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Thursday, May 31, 2012

MQS


Michael Quinn Sullivan is trumpeting the fact that three Republican Texas House Committee Chairs were defeated in Tuesday’s primary, and two others are in runoffs.  He states that primary “race after race was a repudiation of Team Straus.”  However, when candidates supported by Sullivan lost, these were “anomalies.”
Sullivan reminds me of Matt Angle of the Lone Star Project.  Both are talented, certainly, but each is extremely biased and often merely masquerades as telling the truth.  Sullivan, on the right, and Angle, on the left, appear to believe that if you say it loudly and often enough, it makes it true.
Both are part of the seamy underbelly of a democracy.  The first amendment entitles them to voice their opinions as mouthpieces for their wealthy backers.  But we should not give them too much credibility.  They are simply hired guns, paid to slash and burn.
Speaker Straus had a decent night Tuesday.  He crushed his TEA party opponent 63% to 37%.  The core of his leadership team including the Appropriations, Calendars, Higher Ed, State Affairs and Administration Chairs were either unopposed or unscathed.  The Speaker probably suffered a net loss of a few supporters Tuesday, and the runoffs will also be a challenging environment.  However, Straus appears to be well-positioned to be reelected to his third term as Speaker in January.
We can each have our own opinions, but we can’t have our own facts.  The facts are that when Straus was elected Speaker in January 2009, there were 76 Republicans in the Texas House.  Today, there are 102, and I expect there to be +/- 94 when the 83rd Legislature convenes in January 2013.  My opinion is that a large majority of them will again vote for Straus as Speaker, regardless of Sullivan’s polemics and vitriol.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Kelly Effect


The Texas Tribune polls on the Railroad Commission races caught my eye this week.  In Place 1, Christi Craddick was leading Warren Chisum 30% to 19%, and in Place 2 Greg Parker was leading Barry Smitherman 33% to 26%.
You could definitely see a preference for good ballot names and particularly female candidates in the polling.  In Place 1, Joe Cotton and Becky Berger were next at 14% and 13%, respectively.  And in Place 2, Elizabeth Murray-Kolb, who has raised a total of $500 for the race, was in third place with 25% of the vote.
In 2008, women represented 53% of the electorate.  Most political analysts give a female candidate a 2% to 3% edge, everything else being equal.  As I analyze the races and make final predictions for Tuesday, I am definitely weighing the female factor.
For example, in HD 137 (Hochberg retiring) where you have four well qualified candidates running, does it give Sarah Winkler, the only female, an inside edge to the runoff?
And then there is Kelly Hancock who is running for SD 9 against Todd Smith.  Internal polls show Hancock with a lead outside the margin of error.  But if the race tightens, Kelly, a male, will still have the advantage of a female name.  It may be the only time in his life he is glad his parents named him Kelly.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Establishment vs. Movement


I have struggled recently with how to label Republican primary candidates in Texas.  In the past, we would categorize them as moderate or conservative.  However, moderate is now a pejorative term in this hyper-polarized political environment, and I am aware of no Texas Republican candidate claiming to be a moderate.  Do you call them conservative and really, really conservative?
I like Dr. Mark Jones’ terminology of establishment conservative and movement conservative.  An establishment conservative is a fiscal conservative, but recognizes that there is an essential role for government in creating a civilization.  An establishment conservative acknowledges that we need an educated workforce, passable roads to drive, and water for daily living, to name just a few.  A movement conservative is generally more focused on shrinking or constraining the growth of government at all costs.  A movement conservative believes that government, by definition, is inherently wasteful and inefficient and that we can continuously cut government spending and still provide necessary services.
Texas has been enormously successful in creating jobs and attracting new residents over the last 10 or 15 years.  I do believe this is in large part due to our favorable business environment of low taxes, reasonable regulation, and a predictable civil justice system.  However, if our success is to continue, we are, at a minimum, going to have to figure out how (1) to educate our kids and make them productive members of a global economy; and (2) to build and rebuild our transportation and water infrastructure.  Let’s be clear:  We will have to spend money if we are to accomplish this. 
In the Republican primary, there are certain Texas House races where establishment conservatives are competing with movement conservatives.  Conventional wisdom holds that low voter turnout will afford movement conservatives an advantage on May 29 and a decided advantage in the runoff on July 31.  It remains to be seen whether this is true across the board.
Although it is a federal race, the marquee race in the establishment versus movement genre is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst versus Ted Cruz.  I believe that it is 50/50 at this point whether Dewhurst can avoid a runoff.  If he is forced into a runoff with Cruz, I believe that it initially starts off as 50/50 as to who will win.  However, Dewhurst will certainly have the resources to win the race. 
Additionally, if Dewhurst is in a runoff, he will bring more establishment voters to the polls and give establishment candidates a fighting chance in their runoffs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Assessment: Houston Area House Races


Dist.
Incumbent
Candidates
Party
COH 4/19/12
Assessment
3
New seat
Bell wins this seat, likely without a runoff.
Bob Bagley
R
n/a
Cecil Bell, Jr.
R
$24,805
Troy Bonin
R
n/a
15
Rob Eissler
Eissler wins.
Rob Eissler
R
$681,290
Steve Toth
R
$14,518
18
John Otto
Otto wins.
John Otto
R
$304,969
Dwayne Stovall
R
$640
23
Craig Eiland
D
Faircloth is the strongest Republican candidate for November.
Rachel Delgado
R
$2,763
Wayne Faircloth
R
$56,258
Bill Wallace
R
$11,495
24
Larry Taylor
Bonnen wins this race; question is whether he can do it without a runoff.
Greg Bonnen
R
$312,560
Ryan Sitton
R
$2,822
Heidi Thiess
R
$1,531
26
Charlie Howard
It will be a runoff.  Rick Miller is making a late push to see if he can squeeze into the runoff, which was likely to be between Bhuchar and Chaumette.
Sonal Bhuchar
R
$44,918
Jacquie Chaumette
R
$84,082
Diana Miller
R
$5,136
Rick Miller
R
$6,444
29
Randy Weber
Thompson wins.
Debra Rosenthal-Ritter
R
$3,495
Ed Thompson
R
$70,361
85
New seat
Duggan wins.
Lee Duggan
R
$53,304
Phil Stephenson
R
$5,553
127
Dan Huberty
Huberty wins.
Dan Huberty
R
$64,692
Bobby Jordan
R
$0
129
John Davis
Davis wins.
John Davis
R
$70,317
Mary Huls
R
$167
131
Alma Allen
This is a real race.  Adams got a good jump out of the gate, but Allen appears to be finishing strong.  Leans Allen.
Alma Allen
D
$60,002
Wanda Adams
D
$24,100
132
Bill Callegari
Callegari wins.
Bill Callegari
R
$258,286
Randy Brown
R
$93
133
Jim Murphy
This is a competitive race.  Witt is lavishly self-financing, and 75% of the district is new to Murphy.  However, it remains Murphy's race to lose.
Jim Murphy
R
$211,004
Ann Witt
R
$34,207
137
Scott Hochberg
This will be a runoff, and Madden, Smith and Wu are competing for the 2 spots.  Winkler has not done anything so far.  Smith can draw upon African-American voters; Madden and Wu have the strongest ground game; and Wu is the best financed.
Joe Madden
D
$13,987
Jamaal Smith
D
$6,255
Sarah Winkler
D
$35,914
Gene Wu
D
$73,468
138
Dwayne Bohac
Bohac wins.
Dwayne Bohac
R
$44,094
Whet Smith
R
$105,504
143
Ana Luna
D
Doesn't matter who wins the Republican primary, because Luna wins this seat in November.
Frank Salazar
R
Doug Weiskopf
R
144
Ken Legler
On the Democratic side it will be a runoff between Perez and Risner.  Pineda is the strongest Republican candidate for November.
Gilbert Pena
R
$0
David Pineda
R
$19,613
Mary Ann Perez
D
$40,729
Kevin Risner
D
$4,156
Ornaldo Ybarra
D
$26
146
Borris Miles
This is a competitive race because it is an old feud, but Miles wins.
Borris Miles
D
$58,573
Al Edwards
D
$764
147
Garnet Coleman
Coleman wins.
Garnet Coleman
D
$84,433
Ray Hill
D
$0
149
Hubert Vo
D
Jack Lee is the strongest Republican candidate for November.
Jack Lee
R
$3,725
Don Mullins
R
$0
Diane Williams
R
$1,405
150
Debbie Riddle
Riddle wins.
Debbie Riddle
R
$92,216
James Wilson
R
$4,272