UPDATED 11/30: David Alameel to run for Senate; scroll to bottom.
About a month ago, we ran a tombstone on the cover and declared that “Democrats have surrendered the capacity to run competitive races for 2014 offices.” Perhaps that was a little harsh, and the jury might still be out on how competitive at least some of these races will end up being. Please note that I do not believe that any Democrat could actually win next year in a statewide race, but multiple races could end up being closer than 5 points, a far cry from what I was willing to admit just 30 days ago.
Since then, three major actions have occurred,all of which have renew a limited sense of optimism towards the future. The first is that State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-Bexar County), who announced she would run for Lieutenant Governor next year. When our “Tombstone article” was published in October, Van de Putte had been painfully silent for a very long period of time, and many had concluded that she would not end up running to lead the Senate. At that time, Maria Luisa Alvarado, the Democrat’s 2006 nominee for Lieutenant Governor and a political novice, had just announced her candidacy. At a time when the Republican candidates –all White men– keeping sliding further and further to the right, the right Democrat could have a very successful impact. While Alvarado would be sure to lose by double-digits, Van de Putte has the ability to make this a competitive election (within 5 points). This was more or less the point of Ross Ramsey’s recent Texas Tribune column on the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign.
Stephen Brown, who has prior political experience (as the Chairman of the Fort Bend Democratic Party), also announced his candidacy for the Railroad Commission. While the Republican primary in this race has not been especially well-known as hosting candidates of increasing extremism, the presence of a politically viable Democrat is significant considering that many on the other side of the aisle have no political experience whatsoever.
Finally, the US Senate primary has seen the entrance of another candidate: Michael Fjetland. A former Republican and international attorney and businessman, Fjetland brings an interesting perspective to the race very different than his opponent, attorney Maxey Scherr. Both of these individuals have never previously held public office, but a competitive primary will harden the candidates and give them a little more experience in the rough-and-tumble world of politics. Finally, since incumbent Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is somewhat loathed by the right-wing, there is a good chance that a conservative populist will run as an independent in the general election. Thus, the Democrat has a much lower bar to hurdle in making the election competitive. Not winnable, mind you, but simply competitive.
In conclusion, the tombstone may have been somewhat premature. If you take it literally –that is, the Democrats have a zero percent chance of winning– I will stand by it, but I would counter that the book is not closed on the opportunity for Democrats to run competitive races in a few of these campaigns.
UPDATE: The Texas Tribune reports that David Alameel, a Dallas businessman who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last year, will also run in the Democratic Primary for next year’s US Senate election against John Cornyn. The wealthy Alameeel owns a chain of dental centers and largely self-funded his campaign for the 33rd Congressional District, in which he finished in a disappointing fourth out of 11 candidates.
A little cursory research on Alameel will show that he has some oddball and fringe conspiracy beliefs on the political spectrum. His former website boasts outlandish quotes such as “reform our ‘fractional reserve’ Ponzi-Scheme banking System,” demonstrating a frightening ignorance of how economics and banking works, “Create a true national currency to replace our current privately issued legal tender,” indicating belief in bizarre and radical conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve. This belief is further flushed out by the quote, “Restructure our Federal Reserve System which is currently owned and run by the Wall Street ‘Banking Cartel’, and place it under the US Treasury.” I’m just surprised he didn’t mention the Illuminati or the Rothschilds. Needless to say, digging in between the lines, Alameel boasts some strange beliefs perhaps more aligned with the Tea Party or the LaRouche sect. Then again, it might have been poor word choice.
Whatever it may be, this is yet another reason to be cautiously optimistic towards the future. Generally speaking, competitive primaries means the candidates receive more experience and are better on their toes in the fall. It remains to be seen if this will be the case in the Senate election.