28 February 2006


Dyer -- FWST:

Republican incumbent Rick Perry has 100 times more money on hand for the governor's race than his richest Democratic opponent, new campaign finances reports show.

With the Republican and Democrat primaries just two weeks away, Perry has $9.4 million in cash, while Democrat Chris Bell has $90,868.90 and Democrat Bob Gammage $23,648, according to campaign finance reports due Monday. The most recent disclosures list cash on hand, as well as contributions and expenditures between Jan. 27 and Saturday.

Two other major candidates in the gubernatorial race, independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, did not have to report contributions because they are not running in the March 7 primaries.

Perry's report shows that his campaign raised $923,369 in the past 30 days and spent $407,579. By contrast, Bell raised $259,569 and spent $305,672, and Gammage raised $58,209 and spent $70,996.

The AP looks at the story from the angle of Bell getting money from trial lawyers:
Generous giving by trial lawyers helped boost gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell's fundraising during the past month as he approaches the Democratic primary election.

Bell, a former U.S. Rep. from Houston, raised $260,000 from Jan. 27 through Saturday, according to a Monday campaign filing with the Texas Ethics Commission. That's more than half the total of $509,000 he raised in 2005.


Of the amount Bell raised last month, nearly $110,000 came from lawyers. Major donors included Corpus Christi lawyer Mikal C. Watts, whose political action committee gave $25,000, and Houston lawyer Tom Pirtle, who also donated $25,000.

Trial lawyer money isn't an unmitigated good, of course. But one of the most interesting stories is that the trial lawyers who contribute big money to Democrats in the state...haven't given money. For the Democratic nominee to have a chance, they'll need to have enough resources to get their money out. Watching whether trial lawyers start to give more money to the Democratic nominee will be an interesting story for March and April.

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/06 02:38 PM | Comments (1)        



Dyer -- FWST:

Republican incumbent Rick Perry has 100 times more money on hand for the governor's race than his richest Democratic opponent, new campaign finances reports show.

With the Republican and Democrat primaries just two weeks away, Perry has $9.4 million in cash, while Democrat Chris Bell has $90,868.90 and Democrat Bob Gammage $23,648, according to campaign finance reports due Monday. The most recent disclosures list cash on hand, as well as contributions and expenditures between Jan. 27 and Saturday.

Two other major candidates in the gubernatorial race, independents Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, did not have to report contributions because they are not running in the March 7 primaries.

Perry's report shows that his campaign raised $923,369 in the past 30 days and spent $407,579. By contrast, Bell raised $259,569 and spent $305,672, and Gammage raised $58,209 and spent $70,996.

The AP looks at the story from the angle of Bell getting money from trial lawyers:
Generous giving by trial lawyers helped boost gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell's fundraising during the past month as he approaches the Democratic primary election.

Bell, a former U.S. Rep. from Houston, raised $260,000 from Jan. 27 through Saturday, according to a Monday campaign filing with the Texas Ethics Commission. That's more than half the total of $509,000 he raised in 2005.


Of the amount Bell raised last month, nearly $110,000 came from lawyers. Major donors included Corpus Christi lawyer Mikal C. Watts, whose political action committee gave $25,000, and Houston lawyer Tom Pirtle, who also donated $25,000.

Trial lawyer money isn't an unmitigated good, of course. But one of the most interesting stories is that the trial lawyers who contribute big money to Democrats in the state...haven't given money. Watching whether they start to give more money to the Democratic nominee will be an interesting story for March and April.

Posted by Evan @ 02/28/06 02:36 PM | Comments (0)        


27 February 2006

Strayhorn threatening to sue Secretary of State


The gubernatorial campaign of State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn wants to start collecting signatures as soon as the polls close March 7.

But Secretary of State Roger Williams said the campaign must wait until the day after the primary to collect signatures.

Williams' office has also said it will not accept small groups of signatures turned in before the deadline. That has representatives of the campaign accusing the secretary of state of obstructing efforts to get on the ballot.

Never a dull moment.

Posted by Evan @ 02/27/06 10:24 PM | Comments (0)        


DMN covers ethics kerfuffle in Dem primary

A few days ago, I wondered whether Gammage's ethics attack on Bell would get any coverage. To date, I've only seen an article in the Dallas:

"You can't have it both ways, you can't say you support strong ethics requirements and then not follow the requirements yourself," said Mr. Gammage, a former Texas Supreme Court justice.

A spokesman said Mr. Bell, a former Houston congressman, is sorry he missed the Feb. 13 deadline for filing a personal financial statement with the Texas Ethics Commission.

"This is an oversight, and it's been corrected," said Bell campaign spokesman Jason Stanford. He said staff members forgot about the deadline, though he said Mr. Bell wasn't blaming others.

"Obviously, it was his own responsibility," Mr. Stanford said. "He's apologized."

The statement filed Friday showed a smattering of retirement investments and debts for Mr. Bell, a lawyer, and his wife, Alison, and no unusual transactions.

Mr. Stanford said that as a Houston City Council member, Mr. Bell wrote strong ethics laws. He dismissed Mr. Gammage's criticism as "the death rattle of a flailing and desperate campaign."

On Wednesday, the Gammage campaign seized on Mr. Bell's missing the deadline in a statement that mocked an ethics speech Mr. Bell gave in Austin last fall. "There is an unofficial 'don't mess with ethics' policy around here," Mr. Bell said then.

The Gammage statement chortled: "Why hasn't Mr. 'Don't Mess with Texas Ethics' filed his personal financial statement? ... Just what does he have to hide?"

Posted by Evan @ 02/27/06 07:56 PM | Comments (0)        



1. Corrie MacLaggan in the Statesman devotes an article to Hispanics lack of thrill over their options this year, especially the Democratic statewides.

2. The Midland Reporter-Telegram included a line in their endorsement of Chris Bell that I thought was pretty funny, "...both Bell and Gammage have been well-funded, something most of the Democrats can't claim."

Bell and Gammage are well-funded? Only relative to other Democrats running statewide.

3. Clay Robison's column in the Chron:

THE act was hardly convincing, but Carole Keeton Strayhorn tried the other day to perform the impossible, distinguishing between her official role as state comptroller and her political role as would-be governor.

Tried? Well, sort of. Actually, she made a feeble comment about trying, for appearance's sake more than anything.

The occasion was a news conference in one of the comptroller's official, taxpayer-owned conference rooms in which Strayhorn gave an "official" update on the "challenges facing Texas education."

4. Ratcliffe in the Houston Chronicle on the differences between Friedman and Strayhorn on voting in the primary:

Friedman is running a "Save yourself for Kinky," don't-vote-in-the-primaries campaign based on the idea that primary voters are the most involved in Texas, and therefore the ones most likely to sign an independent candidate's petition.


"I'm not telling anyone not to go vote," Strayhorn said, noting there are House primary races across the state in which the public education community is running candidates against low-tax and private-school voucher supporters. Strayhorn, who said she's not voting in the primary, has the backing of teacher groups.

"You can still vote in those races that are important for education, and then you can still be supporting me in the fall," Strayhorn said.


"Texans can do better than a governor who cannot govern, a comptroller who cannot count and a secretary of state who is not above partisan politics," said Friedman campaign manager Dean Barkley.

Posted by Evan @ 02/27/06 07:53 PM | Comments (0)        


26 February 2006

Upset in SD18?

The conventional wisdom in Austin is that Rep. Glenn Hegar is a strong favorite to win the SD18 GOP primary (whoever wins the primary should win the seat) against Gary Gates.

Chris Elam (Gates' consultant) seems pretty psyched about Gates' chances right now, based on tracking polls they've run. I feel confident that they aren't rigging their polls either, since they aren't releasing them to the press. Of course, Gates has run twice against Hegar in HD28 before, and Hegar has won both times. Both races got very negative at the end, and this race looks like it'll be the same.

If Dan Patrick and Gary Gates are in the Texas Senate next year, I think it would be an interesting session indeed.

Posted by Evan @ 02/26/06 09:04 PM | Comments (0)        


24 February 2006

Gammage questions Bell's ethics; Bell camp responds

Bob Gammage issued this press release on Chris Bell's ethics:

Democratic Candidate for Governor Chris Bell, who has made "Don't mess with Texas ethics" the cornerstone of his entire campaign, is currently in violation of Texas election law. Though required by Texas law to file by February 13th, Bell has failed to file his personal finance statement with the Texas Ethics Commission. Just what does he have to hide?

"Maybe this is the bold ethics reform Chris Bell is talking about - just ignore the law," Gammage Communications Director Jeremy Warren said. "Mr. Bell should learn to follow the current law before he proposes any new ones."

Bell, who has pledged to "put real teeth in the enforcement [of] our ethics laws," has been bitten by failure to file mandatory paperwork in the past. According to the Houston Chronicle, in 2001, "Bell temporarily lost his law license after he failed to pay his State Bar of Texas dues." (Houston Chronicle, October 26, 2001) Bell, who received three notices from the State Bar, blamed an administrative error for the suspension of his law license for failure to pay his bar dues.

Bell's law license suspension, and his refusal to disclose his income tax returns, became issues in his Houston campaigns. The Houston Chronicle later speculated that Bell didn't want to disclose his tax returns because they would show an IRS lien for failing to pay some $13,000 in back taxes. (Source: Houston Chronicle, September 10, 2001)

In response, the Bell campaign issued a letter from Richard Morrison:
I've had enough. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore. Chris Bell is a good Texas Democrat, and anyone who says different crosses the line.

The noise emanating from the Gammage campaign has reached a poisonous level that ill-serves our party and insults a man whom I consider a kindred spirit and a real Texas hero. To question a voting record is one thing, but to question Chris Bell's Democratic credentials smacks of petty political desperation.

Bob Gammage's latest attack attempts to question Chris Bell's commitment to ethics reform. The last man to question Chris Bell's commitment to ethics reform was Tom DeLay, and we see how well that worked out for him. And as a longtime Houston-area resident, I remember when Chris Bell first championed--and passed--ethics reform that closed soft-money loopholes, required lobbyists to register, and imposed a revolving door ban. Does Bob Gammage really want to go there?

The failure to file on time -- while a pretty minor thing -- doesn't look good when you're running a campaign based around ethics. It goes to the heart of Bell's message as a candidate. I've never really been a fan of ethics campaigns, because they invite gotcha politics in return.

It's clearly an attack on Bell though, and the sort of thing Gammage promised not to do when he got into the race. But is the attack even getting enough attention to make a difference for Gammage or backfire on him?

Posted by Evan @ 02/24/06 12:04 AM | Comments (4)        


22 February 2006

Polls on the Democratic primary are worthless; who's ahead?

Who is ahead in the Democratic primary? I think it's hard to say, and I don't think that any of the media polls that we've seen can be trusted with any degree of confidence.


1. Large margin of error.
I think the recent DMN poll only had 350 "likely" primary voters. We don't know what their screen was, but my guess is that they just asked all of their 1500 overall respondents whether they were likely to vote in the primary.

This is a very weak screen, a la the recent Chronicle poll on district 22.

2. People not paying close enough attention.
Neither Chris Bell or Bob Gammage has raised enough money to run television ads. There has been some media coverage, but it hasn't exactly been wall-to-wall. The existence of several polls showing the Democrat running in 3rd or 4th place (though I remain somewhat skeptical, because I think the Democratic line will hold a solid amount of straight-ticketers and yellow dogs).

3. Historically inaccurate.
Think back to the last few high-profile Democratic primaries: 2002 gubernatorial, 2002 Senate, and 1998 Senate. The 2002 gubernatorial was very high-profile. Tony Sanchez had been getting lots of media coverage, and spent many millions, while Dan Morales jumped into the race at the last minute (and was rumored to have done so as a legal strategy to avoid indictment. He was lated indicted and convicted). As I recall, there was no doubt that Sanchez would be the nominee.

But in the closer races, the 1996 and 2002 Senate primaries, the polls failed to predict the winner. If I recall correctly, every poll had either Ken Bensten or Ron Kirk winning the primary. It ended up that Victor Morales came edged out Kirk for first (with Bentsen a few points behind the two), though Kirk later beat Morales in the runoff.

The same was true in 1996, when first-time candidate Morales shocked folks by beating out two incumbent Congressman who raised much more money than Morales. The polls -- again this is only as I recall, but I'm pretty confident -- didn't have Morales ahead. It was a thorough surprise

4. Do they really capture the geographics of the electorate?
I'm skeptical. Given the 96 and 02 primaries, plus the nature of what areas will have high turnout, it seems that the polls for Democratic primaries tend to understate the level of Hispanic and South Texas turnout. Given the lack of a good screen on the primary numbers, I think it's probably likely that the polls do not capture who Democratic primary voters will be.

I don't think any of the polls on the Democrats' primary can be said to have much predictive power.

EDIT: There's also the fact that in the DMN poll 60% of Dem primary voters are undecided. I do believe this is reasonable.

So who is ahead?
Standard caveat, that I've written many times here: I'm not a Democrat; I don't claim to have special knowledge of their primary.

But, in a low-profile race, it seems to me that newspaper endorsements carry a special weight. So far, Chris Bell has rounded up the vast majority of newspaper endorsements and prominent Democrat officeholders. See Phillip Martin's roundup of endorsements.

Bell has also raised more money, campaigned all over the state for over a year, and been in politics more recently than Gammage.

So, all in all, one would have to assume that Bell is the likely victor. By any standard measure, he seems to be ahead.

UPDATE: To see a counter-argument, check this from RedStateDem in the comments.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/06 11:15 PM | Comments (2)        


Strayhorn hints she voted for a Democrat?

Bud Kennedy -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Very, very interesting:

[. . .] Strayhorn opened her speech Saturday by saying "how proud we are" of state Rep.-elect Donna Howard, a Democrat and former suburban school trustee who won an upset victory last week in Austin against a Republican backed by some of Perry's top donors.

"I'm staying away from all party politics," Strayhorn said afterward. "I voted for the most qualified candidate.

"I think this state is hungry for independent leadership. People are sick of all the politics. Texans want somebody who can get the job done."

Fascinating. Tacking left?

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/06 08:12 AM | Comments (3)        


Strayhorn and Perry arguing over funding.

Jane Elliott/Clay Robison in the Chron:

Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday that Texans can be proud of student educational gains, but his chief rival, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, countered that residents should be ashamed of the state's record on school funding and achievement.

"No other state in America can measure up to the progress Texas has made in improving education," Perry said in a speech to business and education leaders.

"Fancy education proposals packaged in lofty titles won't fool the people of Texas. It is a sham to preach excellence and deliver mediocrity," Strayhorn said at a news conference shortly after Perry's speech.

She cited statistics indicating Texas trails most states in several key education indicators, including per pupil spending, teacher pay, high school graduation rate and college entrance scores.

But Perry said scores on national assessments have gone up in every age group, ethnicity and subject area. More students are taking advanced math courses here and the state spends the most on pre-K education, he said.

Texas is the first state to make a college prep curriculum the standard in high school, to provide study guides for struggling students and to tailor individualized graduation plans for students at risk of dropping out, Perry added.

Both state officials were speaking truthfully, with each using statistics to support their perspective. Perry is running for re-election in the March 7 GOP primary, while Strayhorn, a Republican, is running for governor as an independent.

Perry focused on documented gains in student scores on state and national tests over the past seven years and targeted programs passed by the Legislature. Strayhorn honed in on funding issues, where Texas falls below the national average for per-student spending and teacher salaries.

She was specific in saying that Texas ranks low in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and high school graduation rates. Perry merely alluded to these issues when he said that the state is "by no means near the summit" of education excellence.

Although the article alludes otherwise, I'm pretty sure Strayhorn and Perry disagreed over whether per student increased or dropped in 2005.

Posted by Evan @ 02/22/06 08:08 AM | Comments (0)        


21 February 2006

Early voting begins today

Tuesday the 21st is the beginning of early voting.

Posted by Evan @ 02/21/06 11:57 AM | Comments (0)        


19 February 2006

Dallas Morning News poll numbers

Blum & Welprin Associates; conducted 2/9-15; 1482 REGISTERED voters. MoE 3=/-
Dem subsample: 301 LIKELY Dem primary voters; MoE 5.5%.

General Election Matchups
Perry 36%
Bell 19
Strayhorn 16
Friedman 10
Undec/Oth 19

Perry 36%
Gammage 17
Strayhorn 17
Friedman 10
Undec/Oth 19

Friedman 20%/15%
Bell 12 / 5
Gammage 6 / 2

Dem Primary Matchup
Bell 28%
Gammage 12
Undec/Oth 60

Asked of Friedman voters
Matchup W/O Friedman

Strayhorn 34%
Bell 25
Perry 18
Undec/Oth/No Vote 23

Asked of Friedman voters
Matchup W/O Friedman

Strayhorn 36%
Gammage 20
Perry 18
Undec/Oth/No Vote 14

Perry As Gov.
Approve 47%
Disapprove 38

Strayhorn As Comptroller
Approve 53%
Disapprove 16

Perry's Most Impt Accomplishment
As Gov. (no list)

Hurricane Katrina/relief 8%
Education reform 7
Taxes/tax reform 2
Jobs/economic development 2
Highway construction 1
Border control 1
None/Oth 28

Perry's Most Impt Accomplishment
As Gov. (list provided)

Hurricane Katrina 28%
Education reform 13
Holding line on taxes 9
Highway construction 9
Jobs/econ development 7
None/Oth 22

Posted by Evan @ 02/19/06 11:25 AM | Comments (0)        


New Dallas Morning News poll

The Dallas Morning News commissioned a poll. Their writeup is here.

The full results are here.

Posted by Evan @ 02/19/06 12:47 AM | Comments (2)        


17 February 2006

National ticket talk: who wants to be Veep?

Long time Statesman reporter Dave McNeely writes on possible national ambitions of Texas' politicos.

Last month, Gov. Rick Perry declined to say whether he'll serve the full four-year term he's seeking this year.

"I'm interested in getting things done," Perry told reporters during a campaign fly-around in mid-January. "If I can get 'em done in six years, great and good. If I can get 'em done in eight years, great and good. If it takes me 12 years, great and good."

Presuming he wins, asked San Antonio Express-News reporter Peggy Fikac, would he serve the full term?

"I'm not saying one way or the other," Perry replied. "I'm saying that I'm focused on November of '06 and that is as far -- from (an) electoral standpoint -- that I'm comfortable discussing."

Sounds like Perry's keeping his options open to join a national ticket in 2008.


Perry has been making the rounds in Washington, D.C. -- ostensibly to seek federal dollars for Texas -- but also to see and be seen by national power brokers. His political consultant, after all, is David Carney of New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary.

Texas' current senior senator, Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, considered running for governor against Perry to add executive experience to her appeal for a national ticket. But she decided fairly certain re-election this year, plus her Senate service and gender, would have to do, rather than face a nasty, divisive primary battle she might lose.

It may seem a long shot for Perry to get on a national ticket. But guts, hard campaigning and a lot of luck have already taken him much further than many onlookers thought possible.

I wrote about this a few months ago. My thoughts haven't changed: it's very, very improbable that Perry (or Hutchison) will be on the Republican ticket in 2008.

Posted by Evan @ 02/17/06 12:38 PM | Comments (1)        


Round 'em up

1. Selby's Statesman read on the attacks over Perry's Bahamas trip two years ago to talk about school finance.

2. Lots of reviews of last night's premier of CMT's reality show series on Kinky Friedman's campaign. Here's the Chron. FWST. Meanwhile, the New York Times previewed the show. Unfortunately, I had to miss the show, so no review from me.

3. Wayne Slater talks about Kinky's voting record, or lack thereof. Friedman's voted once in the past 12 years, because he says, "I did not like my choices."

"I was for Bush in 2004," he said. "He's a good man trapped in a Republican's body."

Mr. Friedman said he supported Bill Clinton in the 1990s but didn't vote for him because he was often on tour outside the country.

"I was doing a lot of music then," he said.

He added: "And I campaigned like hell for Ann Richards [in 1994], but I don't think I voted. I should have set up absentee arrangements, but I didn't."

4. San Antonio Express News on "to vote or not to vote":

Friedman is using the catchy "Save yourself for Kinky" slogan to encourage voters not to vote in the March 7 primary election.

Anyone who votes in the primary cannot sign a petition for an independent candidate.

Strayhorn, however, is encouraging people to vote.

"We are telling voters that if you vote in the primary, you can still vote for (Strayhorn) in November in the general election," said Mark Sanders, spokesman for Strayhorn. "We still have that 9 (million) or 10 million people that can sign our petition."

Bruce Buchanan, government professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said getting signatures is expensive and the difference in the campaigns is probably because of money.

He said that Friedman is using his slogan because it might be less costly and it is an easy way for him to get votes.

Friedman's camp is also pretty upset that Secretary of State Roger Williams is encouraging people to vote and says it may take two months to validate petitions. It's understandable that they are upset, but the Sec of State generally encourages people to vote.

Posted by Evan @ 02/17/06 12:28 PM | Comments (0)        


16 February 2006

Long Kinky Friedman profile

The Austin Chronicle has a long profile of Friedman. I won't try to excerpt it; it's too long.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/06 11:57 AM | Comments (0)        


Balance beams

Wayne Slater in the Dallas Morning News:

As exhibit No. 1 in her bid to unseat Gov. Rick Perry, Carole Keeton Strayhorn has blasted the governor's "failed leadership" in fixing the state's school finance system.

Mrs. Strayhorn says she would do a better job – details to come.

The comptroller has also been vocal in criticizing the Republican governor on homeowners insurance rates and protecting the border – but has not yet offered plans on what she would do differently.

There will be plenty of time to get specific, Mrs. Strayhorn says.

"By next November, the people of Texas are going to know precisely where I am on everything that's of major concern to them," Mrs. Strayhorn said in an interview.


"If you can make the campaign about your opponent's positions without in effect having to explain or defend your own, that's a plus," said political scientist Jerry Polinard of the University of Texas-Pan American. "But in point of fact, I don't think there's any way a challenger in her position can escape very long without having to identify what she would do in place of what's currently being done."

In announcing she would challenge the Republican governor as an independent on the November ballot, Mrs. Strayhorn said she hoped to attract both Republicans and Democrats.

Analysts said Mr. Perry's strongest appeal is to GOP loyalists and social conservatives who dominate the party. To win, Mrs. Strayhorn must win moderate voters from both parties, analysts say.


Mrs. Strayhorn also appears to have modified her public position on abortion. In 1996 and 1998, she supported overturning the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion, and she opposed using public money to pay for abortions, according to questionnaires she answered for Greater Austin Right to Life.

Asked whether that was still her view, she declined to respond directly.

"I believe in the sanctity of life, but I recognize and understand that there are those tough situations where heartbreaking decisions have to be made," she said. "That is my position."

More than any specific policy issue, Mrs. Strayhorn argues that the central question in the campaign is Mr. Perry's performance over the last five years. She has accused the governor of "misplaced priorities and failed leadership" and of being too cozy with special interests.

The governor and Legislature have been unable to reach agreement on a plan to lower property taxes and finance public education. The Texas Supreme Court has ruled the current system is unconstitutional and has given lawmakers until June 1 to correct the problem.

In the past, Mr. Perry has offered specific plans for a school finance overhaul and property tax relief, though his ideas, too, have changed over several legislative sessions. His ideas have included specific formulas to reduce property taxes and make up the difference by increasing the state sales tax, expanding the franchise tax to more businesses, legalizing video slot machines at racetracks and taxing adult-oriented businesses. His proposals have been rejected by the Legislature, sometimes on embarrassingly lopsided votes.

Mrs. Strayhorn has declined to offer a specific plan, although she does say she supports a $3,000 pay raise for teachers.

She has said any broader solution should start with two programs cut from her agency by the GOP leadership that identified a laundry list of cost-saving ideas to fund education and other programs.

"And right along with that, teachers and educators will be the first ones at the table. They're going to be plugged in first in a Strayhorn education plan," she said. "As this spring goes on, I will be adding to that."

Mrs. Strayhorn has been particularly critical of Mr. Perry on the issues of insurance and utility costs. A recent study found that Texas homeowners pay the highest insurance premiums in the nation.

Asked what she would do to curb rising insurance rates, Mrs. Strayhorn said it was too early to outline her plan.

On another issue where she has criticized the governor – illegal immigration – she also said she would offer specific ideas later in the campaign.


As for setting out specific programs on key issues, Mrs. Strayhorn said she would present details on her timetable.

"In each of these areas, you don't just lay it out today," she said. "I will be very deliberately speaking to those issues, and I can assure you the people of Texas are going to know precisely where I stand."

It will be interesting to see how Strayhorn balances this.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/06 11:11 AM | Comments (0)        



It's been amazing how Republicans have managed to avoid primaries in statewide races. Although the Republican Party now thoroughly dominates statewide races -- and has for a decade -- Texas still has yet to see a real GOP primary in a high profile race. The closest we can get is probably AG races in the 90s. Part of this is undoubtedly due to Karl Rove, who exercised a good deal of influence in helping ambitious politicians decide which office to run for. To some degree, Rove still likely exercises some of that power occasionally. But he has other things to deal with right now. Yet we still won't be having a high-profile primary in 2006.

When I began this blog in December 2004, it seemed to be a 99.99% chance that 2006 would bring a GOP gubernatiorial primary. And yet, somehow it didn't happen.

But now, we have two sides warring.

Five "liberal Republicans" are being challenged with heavy funding from a Dr. Leininger-bankrolled PAC [Leininger's favorite issue is school vouchers]. Those House members? Tommy Merrit in Longview, Roy Blake in Nacogdoches, Carter Casteel in New Braunfels, Delwin Jones in Lubbock, and Charlie Geren in Fort Worth.

Meanwhile, the Texas Parent PAC wants to push for more funding for public schools. It's targeting incumbents Larry Phillips in Sherman, Education Chairman Kent Grusenddorf, and Elvira Reyna of Mesquite, as well as several open seats. The Texas Parent PAC is backed by former Lt. Guv and state Sen. Bill Ratliff, Lyndon Olson (rumored to run for guv as a Dem), and Charles Butt (whose grocery stores I love).

The major intrigue? In a way, you could say there's glimpses of a shadow battle between Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Perry is close to the Republican Party of Texas, which polled vulnerability in several of these Republican incumbent's districts. Meanwhile, Hutchison has appeared at a Geren fundraiser and has "endorsed other Republicans under attack from the purists."

2006 didn't bring the Battle of the Titans between Rick Perry and Hutchison. Maybe this is more like the Cold War.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/06 12:22 AM | Comments (0)        


School finance and gambling

There's no easy money for education. Except, legislators often feel like gambling is easier than others. Moritz in thw FWST:

Undaunted by a two-year string of legislative defeats, several organizations representing the gambling industry are poised to renew the fight to bring Las Vegas-style games to Texas when lawmakers are called back to Austin in the spring to overhaul the state’s school finance system.

And gambling opponents vow to wage yet another round of trench warfare against their better armed and funded foes to keep those games from operating in Texas.


The Texas Horsemen's Partnership, led by veteran lobbyist Reggie Bashur, said that allowing the video slots at the tracks would generate revenue leading to larger purses, which means that Texas would be better positioned to bring in top-flight thoroughbreds and more top-tier stakes races.

Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, now the Republican candidate for state comptroller, said the benefits would trickle down through Texas' farming and ranching industries.

Even though about a dozen bills that would allow a range of new games, from video slots to full-fledged casinos, were filed during the 2005 session, few gained tractioon.

In the Republican-dominated Legislature, a solid bloc of Democrats served notice that they would not support gambling initiatives to underwrite a new school finance system. And a smaller core group of socially conservative Republicans led by state Rep. Linda Harper Brown of Irving and Sen. Jane Nelson of Lewisville vowed to block any gambling legislation no matter what its purpose with any legislative tactic at their disposal.

Stinson, Bashur and a third entry into the gambling-legislation sweepstakes, Austin lobbyist Chris Shields of the newly formed Texas Gaming Association, predicted that a need for state revenue that doesn't require a tax increase coupled with the need to compete with neighboring states will help persuade reluctant lawmakers to support some form of their initiatives.

Officeholders don't like gambling. But often they like raising taxes or cutting spending even less. Perry has proposed slots before. Strayhorn has been of several minds on gambling, but her son says that gambling should be on the table.

I've said before on this blog that I think if gambling is to be expanded, the first option considered ought to be to legalizing poker like California did in the 70s.

And I think there is probably a significant but less than 50% chance that gambling is expanded in some way. But that's outside-MoPac speculation.

Posted by Evan @ 02/16/06 12:08 AM | Comments (0)        


14 February 2006

New Rasmussen numbers; good for Strayhorn, Gammage

500 Likely voters; MoE 4.5%, pollster Scott Rasmussen; conducted February 6th.

Rick Perry 40%
Carole Strayhorn 31%
Chris Bell 13%
Kinky Friedman 9%

Rick Perry 38%
Carole Strayhorn 29%
Bob Gammage 18%
Kinky Friedman 8%

Perry 53%/45% Favorable/Unfavorable
Strayhorn 55%/31% Favorable/Unfavorable

Rasmussen's last poll was in early Jan, when he had the numbers as Perry 40%, Strayhorn 21%, Bell 14%, and Friedman 12%.

I wrote this back then, and I think it still applies generally:

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.

My guess is that Strayhorn probably has softer support than Perry, but the numbers are certainly good news for Comptroller Strayhorn. Perry's re-election seems very likely right now, unless one candidate emerges as the de facto anti-Perry candidate. The difference between this Rasmussen poll and his poll last month is basically just that Strayhorn picked up about 10 points, almost half of which was from Friedman or the Democrat. There are only 7% undecided in this poll though, so the law of diminishing returns suggests that Strayhorn may have a much tougher time going from 30% to 40% than she did (if Rasmussen is accurate) going from 20% to 30%.

Can Strayhorn win enough Democrats to beat Perry? I'm on record as being skeptical of the idea, because I think the Democratic line will still likely be worth a good chunk of Democrats, no matter who the candidate is.

It's also good news for Bob Gammage. Who would have guessed that he'd be polling 5% above Bell in a general election matchup? Do these numbers augur a primary lead for Gammage? It's surprising to me that Gammage could be running 40% stronger than Bell (and remember the margin of error), but who knows?

But, once we have a Democratic nominee in less than three weeks, I think it's clear that the Democratic nominee has to be very wary of Strayhorn. It's unlikely that a Democrat can win any of Perry's current 40%, and there are only 7% undecided in Rasmussen's poll. So the Democratic nominee will have to train his sights on Strayhorn to have a chance to win, assuming Strayhorn is at 30% right now.

And Strayhorn? At some point does she tack more to the left to try to make sure Democrats don't vote for a Democrat?

Perry's campaign, I'm guessing, is already polling the intensity of Strayhorn's support, and the issues which can peel off a few percent here and there.

The poll seems to confirm that idea that Friedman has been hurt most of all by Strayhorn's entry into the race.

Four way races are fascinating! There's lots more that could written (and what's written could use some editing), but I have a paper due tomorrow.

QUICK UPDATE: I saw a few of the questions on Harvey's site from the poll. Rasmussen identified Friedman as "independent Richard Friedman." That's very likely to have understated Friedman's support. To date, I don't know of any journalist that has noticed this. Moreover, so far as I can tell, Friedman's campaign isn't screaming at the top of their lungs about it. If I were the Kinky campaign, I would have a press release out to every journo in the state.

I wrote about a similar issue quite a bit at DeLay vs World not too long ago. These sorts of things really annoy me. If I get a chance, you can expect to hear more about this from me tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: This assumes, of course, that Friedman will be on the ballot as "Kinky Friedman." He may not be by law; I assume he'd be on the ballot as Kinky if he chose. I'll look into this when I get a chance.

Posted by Evan @ 02/14/06 04:30 PM | Comments (5)        


12 February 2006

Upcoming campaign finance report dates

February 13 -- Personal Financial Statement for candidates
February 27 -- Campaign Finance report through 2/25

In other words, tomorrow we get to pick through officeholders' and candidates' personal lives. Fun times!

Posted by Evan @ 02/12/06 10:16 PM | Comments (0)        



1. The AP does some mini-profiles on the unknowns in the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries: Larry Kilgore, Star Locke, Rhett Smith, and Rashad Jafer.

2. More AP, from KTRK, on Rick Perry's speech at CPAC.

"The public expects Democrats to spend because that's what they do," Perry said. "On the other hand, they elect Republicans to stop that from happening, and if Republicans keep spending like Democrats, the public will elect the real thing."


Perry, who is seeking re-election and has minor opposition in the March 7 primary, counted himself as a Republican who has stayed true to conservative principles of less government and limited spending.

"It seems as if conservatives won the war at the ballot box and then let the opposition keep most of the land," Perry said. Some supporters put President Bush in that category.


Perry told the crowd conservatism is not about dismantling government but making the right investments in the right priorities -- such as border security.

"How many more Border Patrol agents could have been placed on the border if Congress lived with just 13,000 earmarks instead of the 14,000 contained in legislation in 2004?" Perry asked referring to what some call "pork" in federal spending bills.

Oblique shot at his former ticket-mate? Hmm.

3. Tinsley at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes on Strayhorn and Friedman's desire to have people not vote in the primaries. Those independents are awfully lucky Felix Alvarado's check bounced him off the Democratic primary ballot.

4. Why not have one more AP story?

A Republican audience applauds as Gov. Rick Perry lists his achievements: luring businesses to Texas, requiring parental consent for abortions, banning gay marriage.

With the help of a teleprompter, he delivers a carefully worded speech at each stop on his campaign kickoff trek across Texas. Behind the scenes, aides choreograph coming events, arrange for television ads and mail fundraising letters.

It's early in this election year, and Perry is the incumbent in President Bush's red home state, yet he's leaving nothing to chance. Even with the backing of the GOP establishment and only minor opposition in his March 7 primary, he's already campaigning hard for re-election.


Strayhorn said Perry's early intensity is aimed at her.

"He knows we've got a two-person, a real race here. I am going to win this race," she said. "I love it. I have never been happier in my political life."

Indeed, in almost gleeful fashion, Strayhorn constantly criticizes Perry over what she says is his failure to lead the state in solving school finance and improving children's health care.

Strayhorn's best hope is that the Democratic nominee polls so low that Democrats vote for her, seeing her as the credible alternative to Perry.

Posted by Evan @ 02/12/06 10:06 PM | Comments (0)        


08 February 2006

Kinky Friedman calls for tax cut?

He never ceases to surprise me:

Kinky Friedman on Tuesday became the second candidate in the gubernatorial race to say surplus state funds should be returned to taxpayers.

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the state comptroller, called last year for unspent dollars to be spread among hurricane-damaged communities. She subsequently said dollars should be delivered to homeowners confronting escalating school property taxes. Friedman and Strayhorn are independent aspirants for governor. Each one can reach the November ballot only by collecting more than 45,000 voter signatures this spring.

Friedman, pegging the state's budget surplus at $3 billion, based on a report by The Associated Press, charged Strayhorn with failing to estimate state revenue and said GOP Gov. Rick Perry, who seeks re-election, has not been "looking out for the interests of the people."

Perry spokesman Robert Black, noted that Perry favors cutting school property taxes by billions and that he intends to call a spring session on property taxes and public education.

"We're happy to see Kinky hop on the tax cut train as it leaves the station," Black said.

Selby's wordsmithing leaves me a bit unclear: was Friedman suggesting a tax cut? A tax rebate? Giving money to hurricane victims? Given the context, I'm assuming Friedman was calling for a tax cut/rebate, which surprises me.

RELATED: The Statesman's Selby profiles Kinky Friedman contributor John McCall. McCall has given 1/3 of the $1.8M that Friedman has raised.

UNRELATED: Quite a few new posts over at Tom DeLay vs World.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 09:10 PM | Comments (2)        


Kronberg prints the Strayhorn/Perry verbal volleys

The state has $4.3 billion that hasn't been appropriated (some was set aside, purposely). Sounds like a good thing? Perry and Strayhorn are exchanging words about it.

I was about to write, "Must be campaign season." But really, these two don't really need an excuse to fire a press release about the other, do they? But that's fine; the reason we have elections is to let voters decide who they like better. Kronberg:

Strayhorn stressed that her revenue estimate was not an update of her revenue forecast. She said the $4.3 billion simply reflected the actions of the regular and special sessions in 2005. She also refused to speculate on how the money could affect how the Legislature targets tax reform. "I’m not going to even play that game," she said. "This speaks for itself."

She addressed criticism by Perry on Wednesday that she was delinquent in collecting $2.6 billion in funds due to the state and that she was late in making her revenue estimate. She said the funds in question had been referred to the state Attorney General after her office made every attempt to collect the money. Some of the money has lain uncollected for up to 10 years.

Strayhorn, who is running for governor as an independent, accused Perry of playing politics with the numbers.

"I believe that the governor of the state has a responsibility to know the facts and to tell the people of Texas the truth," she said. "This is a partisan attack, a political attack, and once again the governor is not telling the people of Texas the truth.


Kathy Walt speaking on behalf of the Governor's office issued a statement chastising the Comptroller.

"Though Comptroller Strayhorn has a long history of revising her revenue estimates, today she took it one step further by contradicting a previous number she published as final just three months ago. Bottom line: this comptroller can’t count."

The Governor's office added the following explanantion: "Today Strayhorn raised by $800 million the amount of unanticipated revenue she reported Texas had at the close of the fiscal year on Aug. 31, 2005. As recently as November, in her own office’s Fiscal Notes publication, Strayhorn wrote that she had closed the books on the 2004-05 biennium and had identified $1.2 billion in unanticipated revenue that came into the state during the last three months of the year. Today she admitted she was off by $800 million by now saying there is $2 billion in unanticipated revenues. If she had closed the books on the biennium, why is she changing the bottom line by $800 million? "

Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton responded, ""On Sept. 1, 2005, the first day of the new fiscal year, Comptroller Strayhorn reported to the people of Texas and the Legislature the good news about the state’s revenue situation. She said, after closing the books on the fiscal year, $1.2 billion in unanticipated and unexpected revenue was available.

Hamilton continued, "Over the course of the next several weeks and months, the Comptroller’s office reviewed income and expenditures for hundreds of year-end state agency accounts. It was that lengthy review that allowed her to report today an additional $800 million in available revenue. This is a normal review and report produced by the Comptroller's office each biennium after the certification of the General Appropriations act."

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 07:11 PM | Comments (0)        


Bell and Gammage to debate tomorrow

Pink Dome reports that Bell and Gammage will tape a debate tomorrow for WFAA.

Wayne Slater of DMN and Brad Watson of WFAA will moderate. WFAA will stream it live over the internet, as well.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 06:45 PM | Comments (0)        


BOR interviews Bell and Gammage

Recently re-launched Burnt Orange Report's Phil Martin has two interesting interviews with Chris Bell and Bob Gammage.

I'm amused by Gammage's response to Martin's question about Republican proposals on education: "Crap, crap, and crap." You don't see that sort of candor frequently. I'm sure Laurence appreciates it.

Martin plans to post the second part of each interview tomorrow.

UPDATE: Vince L has also interviewed Bell and Gammage.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 05:38 PM | Comments (0)        


Perry: Special session likely to deal only with tax system, not education

Clay Robison in the Houston Chronicle:

Gov. Rick Perry wants the Legislature, in a special session this spring, to cut school property taxes by about one-third but postpone action on other education changes until next year, a legislator who met with the governor said Monday.

"The governor was saying we're not going to do any (school) reforms this session," [state Sen. Jeff] Wentworth said, despite calls by House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for changes in how education dollars are spent.


Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt on Monday confirmed the governor's meeting with the San Antonio legislators but declined to say what specifically was discussed.

"The governor has indicated that his primary interest and focus right now will be on addressing the Supreme Court ruling," Walt said.

She said other items could be added to the agenda after the finance changes are addressed. The governor sets the agenda for a special session, which can last as long as 30 days.

I'm pretty sure it was always the governor's intention to just deal with the tax system; that was my impression anyway.

UPDATE: Dewhurst feels differently. Perry, of course, is the one who decides what to include on the agenda for any special sessions:

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told the Texas Association of Business this afternoon that he wants a call on the special session this spring that goes beyond the business tax.

Dewhurst said it was his take, after talking with senators, that no one is going to have the appetite to take on education again in the regular session once the special session is over. The special session will be the time, Dewhurst said, to tackle issues such as the college and workforce readiness of the state's high school graduates.

"We must focus on doing that which is necessary to improve the quality of education," Dewhurst said, stressing that a better-educated workforce is the key to economic development in the state. "We have got to improve academic performance."

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 12:09 PM | Comments (0)        


New Survey USA survey out

WOAI commissions a survey of 400 Texans every month. Here is this month's:

Felix Alvarado
8% Favorable
8% Unfavorable
14% Neutral
70% Unfamiliar

Chris Bell
7% Favorable
10% Unfavorable
21% Neutral
62% Unfamiliar

Larry Camp
5% Favorable
11% Unfavorable
19% Neutral
65% Unfamiliar

Marcus Cherry
3% Favorable
8% Unfavorable
20% Neutral
69% Unfamiliar

"Kinky" Friedman
21% Favorable
26% Unfavorable
28% Neutral
25% Unfamiliar

Bob Gammage
7% Favorable
9% Unfavorable
20% Neutral
64% Unfamiliar

Rashad Jafer
4% Favorable
14% Unfavorable
11% Neutral
71% Unfamiliar

William Jean
6% Favorable
7% Unfavorable
18% Neutral
69% Unfamiliar

Larry Kilgore
8% Favorable
10% Unfavorable
20% Neutral
61% Unfamiliar

Rick Perry
46% Favorable
37% Unfavorable
13% Neutral
4% Unfamiliar

Mike Redlich
3% Favorable
8% Unfavorable
15% Neutral
74% Unfamiliar

Rhett Smith
5% Favorable
9% Unfavorable
20% Neutral
67% Unfamiliar

Carol Keeton Strayhorn
40% Favorable
23% Unfavorable
19% Neutral
18% Unfamiliar

James Werner
5% Favorable
8% Unfavorable
18% Neutral
68% Unfamiliar

For comparison's sake, last month is here.

Remember, this is only 400 people, so margin of error is on the high side. Probably about 5 percent. More importantly, it's only of Texans, not registered voters and not likely voters.

Posted by Evan @ 02/08/06 11:41 AM | Comments (1)        


07 February 2006

More money numbers

Peggy Fikac -- SAEN has the new fundraising numbers:

. . .Bell reported raising the $60,681 and spending $73,270.

Bell, a former congressman out of Houston, reported $152,297 in cash on hand as of Jan. 26, down from $165,444 as of Dec. 31.

Stanford said the campaign raised "six figures" in the entire month of January, noting the Jan. 26 cutoff.

Jeremy Warren of Gammage's campaign provided his candidate's totals, saying Gammage had $61,929.20 cash on hand as of Jan. 26. That is up from $52,940 at the end of 2005.

A former state lawmaker and congressman who also has served on the Texas Supreme Court, Gammage raised $30,507.94 and spent $23,964.94 during the first part of the year, Warren said. He got into the race late in 2005.

Perry reported raising $260,738 during the last reporting period and having $9.1 million cash on hand after expenditures including advertising and a three-day, 12-city tour launching his re-election campaign.

He had $11.5 million cash on hand at the end of 2005. His campaign said about $2 million was spent on television and radio advertising.

Because only candidates in contested primaries were required to file Monday, neither Strayhorn nor fellow independent hopeful Kinky Friedman, an entertainer and author, had to submit reports. Both are bypassing the primaries with their effort to get on the ballot as independent candidates.

Friedman's campaign, when asked by a reporter, said he raised about $125,000 in January but didn't immediately have a tally for expenditures.

Strayhorn, who reported $8.1 million cash on hand at the end of 2005 and also ran TV advertising in January, didn't provide a voluntary update. Her campaign donors include traditionally Democratic backers.

"The Democratic donor base has to realize that the best chance at beating Rick Perry is to support Chris Bell," said Stanford, his spokesman.

"There is a ton of Democratic money in the governor's race right now. The only problem is, right now, it's going to a Republican."

In this, Bell's/Gammage's interest coincide with Perry.

Which makes you wonder: it may make more sense right now for the Democrats' to try to reduce Strayhorn's poll numbers than Perry's, in the hopes that they can recapture the flow of Democratic money.

Posted by Evan @ 02/07/06 12:28 PM | Comments (0)        


03 February 2006

Been busy

I've been busy with life. My apologies. Until I start making more than pennies a day from this blog, it will probably not be my first priority in life. Heh.

I may post some over the weekend, but this weekend should be pretty busy too. But I have some posts planned for both here and Tom DeLay vs World.

As Arnold would say, I'll be back.

Posted by Evan @ 02/03/06 04:46 PM | Comments (0)        



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