State Senator Creighton

 

In the special election for District 4 of the State Senate, vacated by Tommy Williams, the results are in and it is a decisive victory. State Representative Brandon Creighton (R-Montgomery County) has defeated State Representative Steve Toth (R-Montgomery County). The seat is remarkably conservative, centered around The Woodlands and its surrounding right-wing neighborhoods. As such, in the original preliminary election in May, all four candidates were Republicans. When it comes to special elections in Texas, a blanket primary is used, so Creighton and Toth advanced into tonight’s runoff election. Creighton will serve out the remainder of Williams’ term, which stretches until the end of 2016.

Williams, for his part, had always been far more moderate/pragmatic than his Republican constituents may have been. He fought tirelessly time and time again in recent sessions on behalf of bipartisan legislation, and he was an infamous Dan Patrick-hater. Thus, when he revealed last year that he was resigning the State Senate to take a job at Texas A&M University, most observers assumed the chamber would take a rightward tilt irrespective of who his opponent might be.

At the time of Williams’ resignation, Creighton was in the middle of a bid for Agriculture Commissioner. Interestingly enough, when Creighton announced his candidacy for that post in August (Texpatriate was on hand for the event), Toth was among the dignitaries who supported his candidacy. However, once Williams resigned in October, Creighton switched races. Toth soon followed suit.

While Creighton is not nearly as centrist as his predecessor, he is still leaps and bounds above his opponent. While both are undoubtedly beholden to Tea Party and nativist groups and are significantly more conservative than I am familiar therewith. But only Toth is mean hearted about it.

Creighton, at heart, is a representative for his constituents. His support, at its core, is grass roots and reflects the same neighborhoods he grew up in and has worked in. I saw this last year when he held his kickoff event for the Agriculture Commissioner run. Myriad local officials were present, and the cheerleaders from the local high school even held an event. He is a man of the people, albeit very conservative people. Toth, on the other hand, is just all about ideology. His support is astroturfed.

This was the same sentiment expressed by State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas County), a freshman who is quickly becoming the most renowned moderate Republican in the Legislature.

No surprise that Empower Texans endorsed against the Reagan Republican, Brandon Creighton, who is winning by 72% tonight,” Villalba wrote on his Facebook. ” Empower Texans and it’s leadership have no credibility whatsoever.”

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Statewide shakeup

Simply put, there have been some entrances and some exits in recent Statewide Republican primaries. Namely, in the races for the positions of Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner.

Brandon Creighton, a State Representative from Magnolia who took his sweet time to announce his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, is out of the race.  As far as I could figure, Creighton was the hands-down favorite in the race thus far, and his exit opened up a vacuum. Politics, of course, abhors a vacuum, and therefore a small stampede of candidates rushed into the primary, which now lacks a clear frontrunner. I never got around to writing about this last week, but Sophia discussed it in the week in review this past Sunday.

Now, the Texas Tribune reports that State Representative Stefani Carter, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner, has dropped out of the race. Carter, in stark contrast to Creighton, was not doing especially well in the race. Malachi Boyuls, George P. Bush’s business partner, has by far the most money in that race, and thus was crowned as the frontrunner by the Tribune. Carter, therefore, most likely felt her candidacy was not worthwhile.

Click here to learn who the new candidates are and what the former candidates will now run for!

Wendy for Governor

But we all knew this. The New York Times, among other locations, reports that “sources close to Wendy Davis” have leaked information confirming that she will, in fact, run for Governor of Texas in 2014.

A few more details have been unearthed as well about Davis’ future candidacy. She will make the big announcement, as I had partially predicted, in her hometown of Fort Worth. That would also be where the future campaign will be based. This is some very good new for her part. The meticulously astute might remember one of my first posts on this blog, wherein I roundly criticized Paul Sadler’s statewide campaign for being based in Austin. While I maintain that San Antonio would have been a better headquarters, Fort Worth is an important place as well.

As Davis’ campaign is analyzed by the Times, the paper interviews pertinent individuals who reflected upon her future candidacy. Matt Angle of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic activist grassroots force that has largely been historically impotent, offered somewhat obligatory commendable remarks vis-a-vis Davis’ candidacy. However, what surprised me more was the Times’ interview with Mark White, the former Democratic Governor. White, who is 73, stated:

“I think her chances are very good. I compare it to my chances of winning when I decided to run for governor. Everybody said it was impossible to do, and I was able to do it, and they’re probably telling her the same thing. She’s got the advantage that David had over Goliath.”

Davis, of course, was mum on the leaks. She will still be making her announcement on October 3rd, and will not be publicly saying anything before then. However, the announcement will be somewhat anticlimactic, like the faux-suspensful drama leading up to statements on the future candidacies of Greg Abbott, Brandon Creighton and Harvey Hildenbran before.

There is a lot to be said right now about whether or not Davis may actually win. I have discussed this issue at detail in the past, and I am sure I will do it again sometime soon. Loyal readers of Texpatriate know that my position is that, while Davis cannot win, she could come closer than any before, and set the stage for a victory down the line. Accordingly, I am very happy to see this announcement (though I had known this was coming for awhile).

The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman have more. Also, Politico.

Horwitz on ‘going Blue’

For some reason, there are a large number of people in this State who think that, if Wendy Davis runs for Governor, she will win. Personally, I find that statement to be utterly ridiculous, but admire the optimism from those who believe it. Even more Texans believe, once again foolishly, that Julian Castro can win the Governor’s mansion in 2018. Once again, the optimism is admired from this tired, old cynic. But I do not want to talk about how long our road to victory still is, the Editorial Board has already done that. I would like to talk about how, once Democrats break the losing-streak we’ve had since 1996, serious challenges will persist. Indeed, as long as the road to our first Democratic victory will be, the road to a Texas that is as blue as California will be even longer.

As much as I would love the peaches & cream belief that a single Democratic victory ushers in an unprecedented era of Democratic dominance, it simply won’t happen. Here’s why:

Let us assume, arguendo, that Julian Castro is victorious in his campaign to deny Governor Greg Abbott a second term in 2018, the same year his twin brother, Joaquin Castro is elected to the United States Senate by defeating first-term Senator Ted Cruz. The election will be quite notable, because while the pundits and Democratic activists had been saying it all along, the real establishment had been far more pessimistic about the entire ordeal. Accordingly, Democrats ran really poor candidates against the Agriculture Commissioner, Brandon Creighton; the Land Commissioner, George P. Bush, and; the Comptroller, Harvey Hilderbran. All these officeholders crushed the mediocre, placeholder Democratic opposition. Meanwhile, some of the Statewide spots on the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals lacked even a single Democratic opponent.

Democrats made only meager gains in the State Legislature, though one bright spot was Texas Democratic Party Chairwoman Wendy Davis defeating Konni Burton and winning back her old Senate seat.

Democrats wouldn’t make such a mistake more than once, so they will probably start running competent candidates in all the Statewide seats thereafter. They won’t win, though, for at least a few more election cycles.

The other reason a Democratic governor’s election in 2018 would be invaluable is that she or he could veto the redistricting plan. Under current maps, it would be almost impossible for Democrats to win more than 65 seats in the House, and I cannot image them winning many more than that by 2021. Accordingly, a heavily Republican Legislature will draw the maps for the 2020s. For these reasons, I cannot image Democrats taking over the State Legislature until the 2030s.

Another problem is something that the Democrats will surely face in their first defensive position, say 2022:

By 2022, the national mood will have turned against the Democrats in full force. Despite President Clinton’s re-election just two years earlier, the nation had grown weary of the 14 years of continuous Democratic rule in Washington. The frustration was taken out on the local level as Land Commissioner George P. Bush soundly defeated Governor Castro in the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans, still controlling back majorities in the State Legislature, pushed for another mid-decade redistricting plan–the second in the past three decades.

Things still hadn’t turned around by 2024, when Republicans take back the White House after 16 years, and the new Republican President’s coattails sweep a creationist into the Senate, denying Joaquin Castro a second term.

Once the Democrats start taking Statewide positions, they will be fighting hard with the Republicans to keep them for the foreseeable future. To give some background, Illinois has voted Democratic in the past six Presidential election, but the Land of Lincoln will probably elected a Republican governor next year. To this Bostonian, need I say more than Scott Brown?

So make absolutely no mistake, Texas is not going blue any time soon. The State will go purple at some point in the next 10-15 years, but I will have grey white hair before the pigment is blue.

Creighton for Agriculture Commissioner

creighton

This morning I attended Brandon Creighton’s announcement for his bid for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in Montgomery, Texas, where his family has resided for over 170 years. Immediately preceding his speech, Reps. Steve Toth and Cecil Bell, both Republicans of Montgomery County, spoke on behalf of their friend Creighton and their personal excitement over Creighton’s announcement.

Touching on their strongly conservative and anti large federal government platforms, they finally yielded to the Representative Creighton. He then delivered a fiery speech for the crowd of supporters and locals. Creighton also spoke favorably of both Rick Perry and Todd Staples. Accompanied by his family on stage, Representative Creighton spoke of his conservative credentials and strong background in agriculture. He also touched on his pro life and anti Obama stance, wanting to keep Texas out of the hands of the federal government. This was echoed by a round of applause from the largely homogeneous crowd diversified only by gender.

While the speech served its purpose in gaining support, it failed to be full of substance regarding plans for the future of Texas Agriculture. More than a few comments about an agricultural platform would have sufficed at that point. In the end, a passionate speech was heard but little knowledge was gained.

The position of Agriculture Commissioner should not simply be a platform for higher office, or one for Tea Party rebel-rousing. As ridiculous as Todd Staples’ (the current Agriculture Commissioner) horse commercial was, it provided a great insight into the role of the Agriculture Commissioner. Sadly, Creighton did not give any concrete path as to how he would lead in that new role.

Sophia Arena is Texpatriate’s newest Staff Writer.

A few more candidates

First off all, I would like to apologize for the two day absence. I was up in Washington for a conference, and my nighttime schedule unexpectedly filled up. Further, the 3 hours I was planning to dedicate to writing, on the plane, was a non-starter because I got booked on the one Southwest flight still without WiFi. Oh well.

These past few days have seen three major contenders enter the fray for the 2014 Republican Primary for statewide elections, as well as one more candidate for the 2013 City Council election in District D.

As expected, Dan Branch made an official announcement to enter the Attorney General’s race. As The Dallas Morning News reports, the State Representative announced his candidacy, surrounded by family, at the SMU Law School. Branch, like Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman and Senator Ken Paxton, had been running a pseudo-official campaign for Attorney General in the past weeks. However, after Abbott’s big announcement last week, Branch quickly began making his way towards a formal announcement.

Next, I got a press release (THANK YOU) announcing the candidacy of a man named Ray Keller for Railroad Commission. I’ve never heard of Keller, a former State Representative from the Dallas area, and I soon learned the reason. Keller served in the Legislature from 1979 to 1987, well before I was born.

The Legislature was heavily Democratic during that time, and half of the years included a Democratic Governor, so I take the claim he made of being a “Conservative Republican” in his press release with a grain of salt. He is a bit of an unknown, I guess you could say. It would not surprise me in the least. I will leave the diagnostics on this new candidate to one of my older contemporaries, perhaps old enough to remember the 80s.

Finally, in State news, Representative Brandon Creighton, the Conservative Republican who has an odd love-affair with guns, has announced his intention to make an announcement at some point in the future. Creighton, long rumored to be eyeing the spot of Agriculture Commissioner, announced on his Facebook that big day will come on August 9th. No word if it will be in San Antonio like all the other big announcements.

Back to municipal elections, there is yet another candidate in District D: Christina Sanders. She is the State Director of the League of Young Voters. She doesn’t really have a website or social media set up, but does have this shell of a donation page. I am always overjoyed when a fellow young person gets involved with politics, especially when they have experience as well. Sanders will be a good addition to an already interesting race.

If you are following my previous article on District D, you will note that one such candidate has decided to go out of his way to call me a liar. I don’t have any ill-will towards this individual, but the malice and untruthfulness on his part are somewhat important to note as one weights candidates’ integrity come election day.

Dos Centavos has more on Sanders.

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!