Harvey Kronberg said.

Perry does have considerable strength among Republican primary voters.

"If you look at polling out there, the governor does much better among traditional Republican primary voters than he does among general population voters," Kronberg said.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 09:53 AM | Comments (0)        


A bunch of different links on Strayhorn's indie announcement

Let's survey a few randomly selected (by the computers at googlenews) articles to see the different leads about Carole Strayhorn running as an independent. I'll also quote any noteworth paragraphs.

1. NYT:

TEXAS: CONTENDER FOR GOVERNOR QUITS G.O.P. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn turned her back on the Republican Party and announced that she would run for governor as an independent. The move allows her to avoid a potentially ugly primary battle against Gov. Rick Perry. Ms. Strayhorn has been a harsh critic of Mr. Perry over the past few years. "I am a Republican," she said. "But I know we must set partisan politics aside and do what's best for Texas. That is why I am running for governor as a Texas independent." If elected, Ms. Strayhorn would be the first independent Texas governor since Sam Houston nearly 150 years ago. (AP)

2. RG Ratcliffe and Clay Robison in the Houston Chron:

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, in either a bold stroke or a huge long shot, stepped away from the Republican primary Monday to challenge Gov. Rick Perry as an independent candidate.


Late Monday, a silver nail marked the spot on the wall of the Republican Party of Texas headquarters where Strayhorn's photograph had hung hours before, along with those of other GOP officeholders.

3. Wayne Slater and Christy Hoppe in Dallas Morning News:

Carole Keeton Strayhorn abandoned the Republican primary on Monday, saying she will challenge Gov. Rick Perry as an independent who can mend "a culture of political division" in Austin.

4. Selby in the Statesman:

Betting her political future against Texas history, Carole Keeton Strayhorn confirmed Monday that she's running as an independent for governor, though the former Democrat didn't sever her Republican affiliation

5. News8 Austin:

Comptroller and gubernatorial hopeful Carole Keeton Strayhorn turned her back on the Republican party today, announcing she'll seek the state's top job as an Independent candidate.
Comparing leads is fun.

Next post will compare the prognostications from those different articles.

Posted by Evan @ 01/03/06 09:38 AM | Comments (0)        


02 January 2006

Big news ahead...

...and not in the gubernatorial race.

The Rick Perry vs. the World Media Empire, Inc. may be looking to expand.

Details to follow.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/06 04:16 PM | Comments (0)        



We have an answer to the burning question of the day. Carole Keeton Strayhorn is running for governor as an independent.

This isn't a surprise. Given how carefully her campaign has been parsing its words, (eg. "She's a Republican. She's running for governor.") there wasn't much else that would have made sense.

But...wow. During this election cycle, we're going to have two credible candidates out there fighting for signatures on their petitions. All the sudden, what was going to be a blockbuster GOP primary is now going to be a total dud. Now the Democrats are going to have a more exciting primary.

Instead we'll have an interesting period where everyone holds their breath and see whether Kinky Friedman and Carole Strayhorn can get on the ballot.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/06 02:50 PM | Comments (1)        


Perry is going on the air

Governor Rick Perry has his first TV ad buy up. The AP:

The ad will debut just hours after Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announces whether she will challenge Perry in the March Republican primary or run for the office as an independent.

Either way, she's sure to criticize Perry, as she has been doing for months

The governor will try to blunt those barbs by touting job creation, lawsuit reform, and increasing public school standards in the commercial, which opens with a field of bluebonnets, a mountainscape and a cattle drive before panning to Perry on the porch of the Governor's Mansion.

"Our people are compassionate, our visions bold, our values strong. The best is yet to come," Perry says in the ad, which also will run during Wednesday's Rose Bowl, when Texas will take on Southern California for the college football national championship. "I'm proud of Texas. How 'bout you?"

Kinda reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's 84 re-elect: It's Morning in America.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/06 10:28 AM | Comments (0)        


Inside the mind of Carole Keeton Strayhorn

Today Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn will tell us what she is running for.

How do we know that? Because today is the filing deadline.

She has apparently reserved the steps of the capitol for 3pm today, though surely word will leak out in the next few hours exactly what Strayhorn has decided.

Incidentally, I saw my first Strayhorn bumper sticker this morning.

The usual rules apply: if Strayhorn decides to go independent, she'd have to gather 45,500 signatures from registered non-primary voters in the 30 days after the April runoffs (60 days if there is no runoffs, but that's unlikely.) The usual going rate for petition gathering firms is about $2 a petition, but I'd expect it to be between 50-100% higher given the shortened time frame (also, usually campaigns try to collect significantly more than the minimum, in case of disqualification), especially if both Kinky Friedman and Carole Strayhorn are trying to get on the ballot.

The rumor mills are running overtime with the gossip of what Strayhorn will do. Right now, the gossipers seem to think Strayhorn is going independent, but we will know soon. The Strayhorn campaign has steadfastly refused to elaborate on its line that Strayhorn is running for governor and is a Republican.

We'll know in a few hours.

Posted by Evan @ 01/02/06 09:20 AM | Comments (0)        


01 January 2006

The new Texas Monthly

Over the weekend I picked up the latest Texas Monthly (the Bum Steer Awards cover), which I recommend for SC Gwynne's article on targeting and Paul Burka's article on the governing difficulties of the GOP. Both were pretty good reads.

Most interesting fact I picked up: viewers of Will and Grace lean decidedly Republican.

Posted by Evan @ 01/01/06 10:37 PM | Comments (0)        



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