The State of Statewide Elections

We have had quite a lot of action recently with our Statewide elections, and I’m talking about the Republican primaries to be clear. If anyone really wanted me to enumerate every single Democratic candidate, it would just be an empty chart. So, without further ado, the State of the Statewides, on this final day of June, 2013. We will be getting the campaign finance reports soon, so there will be even more to talk about.

GOVERNOR
*Rick Perry-Despite recently pledging to make a campaign decision by July 1st, the Governor recently reneged on that promise. The new time frame appears to be that Perry will make his big decision by the end of the Second Special Session, so by the end of July. Reading the tea leaves for Perry’s future is difficult, however. On one hand, the Texas Tribune recently reported that a Perry campaign veteran, Mark Miner, is rejoining his team. On the other, more and more candidates have started lining up for the Attorney General’s office, with the assumption that Greg Abbott is running for Governor. Only the incumbent Governor knows for sure.

*Greg Abbott-The incumbent Attorney General is, second to only Perry, the most watched figure in Texas politics. Perry has previous made the announcement that the duo would not run against each other. Further, there have been quite a few candidates who have declared for Abbott’s current job, with the understanding that Abbott will not run again for Attorney General.

*Tom Pauken-The former Chairman of the Texas Republican Party and Texas Workforce Commission is, right now, the only serious candidate running for the Governor’s office. He in unapologetic about opposing the incumbent, but I do not know how the campaign would actually go if it were Abbott, and not Perry, who was his principle opponent.

*Larry SECEDE Kilgore-As I have mentioned before, there is also a Texas secessionist who wants to turn to the new sovereignty into a theocracy. His campaign will be entertaining to watch, to say the least.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
*David Dewhurst-The incumbent Lieutenant Governor, despite his recent bad press, is still working hard to keep his job. After his loss to Cruz in last year’s Senate primary, Dewhurst has attempted to move as far to the right as humanly possible. A recent poll showed he had a plurality lead in a possible Republican primary, though most involved were still undecided.

*Jerry Patterson-The incumbent Land Commissioner has been openly running for Lite Gov since 2011, back when it appeared Dewhurst would be a shoe-in for the Senate. Since Dewhurst’s defeat, Patterson has simply doubled down on his own campaign.

*Todd Staples-The incumbent Agriculture Commissioner is pretty much in the same boat as Patterson. The commissioner has recently released a new internet video (not quite a commercial), that introduces him and his conservative credentials. It is chock full of hypocrisy, so I am sure he is going for major Tea Party support. For example, Staples calls himself a “defender of individual rights,” then brags about authoring the Defense of Marriage Act. Yuck.

*Dan Patrick-The new contender, State Senator Dan Patrick recently announced via YouTube video that he would be challenging Dewhurst, and, by extension, Patterson and Staples. Patrick attempted to brand himself as an “authentic Conservative.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL
*Greg Abbott-The incumbent Attorney General is, second to only Perry, the most watched figure in Texas politics. Perry has previous made the announcement that the duo would not run against each other. Further, there have been quite a few candidates who have declared for Abbott’s current job, with the understanding that Abbott will not run again for Attorney General.

*Dan Branch-The Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, a State Representative for six terms now, has officially announced his intentions for Attorney General assuming Abbott departs. He is a little “twitter-happy” (that’s an understatement), making a tweet every few minutes that ends with the hashtag “DanBranch2014.” 

*Barry Smitherman-The incumbent Railroad Commissioner, who was just re-elected without opponent last year, has also announced his intentions to run for Attorney General in the event of Abbott’s departure. 

*Ken Paxton-The one-term Senator and previous Representative has long been mentioned as a possible candidate for Attorney General, though he hasn’t officially announced anything. 

*Susan Reed-I am going to keep mentioning this until she definitively rules herself out. Susan Reed, the Bexar County DA, was mentioned by the SA Express-News about being interested in running for the seat. She has not officially announced anything herself.

LAND COMMISSIONER
*George P. Bush-The next generation of Bush has been openly running for this seat for a few months now. He is getting national recognition because his dad was the Governor of Florida, his uncle was the President (and Governor of Texas) and his grandfather was also the President. 

*David Watts-Watts, who has to my knowledge never held public office, is running against Bush for Land Commissioner. A self proclaimed “Conservative Republican,” his announcement flew completely under the radar.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER
*Brandon Creighton-The conservative, Tea Party State Representative from Conroe, has been mentioned by quite a few sources, including The New York Times, as a possible candidate for Agriculture Commissioner. Creighton has not confirmed his candidacy.

*Tommy Merritt-The eastern Texas State Representative was famously defeated in the 2010 Republican Primary by then-unknown Tea Party favorite David Simpson, who has since become a big opponent of Speaker Straus. Merritt is now mentioned as an Agriculture Commissioner candidate, though he has not confirmed this.

*Eric Opiela-The only open candidate at this time. He served as the Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party from 2008-2009 and bears a special hatred in his heart for the EPA.

COMPTROLLER
*Glenn Hegar-The Senator who just concluded his fourth session is already an open candidate for the Comptrollers’ office, now that incumbent Susan Combs will be retiring. 

*Debra Medina-The former gubernatorial candidate and Wharton County Republican Party chair will be running for the office as well. If her 2010 campaign was any indicator, this will be a fun campaign.

*Harvey Hilderbran-The longtime State Representative will be running for the Comptrollers’ office, after 24 years in the lower house. Hilderbrn, a Tea Party favorite, was recently listed on Texas Monthly’s list of worst legislators.

*Raul Torres-The former one-term Republican State Rep from the Valley will be running for the office as well. I am curious to know how he will be setting himself apart from the rest.

*Tommy Williams-The Woodlands’ Senator, who recently had a high profile spat with Dan Patrick, has long been rumored as a Comptroller candidate. Williams, for his part, will be making his decision soon. Like Perry, he originally was going to make a comment at the conclusion of the special session, but the second session has started to muck these things up. Expect an announcement from Williams around the end of July.

RAILROAD COMMISSION
*Malachi Boyuls-A good friend of George P’s, Boyuls was recently highlighted as a candidate for the Railroad Commission. Interestingly, there will actually be two open Railroad Commission spots. First, Christi Craddick’s spot will be up for a full six-year term, while the final four years of Smitherman’s term will be filled in the event that he resigns his seat on the RRC.

*Stefani Carter-The Dallas area State Representative has long been open about her desires for Statewide office. If elected, she would bring some much needed diversity at the top –she is both female and African-American– which is now dominated by old, White men. For her part, she has not announced one way or another. She has even been mentioned as a possible Attorney General candidate.

Special thanks to Off the Kuff for assistance in compiling this list!

Texpatriate: It’s going to get worse

While two members of this board are card-carrying members of the Texas Democratic Party, we all believe that this State would be better off with some Democratic leadership as a counterbalance to the Tea Party dominated Governor’s office and State Legislature. Accordingly, this board has been pleased to see many organizations popping up over the years which promise to “turn Texas blue,” and we always hope for competitive elections.

Texas, like all the other States in the old Confederacy/Bible Belt, were formerly one-party States run almost exclusively by Democrats.  However, a mixture of party realignment and Conservative focus on social issues shifted the States to nearly exclusive Republican rule. While States like Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama may never again see a Democratic Governor, Texas is a special exception because of its changing demographics. While Caucasians may always have a stranglehold in the aforementioned States, Texas is already a minority-majority State, and will soon be Latino majority. This provides a special opportunity for Democrats in this State.

That being said, the inevitable Democratic majority in Texas will be comprised of a coalition of heavily Latino counties stretching from El Paso to Cameron (Brownsville) and the big cities. Never again will the majority of Texas’ counties be shaded blue on election night. Never again will the majority of Texas’ Caucasian voters pull the lever for the Democratic Party.

This highlights a sobering reality that almost no liberals in this State are willing to expect: It’s going to get worse. Like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, the Democratic Party in Texas still has a few rungs down the ladder to descend towards. The image below is every Texas county represented by at least one Democratic District Judge. While most of these counties either host big cities or majority Latino populations, about 43 do not.

txblue

These counties will shift Republican at the District Court level, as will many, many more in the eastern and central parts of the State at the county level. Simply put, the Texas Democratic Party’s purging of the old guard is not yet complete. This board was very pleased when Gilberto Hinojosa became the Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, as it represented one of the key steps needed in transforming the State leadership. However, just last year, the party had a Chairman from Young County and a Senate nominee from Rusk County, two counties that should have been abandoned by the limited resources of the Democratic Party long ago. Many counties, still with remnant Democratic District Attorneys, County Judges, Sheriffs and County Commissioners, will see landslide victories for the Republican Party in the future.

Further, as much as organizations such as Battleground Texas may have riled up voters, all of their efforts will be in vain if they fail to find candidates. Even a 99% Latino State will still swing Republican if the Democrats are too lazy to file for office. Recently, a blogger in Dallas boasted of the five State Senate districts that he deemed to be “in play” in the next few years, and it included SD17 in Harris County. If the district is competitive, no one would know. Democrats were too lazy to run a single candidate against Senator Huffman in 2012, and it looks like that may be the case again in 2014.

Barry Smitherman, a Railroad Commissioner, recently announced his plans to seek the Attorney General’s office, while Senator Dan Patrick officially threw hit hat into the Lieutenant Governor’s race. The two became the 21st and 22nd candidates, respectively, to enter the fray for the Republican Primaries next year in Statewide office. That number for Democrats is zero. The number of Democratic candidates even publicly discussing the idea is a lonely 1, and that individual is Kinky Friedman.

Four Statewide Republicans ran unopposed last year, and an equal number will likely remain without opponent next year as well. Instead of just waiting for the State to change, Democrats must actively work towards attracting adequate candidates and competently campaigning. On paper, Bill White and Paul Sadler were terrific candidates. On reality, on the campaign trail, they were terrible.

Democrats should not squander the rare opportunity gifted to them by the SB5 cluster last Tuesday. Preserving safe, legal access to abortion is not an extreme liberal position. In fact, 70% of this country opposes overturning Roe v. Wade. The conflict could provide an invaluable wedge issue to attract women voters.

Maybe it won’t be so bad if Wendy runs, though.

The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz of Boston, Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew S. Romo of New Orleans.

Hall’s Facebook troubles

From Dr Hall’s Facebook page:

It Could Be A Crime

During election season rumors abound. Many such rumors are absent of any truth, while others are embellished versions of but a kernel of truth. This election cycle seems not to be exempt from this regrettable election season practice.

Our campaign office has received the recurring refrain that strong arm tactics are being directed at city contractors, vendors, engineers, architects, bidders, etc. to dissuade support of anyone opposing certain incumbents. We do not ascribe any particular conclusion to the accuracy or inaccuracy of this persistent rumor. For now, we have chosen not to believe it despite its recurrence.

The Texas Penal Code makes clear that it is a crime for any public official, or person acting on behalf of such official, to threaten to withhold, cancel, terminate or condition the award of city business because of the political allegiance of a person, contractor, vendor, engineer, architect, etc. Should anyone be aware of conduct suggesting that city business, contracts, awards, bids or work are being denied, withdrawn, conditioned, withheld, terminated or threatened because of a vendor/person’s political choice in this year’s city elections, please call our office anonymously at 713.236.4255 (713.BEN.HALL).

Vote Ben Hall for Mayor!

I immediately commented on the post in an attempt to clarify the statement, asking if it were directed specifically towards Annise Parker and/or her campaign. A woman named Tarah Taylor, who evidently is affiliated with Councilmember Jerry Davis, and not Ben Hall’s office, responded quite vehemently that this was not the case. She included a long, quoted statement, which is not attributed to anyone but would theoretically make sense as coming from Dr Hall himself. I have copied it below.

We do not ascribe any particular conclusion to the accuracy or inaccuracy of this persistent rumor. For now, we have chosen not to believe it despite its recurrence.

This is very, very strange. It is obviously a backhanded way to accuse Parker’s campaign of coercing a public servant. That is a very serious allegation, and it appears that Hall has absolutely no substance to back it up. Even stranger, one of the people who like this status is Eric Dick, theoretically a fellow campaign rival of Hall. The remaining comments on the thread constituted unmitigated Ben-bashing. Some were less articulate and more mean than others. One of the best put critiques came from Neil Aquino.

I’ve asked this before, and I will ask it again. Who is running Hall’s campaign, children [Editorial note: No, Noah, that would be whichever candidate hires you]? His social media presence is dismal, and when there are posts, they resemble drunken rants containing little to no substance and chock full of things I bet he regrets in the morning.

Hall should not have gotten to this point. Gene Locke ran an impressive campaign full of honesty and integrity. Sadly, I cannot say the same for Dr Hall. He has an impressive track record, is quite well spoken, has some good visions for the future of this city and is a native Houstonian (that isn’t a jab at Parker, she is too). It is unfortunate that he made the unfortunate choice to run against an incumbent for no good reason. This has caused him to back off from any substance whatsoever in his campaign.

Parker has strongly aligned herself as the Democrat in the race. Hall is not necessarily trying to be the Republican, but he definitely the anti-Democrat. It will be interesting to see how much of the African-American community he can continue attracting as he moves further and further right.

Redistricting bill signed

You can tell how bad it is gotten for advocates of equity in redistricting that I am actually relieved about this. The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that the Governor has signed SB2, SB3 and SB4. The three bills were the only thing to get out of the 1st Special Session and they codify the temporary court-drawn State House, Senate Senate and US House redistricting bills as the permanent maps. These are the maps being used through the 2020 elections now.

As you may recall, I attended & testified at both of the redistricting hearings in Houston. As expected, the Republicans on the committee didn’t listen to a word we said (to be fair, most of the Democrats didn’t too) and rubber stamped all of these maps. All along party lines, the bills passed the legislature and made their way to Perry’s desk.

Now, this is actually important because it could be a whole lot worse. After the Shelby case, observers noted that the injunction against the 2011 Legislature approved maps had technically been struck. Accordingly, there was some speculation that Perry would veto the court-drawn maps and attempt to revive the 2011 ones. This event closes the door to such speculation.

Off the Kuff has more.

TPA Roundup (June 24, 2013)

NOTE: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by other blogs are not necessarily the opinions and viewpoints of Noah M. Horwitz or the Texpatriate Editorial Board.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is once again ready to wish the Legislature a happy summer as far away from Austin as possible as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff says to look at Farmers Branch for an example of how to turn out the kind of low-propensity voters that our candidates need to win races.

Ted Cruz outed himself as a sociopath on immigration reform, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggsdocumented his atrocities.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson had this to say about Perry and the GOP playing politics with the Public Integrity Unit, It’s not shocking or unfair, it’s what they do.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains Perry’s approach to healthcare in Rick Perry’s Texas. No Obamacare. No Perrycare. Give it a read.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know Republicans prefer business profits to safe food. I wonder where they eat.

=========================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Open The Taps thanks everyone for getting the craft beer bills passed while promising to be back for more in 2015.

Keep Houston Houston doesn’t think closing streets at railroad crossings is a good idea.

The Lunch Tray pleads for common sense in labeling GMO foods.

Concerned Citizens has some advice for San Antonio’s new Council members.

Juanita cannot believe she has to talk about fetal masturbation.

Texas Leftist reminds us why we celebrate Juneteenth.

Texas Watch celebrates their victories from the 83rd Lege.

Texpatriate goes George Carlin on the anti-woman caucus of the Legislature.

Flavia Isabel asks a favor of Amazon.

And finally, former Texan Elise Hu puts her time in Austin to a strangely appropriate use.

New Candidates

The Texas Tribune reports that Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the controversial Senate Education Committee chairman and recent opponent of the mainstream Texas GOP, has officially thrown his hat into the Lieutenant Governor’s race.

As Off the Kuff reviewed in somewhat detailed fashion this morning, Sen. Patrick has long been a bit of a lone wolf, straining relationships with not only the Lieutenant Governor, but also with Sen. Tommy Williams (R-Montgomery County), the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and key author of the budget. However, Patrick is interesting not just because of the seemingly far-right Tea Party streak in him but by what makes him anathema to many in the Tea Party: his ability to work together.

As this blog’s Editorial Board noted when we crowned him one of our Top 3 Senators, Patrick was spectacular at working with both Republicans and Democrats in formulating comprehensive solutions to issues facing his committee, education. On charter schools, graduation requirements and standardized testing reforms, Patrick worked with the left and right, business and labor, to pass common sense solutions.

All that being said, Patrick is not an infallible politician, or even bearable when you consider many of his political views. He was leading the charge to railroad all the rules and holy traditions in the Senate on Tuesday night in an attempt to pass SB5. He voted against Equal Pay for Women. These are the positions of 20th 19th Century politicians, not a modern leader for this State.

Anyways, the Senator announced his candidacy today as an “authentic conservative.” He will join the incumbent David Dewhurst, as well as Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. Four OLD, WHITE MEN. Lovely.

Smitherman
In other news, the Texas Tribune reports that Railroad Commission Barry Smitherman has officially thrown his hat into the Attorney General (in the more than likely event Greg Abbott runs for Governor). An individual named Malachi Boyuls has already filed to replace him on the Railroad Commission.

I also heard something about a candidate challenging George P. Bush in the primary for Land Commissioner, but for the life of me, cannot find any evidence of this online. Off the Kuff has more on Smitherman.

UPDATE: Also, Rick Perry has reneged on his “announce my intentions by July 1” promise in light of the new Special Session.

Abbott tries to break the law

A couple days ago, I talked about the Supreme Court’s awful decision in Shelby County v. Holder, specifically how it would pertain to our State. Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately pounced upon the news to announce that the Voter ID Supression Act would go into effect immediately. Except, you really can not do that.

The Houston Chronicle reports that, upon reflecting with a Constitutional Expert and SCOTUS Blog reporter, the expert stated that Abbott’s unilateral move was “one of the dumbest statements I’ve heard from an attorney general in a long time,” as well as calling him “legally ignorant,” a heavy handed attack for the CHIEF LAWYER in the state.

As the expert explained, preclearence had caused a judgment against the State of Texas and enjoined enforcement of the bill. A Federal District Court must dismiss this judgment before any action is taken. Today, the Houston Chronicle revisited the subject to explicitly state that the Supreme Court ordered the case of Texas’ Voter ID remanded to the District Court. Further, this remand was not with any instructions. There are a lot of things blocking the Voter ID Act besides Section 4. Accordingly, it is not a forgone conclusion that the law should be put into effect just yet.

Off the Kuff has more.