A few initial thoughts

Just to sum up the results for those of y’all who have not been paying much attention to things, I will recap some of the big things that have happened. First, the expected winners were, by and large, the winners on Tuesday night in Statewide elections. Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis won their respective bids for Governor, John Cornyn easily beat back challengers for another nomination to the Senate, George P. Bush got the GOP nod for Land Commissioner and Stephen Brown got the Democrat nod for Railroad Commissioner. All three incumbent Supreme Court Justices who saw right-wing primary opponent were able to easily prevail.

In a few other races, the expected result happened, but in a very different manner. This was largely due to the fact that the Texas Tribune poll released about a week ago was total garbage. It was not worth the fictional paper it wasn’t printed on, to quote a friend. In these races, David Alameel and Kesha Rogers indeed will proceed into a runoff for the US Senate Democrat primary, as will David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick for the Lieutenant Governor Republican primary. However, the Tribune poll seriously miscalculated who would come in first and by how much. Instead of Rogers holding a commanding plurality lead, she hovered near 20% while Alameel was just a few perilous points so close to winning outright. Instead of the preconceived notion that Dewhurst would receive 40-something percent compared to Patrick’s 20-something, the roles were reversed.

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Texpatriate endorses in Land Commissioner primary

In the race for Land Commissioner, voters must choose a new steward over the vast public holdings of the General Land Office, managing acres upon acres of land both rich in minerals and value. The Commissioner must figure out how exactly to do this, but he also is tasked with presiding over a plethora of important State Boards, specifically a pair managing broad issues relating to Education and Veterans, respectively.

First, this board examined George P. Bush, an attorney from the Dallas area. However, what readers will most notably know Bush from is his extended family pedigree. His father, Jeb Bush, was the Governor the Florida. His uncle, George W. Bush, was the 43rd President. His grandfather, George H.W. Bush, was the 41st President. We have serious misgivings about a political amateur running for such a powerful, Statewide post, and we do not think Bush makes up for these weaknesses because of his family (whom this board has never been so fond of in the first place).

However, our strongest objections with Bush end at his short resume. We believe that he has run a great campaign, especially when juxtaposed against his compatriots in the Republican party. Whether this has been his strong mastery of educational issues or those affecting our veterans, or finding a reasonable voice in those disputes of environmental concern, Bush has continued to surprise us as a new leader in perhaps a more centrist wing of the party, one we so desperately long for.

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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.

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.