Jeb Bush 2016

The New York Times reports that former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) has taken the first decisive step toward running for president in the upcoming 2016 election. Bush created something called a “leadership PAC” that actively explores the possibility of running for president. It is tantamount in all but name to an Exploratory Committee, and few — if any — serious observers contend that there is a realistic chance he would not follow through and run at this time.

Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, is largely seen as the continuation of a quintessential Republican establishment dynasty. While the family may have been, in some circles, considered on the rightward periphery of the party in 2000, times have markedly changed since that time. Specifically, since the advent of the Tea Party, Bush has been lambasted by the base of his own party as insufficiently conservative on immigration-related issues. Earlier this year, he even suggested unauthorized border crossings were an “act of love,” drawing the ire of the right-wing. Bilingual and the husband of a Mexican-immigration (additionally the father of Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush), Bush is seen as a uniquely formidable Republican opponent for Democratic presidential contenders, namely former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Prompted by Bush, a few other names have clamored to reiterate their longstanding almost-campaigns. The serious politicians who belong in that category include Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), among other less glamorous options.

Last month, I prognosticated that Cruz has the best chance of the pack to be nominated, and I reiterate that comment again tonight. Make no mistake, the ultra-conservatives (Tea Party) are in firmer control of the party now than they were four years ago. They have only been enraged over the years as their preferred candidates have been cast aside in favor of comparable-pragmatists, such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, who then fell in the general election. Bush — or Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), for that matter — will be shunned because he will be seen as a continuation of the “play it safe” strategy.

Of course, the success of a presidential candidate has little to do with ideology, because the American public does not care enough to understand said ideology. They care about the charisma and soundbites of the messenger. That is why Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in a way that Gerald Ford likely would not have, even though Reagan was significantly more conservative.

Much in the same respect, Cruz is a phenomenal messenger in a way that none of the other candidates are. Not since Joseph McCarthy have the Republicans had a national figure so comfortable with making things up and completely disregarding the truth without so much as a modicum of shame. The only difference is that the media is so impotent and feckless nowadays that there is no Edward R. Murrow to call him out. Cruz is confident, assured and smart, so the base in his party goes along for the ride, even though I think it is fairly obvious he would sell them out in an instant to further his own interest. When the time comes, I believe, the general public will similarly fall for him.

If the Tea Party is looking for a knight in shining armor, they will be sorely disappointed just about any way. Cruz may be appealing, quoting Cicero and all. But in the end, his most rapid supporters will just be muttering “Et Tu, Theodore?” At least Bush puts his cards on the table.

Bush the environmental realist?

The Texas Tribune published a fairly detailed interview with George P. Bush, the Republican candidate for Land Commissioner, yesterday. Most notable among its lengthy contents was that he had a rather pragmatic take on environmental issues, at least in comparison with his compatriots. Bush, of course, is the son of former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush (ergo, the nephew of George W. Bush).

Among the many examples of his perceived moderation on these issues is that he admits global warming is occurring, though the Tribune pointedly notes that he stops short of attributing it to humans. However, perhaps more importantly, Bush does note that something needs to be done about global warming and the deleterious effects it will have around the world, specifically in Texas. He laments the coming rise of the sea level, claiming it is something that “keeps him up at night.” This is a very different line of reason from most other Republicans who concede global warming occurs but still claim man does not affect it. Those arguments typically make a point of saying that people cannot do anything to affect global warming, so we need not alter our environmental policies.

Furthermore, Bush countered some of his colleagues by stating that he would not want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, though he definitely strongly disagrees with most of their recent mandates. I, for one, am not impressed by this concession. Is it supposed to be impressive? Rick Perry claimed the EPA need not be abolished in the midst of his epic debate failure a few years back.

However, Bush appeared content –even tepidly supportive– with the reality that the EPA and other major players are trying to transition the consumption of energy away from fossil fuels such as coal, and onto cleaner sources such as natural gas, before moving onto full renewable sources.

In the full interview –which you can read here— Bush went on at length about how it is a good thing to wean the State off of oil (yeah, you read that right) and mitigate emissions of carbon dioxide. He even spoke quite favorably of Garry Mauro, a Democrat who was Land Commissioner for the four terms between 1983 and 1999, for similar initiatives. Mauro, for his part, said he was “shocked” upon learning of the compliments and the pragmatism.

Obviously, Bush’s views on many environmental topics, namely a support of increased fracking, are dangerous and short-sighted. But the shift to a more reality-based approach on these issues is very, very good news. Anyone with a half a brain can tell that Bush has ambitions for higher office, namely Governor either four or eight years down the line. In my opinion, Texas will be a swing state by then, so for the Republicans to nominate a partisan zealot at that time would be exceedingly unwise.

Historical conservatism, the type Bush’s great-grandfather (Prescott Bush) who served as a Senator from Connecticut subscribed to, was actually quite receptive to environmental issues. A terrific profile in The Atlantic recently explored this idea, noting how “Earth Day” was once derided by left-wing groups such as SDS as a type of elitism. Hopefully, attention to the earth could one day be restored to the GOP.

Additionally, I sincerely hope that otherwise liberal individuals, much like myself, do not continue griping at Bush about him not coming “far enough” on the issue. Make no mistake, any progress on this issue from Republicans is a good thing, and should rightly be celebrated. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating for many years to come…right from our beachfront properties in downtown Houston.

Let’s talk about 2016! (Republican primary, Part 1)

Yesterday, I reviewed the upcoming 2016 Democratic primary fight. Generously speaking, the contest is Hillary Clinton versus a series of progressively less interesting pretenders to the throne. It’s not a fair fight, more like US v. Grenada lopsidedness. The fight for the Republican nomination, on the other hand, is quite another story.

While an old adage is that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line, the reality is somewhat more complex. Democrats have surely had their share of idealistic primaries (2008, for one), with three of the last five being utter snooze fests. Either a President ran for re-election (1996 and 2012) or a Vice-President ascended to the nomination gracefully (2000). Republicans, on the other hand, have only had one such contest in the last five Presidential cycles (2004). While the original frontrunner often ends up winning (2008 and 2012), the fights are regularly nasty and brutish. 2016 looks to be another such ugly brawl.

I have split up the prospective Republican candidates into four main categories: Establishment Conservative, Establishment Tea Party, Fringe Tea Party and Outcast. In making these distinctions, I admittedly use the term Establishment freer than most others would. Instead of what many others do, which is to say make a distinction between business interests and grass roots evangelism, I use the term to simply denote one who has climbed up the ladder in national politics. Tonight, I will delineate the first category.

ESTABLISHMENT CONSERVATIVES

1. Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida
The son of President George Bush, the brother President George W. Bush and the father of Texas Land Commissioner Republican nominee George P. Bush, this Bush is comparably open minded on a wide array of issues. He made headlines a few months ago when he noted that many undocumented immigrants crossed the border in what he considered an “act of love.” But that’s not all! Bush has also gone on record advocating for the Federal Government to stay out of the gay marriage debate (in a huge departure from his brother’s administration).

All this makes Bush a formidable foe against any of the Democratic contenders (read: Clinton), if he somehow were going to emerge from a Republican primary. Personally, I have some major doubts.

2. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Christie, much like Bush, is an openly pragmatic Republican. He is willing to compromise, and has some centrist positions on issues. He freely acquiesced to a State Court order legalizing gay marriage in his State. He has even become a modest proponent of Medical Marijuana.

However, Christie has largely been seen as damaged goods. Since the beginning of the year, his Presidential prospects –no, his entire political career– have been put in jeopardy because of the scandal called “Bridgegate.” In its simplest explanation, the scandal revolves around some of Christie’s closest aides –who have now all resigned or been fired– scheming to artificially augment traffic in a town whose Mayor did not endorse Christie’s re-election efforts last year. Progressives were overjoyed by this revelation, and relished in the opportunity to call Christie an evil, vindictive, nefarious, Nixonian monster.

For his part, Christie has been inconsistent on whether or not Bridegate affected his willingness to run for President. In May, Christie said that he was “thinking” about running for President. Just the other day, however,  Christie was far more dismissive about the whole thing.

3. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
Wait, Rick Perry is not among the Tea Party crowd? I was skeptical of such an assessment for many years as well, but I think that Paul Burka’s recent article in Texas Monthly finally convinced me otherwise. Perry is a creature of the times, but he is not a Tea Party rabblerouser. His path into State Government was honorable. Furthermore, in a contrast of Perry to Greg Abbott (the Republican gubernatorial nominee), I have always said that Perry, for all his faults, is a straightforward guy. His political views are not as malleable as the sands in the wind, much like Abbott’s are.

This has been shown remarkably well in the last year, as Perry has seemingly become the voice of reason on many issues. Perry’s big pot reveal is probably the best example.

Perry, for his part, is doing everything he can to not only stake out his own ground in the middle, but preserve his conservative bona fides. Definitely sounds like a Presidential candidate to me.

4. Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana
Pence is best known as a pragmatic Midwestern Governor. The Washington Post reports that many in the party are “wooing” him and that he is “listening.” He has a bipartisan mindset, and his administration chose to expand Medicaid through Obamacare. Not good for a primary campaign.

5. Jon Huntsman, former Ambassador to China
Huntsman has been super open about his interest in another campaign. In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune, Huntsman was warmly interested in the idea. For his part, he has began to make trips around the country, including a keynote appearance at the 2014 Texas Tribune festival later this year.

A former Governor of Utah, Huntsman likely permanently disenfranchised himself from Republicanism when he accepted a job to serve as Obama’s Ambassador to China, a position he held from 2009 to 2011.

PART 2 TOMORROW!

Terrible, terrible poll

The Texas Tribune has released its newest poll, and the results continue to paint a bleak picture for the campaign of State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor. The poll has her down 12 points to Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate. The poll also examined Statewide races up and down the ticket and found that Democrats were doing miserably bad in all of them. Most all of these polls included Libertarian and Green candidates, for what it is worth. Additionally, undecideds boasted pretty good showings in all of these races, and the number only got bigger the further down the ballot one traveled.

As many will remember, the Tribune commissioned an extensive poll in February that was not worth the non-existent paper that is was not printed upon. Among the many terrible predictions it made was that Kesha Rogers and Debra Medina led the plurality in their respective primaries. Rogers barely squeaked into a runoff and Medina came in a distant last place in a race where one candidate (Hegar) won outright. I went after the Tribune with a wrench in the Daily Texan a couple days after the preliminary primary completely discredited their polling, noting that we should not waste our breath analyzing something so unreliable anymore.  As my friend Charles Kuffner noted yesterday, the Tribune polls should be “in time-out,” meaning that we have to very look at what they have to say quite critically.

Click here to read more!

2014’s first big poll

The Texas Tribune reports on a very comprehensive poll they conducted over just about every competitive primary in the State. The poll has a fairly substantial margin of error (upwards of 6% in the Democratic primary, specifically), so that is something to bear in mind when analyzing the results.

Simply put, the results paint a bad picture for the Democrats. Back at that time, Greg Abbott lead Wendy Davis by only five points; today, Abbott’s lead has grown to Eleven points. Other polls paint a similarly bleak picture for the Democrats, especially considering that these Texas Tribune polls have historically been overly generous to the Democratic candidate. Just a few days after that original Tribune poll, Public Policy Polling (a historically very accurate pollster) estimated Abbott’s lead at a whopping fifteen points. Accordingly, I am eager to see just how bad off the Democrats are doing when PPP releases its triannual February poll any day now.

Also of note here is that these polls were largely conducted before the Ted Nugent scandal really blew over regarding Greg Abbott’s campaign. Therefore, one could plausibly assert that this poll overvalues Davis’ problems emanating from “Trailergate” while simultaneously not taking to account Abbott’s recent woes. Among other issues with this poll was a misleading discrepancy between “registered” and “likely” voters. Additionally, the polls completely disregarded the portion of the electorate still undecided. I have recreated these polls with the undecideds built into the poll, as well as only taking note of the “registered” voters.

Click here for full results and graph!

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.

Click here to read the full endorsement!

Perry prepping for another Presidential run

The Dallas Morning News reports that, while Rick Perry may be starting retire himself from Texas politics, this has not stopped a key group of his supporters from raising massive amounts of money to underwrite a potential Rick Perry 2016 campaign.

The new Super PAC, named Americans for Economic Freedom, will be modeled after Perry’s previous Super PAC, Make Us Great Again. The Morning News already notes that Perry stalwarts Mike Toomey and Brint Ryan have signed onto the team for this group. The group will help Perry in his transition past the gubernatorial office and into his long-expected exploratory committee. Only at that point will Perry decide whether or not he wants to test the waters yet again in 2016.

The most convincing evidence yet I received for how this affects Perry’s presidential prospects come straight from the Morning News article, directly from Hoppe. The first paragraph of the article reads:

“Top supporters of Gov. Rick Perry have started to build the infrastructure that will help the governor spread his message and test the waters of another presidential run.”

As I have stated before, Rick Perry will not be able to win the Republican primary, all other things remaining equal. This is because the 2016 crop will be significantly better than last year’s candidates. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul are much, much more formidable.

That being said, Rick Perry has surprised me in the past. He certainly has a talent for outperforming expectations both Democrats and Republicans set for him. Sure, Perry being a moron, a hatemongerer or perhaps even a drunk, had something to do with his failure, but I do still think a big part of it was how late he entered the field. Perry did not officially throw his hat into the Presidential election until August 2011, whereas people like Mitt Romney had basically been perpetually running since the last election.

Perry will not make the same mistake this time (well, maybe the drunken rants will continue, at least I hope so). He has previously noted that he would make an announcement by the end of the year. This would mean he would get going on the Presidential run a full 18 months earlier than last time.

https://i2.wp.com/www.fldemocracy2012.com/files/2011/11/Perryhands1.jpg

Let’s hope we still get these gems

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.

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.

 

Perry 14/16

The Chronicle (and the Huffington Post) is writing about Governor Rick Perry’s political future. The HuffPo article mentioned that Perry is getting ready for a big announcement in “July 2013” about the future. Both articles also talk about Grover Norquist taking the Governor under his wing for a possible future run for the Oval Office.

Basically, most people think that Perry will run for re-election to a FOURTH full term as Governor in 2014. I, for one, think that, absent a primary challenge from George P. Bush (unlikely), he will easily win said fourth term. If previous midterm elections are any indicator, then the 2014 election will spell out yet another shellacking for Democrats, as their voters simply do not wander into a poll booths without a presidential election. Therefore, the newly re-elected Governor could very easily preside over another Republican supermajority in the state legislature, and come out of the session in June of 2015 very, very strong, possibly setting up another presidential run.

Of course, this is the worst-case scenario, but unfortunately, that seems to be the only scenario for us Texas Democrats recently. Now, as I have started many times before, I do have trust in the leadership of the TX Dems for the long term, but at the current moment, the demographics just aren’t there. If Obama does comparably well, and the economy recovers, 2014 might not be too bad of an election year, thus depriving Perry of his coveted supermajority. Additionally, he could get knocked off by Bush (or maybe even someone like Abbott) in the primary, and there is always a chance for the dark house Democrat like Tommy Lee Jones beating him in the general election. Again, both are unlikely.

Fortunately, the best case for why “Perry ’16” will be a failure is the reason that “Perry ’12” was a failure: the Governor is not very bright. He would, mark my words, stumble again in the debates and probably give another speech where he gets the election date wrong, voting age wrong, and acts like he is inebriated. Perry could not win, or even come close, in the weakest Republican primary field in fifty years. When the bigshots like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie toss their hats into the ring, Perry won’t stand a chance.