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.

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!

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.

The state of the races

The Dallas Morning News reports that Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County) is still, in fact, pondering a run for Lieutenant Governor. The Morning News as well as the Tribune directly interview the Senator, and he is not shy about his ambition towards the state’s ostensibly second-highest office. Senator Patrick stated, ““That’s why I would run. It has nothing to do with David Dewhurst.” Even though the Morning News piece featured some hurtful comments referring to Houston as “choke city” (stupid [expletive deleted] Dallasites), it highlighted that Patrick will still be a factor in the race for Lieutenant Governor. It appears as though the floodgates have truly been opened by Combs’ announcement, as well. Accordingly, I would like to go over where each race stands as of now.

Governor
Perry, of course, is the main topic here. He would certainly be in a favorable position towards the next primary, if he runs. Abbott is next on everyone’s mind. Though the Governor himself has sworn the two would not run against each other, the Attorney General may throw his hat in the ring anyway.

Aside from the aforementioned couple, Tom Pauken,  former Texas Workforce Commissioner and TXGOP Chairman as well as prominent secessionist Larry SECEDE Kilgore have officially entered the race, with or without Perry.

Lieutenant Governor
Dewhurst is running for re-election, with Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson and  Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples openly running against him. This has all been happening for awhile. The big question now is if Senator Patrick will enter the race, seeing as that Comptroller Susan Combs will not be.

Attorney General
Abbott presumably would run for re-election if he does not challenge Perry. If he does run for Governor, though, the AG’s seat would become open. Susan Reed, the hard hitting Bexar County DA, is the only name I have heard for this seat.

Land Commissioner
Jerry Patterson’s seat is, almost like a little prince’s birthright, already been bequeathed to George P. Bush. The fourth generation politician in the family is running for this seat with national backing.

Agriculture Commissioner
Todd Staples’ seat will be open, and I have heard nothing of it. Anyone? Bueller??

Comptroller
As I stated yesterday, Senator Glenn Hegar and former County Party Chairwoman Debra Medina are already in the fray, while State Senator Tommy Williams and State Representative Harvey Hilderbrand are openly discussing the idea. Former representative Raul Torres and former Speaker Tom Craddick (I kid you not, from the Morning News) are also listed among the more dark house candidates.

Democrats
As I said yesterday, no Democrat who holds any public office has declared for a statewide thus far. With special, young candidates like Julian Castro and Wendy Davis not running, the Democratic lineup this year is just like the Astros’–it just doesn’t matter.

BOR has more. Also, we at Texpatriate are now on our own website. Though the old URL still redirects here.

Bob Perry, 1932-2013

The Texas Tribune reports that GOP super donor Bob Perry died this morning in his sleep. He was 80.

Bob Perry had amassed a large fortune over the years from his large development company, Perry Homes. Eventually, the focus turned to philanthropy of a political nature. Perry was one of the biggest donors to politicians in the State, mainly giving to the GOP. Among his recipients were George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Sylvester Turner, Mario Gallegos, George P. Bush and Carol Alvarado. A Houston resident, he worked tirelessly to support candidates, both left and right (but mainly right), from his hometown.

Additionally, Perry was invaluable in silencing the far-right from dominating the Republican Party’s immigration policy. He was one of the key reasons the cruel Sanctuary City bill did not pass, and for that, liberals like me will always be grateful.

I do not believe I ever had the pleasure of meeting Mr Perry in person, but I wish I did. He will be missed and I was saddened to hear of his passing.

George P. Bush, officially offficially

The Texas Tribune is reporting that George P. Bush, who had been unofficially leaning towards a bid for Land Commissioner in 2014, has officially announced his intention to run for that office.

Christopher Ewing, erg…I mean, George P. Bush, is seen as first of the fourth generation of the Bush family in politics, and the third generation in Texas politics. The incumbent Land Commissioner, Jerry Patterson, who is running for Lieutenant Governor (after those sharks smelled blood in the water), had kind words for Bush, and seemed like he would be wholeheartedly supporting him. For what it’s worth, I’m really happy that Bush did not seek something like the Governor’s office or AG. The Republicans already have an advantage in prominent Hispanic officeholders, but most of them (including Cruz) are of Cuban ancestry. Bush is of Mexican ancestry, like most Hispanics in Texas. But he will probably be the gubernatorial candidate in 2018, so the Democrats must stand ready.

Hopefully, Mike Villarreal can run for Governor on the Democratic side next year, meaning that the Democrats hold the advantage 2-0 in nominating Hispanic candidates for Governor. And then there’s Castro, but now I’m getting off-topic.

UPDATE: Bush was a website –> here. The Chronicle picked up the story, and reports that he has about $1.3M in campaign cash and is being helped by Karl Rove.

Rejected Letter to the Editor, Houston Chronicle

To the Editor,

In a February 26th article, “Today’s the day: Democrats launch ‘Battleground Texas’ project to end GOP dominance,” this Newspaper forgot to inquire about one perplexity of the new project among Texas Democrats: the lack of feasible candidates for office. Indeed, even if the Texas Democratic Party receives coveted funds and organizational skills from national institutions, it will not help the state party’s dreadful inability to attract and recruit an abundance of strong candidates for statewide or otherwise higher office.

Battleground Texas does not mention any specific dates on its website for the foreseen Democratic victories at the statewide level. However, if they wish to make the 2014 statewide elections competitive, they have been woefully unsuccessful thus far in finding suitable candidates to challenge Governor Perry, among others. Other incumbents such as Greg Abbott, and political newcomers such as George P. Bush, will not be easy opponents for even a well-funded Texas Democratic Party, as long as Texas Democrats are not presenting viable alternative candidates.

Why has this Newspaper not questioned the feasibility of this project, given the current lack of Democratic candidates capable of winning elections? While it is true that state fundamentals are becoming increasingly friendly to Democrats, as we have seen in recent polling which shows Governor Perry losing in a theoretical matchup against former Democratic candidate Bill White, such gains will be squandered if poor Democratic candidates are chosen which, unfortunately, looks to be the case leading into the 2014 elections.

Thank You,

N.M. Horwitz
Boston, Massachusetts

Empty seats

It’s a slow day in the news, so I am going to talk about something that really isn’t current or even especially relevant. In next year’s statewide GOP primaries, we have a plethora of politicians running for a minuscule number of positions. Worst case scenario, we have Abbott & Perry vying for Governor, and Dewhurst, Staples, Patterson & Combs running for Lieutenant Governor. That leaves Attorney General, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, and Comptroller as empty seats.

Now, it seems that, if our Governor isn’t talking out of his butt again, Abbott will not run for Governor, but that could very easily mean he would run for Lieutenant Governor. Either way, we are (most likely) looking at 4 open positions. Only one of those offices, Land Commissioner, has seen any movement among prospective candidates (George P. Bush).

That leaves the question: who is running for all these seats? I’m not going to pontificate over this, making predictions, because (as my friends keep reminding me), they are usually wrong.

Clinton leads in Texas 2016 poll

The third and final segment of that PPP poll involved the 2016 Presidential election. The numbers assumed Hillary Clinton would be the Democrats’ 2016 nominee, and she crushed the opposition–even in the Lone Star State. The poll also showed that same-sex marriage and Jerry Jones are quite unpopular. Also, in my opinion, the best part of the poll: 50% of Texans do not consider themselves Cowboys fans. Between a Democrat winning Texas, and a majority of Texans being Texans fans, this might be the greatest poll to ever be commissioned. Full results below:

Same sex marriage, civil union, or no recognition?: 33% (same sex marriage) to 28% (civil union) to 36% (no recognition)
Dallas Cowboys approval rating: 42% (approve) to 50% (disapprove)
Texas secession approval rating: 20% (approve) to 67% (disapprove)
Ted Cruz approval rating: 36% (approve) to 30% (disapprove)
George P. Bush approval rating: 41% (approve) to 33% (disapprove)
Hillary Clinton approval rating: 50% (approve) to 43% (disapprove)
Lane Armstrong approval rating: 16% (approve) to 59% (disapprove)
Jerry Jones approval rating: 13% (approve) to 50% (disapprove)

GOP Primary: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan: 21% (Rubio), 14% (Huckabee), 13% (Paul), 11% (Bush), 11% (Ryan), Christie (9%), 4% (Jindal), 4% (Perry), 2% (Martinez).
Hillary Clinton vs. Chris Christie: 45% (Clinton) to 43% (Christie)
Hillary Clinton vs. Rick Perry: 50% (Clinton) to 42% (Perry)
Hillary Clinton vs. Marco Rubio: 46% (Clinton) to 45% (Perry)

First, I’d like to say that these numbers are pretty great. Not just because of the Democrat leading, but because of just how unpopular the Governor would be in a Democratic primary. Also, for the record, I’m not sure how one can measure whether they should “approve” George P. Bush, given that he has never held any public office before. Approve what? Him being a lawyer. The gay marriage numbers are disappointing.

 

Stupid musings on the future

We, here at Texpatriate, haven’t decided to play the game of futurology in a while. Since the quintessential cynic in me was wrong about Mitt Romney being elected President, I might have to redo my old timeline.

November/December 2013-Annise Parker is re-elected after defeating, among others, Ben Hall. May or not be the need for a runoff election.

March 2014-Greg Abbott defeats Rick Perry in the primary for Governor. David Dewhurst is squeezed into a runoff with one of his many challengers (he may or may not win the runoff). George P. Bush cruises to victory in his run for Land Commissioner. The Democrats, if they are unsuccessful in drafting a superstar (like Tommy Lee Jones or Cecile Richards), essentially concede defeat by not running competitive candidates against Abbott and Cornyn and the like.

May 2014-Dewhurst may or may not survive his runoff election.

November 2014-Republicans take control of the US Senate, Democrats pick up a few seats in the US House. Democrats picks up a few states in both houses of the State Legislature; GOP maintains control thereof and of all statewide offices.

November 2015-Houston elects first Latino mayor.

November 2016-Hillary Clinton elected President; Democrats retake US Senate, pick up a few seats in the US House (still not control). Democrats pick up a few states in State Legislature, all Statewides stay with the GOP.

November 2017-Latino mayor re-elected.

November 2018-First cracks in the GOP barrier. I still am hoping for the Castro/Davis ticket.