In re Glenn Hegar

In what was probably the most egregious example of the Tribune poll’s unreliability, the Comptroller Republican primary turned out to be anything but predictable. The Tribune had predicted Debra Medina, the Tea Party firebrand, would finish in the plurality, with State Senator Glenn Hegar and State Representative Harvey Hilderbran fighting it out for second place. Ultimately, the results showed Hegar with a convincing lead, Hilderbran squarely in second place and Medina in a distant third place. Former State Representative Raul Torres also ran but finished last. Throughout election night and the succeeding days, Hegar hovered around 50%, leaving the prospect of a runoff between him and Hilderbran up in the air. Finally, Hilderbran withdrew from the campaign, leaving Hegar as the nominee by default.

Hegar will now face Mike Collier, a Democrat, in the general election. Collier has been especially hard on Hegar for two reasons. First, Hegar has previously received the endorsement of the incumbent, Susan Combs, who has been especially notorious for underestimating revenue, thus leading to overly painful austerity measures. Second, Hegar has been especially reliant on conservative organizations with admittedly little to do with the office of the Comptroller. As Collier has been saying, the office should be about “accounting, not abortion.”

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Texpatriate endorses in Comptroller primary

The Texas Comptroller is an incredibly unique position, one without a readily identifiable counterpart at the local or national level. At first glance, one might think the job predominantly revolves around managing and keeping the State’s money. While the Comptroller may do many of these functions today, they were not and are not the prime duties of the office. Indeed, the office of State Treasurer had originally completed these tasks. The prime responsibility of the Comptroller of Public Accounts is to forecast revenue for the upcoming biennium, which in turn binds the Legislature as to how much money it may appropriate throughout its session. These estimates are important, because they can make or break just how painful the austerity in any particular year will be. For example, the incumbent Comptroller, Susan Combs, greatly underestimated revenue a few years ago –for ideological reasons– leading to excessive cuts.

This board has not been impressed by Combs’ tumultuous tenure in office. Putting ideology above the welfare of the State has led to disastrous results, most notably the painful cuts to Education in the 2011 session. Accordingly, we would be remiss to continue with business as usual by supporting her handpicked choice as successor, State Senator Glenn Hegar. Rather than talking about accounting, Hegar has seemed very busy on the campaign trail touting his stance on abortion. Rather than aspiring to be a protector of the State’s financial integrity, Hegar appears content to protect the integrity of the 2nd Amendment. We fail to see how either has anything to do with the office of Comptroller.

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Existent and non-existent Democrats

Texas Democrats are giddy at the prospect of Wendy Davis running for Governor. The astute will remember that I was very excited when she first announced, but with all due respect, that was nearly two weeks ago. Democrats might do worse than ever before –oh yes, mark my words– in the 2014 elections if something does not change quick.

Most importantly, the Democrats need to find candidates to run for the Statewide offices. As I have said before, even a State that is 80% non-White will not elect a single Democrat if they do not run. Buckpassing is perhaps Texas Democrats biggest problem, as everyone is so satiated with this abstract concept of a future victory that they are unwilling to do anything today. The reason why Wendy Davis’ candidacy is so extraordinary is that she put the good of the party and the State above her immediate political future. Rick Noriega did this in 2008, but it is a rare occurrence otherwise.

Democrats do have a serious candidate for Land Commissioner, John Cook, the former Mayor of El Paso. Serious candidates have also been suggested for Lieutenant Governor (State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte) and Attorney General (State Sen. Carlos Uresti) as well. However, the latter two individuals have been painfully silent recently, prompting some concern about the rigor of Democratic candidates.

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Uresti for Attorney General?

The Houston Chronicle reports on the growing need to find suitable Democrats to fill the statewide ticket. As the Democratic establishment has largely reached the consensus that Wendy Davis is running for Governor, the conversation has now shifted onto who will be running for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Comptroller & Railroad Commission, as well as 3 seats on the Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 seats on the Supreme Court.

The Chronicle article mentions Mike Collier, a local businessman who is running as a Democrat for Comptroller, as the only declared Democrat. However, this is untrue, as fmr El Paso Mayor John Cook was announced a run for Land Commissioner. Since that announcement in July, Cook has even created a website for his candidacy.

The article then notes Keith Hampton, a favorite Judicial candidate of mine who run unsuccessfully last year against Sharon Keller. Hampton appeared to rule out another candidacy himself in the near future.

The article then mentioned some names that keep coming up, specifically Leticia Van de Putte for Lieutenant Governor, as well as Royce West, Kirk White and Rafael Anchia. The article must not have done their research, but Anchia is definitely running for re-election. From what I understand, White & West have not ruled out the run themselves, though White’s run would be highly unlikely.

The name that surprised everyone, however, was Carlos Uresti. The State Senator from San Antonio who has served since 2007, previously served five terms in the State House. At a young 50 years of age, he probably has some higher ambitions in him.

When asked by the Chronicle about a possible statewide run, Uresti hinted towards Attorney General. Specifically, he said “Politics is about timing. And I certainly think it’s the right time for the Democratic Party, and for myself as well.” To me, that sounds like someone planning on throwing his hat into the ring. Uresti, like Van de Putte, is not up for re-election in 2014. This means that he would not lose out on his Senate seat if he would lose (an almost certain probability).

The ballot is starting to shape up a little more now, with Davis, Van de Putte Uresti & Cook all at the top of the ticket. Each one is a very powerful figure sure to attract more pull than the average Democratic retread.

Brains & Eggs has more.

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.