Davis outraises Abbott

The Texas Tribune reports that the first fundraising numbers of the second half of 2013 have come out in the Governor’s race, and the results are surprising to no end. State Senator Wendy Davis, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has raised $12.2M. Meanwhile, Attorney General Greg Abbott, the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination, raised $11.5M. Davis’ full showing, however, included a joint SuperPAC with Battleground Texas, something that Greg Abbott did not have an equivalent thereto.

More importantly, Davis’ donations mainly stemmed from local sources and included at least one individual from all 254 counties in the State. Additionally, over 71k unique donors contributed to the Davis campaign. In comparison, at this point in the 2010 campaign, Bill White –the Democratic nominee in 2010– had raised money from well south of half that number, with just a fraction of the money. More importantly, of all of Davis’ millions, about 70% of it has come from Texas, and the vast majority in quantities of $25 or less.

The Abbott campaign was quick to strike back, accusing Davis once more of “fuzzy math” for confounding the SuperPAC affiliated with her campaign with her campaign directly. However, such an attack fails to note that this SuperPAC is somewhat dedicated to Davis’ campaign the way that Priorities USA went with Obama or Restore our Future with Romney.

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Davis and Payday lending

The El Paso Times continues reporting on a controversy that has been brewing now for a number of days. First, the Times reported last Sunday that the Chairman of the Texas Finance Commission, as well as the Consumer Credit Commissioner, a man named William J. White, has extensive ties to the payday lending industry. Specifically, he is the Vice-President of Cash America, one of the largest payday lending chains. This type of cronyism, of course, is not an especially new move for someone affiliated with the Perry administration, but I digress.

The Times approached White a few weeks ago to talk about the possible conflict, and received nothing but abrasive and laconic retorts from the Commissioner. The article then went on to discuss the many excesses of payday lending and its sometimes usurious tendencies. Sagacious followers of Texpatriate will be very familiar with those excesses, so I will not discuss them here. Otherwise, read the article (it’s quite good).

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Cruz Control

“Texas is on ‘Cruz Control.’ Ted Cruz is the epitome of everything that’s wrong with Washington, and John Cornyn is along for the ride. He’s on autopilot, voting the way Ted Cruz wants him to…If Texas stays on ‘Cruz Control,’ we’re headed for a wreck.”

I encourage you to watch the full video. It is rather well-done, though its extended length makes it harder to use as an advertisement and may turn off some lazy people. Maxey Scherr, of course, is a Democrat running for the US Senate. She faces at least four challengers in next March’s primary, in what is shaping up to be the cycle’s most competitive Democratic contest. But from what I have seen in this ad, I think it would be a safe bet to say that Scherr is frontrunner.

Click here to read more about the advertisement!

Kinky Friedman to run for Agriculture Commissioner

The Texas Tribune reports that Kinky Friedman, the satirist and comedian who (in)famously ran for Governor as an independent in 2006, will be running for Agriculture Commissioner this year as a Democrat.

Friedman also ran for Agriculture Commissioner in 2010 as a Democrat, but ultimately lost the primary to Hank Gilbert. Gilbert, of course, was a party loyalist who ran a very honorable campaign. Unfortunately, this honorable campaign received 35% of the vote, a full 7% below Bill White (the top Democratic vote-getter that year). I have always maintained that Friedman could have had a more decent showing, but the party base would surely never stand for it.

The Tribune’s article notes that Friedman, who admits he knows little about Agriculture, wants to focus on what he thinks is a big issue: Marijuana legalization. He wants Texas, much like Colorado or Washington, to legalize, regulate and tax the production and sale of cannabis. In previous comments this year about a possible gubernatorial run, Friedman talked up both marijuana legalization and gambling expansion (the normalization of casinos). It appears that Friedman decided against a gubernatorial run when Wendy Davis threw her pink sneakers into the ring.

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Guv update 10/7

Once again, most of the State press corps followed Wendy Davis today as she made all the news in the gubernatorial election.

First, the Texas Tribune reports on Wendy Davis’ first web commercial, which was released today. The ad, which is just over 4 minutes and 30 seconds long, catalogs Davis’ life story, as well as some of her basic accomplishments. Davis’ story, a poor single mother who rose from Community College to TCU to Harvard Law School, eventually culminating in a career of public service on the Fort Worth City Council and Texas Senate, is a ubiquitous feature of any political discussion in today’s time. The discussion of her origins, which included a brief interview with her daughter Amber, The ad then chronicles her success in offsetting many of the recent education cuts, as well as her fights to end the backlog of rape kits. The entire ad was narrated by Davis, and overlaid with a montage of Texas images and clips. One, whose subtly was not lost on me, was an American Airlines jet taking off, a possible reference to the merger issue.

What has missing from the ad, however, was any mention of Davis’ epic filibuster or the abortion issue. It is still very early in the campaign, so I am not yet concerned, but I believe there is something to be said on this topic. Bill White ran as weak moderate; a man more wise than me at the State Convention last year called it “weak Republican syndrome.” It did not work out well for him, but Davis is different, that is what makes her campaign all the more inspiring.

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Annise Parker is not running for Governor

In case you were wondering. The question has been coming up, first in January and later in July, after her name popped up –along with that of Julian Castro, Wendy Davis and Bill White– in PPP polls for upcoming Statewide elections.

Somehow, amidst the rancor over HB2 and the drama over Campaign finance reports, I missed a tweet by the Mayor stating:

“LOL. I appreciate the encouragement to run for Governor, but I have the best job already and hope to keep it for 2 more years.-A.”

This does not come as a surprise to me, nor should it to really anyone. Parker is very obviously running for re-election, a race that will last until the middle of December if there is a runoff. If she were to run Statewide, it would require filing the signatures for the primary ballot about the same day as her third inauguration. There are some pretty outlandish politicians in Houston who would have the unmitigated temerity to do something like that, but Parker is not one of them.

I would feel like a bit of a schmuck if I wrote an entire post on how Parker isn’t running for Governor, because it is sort of like those headlines which triumphantly state that rain causes flooding: this shouldn’t be news to anyone. Instead, I’d like to read the tea leaves for what Parker’s future will look like.

I tend to think there is a very good chance (+90%) Parker will be re-elected, so this occupies her through January of 2016. She will be 59 at that point, and in no hurry to retire. The timing gives her a variety of options going forwards. First, as I predicted long ago, I think there could be a chance Parker will run for the House of Representatives, specifically Sheila Jackson Lee’s seat (though I doubt the two would actually run against each other). SJL will have been serving for 20 years by that point, though she will still be comparatively young.

The Congress option would probably be the only option where Parker would go straight into something else, politically speaking. Otherwise, she would most likely spend at least a year on a private company’s payroll, doing consulting or what not. She will have been on a civil servant’s salary for 18 years by 2016, she may want a change of pace.

Second, if Hillary Clinton runs (which I think she will) and wins (which I also think she will), Parker could easily get a job in the new Administration doing something. Again, this would be a good end-path for the Mayor.

Third, there is certainly still a chance Parker would run Statewide in 2018. Governor is probably not the most likely possibility, as I would put my money on Comptroller. The only problem with this, as I wrote back in August, is that Parker is liberal and lesbian, not the old, White, moderate man that Democrats in this State love to nominate. The African-American Democratic political community in this State has an unfortunate homophobic streak, which could complicate primary efforts. It would be a stretch, to say the least, to find Parker doing well on a Statewide ballot any time soon.

But the biggest priority right now is 2013.

John Cook for Land Commissioner

The El Paso Times reports that John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso, will seek the Democratic nomination for Land Commissioner next year. The news comes as a good sign for Democrats in the State, who are still without a single Statewide Democratic candidate for 2014.

In a video procured by the Times, Cook expressed his disdain for fellow El Paso Democrats, reminding everyone that the city, which is the Sixth largest in the State (and 19th largest in the Nation), has never elected a Statewide officeholder. “”I think it’s an embarrassment to the city of El Paso, being one of the largest cities in the United States, that we’ve never had a candidate elected to a statewide office,” Cook said.

Cook was first elected to the El Paso City Council in 1999, serving until 2005, when he defeated incumbent Mayor Joe Wardy in the municipal election. Cook was then re-elected in 2009, and left office last month due to term limits. Perhaps most famous for Mayor Cook’s tenure is his zealous support for gay rights.

There was a great Huffington Post article about all this. Long story short, in 2009 Cook pushed through domestic partnership benefits for the municipality. However, in 2010 a ballot measure overturned these benefits. Thereafter, Cook pushed through yet another round of the domestic partnership ordinance. This was the straw that broke the ignoramuses’ backs.

Cook fired back, saying “To me this was always about bigotry. Intolerance is bigotry.” This is when the recall effort began, immediately before the Special Municipal election in 2012. Social conservatives, livid over Cook’s support of gay rights, began circulating petitions and collecting signatures. However, from what I could find in an article from the Times, tax-exempt churches illegally participated in the recall effort and the Eighth Court of Appeals declared the recall effort null and void.

Recently, Cook has been in the news for two new issues. First, pertaining to the failed recall effort, Cook has filed a claim for the City to reimburse him for the $700k used defending himself against the recall, stating both the recall and the initial referendum on domestic partnerships to be illegal.

Doing research on this actually opened up a whole new can of worms I was not familiar with. Evidently, one of the more controversial things Cook did as Mayor was help to usher through a new deal demolishing El Paso’s City Hall and putting up a Baseball Stadium in its place. Evidently, this ticked off a lot of people. And the deal allegedly involved some shady business.

So John Cook may have a few skeletons in the closet. But he is unabashedly progressive, and surely will not equivocate his position on “being a liberal” when some Tea Party crazy confronts him. While he would be like Bill White in the being an old, White Mayor part, he could be oh so different in other ways. We’ll see how he does against George P. Bush.

Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

Perry

Adios mofo.

The Texas Tribune, along with the entire Twitterverse, reported the news shortly after 2PM that Rick Perry would not be running for an unprecedented fourth full term in 2014. The news leaves the field wide open, and essentially gifts the post to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Unfortunately, I did not get to livestream the speech. But from what I understand, Perry bragged about both his record as Governor and the so-called “Texas miracle.” He then said something along the lines of “the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership.”

Perry made no comments on his intentions for the 2016 Presidential election. It is worth stating that what finally convinced me that Perry would not run was a tweet by Dan Patrick. I get the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to leak that information this morning.

The gubernatorial election is made much more clear by this announcement. When it comes to the Republican primary, there are three candidates: Greg Abbott, Larry SECEDE Kilgore and Tom Pauken. Kilgore, as you may recall, is the Klansman Theocratic secessionist. Pauken, a former Texas GOP Chairman and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, is a little too reasonable to win a Republican primary.

Attorney General Abbott is the natural selection. This much is somewhat clear. Accordingly, the question shifts to who the Democratic candidates (and eventual nominee) will be.

First and foremost is Wendy Davis. The good Senator, as many may recall, recently reversed her longstanding pledge to not run. She is “open” to the idea, to be exact. Now that Perry is out, we may hear more in the next couple of weeks. Davis only trails Abbott by 8 points in recent polling, which is by far the smallest deficit of any of the possible Democrats mentioned.

The problem with those polls, of course, is who they mention as candidates. Julian Castro and Annise Parker are definitely not running. Bill White is another issue, as many (especially in Austin circles) believe he will run if no other candidate is found.

The other candidates that have been mentioned are State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and State Sen. Kirk Watson. The former two have already specifically taken themselves out of contention. Watson must run for re-election next year, and BOR was really wrong about this exact thing in 2010, so I do not think he is a viable candidate.

That leaves Kinky Friedman. Color me excited. While at one point he might have been the best known Texas Democrat, times have changed. As I stated a few days ago, Wendy Davis, win or lose, needs to run in order to be the “the Texas Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.”

Eye on Williamson and Burnt Orange Report have more.

Senate & Presidential polls

Public Policy Polling, fresh off of crushing the hopes & dreams of Wendy fans a few days ago,  has released a new poll aimed at the Senate & Presidential elections. Luckily, in this poll, the Democrats have retained the same deficit, instead of growing it. Like my previous analysis of these polls, let us go forth and analyze below:

3. John Cornyn v. Julian Castro
50% Cornyn
37% Castro
+6 R

4. Cornyn v. Wendy Davis
48% Cornyn
40% Davis
+3 D

5. Cornyn v. Annise Parker
49% Cornyn
36% Parker
+2 R

6. Cornyn v. Bill White
47% Cornyn
40% White
+4 R

14. Hillary Clinton v. Chris Christie
38% Clinton
47% Christie
+12% R

15. Clinton v. Rick Perry
48% Clinton
44% Perry
+4% R

16. Clinton v. Jeb Bush
43% Clinton
46% Bush
N/A

17. Clinton v. Ted Cruz
44% Clinton
49% Cruz
N/A

In case it is not apparently obvious, the emboldened lines of text represent the change in voter preference since the January poll.

This poll tells me a number of things. First and foremost, the poll is significant for the 2016 Election because of who they select as the sample candidates. Like the January poll, John Cornyn is the only listed Republican for the Senate and Castro, Davis, Parker and White are the four candidates for the Democrats. Additionally, Hillary Clinton is the only listed Democratic presidential candidate. The real change is in the Republican Presidential contenders. Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio were the only Rs mentioned in the January poll. Since that time, Rubio has been axed, presumably because of the immigration screw-up and Poland Springs product placement. Added to the list have been Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz.

Again, I get the feeling that PPP has absolutely zero faith in the ability of the Texas Democratic Party to nominate anywhere near a competent candidate. This is because they again have refused to poll Texas Democrats on their preference for the high offices, both Senatorial and Gubernatorial.  Julian Castro, Wendy Davis, Annise Parker and Bill White have been mentioned as possible Democrats for the fourth statewide poll, but no one has any idea which one is preferred by local progressives.

Wendy Davis again improves her standing among the Texas electorate, being the only Democrat to improve her standing since the January poll. John Cornyn improved his overall position against all the other candidates, albeit by negligible amounts.  Hillary Clinton lost ground in both polls that there were precedents therefor. While she lead in all three January polls, she led in just 1/4 this time. It is worth stating that she lead Rick Perry in that poll.

I have been stating for a while that, as Barack Obama descends into the land of the lame ducks, the Hillary haters will come out in full force. It was somewhat ludicrous to ever think Clinton could win in an uber-landslide in 2016. If she runs, she would most likely win, but because she would win Ohio, Virginia and Florida, not because she would win Texas & Arizona.

Finally, the poll asked if Texans support gay marriage and universal background checks. 72% support universal background checks, while only 34% support gay marriage, respectively. Neither of these numbers are very surprising, but it is worth stating that the gay marriage number is actually one digit lower than in January. Opinion polls on this issue usually vary somewhat significantly between polling companies, so I am not inclined to compare the number to other polls released. The number is 5% higher than a 2011 poll from PPP, though.

This is somewhat choppy and unorganized, sorry.

Reality Check

Immediately following Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster, the dominant buzz throughout the State revolved around her gubernatorial intentions. Unfortunately, she will probably do just as poorly as every other Democrat. Public Policy Polling, which is affiliated with Democratic groups but usually is somewhat accurate, has put out a sobering poll for the Democrats’ prospects, irrespective of if Rick Perry will choose to run for re-election. The results were as follows:

1. Rick Perry approval
45% Approve
50% Disapprove

7. Perry v. Julian Castro
50% Perry
43% Castro

8. Perry v. Wendy Davis
53% Perry
39% Davis

9. Perry v. Annise Parker
52% Perry
35% Parker

10. Perry v. Bill White
50% Perry
40% White

11. Greg Abbott v. Castro
48% Abbott

34% Castro

12. Abbott v. Davis
48% Abbott
40% Davis

13. Abbott v. Parker
50% Abbott
31% Parker

14. Abbott v. White
48% Abbott
36% White

15. Second Special Session approval
43% Approve
44% Disapprove

16. Filibuster approval
45% Approve
40% Disapprove

17. SB5/HB2/SB1 approval
20% Approve
28% Disapprove

The poll does not include a question about a Republican Primary or a Democratic Primary. That bugs me to no end, though in the past Perry has outdone Abbott in these polls. When it comes to these eight races, they are the identical candidates that PPP discussed in a January poll. In that poll, White had a 3 point lead over Perry. Now he has a 10 point deficit. In fact, in all eight races, the margins shifted heavily to the Republicans.

Perry v. Castro, January +5% R
Perry v. Castro, July +7% R
Abbott v. Castro, January +10% R
Abbott v. Castro, July +14% R

Perry v. Davis, January +6% R
Perry v. Davis, July +14% R
Abbott v. Davis, January +12% R
Abbott v. Davis, July +8% R
Perry v. Parker, January +7% R
Perry v. Parker, July +17% R
Abbott v. Parker, January +12% R
Abbott v. Parker, July +19% R
Perry v. White, January +3% D
Perry v. White, July +10% R
Abbott v. White, January +7% R
Abbott v. White, July +12%

The Democrats did worse in all of these polls except one: the Abbott/Davis campaign. Davis actually does 4 points better in July. Interestingly, Davis is also the only candidate who does better against the Attorney General than the incumbent Governor. Bill White suffered the biggest drop, by far, in his race against Perry.

One excuse that I immediately thought of in an attempt to spin the poll results was that it was started before the filibuster took place. Sadly, this is not the case. Polling did not begin until last Friday. Accordingly, when one digs deeper into the number, it becomes apparently obvious what has happened. Because of all this SB5 stuff, Perry has revitalized his base. The Religious Right, which rode him back into office in 2010, is coming to the rescue again.

Off the Kuff and Texas Leftist both have more on the poll itself, and what not. This is making me a little bit to upset to write coherently, but I would like to discuss some of the implications of Wendy Davis’ candidacy that still exist. Bear with me, I might get a little bogged down in the minutia.

At a certain point in the 1960s, the Republican Party realized that they could not keep nominating liberals in the style of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt for President. You see, while the traditional liberal who would fight for the marginalized was originally a Republican, at some point following the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt convinced the American people that the Democratic Party was the party of liberals. Following the Great Depression and World War II, most Americans were liberals, so the Democrats won most Presidential elections and had a lockjaw on Congress. The GOP, wanting to get in on this, would nominate liberals like Thomas Dewey. Nelson Rockefeller also ran a painful number of times. But here’s the thing, when the American people wanted to vote for a liberal, they would vote for a Democratic liberal. Accordingly, the Republican Party was stuck in a rut until they started trying to change peoples’ opinions. Enter Barry Goldwater. Goldwater lost in a landslide, but he changed the conversation and ultimately set the stage for this ugly right-turn the country has been on since 1980. Simply put, the Texas Democratic Party needs their Goldwater.

Once upon a time, the Texas Democratic Party was the party of the average, rural Texan would identify with. John Tower, Bill Clements and George Bush changed all of that. However, much like the Deweys and Rockefellers of the past, the Texas Democratic Party continues to nominate people like Bill White, Paul Sadler and Hank Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all of these politicians personally and believe they would have been great officeholders. But, simply put, they did not have the chutzpah to run for office as open Democrats. When Sadler had a chance to correct this, he ran away like a scared little poodle. If we concede that the Texas electorate wants conservatives, they will vote for the conservative candidate.

Wendy Davis could be our Goldwater. Even if she doesn’t win, she shifts the conversation. That way, two or three elections down the road, we win. The great landslide of 2026 or what not will look back at 2014 the way the Reaganphiles look at Goldwater. But I digress.

The other upside to Wendy Davis running for Governor would be what I call the “Obama effect.” Having Davis at the top of the ticket, even if she can’t win Statewide, will be sure to help the downballot Democrats in Bexar and Harris counties, respectively, in what will be sure to be competitive county elections.