Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will McCaul Run for Senate?

Congressman Michael McCaul has recently gotten serious about running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate from Texas. With Labor Day fast approaching, it appears the campaign needs to quickly make a go/no go decision. If he runs, he is reportedly prepared to spend $4 to $6 million of his personal fortune on the race. He will have to because as of June 30, McCaul only reported $143,256 cash on hand.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is now fully engaged in the race, with a goal to raise $3 million before the September 30 FEC reporting deadline. I anticipate that Dewhurst will be a strong fundraiser because donors know he is either going to be U. S. Senator or Lt. Governor, both extremely powerful offices.

Dewhurst intends to raise $7.5 million for the primary and spend whatever it takes to win. Of course, both Dewhurst and McCaul will have to weigh that under federal law a candidate can only be repaid a maximum of $250,000 for personal loans to the campaign.

If McCaul does announce for the Senate, that will also set off a scramble for his Congressional District that runs from Austin to Houston. However, I think it is more likely McCaul runs for reelection to the House, and then seeks an open Texas Attorney General seat in 2014.

8/31 CORRECTION: I originally stated that Dewhurst intends to spend $7.5 million on the primary. I was in error. He intends to raise $7.5 million for the primary, and spend whatever it takes to win.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Perry Rockets into First

Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a poll yesterday with Gov. Perry leading in Iowa among Republican primary voters at 22%; Romney 19%; Bachman 18%; and Paul 16%. A Gallup poll revealed Perry and President Obama tied nationally at 47% among registered voters. reports that PPP will release a poll today showing Perry with a double digit lead nationally among Republican primary voters.

It has been a wild ride for Team Perry since their presidential launch August 13. Perry has been enthusiastically received in Iowa and South Carolina -- less so in New Hampshire. Rivals and the media have pounced on comments regarding Ben Bernanke, global warming and evolution. The House of Bush led by Karl Rove has intoned that Perry’s comments are “not presidential” and admonished him not to criticize former President George W. Bush’s administration.

Ironically, Mr. Rove’s criticisms are actually helping to fuel Perry’s meteoric rise among Republican primary voters. One of Perry’s greatest challenges nationally will be to overcome “Texas fatigue” and “Bush fatigue.” Attacks from the House of Bush assist this objective.

With lift-off successfully complete, the Perry campaign is now approaching stage two: Fundraising. September 30 is the deadline for receipt of contributions to be reported to the FEC October 15. The game of expectations will be played over the next five weeks as to the amount Perry will need to raise to maintain his trajectory. Based on what I am seeing and hearing so far, I anticipate that when Team Perry ignites the stage two fundraising rockets on October 15 it will be equally impressive.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Perry has Flawless Launch

Gov. Perry announced for the Presidency on Saturday in South Carolina, and then subsequently visited New Hampshire and Iowa over the weekend. Experts and pundits question whether Perry will meet the expectations and become the main rival to Gov. Romney for the Republican nomination, or instead wither under the stark light of national scrutiny and become the Fred Thompson of this cycle. Some stated that the first 48 hours of Perry's candidacy would be crucial given his one and only opportunity to make a first impression as a late entrant into the race.

Team Perry passed the first 48 hours with flying colors. His speech to Red State in South Carolina was highly rated; having Dave Carney made him an immediate player in New Hampshire; and he bested Michelle Bachman in their first joint appearance. Pundits now have moved the goal post and opine that this first week will be the crucial one. According to Politico this morning:

"Perry got rave reviews during his first two days of campaigning, but it still feels like he might be a mere flavor of the month. A full week on the trail could go a long way to assuage suspicions that he's a latter day John Connolly or Phil Gramm, two swashbuckling Texans who flamed out after arriving in the early states to great fanfare. With that in mind, we have these questions for the week ahead. (1) Can Rick Perry defy the skeptics and avoid even a medium-sized gaffe in his first week as a national candidate?"

Time will tell, but his trajectory looks good so far.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Perry Reminisces; Endorses Smitherman

Gov. Perry held a final fundraiser last night at the Austin Club for his state officeholder account. On Saturday, he will make it clear in South Carolina that he is running for the Republican Presidential nomination.

The Governor appeared relaxed and slowly worked the room speaking to each person individually for a minute or two. Most of the attendees were long-time supporters of the Governor. After shaking everyone's hand for over an hour, the Governor then made some brief remarks. He opened by noting that in December 1998, he attended a reception in this same Austin Club room and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock turned to him and said that Gov. George W. Bush was going to be President. It was the first time anyone had said that to him, and the Governor happened to be standing in that exact spot again last night.

After speaking for a few minutes, he then called Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman to his side. The Governor thanked Commissioner Smitherman for his public service since 2004 on the PUC and the Railroad Commission, endorsed him, and called on his friends and supporters to assist Commissioner Smitherman in his upcoming election.

As the Governor concluded, it struck me that his remarks had a valedictory feel to them: It is clear the Governor intends to win.

Monday, August 8, 2011

City of Houston Mayoral Elections

Today, August 8, is the first day candidates can file for Mayor on the November 8 City of Houston ballot. Filing will close September 7 at 5 p.m.

Mayor Annise Parker will be seeking reelection to her second two-year term. City of Houston term limits restrict officeholders to serving a maximum of six years (three two-year terms) in each office. As of today, Mayor Parker has no politically credible opposition and will be reelected in November. Since the advent of term limits in Houston, every Mayor has served the maximum six years allowed -- Bob Lanier (1992 - 97); Lee Brown (1998 - 2003); and Bill White (2004 - 09). Only Mayor Lee Brown was seriously contested after his first election. Mayor Lanier won his second term with 90.80% and his third term with 82.66%. Mayor White won his second term with 91.03% and his third term with 86.48%.

The race Mayor Parker is really running this fall is to be unopposed by credible opposition for her third and final term in the November 2013 election. Mayor Brown only won his second term with 67.29% against two non-credible candidates, Jack Terrence and Outlaw Josey Wales, IV. Brown was then perceived as vulnerable, and in his final election drew two strong opponents -- Orlando Sanchez and Chris Bell -- and was forced into a runoff squeaking by with 51.67% of the vote.

In my judgment, Mayor Parker needs to break 70% in her reelection on November 8 or the 2013 Mayoral election will immediately begin. Bill King is seriously contemplating a run in 2013, believing that it would be easier to beat Parker one on one than to wait for 2015 and plunge into a crowded field for an open seat. If Parker is perceived as vulnerable (i.e. <70%), that could attract other credible candidates in 2013 in addition to Mr. King.

However, let's assume Mayor Parker is reelected in 2011 and 2013 -- certainly history suggest that is what will happen. Candidates are already being discussed to run in 2015 when Parker is term limited. Names I see and hear today are City Controller Ronald Green; At-Large Council Members Brad Bradford, Steve Costello and Sue Lovell; District Council Members James Rodriguez and Ed Gonzalez; State Representative Carol Alvarado; Sheriff Adrian Garcia; Ben Hall and Bill King.

History again suggests that the business establishment will lead a strong effort to seek to elect the first Hispanic Mayor of Houston in 2015. Houston is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the nation, and its business leadership values and supports diversity. It is simply a question of when, not if, Hispanics take the reins of power in Houston and Texas. Just as Houston business leadership rallied around and supported Mayor Brown to be the first African-American Mayor of Houston, I foresee a similar effort to support and elect the first Hispanic Mayor of Houston.

One name that has not been mentioned so far in the 2015 discussion is former Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. There has been much speculation, including some by this author, regarding what Commissioner Garcia will do next. She will not oppose Sen. Mario Gallegos, who is currently headed for reelection without opposition in the March 2012 Democratic primary. Some have speculated that she should run for Harris County Attorney or Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector next year.

In my judgment, Garcia should consider waiting and begin laying the groundwork to run for Mayor of Houston in 2015. She would have strong support in the Hispanic community, cross over appeal to both white moderates and progressives, and be viewed favorably by the business community. Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Former CM Pam Holm to run for State Rep 136

Pam Holm, who represented District G on the Houston City Council from 2004 through 2009, has decided to run to replace Speaker Beverly Woolley in Texas HD 136.

Ms. Holm was a prolific fundraiser the three successful campaigns she ran for City Council and in her unsuccessful race for City Controller in 2009. She was also a tireless door to door campaigner when first elected in 2003, knocking on 19,000 doors in her winning campaign against 6 male opponents. At campaign forums, she would describe the field as "six guys and a winner." Many of those doors are still in HD 136 because of the strong overlap between District G and HD 136.

Other names discussed as interested in the race are: Mike Schofield, a Senior Advisor in Governor Perry's Budget, Planning and Policy Office, and a long-time Republican activist in Harris County; Former Houston CM Bert Keller, who also previously represented District G; Donna Bahorich, District Director for Sen. Dan Patrick; and Amy Peck, fellow blogger and District Assistant to Sen. Dan Patrick.

It will certainly be a crowded field of credible candidates. Holm, in addition to being first out of the gate, is the initial frontrunner.