Pauken drops out

The Texas Tribune reports that Tom Pauken, a former Chairman of the Texas Republican Party and Texas Workforce Commissioner, has dropped out of the Republican primary for Governor. Pauken first announced his candidacy in March, well before Attorney General Greg Abbott had announced his candidacy or incumbent Governor Rick Perry had even announced his forthcoming retirement. In fact, to a large extend, Pauken spent the first few months running against Perry.

He had an odd diversification of issues at the forefront of his campaign, though most were somewhat right-wing (with the notable exception of some pretty good educational reform suggestions). The campaign, almost originally founded upon the idea that Rick Perry would run once more, has never really had very good financially standing. Indeed, in announcing his withdrawal, Pauken cited a lack of cash in his race, as well as a heavy media bias against him. Pauken had not yet filed for Governor, so his name will not remain on any ballots to speak thereof.

Click here to read Pauken’s full statement!

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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!

Statewide shakeup

Simply put, there have been some entrances and some exits in recent Statewide Republican primaries. Namely, in the races for the positions of Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner.

Brandon Creighton, a State Representative from Magnolia who took his sweet time to announce his candidacy for Agriculture Commissioner, is out of the race.  As far as I could figure, Creighton was the hands-down favorite in the race thus far, and his exit opened up a vacuum. Politics, of course, abhors a vacuum, and therefore a small stampede of candidates rushed into the primary, which now lacks a clear frontrunner. I never got around to writing about this last week, but Sophia discussed it in the week in review this past Sunday.

Now, the Texas Tribune reports that State Representative Stefani Carter, a candidate for Railroad Commissioner, has dropped out of the race. Carter, in stark contrast to Creighton, was not doing especially well in the race. Malachi Boyuls, George P. Bush’s business partner, has by far the most money in that race, and thus was crowned as the frontrunner by the Tribune. Carter, therefore, most likely felt her candidacy was not worthwhile.

Click here to learn who the new candidates are and what the former candidates will now run for!

Guv update 10/8

Today saw two major stories about the Governor’s race, one looking at the typical dichotomy of the candidates, and another discussing a possible shake-up.

First, Peggy Fikac at the Houston Chronicle published an article this morning, wherein she noted that the two candidates, Attorney General Greg Abbott and State Senator Wendy Davis, have already established themselves as different on many of the important issues. Among the many issues the two disagree on are licenses for illegal immigrants. Representing the typical interests of their respective parties, Davis supports such documents as a necessity in public safety, while Abbott opposes the measures. The Texas Republican Party is dominated by nativists who favor such positions as well as self-deportation.

Another major policy that Fikac notes a disagreement in is the American-US Air merger, which I have previously written upon extensively. Fikac then moves onto the more glamorous issues, specifically abortion and gun control.

Everyone and their uncle now is familiar with Wendy Davis’ pro-choice stance. Abbott, by comparison, is severely pro-life anti-choice. The omnibus anti-abortion bill will surely be a major flashpoint throughout the campaign. Additionally, gun control measures are mentioned. Davis is much more moderate on this issue. The astute will remember that Davis voted for the infamous “Guns on Cars” bill last session, which I strongly disagreed therewith.

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Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss.

Perry

Adios mofo.

The Texas Tribune, along with the entire Twitterverse, reported the news shortly after 2PM that Rick Perry would not be running for an unprecedented fourth full term in 2014. The news leaves the field wide open, and essentially gifts the post to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Unfortunately, I did not get to livestream the speech. But from what I understand, Perry bragged about both his record as Governor and the so-called “Texas miracle.” He then said something along the lines of “the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership.”

Perry made no comments on his intentions for the 2016 Presidential election. It is worth stating that what finally convinced me that Perry would not run was a tweet by Dan Patrick. I get the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to leak that information this morning.

The gubernatorial election is made much more clear by this announcement. When it comes to the Republican primary, there are three candidates: Greg Abbott, Larry SECEDE Kilgore and Tom Pauken. Kilgore, as you may recall, is the Klansman Theocratic secessionist. Pauken, a former Texas GOP Chairman and Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, is a little too reasonable to win a Republican primary.

Attorney General Abbott is the natural selection. This much is somewhat clear. Accordingly, the question shifts to who the Democratic candidates (and eventual nominee) will be.

First and foremost is Wendy Davis. The good Senator, as many may recall, recently reversed her longstanding pledge to not run. She is “open” to the idea, to be exact. Now that Perry is out, we may hear more in the next couple of weeks. Davis only trails Abbott by 8 points in recent polling, which is by far the smallest deficit of any of the possible Democrats mentioned.

The problem with those polls, of course, is who they mention as candidates. Julian Castro and Annise Parker are definitely not running. Bill White is another issue, as many (especially in Austin circles) believe he will run if no other candidate is found.

The other candidates that have been mentioned are State Rep. Mike Villarreal, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and State Sen. Kirk Watson. The former two have already specifically taken themselves out of contention. Watson must run for re-election next year, and BOR was really wrong about this exact thing in 2010, so I do not think he is a viable candidate.

That leaves Kinky Friedman. Color me excited. While at one point he might have been the best known Texas Democrat, times have changed. As I stated a few days ago, Wendy Davis, win or lose, needs to run in order to be the “the Texas Democrats’ Barry Goldwater.”

Eye on Williamson and Burnt Orange Report have more.

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 and new polls

It is a busy day for 2014 in the State. First up, The Texas Tribune reports on a poll just released that they commissioned along with the University of Texas. Let us dig in:

14. If Rick Perry were to run for governor again in 2014, would you vote for him, would you vote against him, or would you need to wait and see who is running against him?
VOTE FOR-25%
VOTE AGAINST-38%
WAIT-31%
DON’T KNOW-6%

16. 2014 Republican Primary for Lieutenant Governor
DAVID DEWHURST-19%
DAN PATRICK-10%
JERRY PATTERSON-6%
TODD STAPLES-5%
NO OPINION-61%

17. 2016 Republican Primary for President
TED CRUZ-25%
RAND PAUL-13%
MARCO RUBIO-11%
RICK PERRY-10%
CHRIS CHRISTIE-8%
PAUL RYAN-8%
BOBBY JINDAL-2%
RICK SANTORUM-2%
NO OPINION-21%

18. 2016 Democratic Primary for President
HILLARY CLINTON-66%
JOE BIDEN-11%
ANDREW CUOMO-1%
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND-1%
MARK WARNER-1%
NO OPINION-19%

19. 2014 Republican Primary for Governor
RICK PERRY-45%
GREG ABBOTT-19%
SOMEONE ELSE” (Tom Pauken)-11%
NO OPINION-25%

Pundits will attempt to justify the results of this poll as somehow revolutionary, but there are very few points worth actually discussing. Nobody should be surprised at the prospect of Hillary Clinton winning a primary poll. Further, no one should be surprised that favorite son Ted Cruz wins the GOP primary poll.  Rick Perry flew pretty high on these polls for the 2012 election. It should not be a surprise that States like their own, mainly because of the familiarity.

Further, the poll for Lieutenant Governor is worthless. Even the incumbent has zero name recognition, so it does not give us a good insight into who will win that election. The Gubernatorial poll, however, does have some merit. Rick Perry holds a decisive lead over Greg Abbott and Tom Pauken. I think there has been a pretty strong sentiment in this State that Rick Perry might not run for re-election because of fear he would lose. I think it is abundantly clear now, however, that he has nothing to worry about in that regard.

New Candidates
The Texas Tribune also has a nice little article about Barry Smitherman, the Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. The Tribune highlights especially close on Smitherman’s possible aspirations to the Attorney General’s office, assuming Abbott runs for Governor. Also mentioned in the article are Senator Ken Paxton, former Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill and Representative Dan Branch, whose Twitter feed made the official announcement today.

2014 is really starting to heat up.