14 March 2014

Dan Branch is out of touch with the electorate

More from Mark Davis DMN column on runoffs:

But I fear the spectacle that may unfold among these praiseworthy Republicans as the May 27 runoff draws near. When generally similar candidates square off, the modern habit is to find ancillary matters to amplify and stigmatize in the hope that voters will be sufficiently repelled by an opponent.

On paper, we seem to be headed toward the anointing of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Their roughly dozen-point advantages take on additional steepness in view of voters' tendency to return more reliably in runoffs for grassroots-flavored candidates occupying ground a shade or more to the right.

But as Branch berates Paxton as a mediocre back-bencher (as he did in our [radio] interview last week) and Paxton paints Branch as insufficiently pro-life because of third-trimester abortion exception language from 2005, something significant is missing: What kind of attorney general would these men be? I guess ads making fine distinctions on those issues might not sizzle as much among an already primary-weary electorate. [emphasis mine]

How out of touch with the electorate is Dan Branch to make that kind of argument?

1. Dan Branch criticizing Ken Paxton as a backbencher just reinforces the notion of Dan Branch as the Austin establishment insider. That's an electoral loser. Your median primary voter is concerned with voting record and issues, not how well you played the inside game.

2. And it's not like Branch played the inside game in a way that will win him a Republican primary. As chairman of the higher education committee, Branch largely sided with the establishment instead of the conservative reformers. While I'm skeptical of blindly implementing Jeff Sandefer's ideas -- personal experience suggests that Sandefer is terribly misguided when it comes to higher education -- Branch just went along with the crowd.

3. In fact, Dan Branch is the perfect example of what I wrote in my primary winners and losers post:

it is quite clear that if you ever want to move up in Texas politics, then you should stay far away from Joe Straus.

Dan Branch joined the Democrats in supporting Joe Straus for speaker. Straus gave him committee chairmanships. Branch then raised lots of money. If I recall correctly, Branch even spent more on TV ads than anyone else in 2014.

But all those millions couldn't counteract one fact: being on Team Straus cost Dan Branch his chance of winning statewide.

Posted by Evan @ 03/14/14 06:25 AM | Comments (0)        


13 March 2014

Runoff rundowns

Mark Davis thinks the second place primary finishers should drop out of the runoff:

But I fear the spectacle that may unfold among these praiseworthy Republicans as the May 27 runoff draws near. When generally similar candidates square off, the modern habit is to find ancillary matters to amplify and stigmatize in the hope that voters will be sufficiently repelled by an opponent.

I guess we can look to Dewhurst for more ads suggesting that Patrick personally loaded countless illegals into a van to bring them across the river. Thatís been the tone his rivals have taken since Jerry Patterson unearthed some undocumented guy hired at a Patrick-owned sports bar 30 years ago. Patrick says it was without his knowledge, and the charge did not stick.

Dewhurst should stick to the worthy things he has done as lieutenant governor, and they are many. Patrick should stick, as he largely has, with his vision of changes he wishes to make as an alternative.

Could any of the second place finishers win the runoff? Probably not.

Dewhurst hasn't broken the 45% ceiling in 4 years in any ballot test. Branch was in freefall towards the end of the primary. The downballot races can sometimes surprise you, but is a liberal Republican like Tommy Merritt somehow going to get over 50%? Unlikely. Can Ryan Sitton go from 12 down when Wayne Christian only needs 8% more? Unlikely.

Who are we to judge how David Dewhurst chooses to spend his fortune? He's never spent it particularly wisely until now, so we shouldn't be surprised if he spends some more. On the other hand, he's been spending it more judiciously this cycle.

Two quick points:

1) There is more substance to the charge that Dan Patrick hired illegal immigrants than the asinine Cruz/China charge. It goes to the very heart of Dan Patrick's candidacy. Patterson didn't have the money to put any force behind his charge.

If you were Dewhurst, you might think it is worth putting $2 million bucks behind ads if they were voiced by someone the median GOP primary voter finds credible. After those 2 weeks, see if there's enough movement to fire more bullets or just give up.

2) Dewhurst is hoping for Dan Patrick to pull a Todd Akin. As Cory Crow points out, Dan Patrick debates one of the Castro brothers in a month. May as well see what happens.

Unfortunately for Dewhurst, he's never laid out much of an agenda for the future. The credibility necessary for attack ads is low.

Posted by Evan @ 03/13/14 10:23 PM | Comments (0)        


09 March 2014

The scandal is what is legal for trial lawyers

Jay Root, Texas Tribune:

Mr. Mostyn, who is considered the biggest donor to Democrats in Texas and has contributed heavily to the party nationally, provided the deposition to The Tribune because he said he wanted to shed light on the back-room dealings. (Mr. Mostyn also has been a major donor to The Texas Tribune.)

Poor Steve Mostyn. He wants sympathy. The trial lawyer kingpin has a good racket going. He finds people who bad things have happened to, then he convinces them it must've been someone else's fault. They should pay! He signs 'em up King of Torts style, and sues. He hopes to settle, because then he takes a huge chunk of what could have gone to his victims with little work and little risk.

[UPDATE: Remember when Steve Mostyn donated $25,000 to Todd Hunter a few days after Hunter was appointed as the mediator in a Mostyn case dealing with hurricane/TWIA claims? Read the link for some cozy emails.]

But in this case Mostyn is alleging -- oh the horror! -- that David Dewhurst actually thinks that Steve Mostyn should have to try some of those cases instead of just paying Mostyn whatever he asks for.

Dewhurst acknowledged meeting Oliver to discuss the lawsuits, but he said he was not trying to cut off Mostyn's political donations. He said he wanted to know why Oliver was settling thousands of cases that involved allegations of unfair or shabby claims processing.

David Dewhurst suggested that perhaps the state should try some of the cases where the trial lawyers cut the most corners in their claims. Mostyn would actually have to earn some of his millions.

What a scandal!

But there is a real scandal here:

Mr. Mostyn, who said he has made "north of $100 million" from lawsuits related to hurricane claims, stands to make even more through current litigation.

Mostyn is making hundreds of millions just by signing up victims! Now that's a scandal!

Maybe it's time that Texas caps the amount that trial lawyers can make from a single incident. Every "windfall profit" over $5 million to a single law firm or lawyer for one particular incident is dedicated to fund something like CHIP. This should be something everyone can agree on!

Oh, and there was one hilarious bit in this article:

Charles Silver, a University of Texas at Austin School of Law professor and expert on tort laws, said the private complaints about money going to Democrats underscored a primary motivation behind lawsuit curbs.

"This is just another example of what tort reform has always been about," Mr. Silver said. "It's always been about defunding trial lawyers who are giving money to Democrats. It's just a continuation of the prior endeavor." (The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.)

Ah yes, a UT Law professor and "expert on tort laws." Jay Root's description leaves us thinking that Charles Silver is just a neutral third-party.

WRONG. Mr. Silver profits from the trial lawyers. From his bio:

Professor Silver often consults with attorneys and serves as an expert witness. He has strong ties with all segments of the litigating bar. On the plaintiffs' side, he submitted an expert report on attorneys' fees in the massive Enron settlement and served as professional responsibility advisor to the private attorneys who handled the State of Texasí lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

Now, I don't know Silver's hourly rate, but hourly rates for expert witnesses often run between $500 and $1000 an hour. But I'm sure that has absolutely nothing to do with why Charles Silver loves trial lawyers. /sarcasm

But wait, there's more!

Charles Silver donated to sleazy John Edwards

Remember when trial lawyer John Edwards ran for president? Charles Silver donated to him (he's also donated to a few Democrats in Texas). John Edwards epitomized the sleazy politician. Everything about him was fake.

That's who Charles Silver thought should be president.

Posted by Evan @ 03/09/14 03:55 PM | Comments (0)        


08 March 2014

South South Texas Democratic Party chairs don't sound enthusiastic about teh Wendy Davis

Katie Glueck's Politico article about Wendy Davis losing to a no-name in South Texas has some interesting off-message comments from the Democratic party chairs in South Texas:

That was echoed by Silverio Martinez, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Laredo-area Webb County, which went to Madrigal by about 2,700 votes.

"The only thing I can think is that he's Hispanic," Martinez said. "He did not campaign here at all ... it's very weird to me."

Martinez added that voters also could have been concerned about Davis' stance on abortion -- she earned a national name last summer when she temporarily derailed a restrictive abortion measure.

Kelly Rivera Salazar, the chairwoman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party -- a border county that Davis lost by about 2,000 votes -- highlighted the issue more pointedly.

"Here in Hidalgo County, we are predominantly not only Hispanic but also Catholic," she said. "Her stance on women's rights issues recently in the Texas legislature may have played a role in how the votes came out last night."

How long do you think the trial lawyers will keep writing million dollar checks to Obama's staffers just because Van de Putte tells them that Latinas are secretly pro-abortion?

Posted by Evan @ 03/08/14 03:43 PM | Comments (0)        


05 March 2014

Winners and losers: primary night edition


Dannie Goeb -- Leading by 13 as of this moment, the former shock jock has shocked us again. Barring a blowup, he'll be the leader of the Texas Senate in 2015. He went on offense and stayed there. But I have to wonder...how much do Todd Staples and Jerry Patterson regret their 2012 Dewhurst endorsement? Their campaigns were dead in the water from the start.

Ken Paxton -- He's leading by almost 11% right now. Smitherman did well in Houston, so Paxton will pink up a large chunk of that vote by default. Dan Branch has almost no chance to win this battle of the DFW lawyers.

Greg Abbott -- 91% is pretty good in a four-way race. His party is united behind him. Compare that to John Cornyn who also faced a bunch of no-names and yet is running just under 59%.

#TxLege conservatives running for higher office -- Democrats may continue to make Joe Straus the Speaker of the House, but it is quite clear that if you ever want to move up in Texas politics, then you should stay far away from Joe Straus.

I heard people talk about Straus staffer Eric Opiela as a shoo-in and he won't even make the runoff. Meanwhile, Straus tried to end Wayne Christian's political career, but now he is poised to be a statewide officeholder.


MSM slate candidates -- they all did worse than expected. Why would any Republican running in a competitive statewide primary spend time seeking endorsements that lose you votes? I don't understand how any of their consultants let them.

Wendy Davis -- yeah, she couldn't motivate anyone to vote in the Democratic primary, but that's no surprise and no big deal. General elections are not won or lost based on how many people vote in the primary.

The big deal is that -- as of right now with 67% in -- she is getting 78% of the vote against a no-name AND SHE IS LOSING IN SOUTH TEXAS. A Democrat can't pull off a miracle upset when losing against a no-name in South Texas counties. Are the folks down there turned off by her pro-Obama liberalism or do they just not care enough to vote for her?

There's really no good way for the Obama staffers running her campaign to spin this. It shatters the whole "we'll win non-voting Latinos" myth that Texas Democrats try to make themselves believe every four years. "But it's different this time," they cry. The data does not support their claim.

Online polls -- Polling primaries is not always easy. But it's even harder when you change the whole basis of random sampling and then hope that your opt-in sample uses demographic features that are enough to construct a sample that is similar to primary voters.

In fact, one might expect that certain subgroups like libertarians would be drastically oversampled online. Oversampling libertarians has long been a problem with online polling. And, voila! Debra Medina, who previously played footsie with 9/11 Truthers, is at 19%. She's got the same libertarians she got 4 years ago, and not a voter more.

David Dewhurst -- will he even decide to burn more money on the runoff? Short of a Patrick blowup, I see zero paths to Dewhurst even getting 45% of the vote, much less the 50% he needs to win. By the way, he frequently trashed his 2012 campaign team over the last couple years, but this sub-30% performance tonight actually suggests that they did a good job (as I contended at the time).

Trial lawyers -- the Ted Cruz #SCOTX endorsements crushed any hopes their slate had of winning. The money they spent to try to stop Dan Patrick was wasted.

Posted by Evan @ 03/05/14 12:16 AM | Comments (0)        


02 March 2014

Democrats for Dan Patrick

The Texas Democratic Party has endorsed Dan Patrick for Lt Governor:

Democrats for Dan Patrick

This follows a long tradition of Democrats picking the weakest Republican candidate and then spending money advertising them as "too conservative," so that they will win the GOP primary. A few examples immediately come to mind: Harry Reid only managed to win in 2010 by doing this to Sharron Angle. Garry South did it to Bill Simon in 2002 so that an unpopular Gray Davis could get re-elected governor of California (and then be recalled a year later).

And of course, Claire McCaskill and the Missouri Democrats spent heavily on ads like this to give us Todd Akin.

I'm not terribly worried about Dan Patrick losing. Leticia Van de Putte is a weak candidate who is prone to stereotyping and who needs 10 second pauses in order to answer easy questions.

But then again, shock jocks gonna shock jock. A Dan Patrick blowup is the Democrats best chance of winning statewide in 2014.

Posted by Evan @ 03/02/14 10:13 PM | Comments (0)        



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