31 December 2006

Guv swearing in Carlos Cascos

Perry to swear in new Cameron County Judge Carlos Cascos tomorrow:

"I don't recall any governor coming in to swear in a Cameron County judge," said judge-elect Carlos Cascos. "What bigger honor can I have than have the governor" preside over the ceremony?

Cascos said he asked Perry if he would perform the ceremony a few days after winning the Nov. 7 general election.

"He said he would be honored to fly down" and perform the ceremony, Cascos said.

A Republican head of Cameron County....sounds pretty good. Cameron County is home to Brownsville, Harlingen, and South Padre.

Posted by Evan @ 12/31/06 08:24 PM | Comments (1)        


28 December 2006

The Montgomery poll

To quote Harvey:

In another indicator of the shifting political climate, a poll released today by Montgomery & Associates shows that more Texans identify with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party.

In the poll, 45.1 percent of the respondents called themselves Democrats while 42.6 percent called themselves Republicans. This marks the first time in the poll's three-year history that more people identified themselves as Democrats than as Republicans. Last year, the spread was 49.2 percent to 37.2 percent in favor of the Republicans. The year before that, the spread was 54.7 percent to 33.9 percent.

The number of Texans who identified themselves as Independents dropped significantly from 2005 – from 10.5 percent to 6.4 percent. The drop in the Independent column is curious because of the attention given this year to the independent gubernatorial candidacies of Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

I'm more than skeptical, even beyond the obvious fact that the sample is of Texans, not Texans who vote.

Posted by Evan @ 12/28/06 05:06 PM | Comments (1)        


Race for the Speakership

The main thing that is happening in Texas politics these days is the speaker's race. Harvey Kronberg and Paul Burka are the main sources of info.

Internal races like these are entirely a matter of perception. Who wins is who people think will win. The battle to be perceived as the likely winner is well underway.

Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson released her pledges, presumably votes that will go to non-Craddick candidates. In response, current Speaker Craddick released a list of 84 names, including 17 Democrats, who he says re-confirmed support for him.

McCall is claiming that he has 16 of the 84 people on Craddick's list.

Meanwhile, Appropriations Cmte Chair Jim Pitts has filed to run as speaker and is holding a press conference as I type. Burka reports some rumor (odd, given that he's tried to stay out of the rumor mill so far on the Speaker's race) that Pitts is with McCall, but that seems like an odd tactic for Pitts. Why would he put his credibility on the line by holding a press conference if he's only doing it as a way to help McCall?

Right now, if Craddick can't halt the news cycle, then momentum is going to shift, and then the perception will solidify.

It will also be interesting to see whether the vote for the Speaker remains a public vote, or whether the House decides to change the rules and make it a secret vote.

Posted by Evan @ 12/28/06 05:01 PM | Comments (0)        


24 December 2006

Speaker's race

[I'm on the road, so I don't have real internet access. Instead, I'm on the Blackberry, so this'll be short.]

Paul Burka has a series of posts up on his blog about the Speaker's race...to be Speaker. Plano state rep. Brian McCall has long been thought to be an ABC (Anybody But Craddick)

(In progress)

Posted by Evan @ 12/24/06 02:00 PM | Comments (0)        


20 December 2006

Two good ideas

Hopefully some substantive legislator will pick up the ball, and include nanotechnology as required science education for our kids. Texas -- particularly Houston -- has the chance to be a leader in nanotech. This certainly wouldn't hurt. It'd also help us keep up with our southern neighbors: Mexico has already added nanotech education to its curriculum. (Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

While we're at it, economics should also really be required in high school.

Posted by Evan @ 12/20/06 04:51 PM | Comments (1)        


Welcome Professors Taylor and Carnahan!

University of St. Thomas Political Science Professors Jon Taylor and Michelle Carnahan have launched a blog. It's called Professors R-Squared. Go visit them. They'll be a welcome addition to the Texasphere. Plus, they're both Republicans, so they'll be especially welcome, for diversity's sake and all.

I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Taylor a few months ago, so I'm willing to forgive him for not including me on his blogroll.

Memo to some of the Houston media types who read this: quoting Taylor or Carnahan more often would be a refreshing alternative. Diversity is a good thing.

Posted by Evan @ 12/20/06 04:08 PM | Comments (1)        


Pelosi passes up Lampson

Last week, Michelle Mittelstadt of the Chronicle reported that:

Nick Lampson, who earned bragging rights for Democrats by claiming the seat once held by Republican powerbroker Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, lost a three-way Texas derby for an Appropriations Committee seat.

The job is a political plum because it permits members to steer millions of dollars in federal funds to their home districts and determine the spending of billions more.

Pelosi's hand-picked Democratic Steering Committee chose for the seat Ciro Rodriguez, the former congressman from San Antonio who thrilled his party with a come-from-behind runoff victory Tuesday over 14-year Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla.

As Kevin Whited noted at Blog Houston:
Pelosi's move can be interpreted as bolstering the Texas Democrat with the better chance of being re-elected in 2008. That's Rodriguez, not Lampson.
My interpretation was pretty similar to Whited's. I didn't think it was blog-worthy at the time, but I guess it's a good point.

Frankly, I was a little surprised that Pelosi didn't appoint Lampson. Lampson tops the list (along with Mark Foley's old district) of vulnerable Democratic incumbents in 2008. If Pelosi thought she could hold onto the seat, she'd have almost definitely put Lampson on Appropriations. The fact that she didn't is a bad sign for Lampson, and a definite signal to the Houston establishment.

I've written before about possible best candidates for CD22 in 2008. I'm quite curious as to who gets in this race (Janek? Eckels? Wallace?), or if Bettencourt will get to take on Shelley (and right now, you'd have to regard him as the favorite) all by himself.

Posted by Evan @ 12/20/06 02:57 PM | Comments (0)        


Ideas have consequences

The NYTimes:

...about 5,000 babies, of the 70,000 or so who would otherwise be born during the first week in January, may have their arrival dates accelerated partly for tax reasons.


They found that people who stood to gain the most from the tax breaks were also the ones who gave birth in late December most frequently. When the gains were similar, high-income parents — who, presumably, are more likely to be paying for tax advice — produced more December babies than other parents.


Induced births and Caesarean sections are considerably more expensive than natural births on average. There are clearly cases when labor needs to be induced for a baby's health or the mother's. It's much less clear, however, that the health care system should be subsidizing parents' desire for a smaller tax bill.

The health effects of scheduled births are also murky. A big study led by a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that voluntary Caesareans increase the risk of infant mortality. Another study found that weekday births are slightly more risky than weekend ones, all else equal, suggesting that a drug-induced birth can also cause health problems. The differences are small, but the stakes are big enough to take any change seriously.

I liked this article, because it clearly showed so many economic truths.

1. People respond to incentives. The most basic principle of economics. It shouldn't surprise us that people are inducing labor in order to save money.
2. Ideas have consequences. It's simple fact that when the government tries to do something, there are unintended ramifications.
3. Social engineering is complicated and should generally be avoided. "Targeted tax cuts" (Al Gore's phrase in 2000, you might recall) are rarely as clearly and cleanly targeted as they sound. They usually benefit the rich (as the article notes), who are much more likely to do tax planning. I've never seen any empirical data, but I would surmise that "tax loopholes"/"targeted tax cuts" are probably about as loaded to upper incomes as rate cuts are (the ones that Democrats deride as "tax cuts for the rich"). But of course, if you ever want to cut tax rates, then upper incomes will always save the most in gross dollar amounts. That's because the rich pay most of the income tax revenue.

Ok, the second half of part 3 was a normative opinion. The rest weren't.

I do hope that the legislature keeps incentives in mind when it considers appraisal caps. I am not confident.

Hat tip to Greg Mankiw.

Posted by Evan @ 12/20/06 01:52 PM | Comments (0)        


Spinning a little too hard

I always love post-campaign spinning. People say silly things almost as much as the time right before the election. Here's a recent case by Seth Davidson, campaign manager for Democratic Senate candidate Barbara Radnofsky, writing in the Amarillo Globe News:

Underfunded by millions, and depending on two paid staff for the entire statewide campaign, we did what people in the Panhandle do when they want to convince someone of something: We spoke with Texans face to face. And we did it thousands and thousands of times.

From an unknown, first-time, hard-to-pronounce name like "Radnofsky," we not only won the primary with a plurality of the vote; we crushed Gene-Kelly-not-the-dancer in the runoff with 60 percent of the vote. In the final tally on Nov. 7, we managed 1.5 million votes with no major media and relying on grass-roots organization and old-fashioned campaigning.

I understand that it's good to be proud of your work, and when your candidate loses, there's really nothing else to hold on to. Trust me, I've been there.

But you lost 62%-36%. That means that all Radnofsky did was hold the Democratic base -- in part, by calling Hutchison a liar. In 2000, no-name candidate Gene Kelly lost 65%-32% to Hutchison. That's a shift of 3%. Considering that 2006 was easily a much more Democratic year than 2000, that easily accounts for the 3% shift. Radnofsky essentially didn't do any better than Gene Kelly. All the hard work didn't show up in the vote totals.

Oh, and bragging about beating Gene Kelly 60%-40% in a runoff? That's not "crushing." And even if it were, you're talking about beating a non-campaigner in a race where only relatively informed voters turn out. Yikes.

I have sympathy; I really do. But please, don't spin so hard.

Posted by Evan @ 12/20/06 01:11 PM | Comments (0)        


18 December 2006

Burying the lede

Somewhere in the middle of a Lynne Duke Washington Post article on Hillary's managing of Bill's ego:

Since the Lewinsky scandal, Bill has received counseling for a sex addiction.
One thing I don't miss about the Clinton presidency is the constant drip of salacity.

Posted by Evan @ 12/18/06 08:04 PM | Comments (0)        


Welcome, welcome

New Republican blog called Right on Target. Give him a visit and some love.

Posted by Evan @ 12/18/06 07:43 PM | Comments (0)        


DeLay Homes, Inc.

Harvey Kronberg has a very interesting piece in News8Austin today.

Last week, the House that Tom DeLay built finished collapsing. The San Antonio-based congressional runoff between seven-term Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez marked the end.

As Charles Kuffner and I have already pointed out, Bonilla wasn't going to win if redistricting hadn't happened. So, exactly how does Bonilla's loss say much about DeLay and his construction skills? Kronberg never really does tell us. Hrm.

I mean, I get the idea that Bonilla's loss means that the DeLay-backed redistricting nets one less seat for the GOP. But, what really supports a statement like: "the House that Tom DeLay built finished collapsing." Nothing as far as I can see, except that Kronberg is not a DeLay fan.

Next odd statement from Kronberg:

Rodriguez was not a great candidate and he had only a fraction the money of his opponent. On paper, he should have lost. But with President Bush at 40 percent in Texas combined with the anti-border votes of the GOP congressional majority, the winds were at the back of the victorious Rodriguez. With massive help from national and local Democrats matched with an unusually low Republican turnout, Rodriguez simply rolled over Bonilla.

In terms of overall spending in the runoff alone, Bonilla and Rodriguez actually spent relatively similar amounts, once you factor in the independent expenditures that the DCCC made on behalf of Rodriguez. Perhaps this is what Kronberg meant when he says that there was "massive help from national and local Democrats," but it certainly leaves the point rather blunted.

Posted by Evan @ 12/18/06 03:27 PM | Comments (0)        


15 December 2006

Sometimes cheerleading lacks historical accuracy.

I've seen lots of different numbers thrown out for how many seats Texas redistricting helped Republicans gain. Someone somewhere even said that redistricting only gained one seat for the GOP. I've also seen people say it was two seats.

As Vince Vaughn might say, "Erroneous! Erroneous on all counts!"

In 2000, Democrats had a 17-13 edge in the Texas Congressional delegation. After 2002's reapportionment, it became 17-15 Dems (and later 16-16, when district 4's Ralph Hall switched parties pre-election, but post-redistricting, if I recall correctly).

Right now, it is 19-13 GOP. But look, if redistricting hadn't occurred, the 2006 Democratic wave would've almost definitely have crashed over Bonilla. His 2002 district was not a maintainable GOP hold in the 2006 environment, and the 02 district would've even been a tough race in 2004. So, redistricting had no effect. [For what it's worth, Bonilla should have a fighting shot if he chooses to run in 2008, thought I doubt he will. Last Tuesday's run-off is not as good a predictor of future support as the 06 general election, where Bonilla almost had a majority in a horrific, horrific environment, albeit as an incumbent.] Democratic cheerleading aside, they didn't really land a blow on DeLay's redistricting. Whether we had redistricting or not, the result was the same.

And as to DeLay's district? Perhaps the ramifications of redistricting did him in, but perhaps not. This certainly was not the first time that Democrats had attempted to use the judicial system as a means to force DeLay out of office. So DeLay might've had to quit anyway, as he saw it. And besides, if Republicans can't take back CD22 in 2008, then 08 will probably be just as bad a cycle as 06. Actually, probably worse, although not worse on sheer numbers because Democrats have already taken all the low-hanging electoral fruit.

So, right now redistricting picked up 4 seats for the GOP (or 3, if you don't count Ralph Hall, but there's no reason to think he wouldn't have switched without redistricting). But really, it's 5 seats, because CD22 is not a Democratic district.

Posted by Evan @ 12/15/06 07:05 AM | Comments (0)        


14 December 2006

Fort Bend GOP infighting

The Fort Bend GOP is squabbling. Apparently the Fort Bend GOP Executive Committee (ie, the precinct chairs) passed a resolution circumscribing the chairman's powers. This was probably a shot across Chairman Gary Gillen's bow.

Gillen has apparently responded by forming his own PAC, which will now carry out the party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner. In other words, his PAC paid for the banquet hall, and will apparently receive all the proceeds from the fundraiser.

Obviously, it's not lost on Gillen that he's consolidating his authority over the Fort Bend party by controlling the money. Gillen would probably argue that he's doing what he has to do to be effective, given the controls placed on him by the Executive Committee. His critics will argue that he's splitting the party, and making the party all about the chairman.

Whatever it is, it can't be good for the Republicans down there. At least a few of them have forgotten that the main role of the party is to beat Democrats, not fratricide.

Their quarterly meeting is occurring tonight, so I'm sure we'll have a juicy report from Chris Elam very soon.

Posted by Evan @ 12/14/06 11:04 PM | Comments (0)        



Popular Mechanics (via Instapundit):

Your car may have GPS navigation and radar blind-spot monitoring, but it still doesn’t stand a chance against traffic. The Department of Transportation's Vehicle Infrastructure Integration program, which faces its final testing in 2007, might even the odds. The program involves installing a 5.9-GHz short-range wireless link in your car that can talk with other cars, as well as with control units at intersections and along the side of the road. Pool all the information being beamed from cars -- speed, location, whether the wipers are on—and you have a map of traffic and weather conditions, so that drivers can be directed away from trouble spots.

SHORT-TERM IMPACT: LOW This is only the latest -- albeit the smartest -- in a long history of federal initiatives to win the war on traffic. Next year, lawmakers will decide whether to wire up hundreds of thousands of intersections and roads, but getting automakers to install standardized transmitters might prove even trickier.

A friend and I had this idea a couple years ago. In fairness, I think it was his idea. And it looks like we might've been too late even then.

Back in elementary school (I think the year was 1989), I had to do Invent America. My idea was for a "silent ring" (if I remember my wording correctly; I was 8, after all) for beepers. I am convinced that someone from Invent America stole my idea and made millions. Ok, I'm not really convinced of it, but it might be a possibility.

I wish I knew more rich people who wanted to invest in my ideas. I have lots.

Posted by Evan @ 12/14/06 10:14 PM | Comments (0)        


12 December 2006


With one of 267 precincts in on the state's website, Henry Bonilla leads Ciro Rodriguez 196-97

Early voting is up in Bexar County. Rodriguez leads in San Antonio's early voting 56-44. I haven't checked to see what is expected in SA, but that doesn't strike me as a good sign for Bonilla.

With 67% in, it's Ciro 57 and Bonilla 43. It's quite possible that Bonilla-friendly boxes are still out, so it may not be over yet. Still, it doesn't look good.

If it's not over, it's close.

Posted by Evan @ 12/12/06 08:07 PM | Comments (0)        


11 December 2006

Ex post, we decided before the event.

The Hill mentions Tom DeLay's new blog.

Can someone explain this part to me?

The site was developed and set to launch before the Nov. 7 elections, but the Republicans' heavy midterm losses prompted DeLay to alter the concept to "reflect the need for Republicans to change course."
After reading this paragraph about 10 times, I think the article's author conflated two independent events. But I'm still not sure.

Posted by Evan @ 12/11/06 02:06 PM | Comments (0)        


10 December 2006

Rumors you could see coming a mile away

Isiah Carey posts a rumor I find very unlikely:

Have heard from 2 sources at different locations in the state that Gov. Perry will take the job at A&M recently vacated.
The rumors, they are aflyin'. It was only a matter of time until the rumors started, with the job open at A&M. But I just think there's no way Perry would dare leave right after re-election, even if he wanted to.

I checked the veracity of the rumor with a source very close to Perry. This person strongly denied that there was any truth to the rumor.

Posted by Evan @ 12/10/06 10:15 PM | Comments (0)        


Saenz to lobby

Gardner Selby brings us some tidbits:

Luis Saenz, who directed Gov. Rick Perry's re-election campaign, plans to work as a lobbyist.

Clients are yet to be determined, Saenz said Tuesday, but he'll be renting office space near the Texas Capitol that is occupied by lobbyists including Reggie Bashur, Cliff Johnson and others.

Saenz, 39, joined Perry's campaign in December 2004 after resigning as the state's deputy secretary of state.

Because he hasn't worked for Perry's state office in more than a year, he's probably not subject to Perry's policy barring former gubernatorial aides from lobbying him for a year after they leave his employment.


[Dean] Barkley [former campaign manager for Kinky Friedman], reached by telephone on an East Coast swing, said he's hunting for a way to continue in politics — maybe by helping an independent run for president in '08.

"I would like to stay in politics if I can find a way to make a living at it," he said.

The man is a former US Senator from Minnesota after all. Unfortunately, that Friedman campaign could've been run much better. The question is whether that's the candidate's fault or the adviser's fault.

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


Wouldn't sound nearly as good on a bumper sticker

Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, talking about a potential quixotic prez bid:

I honestly believe we're in one of those moments where experience matters. I'm half-tempted to steal Kinky Friedman's slogan for his gubernatorial race in Texas. I'm saying this somewhat facetiously, but I love this slogan down there, and it was, 'How hard can this job be?'

If he's going to steal it, he might want to get the wording right. Friedman's version was much pithier.

Posted by Evan @ 12/10/06 10:01 PM | Comments (0)        


Tom DeLay, blogger

US News' Washington Whispers:

Tom DeLay's back, this time on the Internet. Friends tell us that the powerful former House majority leader, dubbed the "Hammer" for his tough persuasion tactics, this week unveils TomDeLay.com, where he'll blog-DeLay's Daily-on newsy issues and build a coalition he's calling Grassroots, Action, and Information Network. Sources said the right-leaning Texan will give GAIN members insider information on the conservative movement and urge them to step in on key issues. And Democrats need not apply: His site will have a way to filter them out.
Erm, what exactly will that filter be?

Posted by Evan @ 12/10/06 09:55 PM | Comments (0)        


07 December 2006

CD23 digest

1. The DCCC has decided to play. Via Kuff, here's what Swing State Project reports the DCCC has been doing on the independent expenditure front:

11/29: $163k (media buy and ad production)
12/01: $43k (direct mail), $9k (media buy and ad production)
12/02: $16k (phonebanking)
12/04: $42k (direct mail), $9k (ad production)
12/06: $497k (media buy), $785 (phonebanking), $91k (direct mail)

2. SurveyUSA shows the race as Bonilla 53 - Rodriguez 46. Only 1% undecided? Hmm. 471 Likely Voters, margin of error +/- 4.6%, 12/1-12/3. The crosstabs show some interesting things:

1. Bonilla has 94% of the GOP vote, while Rodriguez has 89% of the Dem vote, and edges Bonilla 51-48 among independents.

2. Bonilla beats Rodriguez 70-30 among Anglos, but among Hispanics, flip it to get 72-27 Rodriguez. However, the poll weights (I believe it's weighted, anyway) Anglo turnout to 59% of the electorate, and Hispanics at 36%.

3. The poll asks who they voted for on election day. 50% say Bonilla, which is correct, of course. But 30% say Rodriguez, which is substantially more than he actually got on election day.

The sample's result is from before Bonilla launched his recent attacks on Rodriguez.

It'll be interesting to see how much money the House committees decide to spend on turnout.

Posted by Evan @ 12/07/06 08:25 PM | Comments (0)        


04 December 2006

Daily CD23 runoff digest

1. WOIA San Antonio is reporting:

Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla made some bold allegations about his Democratic opponent Ciro Rodriguez on Monday.

Bonilla claims Rodriguez has ties to Islamic extremists and known terrorists. The allegations were brought forth at a news conference held Monday afternoon by Congressman Bonilla and former FBI Assistant Special Agent In Charge Al Ortiz.

Both Bonilla and Ortiz said a former close aid of Rodriguez has "worked as a political consultant and public relations director for several islamic organizations with known ties to terrorists.

They added Rodriguez received $350 in campaign contributions in 1998 from a man convicted of money laundering, and that Rodriguez co-sponsored legislation that Bonilla said would free convicted terrorrists.

When asked if he believes Rodriguez is a terrorist supporter, Bonilla replied, "We are just presenting facts today. They are irrefutable because they've been reviewed over and over again. This is an issue about dangerous judgment, that went on inside a Congressional office and it up to the voters to decide."

News 4 WOAI contacted Rodriguez's campaign officials. They said they needed to fully review the allegations before responding.

I'm fascinated that they aren't denying/parrying in some way. That's pretty...unusual.

2. KENS 5 News:

The runoff election for the Congressional District 23 seat was expected to bring out only hardcore voters, but early numbers show the race is an important one to many San Antonio residents.

There's no real way to compare the turnout to previous races, because at least as far back as anyone remembers, Bexar County never had to have a runoff election after the general election.

Over the weekend, more than 3,200 people showed up to vote on the first two days of early voting. Also, over 4,000 ballots have been mailed to the Bexar County Elections office.

3. Kay Bailey was in town for Bonilla:

Friday, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison visited San Antonio to attend a get-out-the-vote rally for Mr. Bonilla, who said it's important for as many voters as possible to know that he has "one more round to go."

"Most people think the election is over," Ms. Hutchison told a group of Bonilla supporters. "We must remember what matters in this election. ... It is the people of this district getting out and voting."

She didn't mention that Bonilla needs to win this race to keep his dream alive of succeeding Hutchison as United States Senator from the state of Texas.

Posted by Evan @ 12/04/06 08:46 PM | Comments (0)        


03 December 2006

SAEN coverage

The San Antonio Express-News is the big voice in CD23's runoff between Republican Henry Bonilla and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez. Of course, there's also a huge geographic portion of the district that isn't in a major media market.

The SAEN's editorial board offers a relatively luke-warm endorsement of Henry Bonilla

Meanwhile, columnist Carlos Guerra has been echoing Democratic talking points, tying Bonilla to DeLay and in calling Republicans names for the election specifics.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 08:20 PM | Comments (0)        


National Dems and CD23

Gary Martin, SAEN:

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders are pouring thousands of dollars into Ciro Rodriguez's bid to unseat Rep. Henry Bonilla and expand a Democratic majority in Congress.
The help from Pelosi, D-Calif., comes after Texas Democrats and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus pledged cash to Rodriguez and his uphill fight against a better-funded Bonilla.

"The speaker-designate has made a personal decision to get involved in this race," said Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman in Washington.

Hammill said help to Rodriguez would be "largely a financial involvement," but he didn't rule out a possible Pelosi appearance for the San Antonio Democrat who served eight years in Congress.

Rodriguez received $5,000 on Tuesday from a political action committee controlled by Pelosi, Federal Election Commission records show. He received a total of $48,350 in new contributions, including the $5,000 from Pelosi and at least $15,000 from other Congressional Democrats.

He also got $2,500 from the Texas Democratic Party.

As of now, this isn't a serious commitment by Pelosi or national Democrats to Ciro Rodriguez's campaign. It is perfunctory, at best.

What's missing from Martin's story: if national Democrats were actually committed to this race, they would be pouring millions through the DCCC into the San Antonio to El Paso district. The fact that Pelosi's PAC has given $5K is merely standard, and not very newsworthy. Perhaps Pelosi and national Democrats still plan to funnel millions into the district, but it seems unlikely at this stage of the game.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 08:10 PM | Comments (0)        


Perry watches fight in Mexican Congress

Marion Lloyd reports in the Houston Chronicle on Gov Perry getting to watch

The fistfights between rival congressmen that spiced up Friday's presidential inauguration here are a sign that democracy has finally arrived in Mexico, said Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

"It's a natural progression in a democratic society, a free society," he told reporters several hours after attending the drama-fraught swearing-in ceremony for President Felipe Calderon.

In fact, Perry said, it's nothing unheard-of north of the border.

"It's not like there's never been a fight on the House floor in Texas," he said. "I'm just not sure there were any chairs that were thrown."


Perry went further, praising Calderon as a man of like mind on both economic and security issues. He said the two men spoke by phone in August, and that he hoped to meet within the next two months.

Calderon, a former energy secretary, favors opening the way for foreign investment in Mexico's energy sector — a longtime demand of the Texas oil companies. Mexico's constitution currently forbids it.

"The fact is that there are substantial energy resources that could really help the economy of this country," Perry said. "And I hope they'll look to Texas as a source of expertise and a partner in whatever way they can. It would be good for both economies."

Perry said he and Calderon also share common concerns on immigration and skyrocketing drug violence.

Perry called for more cooperation on the drug fight, which he said is "the No. 1 negative that our two countries have."

"This isn't Mexico's problem," he said. "If you don't have a market for it, if you don't have the demand side, the supply side goes away."

I'm really only posting the story because I'm annoyed at the failure of the American media to report on the promise for democracy in Mexico.

Seven years ago it would've been unthinkable for the PRI to lose an election in Mexico. The PRI had ruled for almost a century as a non-ideological hierarchy dedicated to maintaining its grip on power. Then, PAN's Vicente Fox won. It was hardly assured that democracy would continue to blossom.

In 2006, it looked like socialist demagogue Obrador was likely to win the election, and make relations with the US frosty at best. Calderon wasn't even supposed to be the PAN's candidate, and primaries in Mexico were, um...not the norm. But nonetheless, Calderon plunged ahead and surprised people by winning PAN's nomination. Then, he came from behind for victory, on a pro-business, pro-US platform.

So, not only did we have a wide-open election that resulted in a good result (from an American perspective), but we had the development of primaries as a viable method of selecting party nominees. Considering that what happens in Mexico affects Americans greatly, the recent election in Mexico is good news indeed.

And good for Perry not demonizing Mexico for drug trafficking. The US has a tendency to sometimes act arrogantly vis a vis friendly Latin American nations about narcotics problems, when it is our own societal issues that fuel the drug trafficking.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 07:32 PM | Comments (0)        


Light rail on Richmond: did it move votes?

I meant to write recently about Charles Kuffner's provoking posts on whether rail on Richmond had a large affect on the race, but now that Rod Sallee has also written about the same topic in the Chron, I think I'll finally get around to writing about it. [I thought that's because the Texans-Raiders game is boring you?--ed. Yup, could be that too.]

Here's Kuffner's conclusion, about the effects of opposing light rail on Richmond, as both Republicans John Culberson and Martha Wong did, arguing that voters had approved a Westpark line, not a Richmond line:

Bottom line, plain and simple: Opposing rail on Richmond is not a winning issue in the neighborhoods that will be affected by rail on Richmond. The people who live there do not vote for anti-Richmond rail candidates. Say it loud, and say it often.
I don't agree with his conclusion, as he seems to suggest that people switched away from Culberson/Wong, because of their stance on light rail on Richmond.

Sallee's conclusion:

Hot opposition to rail on Richmond flared red in the Nov. 7 election, but a Houston Chronicle analysis of the vote suggests that outside the most vocal neighborhoods the passion drops off.

If you're interested in this, I suggest perusing the data that Kuffner assembled. He did a top-notch job. With that said, I definitely lean closer to Sallee's conclusion.

Here's my thesis, based on the data assembled by Kuffner: rail on Richmond did not affect very many votes in either the Wong or the Culberson race. Except for a few votes that Culberson probably picked up among Richmond's business owners (who don't necessarily live in the precincts that Kuffner cited), it doesn't look to me like light rail switched more than a couple percent either way. And of course, there is theoretical support for the idea that those who oppose rail on Richmond are more likely to be single-issue voters than those who support rail.

In looking at the Culberson data for 04 versus 06, it shows that Culberson lost about 5-6 points in the Montrose precincts and then loses less as it goes westward to where Culberson stayed even or even improved in Afton Oaks. The Wong data shows similar effects, only a point or two more shaded to the Dems.

If light rail on Richmond was such a high-profile issue that affected people's votes (as Kuffner seems to contend), then how come Martha Wong did worse than John Culberson in these areas? John Culberson is much more highly identified as being anti-rail on Richmond than Martha Wong is. So that's another strike against the idea that rail on Richmond is a proximal decision in voting.

In drawing his conclusions, it seems to me that Kuffner heavily undervalues how bad a year this was for Republicans. [See, eg, Kuffner's comment, "In fact, Wong lost support in every single precinct that contains Richmond Ave from 2004 to 2006. There is no "other hand" for her here." It doesn't matter whether the box switched. What matters is whether the box would have switched if rail on Richmond weren't an issue. Chances are that in 2006, this box was going to switch, because it was a bad year for the GOP.] The horrible, horrible political climate for Republicans accounts for most of the 5% swing right there. Then, especially in the case of Wong, it should hardly be a surprise that Republicans lost lots of votes in Montrose. I don't think that voters in Montrose were choosing Ellen Cohen or Jim Henley because of either's stance on light rail.

To test my hypothesis, I wanted to find the close precinct in Montrose for which Kuffner didn't gather data. It's the best thing to a control that we'll be able to find in political statistical analysis. The main Montrose precinct, 34, is contiguous to two of the precincts Kuffner cited: 39 and 123. Based on my thesis, I expected that the main Montrose precinct (where light rail was not really an issue) would essentially show the same drop for Culberson/Wong, only perhaps slightly exacerbated by 1%ish, since it is more Montrose. So, I checked the results for precinct 34, which I subsequently found to be in CD7 but not in HD134. In 2004, Culberson got 27.4% of the R/D vote, while in 2006 Culberson got 19.8% of the R/D vote. So, Culberson lost about 7.5%, which I believe is a little worse than he lost in the other Montrose precincts averaged together. So, there's some statistical support for my thesis.

My bottom line analysis: Culberson might've actually gained votes from being anti-rail on Richmond, but it's not more than a couple percentage points either way. As for the Wong race, I don't think it affected the race much either way, so in that, the headline to the Sallee article ("Rail didn't decide Wong-Cohen race") is correct.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 06:41 PM | Comments (2)        


Kay Bailey Hutchison vs. the World?

Selby writes up 2010:

"Nothing has been decided on what he wants to do," Wolf said this week. He stressed the uncertainties of the 2008 national elections culminating in a new president. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas or Gov. Rick Perry could yet end up the Republican vice-presidential choice.

Hutchison, just re-elected, signaled to Austin supporters Monday that she's keeping her gubernatorial dreams alive.

"I'm not asking for your endorsement now. But please don't give it to anybody else," Hutchison said, according to former Austin Mayor Roy Butler, who was a lunch guest.

Hutchison did not say she was running for governor, Butler said, but it was "pretty clear that's where she wants to go."

Makes sense, especially in light of this year's national results leaving Democrats in charge of Congress. Texas is suddenly (decisively) a better place to be a Republican.

At the least, Hutchison wants folks to pause before aligning with Dewhurst or Tony Garza, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico who could come home to run for governor.

Butler declined to make an early Hutchison-Dewhurst pick, saying: "I'll wait four years to see if both of them are running."

Assuming Governor Perry doesn't run for re-election, the big question is whether Kay Bailey Hutchison decides to run. Sen. Hutchison has been saying that she wants to run for awhile, but has chosen not to challenge the incumbent Perry. She's the most popular politician in the state, although that's not necessarily a solid predictor of whether she would win a Republican primary (eg, she may be more popular than W, but she wouldn't win an election against him).

If Hutchison runs, that might not clear the field. Any of these three might decide to take her on: Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, Ambassador Tony Garza, and St. Sen. elect Dan Patrick. Dewhurst and Garza both have the money to self-fund the race [Dewhurst from the oil biz, Garza is married into the Corona wealth]. And Patrick is sorta the wild-card who may decide to run no matter what the other 3 do.

Hutchison probably knows -- based on her reluctance to run previously -- that a gubernatorial primary will not be a cakewalk versus someone who runs to her right. The state's GOP activists have largely never felt comfortable with her.

Dewhurst is definitely signaling that he intends to run, hoping to steer KBH out of the race just as Perry did. There were rumors that he intended to announce immediately after the election. Certainly, he heavily courted the media at Perry's victory party, spending at least 5 times as long with the media as any other statewide officeholder. That tends to leave the impression that he is intending to run for governor. He ran this year on Jessica's Law, allowing him to position himself as tough-on-crime but in a moderate, appealing-to-women way. However, as a non-incumbent whose ties to GOP activists aren't as strong/long-standing as Perry's, he probably can't scare KBH out of the race.

Right now, I think the signs point to a clash of the titans: Dewhurst v. Hutchison. Despite the years-ago rumors that Dewhurst would rather be in the Senate than in the Governor's Mansion, I doubt he's going to let Hutchison waltz into the Governor's Mansion and simply hope that Hutchison picks him to fill her then-vacant Senate seat. [Random aside: if Hutchison were governor, who would she be most likely to appoint to the final 2 years of her term?]

It's still very early, so crazy things could happen. Hutchison surprised everyone in the '06 cycle by not running, so we'll see about '10. If she decides to run, it might be a savvy move for her to resign her Senate seat. That would give Dewhurst the option to run for Senate, possibly against Congressman Henry Bonilla (assuming he survives the run-off in 9 days), or Garza or any other number of people. It would also signal that Hutchison is in-to-win, after the very-public previous flirtations with running for governor.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 05:38 PM | Comments (0)        


Chris Bell outperformed by corpse

Chris Bell, in mid-September:

"You could be a corpse and get 31 percent as the Democratic nominee just about any office," Bell said.

Chris Bell received 29.8% of the vote.

Posted by Evan @ 12/03/06 04:26 PM | Comments (0)        


01 December 2006

Reyes gets House Intel Chairmanship


House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has chosen a Border Patrol agent-turned-congressman to lead the House Intelligence Committee, ending weeks of Democratic debate about who will oversee the nation's spy agencies.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, takes over the key post next year, as his party tries to intensify oversight of the intelligence community. Critics say Republicans failed to do that, leading to faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq and other stumbles.

That's good for Texas.

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



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