Torres is in for Comptroller

The Rio Grande Guardian, a publication that I have never heard of nor has a Wikipedia page, but for some reason was culled for the Tribune brief, has an interesting article about yet another candidate for the Comptrollers’ race.

Raul Torres, the former one-term State Representative and unsuccessful candidate for the State Senate, is officially throwing his hat into the ring. Torres, in an interview with this “newspaper,” stated: “I think South Texas needs serious representation in Austin. I believe this campaign, because of my background and because of my business experience, makes me the most qualified candidate out there to head this agency, this department for the state. I believe it is our race to lose because of that.”

This puts Senator Glenn Hegar, Debra Medina and Torres in the “definitely” category. Meanwhile, Senator Tommy Williams and Representative Harvey Hildenbran are “maybes.” It’s going to be a crowded field.

The state of the races

The Dallas Morning News reports that Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County) is still, in fact, pondering a run for Lieutenant Governor. The Morning News as well as the Tribune directly interview the Senator, and he is not shy about his ambition towards the state’s ostensibly second-highest office. Senator Patrick stated, ““That’s why I would run. It has nothing to do with David Dewhurst.” Even though the Morning News piece featured some hurtful comments referring to Houston as “choke city” (stupid [expletive deleted] Dallasites), it highlighted that Patrick will still be a factor in the race for Lieutenant Governor. It appears as though the floodgates have truly been opened by Combs’ announcement, as well. Accordingly, I would like to go over where each race stands as of now.

Perry, of course, is the main topic here. He would certainly be in a favorable position towards the next primary, if he runs. Abbott is next on everyone’s mind. Though the Governor himself has sworn the two would not run against each other, the Attorney General may throw his hat in the ring anyway.

Aside from the aforementioned couple, Tom Pauken,  former Texas Workforce Commissioner and TXGOP Chairman as well as prominent secessionist Larry SECEDE Kilgore have officially entered the race, with or without Perry.

Lieutenant Governor
Dewhurst is running for re-election, with Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson and  Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples openly running against him. This has all been happening for awhile. The big question now is if Senator Patrick will enter the race, seeing as that Comptroller Susan Combs will not be.

Attorney General
Abbott presumably would run for re-election if he does not challenge Perry. If he does run for Governor, though, the AG’s seat would become open. Susan Reed, the hard hitting Bexar County DA, is the only name I have heard for this seat.

Land Commissioner
Jerry Patterson’s seat is, almost like a little prince’s birthright, already been bequeathed to George P. Bush. The fourth generation politician in the family is running for this seat with national backing.

Agriculture Commissioner
Todd Staples’ seat will be open, and I have heard nothing of it. Anyone? Bueller??

As I stated yesterday, Senator Glenn Hegar and former County Party Chairwoman Debra Medina are already in the fray, while State Senator Tommy Williams and State Representative Harvey Hilderbrand are openly discussing the idea. Former representative Raul Torres and former Speaker Tom Craddick (I kid you not, from the Morning News) are also listed among the more dark house candidates.

As I said yesterday, no Democrat who holds any public office has declared for a statewide thus far. With special, young candidates like Julian Castro and Wendy Davis not running, the Democratic lineup this year is just like the Astros’–it just doesn’t matter.

BOR has more. Also, we at Texpatriate are now on our own website. Though the old URL still redirects here.

Medina, Williams exploring Comptroller candidacy

It wasn’t even past Noon today when Susan Combs made the bombshell announcement that she would be retiring from politics at the end of her current term. A Tribune article on the topic included a wishlist of candidates, only one of which–Glenn Hegar–seemed to ring true at the time.

Now, twitter is lighting up over Debra Medina, the libertarian-tilted former County Chair who made an impressive showing in the 2010 Gubernatorial Republican Primary. It looks like she is in for an “exploratory campaign,” website and all.

Additionally, The Dallas Morning News reports that Senator Tommy Williams (R-Montgomery County) is also thinking about throwing his hat into the ring. Williams, of course, is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, meaning he was the chief budget writer. Now, for the record, the two incumbent Senators, Hegar and Williams, are not up for re-election in 2014, so they can do silly shenanigans like this (unlike Senator Davis).

Williams told TrailBlazers that his decision will not come until after the Special Session, most likely.

Combs to not seek re-election

This is big. The Texas Tribune reports that Susan Combs, the strong willed Comptroller long rumored to be eyeing the Lieutenant Governor’s office, will not seek that office nor any other. She is, according to the Tribune, “retiring from public office at the end of her term in 2015.”

Combs may have been the best of a bad bunch seeking the position that may very well have the most power in the State. I remember her highlighted profile in The New York Times, and remember remarking something along the lines of thinking it would be a shame if the Comptroller sold out her principles and then didn’t even seek this high office after all. Well, that’s what ended up happening.

The Tribune article then looks to talk about the possible candidates for Combs’ position. Debra Medina, Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Waller County), Representative Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerr County) and former Representative Raul Torres (R-Nueces County) were all mentioned as possible candidates.

The Chron, in their coverage of this event, included confirmation that Senator Hegar would run for the Comptroller’s position. “I plan to run for Comptroller. It’s an opportunity to talk about the Texas economy and business climate,” Hegar said.

This means, out of the six Statewide offices, at least three (Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner and Comptroller) are open seats. A fourth, Lieutenant Governor, is extremely competitive even though the incumbent is running. The remaining offices are Governor and Attorney General, which means if Abbott challenges Perry, one of those offices becomes competitive and the other becomes open. 2014 will be a hell of a year for statewide elections. Unfortunately, not a single sorry bloke in the Democratic Party, save the Kinkster, has publicly commented about intentions to seek high office next year in the affirmative.

Like I said when Battleground Texas first became a big thing, the Democrats aren’t going to come even close to flipping this State until we start getting some Democrats to sign up for the [expletive deleted] ballot.

Brains & Eggs has more.

Things I have missed

I spent the better part of Memorial Day weekend at the beach, in what is probably the only part of Galveston without cell phone service or wifi. Needless to say, I’ve been dying to write about quite a lot of things that have happened recently.

In re Scouts
Kuff beat me to the punch in covering the latest on the Boy Scouts membership controversy. Essentially, the organization’s head honchos voted with about 60% to allow openly gay youths–but not adults–into the organization. The original plan had allowed for localities to opt-out, which Houston’s council preemptively tried to do. However, the final policy does not allow for opt-outs, and takes effect on January 1st.

The astute will remember I am an Eagle Scout who loathes what the organization has become, but this vote is most definitely a step in the right direction. Additionally, if this causes some Southern Baptist, hardliner conservative Catholic and other Evangelical affiliated troops and councils to drop out of the organization, that is the greatest silver lining out of this. The more oldguard bigots leave, the more progressive the remainder of the organization is, and the sooner the ill-fated ban on gay adults will be gone as well.

Transparency is dead
The Texas Tribune reports that the big political transparency bill of the session, SB346, has been vetoed by the Governor. The bill proposed by Senator Seliger, colloquially known as the “dark money prohibition,” would require more transparency in in tax-exempt, politically active non-profits, compelling them to disclosure their donors. However, there would be an exemption for labor unions.

The measure passed both houses by very narrow margins, so there is no hope for an override, end of session notwithstanding. In fact, the Senate even tried to recall this bill after they passed it. “Oops.” 

Kuff has more.

What’s going on in Galveston?

A few months ago, I was surfing YouTube, watching a plethora of random videos. One of the advertisements that popped up before the videos was a political insurgency campaign of some sorts by someone named “Don Tequila.” The video, which was set to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” played a montage of newspaper headlines outlining the many controversies a Galveston County Court at Law Judge, Christopher Dupuy, had found himself in since taking office in early 2011.

The case involving Judge Dupuy has officially blown up in the last week (I have been putting off writing this because it is still a breaking story). He has been accused of countless felonies, including abuse of power and official oppression.

An exhaustive summary of all of the controversies Dupuy has been involved in in the past roughly two years would be too onerous to detail at this time. Rather, there are three distinct issues currently affecting the Galveston Judge.

First, Dupuy was recently indicted and suspended without pay for eight crimes. These included corruption, oppression, abuse of power and retaliation. After the original arrest and indictment, Dupuy simply showed up for work like nothing had happened. It was only at that time that Dupuy was ordered by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct into official unpaid suspension.

Second, Dupuy has been historically quite erratic and possibly dangerous. A Chron article from February describes Susan Criss, another Galveston judge, fearing for her safety and the safety of her staff after frightening encounters with Dupuy. Judge Criss also claimed that Dupuy had posted inflammatory comments on his personal Facebook page, insinuating that he was carrying handguns “in a zipped pocket in his jacket” to the courthouse regularly.

Lastly, Dupuy has been involved in extensive family drama. During a recent court hearing of which Dupuy was a party to, rather than presiding over, Dupuy was alleged told his then-girlfriend that he was planning on killing his ex-wife and kidnapping his children and bringing them out of the country. FOX26 reports that this girlfriend, Tara Compton, plead the fifth when taking the stand, out of fear for her life. “I’m afraid something bad will come of this. I don’t want to end up having a bad accident after all of this. I fear what could happen to me,” the woman said. Dupuy also allegedly mailed a picture of a gun with a silencer on it to his ex-wife.

This guy is nuts. He was noted a few times to start laughing during court proceedings “when there did not appear to be anything humorous happening.” I had heard stories over the years of an absolutely psychotic lawyer my father once faced off against, but didn’t realize it was Dupuy until somewhat recently. I hope he can get kicked out of office sooner, rather than later, so that Galveston can reclaim some of their dignity.

Speaking of Galveston, there is another newstory going on. Craig Eiland, the Galveston Democratic State Rep and former Speaker Pro Tem, will not be seeking re-election in 2014. He fought hard to win in both 2010 and 2012, so this is going to be a hard seat for the Democrats to keep. According to the Trib article on the topic, Eiland prophesied not about the importance of purple, but of brown–and obvious reference to the changing demographics.

I haven’t heard of anyone running for this seat, but it is going to be a messy race. Personally, I think this is a lost cause for the Democrats. Dems aren’t going to win this seat fighting over rural white districts. Let them go, keep your eye on the real prize: the cities and the south. Off the Kuff has more on Eiland.

Equal Pay in Texas

The Texas Tribune reports that, on Wednesday evening, Senfronia Thompson’s “Equal Pay for Equal Work” bill passed the Senate 17-14 (the Journal STILL isn’t up). HB 950 would, according to the Tribune article, “make Texas law mirror protections of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.” The measure passed the House last month after a very contentious debate.

Two–you guessed it–male Republican Senators added amendments that slightly watered down the measure. Robert Deuell (Hunt County) tacked on a page that clarifies this equality only applies to wages, and not other compensation. Robert Duncan (Lubbock County) made sure no lawsuits about unequal pay could be made retroactively–before the measure hypothetically would take effect on September 1.

These amendments mean the act must now return to the House of Representatives, where there is still a chance of defeat. Additionally, the threat looms very large of a veto from the Governor. With time running out, that would be an automatic pocket veto, and therefore death sentence, for the legislation.

The Tribune reported that Texas would be the 43rd State to have such a law. Way to catch up into the 20th century, Texas.

In re School Marshals

A few weeks ago, the Texas House voted by rather large margins to allow rural school districts without their own police forces to designate employees as “School Marshals,” allowed to bring their concealed weapons into schools. On Wednesday, the Texas Tribune reported that that bill, HB1009 (proposed by Jason Villalba [R-Dallas]), had also passed the Senate without amendment and is on Rick Perry’s desk.

The bill, which passed 28-3 (journal not available now), would have those rural school districts without their own police forces (so it is 100% irrelevant to Houston) choose an employee to undergo 80 hours of training. In comparison, a CHL requires just 8 hours. This rigorous evaluation would include sanity and other mental health evaluations. Only at that time would the employee become a deputized School Marshal authorized to bring deadly weapons to a school.

Living up in Massachusetts has given me to opportunity to meet some remedial individuals on the left who actually believe the world would be a better place if nobody had a gun. I have a problem with that. What I do not have a problem with, certainly, is well-trained, sane individuals having guns to protect the general population. Education and regulations are certainly good ways to prevent mass tragedies, but sometimes, deadly force is the only way to stop an ongoing one.

Drug Testing turns into a pumpkin

Well, some of it anyways. The Texas Tribune reports that, very late Tuesday night, the Texas House voted to pass SB21, which mandates drug testing for unemployment insurance applicants, whilst letting the clock run out on SB11, which mandates drug testing for welfare.

The journal states that SB21 passed 104-42, with most all of the Democrats voting against the legislation. That is far better than the Senators could say, where these pieces of legislation were approved nearly unanimously.

SB11, meanwhile, had been vigorously pushed late in the evening, but when the clock struck 12, the legislation, along with many others, simply turned into a pumpkin, to borrow a metaphor from a Disney movie.  I am almost a little bit disappointed, because while the bill was being debated, Amendment 4 by J.M. Lozano (D-Kleberg) had been adopted. It would have, among other things, forced Rick Perry to pee into a cup.

Even less standardized testing

Huzzah! The Texas Tribune reports that HB866, a bill by Dan Huberty to allow many students to skip standardized testing in the fourth, sixth and seventh grades, has been approved by the States Senate 29-2 after passing the House unanimously late last month. The two nays came from Dan Patrick (R-Harris) and Brian Birdwell (R-Hood). Birdwell is so right-wing he is probably upset that all the tests hadn’t been abolished, and Patrick probably couldn’t stand the idea of anyone else spearheading something pertaining to education.

The Tribune article reports that this new program, which would only allow the test waivers if the students did “well” on their 3rd and 5th grade tests, respectively, would require an exemption from the Federal Government. Another bill, HB2836, which I talked aboutlast month after it passed the House, originally would have axed writing tests for 4th and 7th graders. The Senate butchered that bill last night, so that the “new” version would only create a commission to “look into the matter.”

As a general rule, standardized tests for Elementary education is quite the asinine proposition. Organizations like the Texas Association of Business are deadset against reducing these tests, arguing that it is a good way to measure how well a student is doing. I still think that Grades are all that are needed to “measure how well a student is doing” until at least the start of High School. Let us hope the Obama administration agrees and grants Texas waivers from the (ludicrously named) No Child Left Behind Act that would allow the reduction of these high stakes tests.