Another 2014 Tribune poll

The Texas Tribune, in cooperation with the University of Texas, has released a new 2014 General election poll. As far as I could figure, this is the first poll the institutions have released for the 2014 campaign. The results paint an interesting picture of the political landscape that could foster competitive elections for the first time in nearly 20 years.

First and foremost, let us look at the results:

Click here to view results and analysis!

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Wendy Davis makes it official

At a little after 4:30 local time, Wendy Davis took to a stage in a suburb of Forth Worth –the same stage she received her High School diploma on– and announced her candidacy for Governor.

The speech was full of some good, well-prepared lines, but lacked any good one-liners or sound bites. Essentially what I would expect out of one of President Obama’s speeches, or even Julian Castro. While there will be plenty who will be eager to compare this election to 1990, and Wendy Davis to Ann Richards in the process, I am going to shy away from such a comparison. What made Richards so great is that she was folksy and had was a remarkable orator. What makes Davis great is her inspirational backstory and her ability to put her money where her mouth is. Both are great qualities in candidates, but let us not make the mistake of confounding them.

Wendy Davis will most likely face Greg Abbott, the Attorney General, as the Republican nominee. The election will be entertaining and intriguing to watch. The advantage, by far, is with Abbott though the momentum lies with Davis. Additionally, all bets are off if a Tea Party backed Independent candidate, such as Debra Medina, decides to run as a spoiler.

But this is the worst kept secret in Texas politics since figuring out the Lieutenant Governors of the 20th Century drank too much. Everyone already knew this, so there are more pressing things to discuss currently.

First and foremost, this sets the ball rolling for other Democrats to announce their intentions. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) has long been openly flirting with a campaign for Lieutenant Governor (side note: the Republican LG candidates outdid themselves once again tonight) on the condition that Wendy Davis run for Governor. Well, the condition has been met, so I do not know what Van de Putte’s new timeline is.

One of the other names mentioned is State Sen. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio), who is discussing a run for Attorney General. At Davis’ speech today, Urseti told the Houston Chronicle that he is still thinking about it.

But tonight, all eyes should remain on Davis as she launches her gubernatorial campaign:

Burnt Orange Report, Off the Kuff and Texas Leftist have more.

Medina might run for Governor

The Texas Tribune reports on possible huge development for the 2014 Gubernatorial race. Debra Medina, the former Wharton County Republican Chair and Tea Party favorite 2010 gubernatorial candidate, is flirting with the idea of running for Governor in 2014…as an independent. Medina, who was previously somewhat sold on running for Comptroller, has a reputation for being a Ted Cruz-style insurgent type candidate well before Ted Cruz was a household name in Texas politics.

Medina ran for Governor in 2010 to the right of Rick Perry, running against both him and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Ultimately, she finished in third place with 19% of the vote, a full 11% behind Hutchison. However, at one point, she was at 24%, well within striking distance of forcing a runoff with Perry.

The article in the Tribune insinuated that Medina would rather run for Comptroller in the Republican primary, but has trouble getting off the ground when it comes to raising any significant amount of money. Alternatively, she has discussed the possibility of running as an Independent candidate for Governor, to which she insinuated donations would be somewhat larger.

By no means is it a done deal, or even especially likely, that Medina will choose this path. However, let us assume arguendo that she decides to run for Governor as an independent. The situation would be greatly beneficial to the Democrats for a number of obvious, and a few non-obvious, reasons.

If 2010 is any indication, Medina would run to the right of Abbott. While the Tea Party influence in most of the country is somewhat tepid compared to where it was three years ago, the opposite is probably true of Texas. Back in 2010, people of the right-wing were content to believe the institutional GOP had their best interests at heart. That all changed with Ted Cruz, and now has produced a domino effect with Dan Patrick (& possibly Louie Gohmert). If Medina decides to run for Governor as an independent, she would receive more Republican primary voters than she did in 2010.

Medina would also have some issues to run on. Specifically, the US Airlines-American merger, which Greg Abbott famously opposed. The Texas Tribune just reported, a few hours ago, that the Texas Association of Business, a nominally conservative organization, has harshly repudiated Abbott for this stance. Medina would have a major leg to stand on with this issue.

The benefit for Democrats is somewhat obvious. Texas does not require majorities to win, so Wendy Davis could get elected Governor with 44% of the vote if Medina takes a serious chunk of the right-wing away from Abbott. As opposed to other “mavericky” Republicans to recently run for Governor as independents (e.g., Carole Keeton Strayhorn), Medina does not risk taking any votes from moderates.

Hilderbran for Comptroller

The Texas Tribune reports that Harvey Hilderbran, the long serving State Representative, will, as expected, run for Comptroller. Unlike last week’s Agriculture Commissioner announcement by Brandon Creighton, nobody from Texpatriate was in attendance. Mostly because this event was all the way out in Kerrville.

Hilderbran, of course, is the State Representative who has served since 1989. Recently, he served as the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. Despite his extended resume in public service, Hilderbran is a mere 53 years of age, and evidently longing for something else to occupy his days.

“I’ll get to the bottom of IRS abuse in Texas – whether it’s abusive audits, unnecessary delays with tax-exempt applications or any unlawful disclosure of personal information,” said Hilderbran in his announcement.

Hilderbran will face a plethora of opposition in the Comptroller’s race, including State Senator Glenn Hegar, former State Representative Raul Torres and Tea Party firebrand Debra Medina. Additionally, an individual named Mike Collier will be running as a Democrat for Comptroller. I was going to write an entirely separate article on that, but there just isn’t that much to say about him.

The article from the Tribune has a lot more on what Hilderbran laid out as his key policy proposals, predominantly those that include protecting the average Texan from the IRS. Such promises are somewhat light on substance, instead honing in the Tea Party, Republican primary base:

Hilderbran also laid out the first three policy proposals he plans to highlight throughout his campaign. If elected, Hilderbran said he wants the comptroller’s office to do more to prevent the “abuse of Texas taxpayers” by the IRS. Citing controversies over the federal agency’s alleged targeting of political groups, Hilderbran said he would have the office serve as a resource to the state’s business owners and other residents who feel the IRS is treating them unfairly.

[…]

Hilderbran’s other proposals include improving customer service in the comptroller office and addressing concerns that the state’s taxing entities are treating residents and businesses fairly when a tax refund is owed.

I did like the customer service note. Historically, I have been very pleased by Republicans‘ efforts to do this locally.

With Hilderbran’s entrance into the Comptroller’s race, it appears the Republican lineup has been set. All eyes are now on Wendy Davis.

To run or to not run

Two people take the plunge, one way or another, today. The Houston Chronicle reports that Sen. Tommy Williams, who has recently been exploring a run for the Comptroller’s office, has ultimately decided against that pursuit. The Comptrollers’ race is quite crowded, consisting of Sen. Glenn Hegar, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran, Fmr. Rep. Raul Torres and Debra Medina. However, Williams did not cite these concerns, rather relying upon the fact that he is the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, which evidently takes up a lot of time.

In his press release (MR WILLIAMS, PLEASE SEE THE IMAGE BELOW), Williams stated:

“…serving as Chairman of the State Senate Finance Committee is incompatible with the demands of simultaneously running for a statewide election. After careful consideration I feel I can best serve our state and the people of Southeast Texas in my current role as State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.”

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This is an interesting position for Sen. Williams to take because he is not up for re-election in 2014. Generally, the reason Senators are so open about the idea of running for Statewide office is that they draw the coveted four year term. Some Senators, such as Wendy Davis, are up for re-election in Midterm years after drawing two year terms (I still think it was rigged). This is why it is always a neat site to see an incumbent Representative, like Harvey Hilderbran, declare for a Statewide office.

In other news, The Dallas Morning News reports that Stefani Carter, a Dallas area State Rep, is all but officially announcing her candidacy for Railroad Commission, specifically Smitherman’s seat. I discussed the Railroad Commission commission spots last week, including Carter’s possible candidacy. Her only opponent, at this time, is Malachi Boyuls, a friend of the Bush dynasty.

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!

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.