27 September 2006
Term limits for Texas governors (and Rick Perry)
A commenter writes:
Rick Perry cannot run again - he's term limitedThe first is factually incorrect. Texas governors are not term-limited. Rick Perry will be able to run again in '10.
In one year - most of Dan's supporters are going to know alot more about Mr, Patrick and be able to make a full and decisive choice about even reelecting him.
The second...well, what evidence do we have for this? Several well-funded opponents completely failed to convince Republican primary voters in SD7 not to vote for Dan Patrick. You might be right, but so far the evidence seems to weigh against you.
News or opinion? You tell me.
Clay Robison is the head of the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. That means his job description is to do hard state political news without a slanted viewpoint. He also writes a weekly opinion column, where he gives his own viewpoint, and I can't recall that his viewpoint has ever been favorable to a Republican or a center-right viewpoint.
Can you read this article and tell me whether Robison is supposed to be writing an opinion column or hard news? It's not labeled, so I honestly don't know. I assume it's opinion, but the whole dilemma serves to illustrate the difficulty that occurs when your chief state politics reporter also writes a weekly liberal viewpoint column.
I'm going to offer up some comments on Robison's article, some of which will probably defend Perry, even though I don't agree with the governor's position on immigration.
Ok. Robison is implying that Rick Perry has hindered the process of federal immigration policy, but honestly, I'm not really sure how Perry has done so. Methinks Robison has given Perry far to much credit for being powerful in Washington DC. If you can support Robison's statement, I'd love to hear it, because I can't think of any credible support.
Developing a better immigration policy is the federal government's responsibility, but the governors — and would-be governors — of border states, such as Texas, can help or hinder the process.
Well, that's a viewpoint, and one I might largely agree with. It is clearly opinion though.
In this election year, the operative word for Gov. Rick Perry and most of his opponents is hinder, and the rhetoric will get worse between now and Nov. 7.
If Perry had agreed with his big-money donors, why do I feel like the story would be that Perry is in the pocket of donors? Either way, the story would have a negative tone towards the governor. Is it just me, or is that unfair?
With statements and a TV commercial fanning the hopes of illegal-immigration bashers who would seal the border with a wall 20 feet high, Perry has even defied some of his own top political donors.
Whoa. Robison is basically calling the governor a xenophobe, but couching it in language that lets him say that he wasn't exactly calling Perry a xenophobe. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sure seems that way.
Those donors — some of Texas' most prominent Republican business people — want a new guest-worker program or a path to citizenship for foreign workers because they think the state's economy and, in some cases, their own labor-intensive industries depend upon immigrant help.
But by giving big bucks to Perry, they, ironically, have helped the governor foster a political climate of xenophobia that is killing their cause. In an effort orchestrated or encouraged by the Manhattan Institute, a New York-based free market think tank, 36 Texas business leaders recently co-signed an op-ed article praising immigrant workers and urging reform of immigration laws.
That's a pretty serious charge, but again, I don't see much support for his statement. Although Perry has certainly talked about securing the border, I think it's largely been in as uninflammatory a manner as possible. And the proof, I think, will come on election day, when an impressive 35-40% of Hispanics vote for Rick Perry.
Moreover, if I did see support for Robison's statement, I would never even dream of considering a vote for Rick Perry.
Money money money
As opposed to federal campaign laws, where super-money raisers and bundlers wield a disproportionate amount of political power...but we often don't get full disclosure of who those people are. Plus, the federal laws encourage non-disclosure by shunting money off to shadowy third-party groups.
An analysis by the Houston Chronicle of the $25 million raised by the four major candidates between last year and the first six months of this year found key donors with interests ranging from energy and tort laws to food processing and home building.
Their contributions ranged from $50,000 to $850,000.
Texas is one of seven states with no limits on the size of campaign contributions. Critics say the absence of limits has created super-donors who wield a disproportionate amount of political power.
Democracies are very messy things. Politicians and officeholders will owe somebody when they get elected; that's the nature of a democracy. We absolutely need the media to report on things like this, but I wish there wasn't always a cynical, sardonic tone. Note: this article is more cynical than sardonic...and this article isn't even that bad.
This bit made me laugh:
Bell is picking up support from traditional Democratic funders in the wake of some recent polls showing Strayhorn lagging, Guntert said.No downside to getting the support of big Democratic donors? I know Ms. Guntert is a spinmeister for Chris Bell, but everyone knows big Democratic donors in the state of Texas means trial lawyers. Relatively recent history suggests that there is potentially a very large downside to getting the support of big Democratic trial lawyer donors.
"Chris Bell is very, very proud to be a Democrat," he said. "There's no downside to being a Democrat and getting the support of big Democratic donors."
Shorts, turned into a pro-nano rant
1. Michael Dell -- the wealthiest Texan -- and Governor Perry held a news conference to announce that Dell would be bringing 500 new jobs jobs to the area. Dell credited the economic climate of Texas.
2. Perry is giving the headline speech to NanoTX '06 on Wednesday morning.
Though there are many such conferences around the world, nanoTX'06 arrives in Dallas as Texas tries to compete with other states for business investment and research dollars, said Kelly Kordzik, president of the Texas Nanotechnology Initiative, a statewide advocacy group.I may (but probably won't) be involved in another one. I'm trying to be!
"We need to return to having a conference in Texas so that we can center the world's attention back on this state," he said.
Texas has long been a hotbed for the field. The state was home to pioneers like the late Richard Smalley, a Nobel Laureate and Rice University professor who in 1985 helped discover buckyballs, a new, soccer ball-shaped form of carbon. He died from cancer last year at the age of 62.
According to the Nanotechnology Foundation of Texas, a privately funded research organization, there are about 30 nanotech businesses operating in Texas.
More relevantly, the libertarian in me believes that government is ill-equipped to make efficient/correct decisions, because legislative processes are unlikely to predict hot research areas as optimally as markets. [You can make an argument about market failure, and I think market failures were more likely to be true in the past.] But in a world of second bests, government is going to fund research, so we should do our best to make sure government makes as intelligent as possible research decisions.
Therefore, our legislature (and our Congressman and US Senators) should be appropriating as much money as possible for nano in Texas, and particularly in Houston. This is particularly true for those on Appropriations -- Kay Bailey Hutchison (on health and education subcommittee), Chet Edwards (representing A&M), John Culberson (representing Rice, St. Thomas, and the world's largest Medical Center), Henry Bonilla, Kay Granger (TCU, also serves on Education and Health subcommittees), and John Carter (Southwestern, Tarleton State, formerly had A&M). [Of course, it'd be nice if we still had Tom DeLay on Approps and as Majority Leader, but the Houston Chronicle and Ronnie Earle ran him off. Ceteris paribus, that was a pretty dumb decision for Texas and Houston, since nano research could potentially make Houston the next Silicon Valley. We owe Tom DeLay for having so many Texans on Appropriations, where we're vastly over-represented in large part because of Tom DeLay and Dick Armey.] The number one metro area for nano research right now is probably Houston, so it'd be nice for our elected representatives to do their best to make sure we capitalize on this opportunity. While hotbutton social issues often define campaigns, it is often issues like these that most influence Texas' tomorrow.
Kudos to John Culberson for getting it on nano research. It's also good to see Perry talking to the conference.
3. The Statesman scorecards Perry on his 02 promises. (You like scorecards as a verb, don't you?)
26 September 2006
Ventura campaigning for Friedman
Former Minnesota indie guv Jesse Ventura was in Texas to campaign for Kinky Friedman:
Kinky Friedman began a three-day college tour Monday with former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, whose surprise victory in 1998 is serving as the template for Friedman's independent populist run for Texas governor.My recollection of Ventura's campaign is that he was serious about issues. He didn't boast about what he didn't know. Friedman does, and because it makes good copy, the media reports it. That sort of thing filters down to voters, and is why Friedman can't pass 15%.
"You can throw a monkey wrench into the machine,"Ventura said, urging students at the University of Texas at San Antonio to vote."You elect an independent and you send a message."
Ventura, wearing his long beard in a single braid, said the GOP and Democrats prefer the odds of a small voter turnout like the 29 percent of eligible voters who showed up to elect Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for re-election.
Leahy-Cornyn open govt act passes committee
A bill co-authored by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy and Texas Republican John Cornyn has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee:
"This bill advances one of the most fundamental rights of Americans, the public's right to know what its government is doing," said Leahy, who has been a longtime champion of FOIA in Congress. Leahy sponsored the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments, which updated FOIA for the Internet age, and in 1996 he was installed in the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame.
Leahy said the bill "is more than just pro-openness, pro-accountability, and pro-accessibility -- it's also pro-Internet." It includes a hotline enabling citizens to track their requests, including Internet tracking, and extends the waiver of FOIA search fees for the media to bloggers and writers for Internet outlets, providing the same status as traditional media.
Leahy is a long-time FOIA proponent. Good for Cornyn for joining him, which Leahy pointedly thanked in floor statements. This is one of those unnoticed bills that is important, if Leahy's description is even close to true.
Plus, I'd get free FOIA requests if this bill is enacted. That's good, because it provides lots more people with an opportunity to do investigative reporting.
Sometimes blogs worm their way into the news cycle
A rumor making its way around the state has Republican Gov. Rick Perry resigning in January -- assuming he wins re-election -- and persuading the Texas A&M University board of regents to name him chancellor of his alma mater.I mostly pass it on because it's amusing that Paul Burka is described in the headline as a "blogger."
Aggie Chancellor Bob McTeer has said he'll retire early next year.
Under the theory, first advanced in a blog by Texas Monthly's Paul Burka, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst would advance to the Governor's Mansion, putting Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson of Lewisville in line as a contender to replace him as the presiding officer of the Texas Senate.
Cornyn brings home grant money
From the Chron:
The Air Force has announced that it will administer a $1 million grant to the St. Mary's University Center for Terrorism Law to study states' protection of information about infrastructure and cyber security.
Funding for the study was included in the 2006 Defense Department appropriations bill, but it had been unclear who would administer the grant.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a St. Mary's law school graduate, praised Thursday's announcement. The Texas Republican helped secure funding for the grant. He has said it's wrong to assume that the study's purpose is to restrict government transparency.
Jeffrey Addicott, the grant's author and director of the Terrorism Law center, has said the study would examine open records laws around the country and outline best practices for restricting access to information about the nation's infrastructure in the name of protecting it from terrorist attacks.
Rick Perry, Carole Strayhorn, Chris Bell, Kinky Friedman on abortion
This post by Lone Star Pundit details our gubernatorial candidates on abortion-banning trigger bill. That is, if the Supreme Court were to hold that the right to have an abortion is not a fundamental human right [essentially the standard for substantive due process], then this bill would then ban abortion.
I get decent amounts of hits from googlers who are querying about individual candidate's abortion positions, so I'll try to answer them.
I'm going to summarize quickly, and then excerpt LSP after the jump.
Rick Perry has been consistently pro-life.
Chris Bell has been consistently pro-choice.
Kinky Friedman is pro-choice, but pulled a reverse-Mitt Romney when he said he would sign a trigger bill banning abortion. I have no idea whether to view that statement as predictive of what he'd do if elected.
Carole Strayhorn has been reported as pro-choice without any complaint from her, then she waffled, then she was firmly pro-life, and now she seems to be prevaricating again. I think it's fair to say that no one really knows what she'd do.
Ron Kirk makes me giggle
BOR posts a video that the Chris Bell campaign is sending to big money Democrats in the hopes of raising money. My favorite line:
"This race is ours to win." -- Ron KirkNot surprisingly, the ten minute video featured quite a few trial lawyers, which makes sense since those are most of the big money Democrats in this state.
25 September 2006
What is Dan Patrick running for?
Word on the street is that Dan Patrick is doing a statewide mailout in the next week or so either through a) his state senate campaign, or b) one of his surrogates (eg, CLOUT).
Certainly some people are already whispering: what is Dan Patrick running for in 2010?
There was the recent purchase of KVCE 1160, which will provide a platform for Patrick's views. No doubt Patrick knows that the metro areas of Houston and the Metroplex provide almost half of the votes in a statewide Republican primary.
And after his obliteration of two state reps and a Houston city councilman in March's SD7 primary, Patrick must be feeling good about his campaign appeal. The Chron didn't exactly offer sympathetic coverage, but that certainly didn't hurt him at all. In fact, it probably helped him.
Now there's a statewide mailout on the way.
I'd say the smart money is on Patrick running statewide in '10. The question is whether he decides to try and take on Dewhurst or Kay Bailey for governor, or whether he runs for a lower statewide office. Imagine how much fun a Dan Patrick/David Dewhurst/Kay Bailey Hutchison primary would be. Assuming Rick Perry doesn't run for re-election, of course.
Despite Republican hegemony in this state's politics, we still haven't had a real GOP primary. That ain't gonna last forever.
22 September 2006
Another day, another poll
Texas Credit Union League poll, by Hamilton Beattie (D) and Voter/Consumer Research (R), 800 Likely Voters, from 9/5 to 9/18
Rick Perry 42 %
Chris Bell 20%
Carole Keeton Strayhorn 18%
Kinky Friedman 12%
James Werner 2%
Perry pulls 71% of the 'phant vote, Bell pulls 44% of the Donks.
Friedman pulls 6% of the GOP vote, while getting 14% from the Donk vote. Meanwhile, Strayhorn also gets more support from the Donks than the GOP, 20% to 15% respectively.
George W. Bush Approval/Disapproval
Couple of quick comments:
1. Yikes! A 13 day sample! Ok, no campaign pollster will ever have a poll in the field for 13 days. Both of these firms do campaign polls, but they weren't doing this poll for a campaign. They were doing it for a third party. 13 days is a long time. Generally, you want to have your polls in the field for 3 days or less.
2. Remember, I pass polls along. They are good for data points if you're a junkie. I even pass along the worthless Zogby internet polls, and have since I started this blog. Why? Because if you carefully consider what Zogby's worthless polls are telling you, occasionally you can glean a nugget of truth. However, buyers beware.
3. This poll started right as the Labor Day ads came on. So, some of the sample is from people unlikely to have seen campaign ads, and some of the sample is from people who likely have seen at least an ad or two. This makes the sample somewhat less reliable, though still way, way better than Zogby's internet polls, and definitely still a sample worth thinking about.
4. Frankly, because of point 3, I wonder whether the pollsters compared the first half of the data to the second half of the data. Because those are different samples.
Well, he is an actor
I'm amused, even if I'm not sure why from Castillo's re-telling.
You can imagine my surprise when 10 or 15 minutes into our Hill Country journey, Perry was down on all fours mimicking a camel in the aisle of a custom bus.
I kid you not.
After the governor learned that another journalist had spent her youth in Saudi Arabia, Perry started telling stories about the six weeks in 1975 he spent at the same military installation as an Air Force pilot.
Breaking into a wide smile, Perry recalled the day he saw a bright red Ford pickup on a desert road. In the driver's seat was a Bedouin man wearing a traditional headdress and in the bed of the pickup was a camel, kneeling.
Slinging his 6-foot 1-inch frame onto the bus floor, Perry dug his black cowboy boots in the carpet and craned his neck.
"The camel was peeking around the cab like this," he said. "I looked at the driver, and man, I said, 'He's Texas.'"
I emailed Castillo asking exactly what the joke was. Was it that the camel was like the dog in the back of a pickup? Castillo didn't seem quite sure, but seemed to think that it was.
The anecdote is a little silly, but I doubt the Perry folks mind much. After all, Perry's been a bit of a punching bag in the media with three folks running against him. So stories help humanize him.
Oh, and need I remind you that the governor is an actor?
Still ain't working
I have to comment on this, talking about Strayhorn's new ad (all her ads, really):
Mrs. Strayhorn stands in front of a stark white background and talks directly into the camera. The simple design and the candidate's calm, authoritative demeanor are aimed at counteracting contentions by Gov. Rick Perry's campaign that Mrs. Strayhorn is "angry" and "shrill."
I see where they are coming from, but I think this is one of the things that rings false about Strayhorn's ad.
Look, I know most voters aren't really paying attention yet. But certain things tend to filter through, and that's been the general confrontational style that Comptroller Strayhorn has adopted over the past few years and past few months on the campaign trail.
She's supposed to be tough (it's in her
nickname slogan!) and impassioned. That has trickled down through the filter to your average not-caring-that-much-yet voter. So when an ad like this is on, I just don't think it jibes with what the majority of voters feel to be true about Carole Strayhorn.
Related: why this ad doesn't work.
Edwards, Taylor spar over immigration in CD17
Dan Genz in the Waco Trib-Herald:
Central Texas voters are being treated to a hostile debate over immigration reform as Republican nominee Van Taylor spars with U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.
The latest Taylor television ad accused Edwards of making illegal immigration "even worse" with his votes in Congress, while the Edwards rebuttal asks, "What will Van Taylor lie about next?"
Taylor said eight votes over the past decade show Edwards is weak on illegal immigration enforcement and has supported giving illegal immigrants food stamps and other federal welfare benefits.
Edwards responded that Taylor is using only redundant, insignificant or misleading votes to make claims without mentioning Edwards' votes to ban giving illegal immigrants food stamps in 1996 and to promote stiffer penalties for illegal immigrants who have been arrested in 2005.
Just a data point, I don't really have much to say.
21 September 2006
Text of Rick Perry's new ad
Rick Perry's ad came out a day before Strayhorn's ad, but it's not intentional that I didn't get to writing it up.
Here's the text of the Guv's ad, "Schools":
"Public school funding, student achievement and standards are all up. I'm proud of Texas schools. Since I became governor education funding has increased 9 billion dollars. We passed a two thousand dollar teacher pay raise, and the nation's largest merit pay program. We've accomplished a lot but we still can do more. That's why we're directing schools to spend at least sixty-five percent of their money on classroom instruction. Education is our future, and my highest priority"
I noticed that ABC13 factchecked the ad and said, "Perry's ad for education was too truthful."
This made me laugh. I never thought I'd hear that about anyone's ad. ABC13 also reprints the Perry camp's factual support for their ad.
20 September 2006
Text of new Strayhorn TV ad
I happened to be in front of my TV, so I thought I'd try and catch her commercial. I had quick success.
Using the miracle of Tivo/DVR, here's the script:
Announcer (authoritative voice): Carole Keeton Strayhorn ["Carole Keeton Strayhorn" on white screen in small letter black text]
[Strayhorn, in same red/black outfit as other ads in front of same white background as other ads] "I'd be embarrassed. Our public schools still can't count on funding [bottom right of screen now reads "Carole Keeton Strayhorn" above "OneToughGrandma.com"] but our governor has a $320 million corporate welfare slush fund [screen focuses more on her face]. That's not Robin Hood, that's robbin' everybody. And it's wrong. Let's get rid of our governor's slush fund and ban all gifts from lobbyists [accompanying text on screen]. I want Austin to hear our voices. I'm Carole Keeton Strayhorn. This Grandma wants to shake Austin up.
I think it might be possible to score political points against the governor's Texas Enterprise Fund, but I don't think this is it. The ad doesn't really tie the Fund to any emotional reaction voters might have. And then it scatters on to issues that are tangential.
At first, I was going to take issue with the Perry's camp assertion that this was a "negative attack ad." As I started to write why it wasn't, I had to stop. I guess it sorta is an attack on the governor, but it's so oblique that I don't think this will drive the governor's unfavorable numbers up any.
Here are the two reasons why I don't think this ad is all that effective:
1. It's too obtuse and unfocused. After viewing this ad, what does your average voter think or feel? Is it motivating? Does it affect my everyday life?
2. It's too similar to her other ads. I think that if I weren't looking for it, I wouldn't have paid attention, because I would've assumed that this was an ad I'd already seen.
Alex Castellanos does Strayhorn's media, and he's done some great spots in the past. But I haven't seen any great spots so far in this campaign.
Wright Amendment amendment going down?
That title isn't a typo. Looks like efforts to amend the Wright Amendment will likely fail during this Congress, meaning it'll be quite awhile before they change it.
Without the antitrust exemption that was stripped from the Wright Amendment bill by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week, the bill will have to be brought down, said the bill's author.
"We won't pass the bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, told reporters Friday. "We'd have to bring it down. We couldn't pass it."
"It is my highest priority," she said of the bill. "I lose sleep every night."
Hutchison told reporters she hopes to have a solution this month. She says she is constantly trying to come up with the language that will push the bill through Congress.
It's largely a parochial issue for the Metroplex region, and one that's definitely not simple. Amending the regulatory morass is complicated.
Perot staying out
This is from last week, but it's worth a mention:
A governor's race with two independent candidates isn't enough to entice Dallas billionaire Ross Perot to get involved in a campaign again.Perot was once all about independent and third-party candidates, even bankrolling the Reform Party's short-lived tenure. Now he apparently isn't getting behind any indies in his home state. He's an odd guy.
The man who twice ran for president as a third-party candidate tells The Dallas Morning News he's staying out of politics and sticking with issues.
Perot's Reform Party campaign drew enough votes in 1992 to help Bill Clinton defeat President George H.W. Bush. Perot ran again for president in 1996.
He has been known in the past to make endorsements.
If there was a independent candidate who had a legit shot at being president, it was Perot. And then he spectacularly self-destructed.
Strayhorn goes negative?
I just got the press release from Rick Perry's camp that Strayhorn is putting up a new negative ad. Unfortunately, I'm still not on the Strayhorn camp's press release list, so I can't bring you the text of her ad.
I'm sure more will follow tonight.
UPDATE: Saw the ad.
SurveyUSA poll numbers
I can't find the dates the automated poll was in the field, but Burka says the dates are Sept 16-18, so I'm sure he's right. Burka also analyzes the poll, much of which I concur with.
Survey USA, 536 likely voters, +/- 4.3%, Sept 16-18
"If the election for Governor of Texas were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, who would you vote for?"
I think the main thing to come away with from this poll is that Strayhorn's first media spots didn't move her numbers. I've been more or less saying this for a few months, but I'll repeat it again. Strayhorn's campaign over the summer was all over the place. There was no consistent narrative, and it's going to be awfully hard for her to find one now.
One newspaper bought the story, the other didn't
I've been amused that Democrats are pushing this story:
Seems like a funny story for Democrats to be pushing, considering that Nick Lampson still doesn't really live in district 22 (he's renting a room in his aunt's house, unless something has changed recently).
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds said he personally recruited Taylor to challenge Edwards in the Central Texas district and was involved from the "earliest days." But it's not clear if that recruitment occurred before or after Taylor bought a house near West.
Edwards used those comments to suggest Taylor "made the decision to run for Congress here before he lived here."
Taylor said he was not recruited by anyone outside the district to run for Congress. He wouldn't say when his conversation with Reynolds about running for office occurred.
Taylor said he decided to move to a house outside West in the summer of 2005 because he thought it would be the perfect place to raise his family. He has said that his first encouragement to run for the seat came from Republican Party leaders within the district.
What's the difference? As far as I can tell, the difference is that the Waco Trib bought the story, and the Houston Chron didn't.
Democrats for Bonilla
Greg Jefferson in the SAEN:
Bonilla is the perfect candidate for this district. He's going to be awfully tough to beat, because he's proven himself to be a good campaigner.
Former Gov. Dolph Briscoe is with him. So is Uvalde Mayor George Garza and Helen Dutmer, a former Bexar County commissioner and San Antonio city councilwoman.
They're among 21 pols and former pols sitting on the steering committee of "Democrats for Bonilla," according to Rep. Henry Bonilla's campaign.
Their support could give the San Antonio Republican some much-needed credibility among Democratic voters.
The three-judge panel — responding to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Congressional District 23's 2003 remapping violated the Voting Rights Act — sliced four staunchly conservative Hill Country counties out of the district and added Democrat-heavy South Bexar County.
Although Dutmer, who is also supporting Republican George Antuna over Democrat Joe Farias in the Texas House District 118 race, is the sole South Side politico on the list, she's not the only San Antonian.
Henry Muñoz, CEO of architectural firm Kell Muñoz and a former chairman of the Texas Department of Transportation, is also is a "Democrat for Bonilla," according to the seven-term congressman's campaign.
Antuna might be one of the few folks who could hold Bonilla's seat when Bonilla takes a shot at a statewide race in the future. But that depends on him winning this race and being successful in the Legislature. Given that if Texas Republicans want to maintain their hegemony over the next few decades, they'll need some Hispanics on the team in prominent seats of power, the Texas money givers might want to consider amply funding Antuna.
Strayhorn advertising on RedState
I noticed Carole Strayhorn has a BlogAd up on RedState. It's over on the right sidebar. For those who don't know, Red State is probably the nexus of the right-leaning online activist community.
The ad costs $500 for 1 week, less if you buy more than 1 week.
I was a little surprised. Most of the folks at RedState have probably made up their mind, most of 'em for Perry. RedState doesn't exactly seem to be the place she'd be advertising, but then, I haven't exactly figured out her advertising strategy. And that, I think is the problem: she's all over the place.
UPDATE: As if they were trying to make my point, a RedState subblog posts on it.
Chris Bell outperformed by a corpse
"You could be a corpse and get 31 percent as the Democratic nominee just about any office," Bell said.
This was right around the same time last week that I predicted that Bell would get 31%.
19 September 2006
It's that time of year again
It's about this time of the election cycle* when the Houston Chronicle decides that they'd like to publish a poll of local races.
Who do they always turn to? Doctors Stein and Murray. The same folks that they quote in every article about politics.
Personally, I'm hoping -- but not expecting -- that the Chron decides to hire professional pollsters this year. I suspect that one of the reasons the Chron hires Stein and Murray is because they're cheaper. However, their polls simply don't compare to any professional pollster. The poll they did on DeLay in January was just a disaster, and an embarrassment to the Chron.
And of course, it pains me to criticize any professor from my alma mater. Rice's reputation is underrated enough outside of Texas as it is.
* 50 days until election day.
Tuesday Morning Quarterback
If you don't read Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback, then you're really missing out. It's the most enjoyable writing around bout the NFL. It is cynical about conventional wisdom, adulating of cheerleaders, perpetually full of tangential digressions, and idiosyncratic to the max.
His most recent book The Progress Paradox was a favorite of mine too, although you should ignore the second half when he tries to prescribe policy. The first half is provocative though.
In high school, I wrote a regular column reviewing albums I liked. I even won first place in the state for my column. [That state has less people than Harris County -- ed. Yeah, well.] Once upon a time, I wanted to be a rock critic for the NME, but then I realized I don't particularly like listening to or reviewing music that I don't like. Also, working for the NME would involve living in London, and I'm not talking about London, TX.
Pat Green: Cannonball
Is Pat Green trying to hard? Is the pressure of
I've had this album for about a month, and I kept thinking I might get it. Nope. 4/10
Randy Rogers Band: Just A Matter of Time
Until now, the Randy Rogers Band was a rarity for me: a band I enjoyed more live than on record. They've always had great songs, but something wasn't fully captured on record.
Every track could feels like it could be a single, but not in a bad way. So it was a little bit of a surprise when I heard that the first single was "Kiss Me In the Dark." While, a great track, it sounded a little familiar, until I realized: Radney Foster co-wrote and producted it. It has the feel of a Foster track. That's a good thing. In fact, Foster does a spectacular job producing the album: polished but never overdone. The occasional genius extra touches (see, eg, the whisper on Kiss Me in The Dark).
With Foster at the helm steering the sound, the album probably emphasizes the "alt" a little more than the "country," and guitarist Geoffrey Hill is all over this record. But the fiddle is ever present, and the country roots remain, particularly i "You Start Over Your Way" and "If Anyone Asks."
For a major label debut, they managed to knock it out of the park. I'm predicting big things for them and for this album. As tough as it is to give out a 10, this one deserves it. 10/10
The Killers: When You Were Young (single)
Listening to The Killers is like drinking cheap sweet champagne. On first blush, it's quite enjoyable. It's cool, easy on the tastebuds, and leaves you with a warm glow. But it lacks complexity, and eventually you realize that...well, you're just drinking cheap champagne.
But I love cheap sweet champagne. [Although like any good Republican, I actually drink sparkling wine. Heh.] And it's no surprise that I love the Killers: they're from Las Vegas, but they sound like they are straight out of England. Even better, they're using Alan Moulder, one of my favorite producers, for their forthcoming album.
Thus are The Killers. Fun pop music, addicting to listen to for a little while, but I won't be listening to them in 10 years. In the meantime, I'll have "When You Were Young" cranked at max volume on repeat as I drive down the highway.
I may be a little late to this show, but this HBO series is amazing. The show focuses on a special detail of Baltimore cops who are focused on some westside Baltimore drug kingpins and traffickers. I've been describing it to friends as The Sopranos, only set in Baltimore and focused on the police and their investigation. In other words, nothing like the Sopranos, except that it's an edgy HBO show about organized crime.
And it is edgy. Every other word is mf, or the n word (we're a family blog here). It's not as violent as the Sopranos, but it's...um, edgier in other ways. The first season is great (9/10), whereas the second season drags in more than one place(6ish/10). I'm starting the third season now, and hope to catch up soon, because the fourth season is airing on HBO right now. Interestingly, Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich has a cameo as a cop, while his election opponent Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley declined a cameo offer. Perhaps that's because the series counteracts O'Malley's claim that he's changed Baltimore.
Nah, nah, nah, Ney, Ney, Ney...goodbye
Now that Ohio Congressman Bob Ney has agreed to plea guilty to two felonies for bribes, is there a good reason he is still a Congressman?
The House came back in session today. First order of business should be to expel Ney.
14 September 2006
I just put these last three quick bits up today because traffic goes down if I don't post. I've been too busy with various projects, and during my free time I've been choosing to read books instead of pay attention to the news cycle. [That doesn't make me a good blogger, does it?] I'm reading _The Gentleman from Georgia_ (Newt Gingrich bio. I picked it up because I thought it was on the late Sen. Richard Russell) and _Power Plays_ by John Barry, who wrote the seminal _The Ambition and the Power_. I may get to blogging late tonight after I get back home, but no guarantees.
Anyway, my quick thought was prompted by Lena Guerrero's endorsement of Perry. The only thing I know about Commissioner Guerrero is the degree scandal. I don't even know the story. Just seems like a shame that the only thing anyone might know about you would be...that.
Write nothing, traffic goes up
Yesterday and today (until just now) I haven't written anything. My traffic has gone up those two days.
Are y'all trying to tell me something?
That's my intuition right now. I'll write more when I get a chance.
12 September 2006
Lena Guerrero endorses Perry; tangentially related thoughts
Former Railroad Commissioner Lena Guerrero and her husband Leo Aguirre endorsed Guv Perry late last week.
"I can think of no better person to continue leading this state than Rick Perry," stated Lena Guerrero. "For the 22 years I've known Rick, he has always been a decent, compassionate leader, and even when we may have disagreed on the issues, we did so with an attitude of civility."
Guerrero and Perry served together in the House back in the 80s as Democrats. Guerrero stayed a Democrat.
Put this together with the 12 Valley mayors who endorsed Perry for re-election. I haven't checked, but I assume that most of them are Hispanic Democrats (although municipal elections are non-partisan in Texas). I'm reminded by what Rep. Pena said on that occasion:
Certainly worth discussion, the legacy of the Texas Democratic Party and it's failure to adequately address South Texas, the borderlands and emerging demographics.
Which reminded me of something Paul Burka wrote:
Perry seemed to have a lot of Hispanic contributors. I didn't count them, but they showed up frequently enough to be noticed as a group. This reminds me of something Dick Murray, the Houston pollster and analyst, told me about the 2002 election race: that a lot of upwardly mobile Hispanics in the Houston area had moved into the eastern suburbs, and that they voted Republican/Anglo (Perry) for governor and Democrat/Hispanic (Sylvia Garcia) for county commissioner.
I'm also reminded of the time that I debated Tony Sanchez III. It was a few days before the 2002 election, and HACER (a Hispanic student group at Rice) had a gubernatorial debate. As a former chair of the College Republicans, I represented Rick Perry. The Democrats brought Tony Sanchez III to represent...Tony Sanchez. Now, consider how I felt: I was debating the candidate's son -- trying to help his father become the first Latino governor of Texas -- in front of a Latino group. I knew a decent portion of the group (Rice is very small), and so I knew a few of them were Republicans. But I rather figured that I wasn't going to swing too many votes.
After the debate, I was pleasantly surprised at the reception I received. Quite a few folks indicated that the debate had made them likely to vote for Perry over Sanchez.
Democrats in Texas have pinned their hopes on an emerging Latino majority voting monolithically for Democrats. However, as immigrant groups assimilate, generally they begin to vote increasingly more Republican. In part, that's why I'm pretty optimistic that Latinos in Texas will eventually vote more for Republicans. Bush and Perry have been pretty careful to help this process along.
If I had to bet on who will have the first Latino governor or senator, I'd bet on the elephants. In terms of the farm team, Democrats have more Hispanic officeholders. They've got mayors in the Valley, Congressman, and state legislators. Republicans have Railroad Commish Victor Carrillo, Congressman Henry Bonilla, Mexico Ambassador Tony Garza, Solicitor General Ted Cruz, and of course George P. Bush. So Democrats have more in number, but it seems that Republicans have more in terms of the stature necessary to win a premier statewide race. However, there's a bunch of GOPers waiting in line to run for statewide office in Texas, so any of those Republicans would have to get through a primary. So I'd say we're still a few cycles away...although Bonilla definitely wants to run for any open Senate seat.
11 September 2006
I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'
Gardner Selby writes up Chris Bell's Kerry-esque hunting photo-op:
Bell never even fired a shot. Yikes.
Like the last silver-haired candidate to face a front-running West Texan for governor, Chris Bell hunted birds Sunday.
But the former Houston U.S. House member and current Democratic nominee for governor didn't fire a shot during his twilight walk through green goat weed and yellow field daisies near what his guide described as the largest cottonwood tree in the nation.
Bell's borrowed shotgun was in the safety position when he attempted to squeeze the trigger on a flitting dove then shot by his guide, Tony Timmons.
"He about broke his finger trying to pull the trigger," Timmons told a hunting pal afterward.
Bell said he hasn't found many opportunities to hunt near Houston and hadn't hunted since a 1988 venture in the Panhandle. Before his Sunday jaunt, he said, "I'm certainly trying not to be anything I'm not.
"A lot of what you do in a campaign is symbolic. Plus, I think I'll have some fun."
I ain't sayin, I'm just sayin.
If you haven't been hunting in almost 20 years, and you've never taken your two sons hunting, then why on earth would you try this photo-op? Seems pretty Kerry-esque to me.
Two more data points
Rasmussen, 500 Likely voters; MoE 4.5%. (last month's numbers in parentheses)
Perry 33% (35%)
Strayhorn 22% (18%)
Bell 18% (18%)
Friedman 16% (18%)
Zogby's sketchy and questionable online poll:
I'm supposed to believe that Hutchison only leads by 9%? It might not be a favorable environment right now, but there's no way I'm buying that. This "poll" must be undersampling Republicans.
Perry 30.7% (34.8%)
Bell 25.3% (23.1%)
Friedman 22.4% (22.7%)
Strayhorn 11.1% (9.6%).
I don't know when the Rasmussen poll was in the field. The TV ads started on Labor Day, so the Zogby poll wouldn't reflect any movement from the TV ads. I'm guessing the Rasmussen poll was more or less pre-Labor Day as well.
10 September 2006
One more data point
I know I'm the last to this poll, but I'll mark it down:
The poll was done by Texans for Insurance Reform, an arm of Texas Trial Lawyers. Most of them had been supporting Strayhorn, but a few have donated to Chris Bell recently. 600 respondents; pollster Opinion Analysts. The poll was done pre-Labor Day, so I assume it was in the field at the end of August. That means the TV ads wouldn't affect the poll.
When asked who their second choice would be:
Strayhorn 20%I don't have the wording for that one, so it's tough to know how much importance to place on it.
I'd write more, but i'm just too busy.
Susan Combs and the City
Is this really the best Texas Democrats can do? Printing the not-that-steamy steamiest scenes from a Susan Combs romance novel from long ago?
What amuses me most is that some of my friends on the left seem to think that this is going to convince voters not to vote for Susan Combs. Or maybe it amuses me most how much these excerpts have failed to live up to the hype. Take your pick.
If the gubernatorial election were held on Facebook...
If you're over the age of 25, it's completely normal for you to not be on facebook or myspace. Don't worry about it; just read about in in Fortune. Besides, Myspace jumped the shark a year ago anyway.
On facebook, you can join groups. What gubernatorial candidate has the most members in his/her group?
"He ain't Kinky, he's my governor" has 10,276 members. I hear that at least 12 of them are actual Texans who are registered to vote. Ok, more seriously, of the folks I know who are in this group, pretty much all of them are white liberals. And I'm pretty sure that of the folks I know, most of 'em aren't registered to vote in Texas. Take from that what you will.
"Texans for Rick Perry" has 665 members, including one of the governor's campaign staffers...his son.
"Chris Bell for Governor" has 50 members. That's actually the Rice group, the global group has less. I think there may be a UTexas group with quite a bit more than 50, but I can't see it.
"One Tough Grandma for Texas Governor" has . . . 12 members.
10276 Kinky FriedmanI skimmed through the Rick Perry group to see if I knew anyone. Nope. But the group is full of cute girls. Now I'm not saying Republicans are better looking...wait, yes I am.
665 (yikes!) Rick Perry
50 Chris Bell
You might call this a meaningless post. I call it original reporting. I plan to
beat this horse update this post several times through election day.
08 September 2006
Back from Austin
I'm back from Austin, just in time to miss the Texas - OSU game. It was an interesting couple days, including lunch with the governor, meeting Ben Barnes in person, and some old friends.
Lots to write about. Unfortunately, I've got lots of work to do. So I may not get to it until tomorrow.
07 September 2006
Growl. I got two tickets today.
I go out to my car, and I have a City of Houston ticket. Why? For parking in the same spot for more than 24 hours. I am thoroughly baffled by this. I was parked legally on a very, very quiet cul-de-sac. It's certainly not intuitive to me that you can't park in the same spot for more than 24 hours, and there are no signs. In my area, everyone parks on the street. It's common to leave your car in the same spot (say, you go on vacation), and I'm not sure why moving it should be necessary. My city councilwoman will be hearing from me about this.
I have no idea why the heck any policeman would notice that my car had been parked there slightly more than 24 hours. Unfortunately, it only confirms my perception that Houston Police under Bill White are more interested in generating revenue than in law and order.
Then I got a parking ticket in the City of Austin. I got back to the meter later. Not a good day for me and the parking tickets.
Still whippin' votes
No one is better at whipping votes in the US House than Tom DeLay. Somehow I doubt he can be as good at Dancing with the Stars:
However, that is exactly what the former Republican congressman nicknamed "The Hammer" is doing in retirement according to a letter he sent to supporters today. This time he has his sights set on country music singer Sara Evans' campaign to best the competition on ABC's hit show, "Dancing with the Stars."This is probably one of the reasons why lots of folks didn't like Delay: he politicized everything. On the other hand, politicizing everything may have been one of the reasons for his success.
DeLay's letter urges his supporters to watch and vote for Evans, who performed at the 2004 Republican National Convention and has a history of supporting Republican candidates. "Sara Evans has been a strong supporter of the Republican Party and represents good American values in the media...we have always been able to count on Sara for her support of the things we all believe in. Let's show Sara that same support," writes DeLay.
06 September 2006
Text of the TV ads
Here's the text of Carole Strayhorn's two ads. They both feature Strayhorn in front of a light background, talking to the camera. You can see "Carole" here. The spots were produced by Alex Castellanos, in DC:
This is the text of Perry's ad "Border," done by David Weeks in Austin. It features Perry walking on the border. You can see it here.
STRAYHORN: "Why am I running for governor? Here's why: I'm 67 years old. My future isn't in politics. It's my grandkids. And I want to protect their future from an Austin that doesn't listen, spnds money we don't have and taxes us when they want more. We have under-funded schools, overtaxed homeowners, foreign-owned toll roads, and a Capitol full of politicians more worried about special interests than about us. I'm Carole Keeton Strayhorn. This Grandma wants to shake Austin up"
STRAYHORN: "Partisan politics has let us all down. In Austin, they are so busy yelling at each other they've stopped listening to us. Let's remember who we are. Before we were Republicans and Democrats, before we chose sides, we were first and foremost Texans. And we've got to learn to set aside our political differences and get something done. I'm Carole Keeton Strayhorn. This election let's do something serious. Let's make Austin listen. Let's shake Austin up."
"If Washington won't protect our border, Texas will. Here along the Rio Grande we're funding a border-wide crime control effort, led by local law enforcement." ANNCR: "Governor Rick Perry ordered the Texas National Guard to provide border security support six months before the president requested it. And he's fighting for 100 million dollars to stop illegal activity." PERRY: "We're increasing patrols, using technology to stop terrorists from crossing our border. We can't have homeland security without border security." ANNCR: "Governor Rick Perry, Keeping Texans safe"
Friedman on Cavuto
I just watched Kinky Friedman on Fox News with Neil Cavuto. Oh wow.
Cavuto had a little lovefest with Friedman. I'm not sure why Cavuto decided to be so obsequious.
He said his polling was "higher than any independent in the history of American politics, except Jesse Ventura the weekend before the election." That's got to be wrong, because we've had independent governors in Connecticut and Maine in the last few decades. I'm not going to do the research to refute the point, because it's not worth it. Friedman should know better.
Friedman also said that Texas was the "richest state in the country" and had run a budget surplus every year since World War II. He claims the money is "just sitting there." Is he for real?
To top it off, he also called for 10,000 National Guardsmen on the border. Yup, that's not expensive. Sure.
05 September 2006
Searching for gullible journalists
Kristen Mack appends this to a piece on how Lampson will win in CD22.
Mack posits that this was a push poll, but only supports her theory with the characterization of an Ellen Cohen supporter.
The race is competitive enough that voters in the district are receiving campaign advocacy disguised as polls, called "push-polling."
State House District 134 includes Meyerland, West University Place, the Texas Medical Center and parts of Montrose.
Marcos Huerta, a Cohen supporter who received one such call, said the initial questions were benign, then took a turn.
"They stopped sounding neutral and started sounding loaded," said Huerta, a graduate student at Rice University.
After asking about statewide races, the pollster began a series of "pro-Martha Wong statements," asking if they made Huerta more or less likely to support Wong.
He recalled that the pollster asked if his likelihood of voting for Wong was affected by knowing that she opposed frivolous lawsuits, or that Cohen defended President Clinton's affair with an intern because he appointed many women to government positions.
Wong said she did not hire anyone to conduct a poll on her behalf. She also said constituents have received push-polling calls targeting her, though she couldn't provide details.
It is very unlikely that this was a push poll. Mack -- and the Chronicle editors -- should have known better. Saying that something is a push poll is a very loaded term of art. There is almost zero in this article to support the notion that this was a push poll. There's basically nothing in Mack's column that firmly supports the idea that push polling is occuring in district 134.
First of all, it's totally normal to have a poll in the field around Labor Day for a state rep race. It could be a candidate, a PAC, or any other 3rd party organization. Just because Martha Wong's campaign didn't pay for the poll does not indicate that it might be a push poll. Mack's column seems to cast aspersions as Representative Wong.
Second, it's totally normal to be testing voter attitudes and possible messages that might be effective with those attitudes. Reading pro-Martha Wong statements, and then asking questions is completely appropriate. That's not abhorrent (as push polling is considered to be), but normal. It's simply an attempt by political pollsters to learn how they can best sell their candidate (or their favored candidate, if they're working for a 3rd party organization). That's normal politics, and it happens in every campaign.
Third, push polling right now? That's preposterous. Preposterous. Push polls do NOT occur around Labor Day. They occur right around election day. Push polls happen when they can't be noticed, reported, or refuted.
This is pretty bad. While perhaps political journalists (and their editors) shouldn't be expected to understand certain nuances of campaigning, they should do the research necessary to find out when they're wrong. The Chronicle will probably not cover this state house race very much over the next few months, and now one of the few things they've printed is false. The Chronicle should retract and apologize, but past behavior shows that they won't even issue a correction.
UPDATE: As I was writing this, I saw that Nick Lampson has sent an email to his supporters claiming that someone is smearing Lampson in push polling. That is extremely, extremely doubtful...although I'm sure there are some legitimate polls in the field which are testing negative messages against Lampson.
Hopefully there are no gullible journalists who will fall for Lampson's ploy.
Things before this Congress quits
Will Congress amend the Wright Amendment before the session expires? Anybody's guess.
There's also the issue of whether the sales tax deduction will be extended. It's pretty ridiculous for Congress to allow income taxes to be deducted but not sales taxes. Our representatives in Congress aren't doing a good job if they can't get this done.
It's go time!
Labor Day is the historical start of the campaign season, and in Texas it marks the date when high-profile campaigns go on the air in earnest. Both Rick Perry and Carole Strayhorn are going up on the air for the rest of the campaign season.
It's also an excuse for the state's newspapers to do a state-of-the-race.
Ciro Rodriguez back in
Rodriguez announced Friday that he's back in the race for CD23 to unseat Henry Bonilla.
Fundraising wasn't going to be easy. Now it will be that much harder for Rodriguez. Maybe he'll make the runoff, but it's less likely now that he's been in and out.
UPDATE: From a Carlos Guerra column:
"Gasoline was $1.46 when this administration took over," Rodriguez continued. "I know it's going down now because an election is coming. But after November, if they win, how high will it get?"Yup, I hear George W. Bush has actually been setting the price of gas from the Oval Office.
Nice demagoguery, Ciro.
01 September 2006
Lampson chickens out
Lampson has decided not to run in the CD22 special:
It's probably a smart move by Lampson: why risk losing? On the other hand, this hands Shelley the use of the honorific, so that she can run against him in 2008 as "Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs."
Nick Lampson, the Democratic candidate for the congressional seat vacated by former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, said he will not run in a special election to fill the seat temporarily.
Gov. Rick Perry this week ordered the Nov. 7 special election to temporarily replace DeLay, who resigned in June although his term doesn't expire until January.
Lampson said Thursday that he will focus his attention on the general election, which is also Nov. 7. He said his participation in the special election would mean at least four candidates vying for a two-month stint.
But I don't really buy his excuse that he was staying out of the special to avoid a runoff. He was scared of losing.
DeLay gets a book deal
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, with his career in elective office finally behind him, said today he has a deal to publish a book.No Retreat, No Surrender sounds about right for a book on DeLay. Somehow, methinks they'll find a way to work a hammer into the title/subtitle.
"This is a book that's going to be the history of my career, how it furthered the conservative cause, with my spiritual walk and what I think the conservative cause ought to do next," DeLay, a born-again Christian, told The Associated Press.
DeLay said he'll explain how "everything I've done in my career furthered the conservative cause" and helped change the culture of Washington.
The book will be published by Penguin and should be ready by next spring, DeLay said.
Stephen Mansfield, author of The Faith of George W. Bush is working on the book with DeLay.
DeLay said the working title of his book is No Retreat, No Surrender: The American Passion of Tom DeLay but that could change by the time the book is published.
I'm guessing he won't mention how he managed to find the one options that will temporarily leave his seat to a Democrat. Heh.