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Monday, June 25, 2012

Top of Their Game


I attended a speech last Friday by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) to the Greater Houston Partnership.  Kolkhorst, who chairs the Texas House Committee on Public Health, stood before a room crowded with representatives of Houston’s premier medical institutions and bluntly stated that we must find a way to bend the cost curve in medicine.  “We will have to spend less on health care or it will crowd out education, transportation and other essential government services in our state budget.”  It probably wasn’t a popular message to the audience, but it was an important one.
Elizabeth Brock, Director of State Relations for CenterPoint Energy, had introduced Kolkhorst.  Brock remembered a time when she saw Kolkhorst headed into a contentious negotiation but stopping to put on lipstick.  Kolkhorst looked at Brock and said “I find it easier to say no when I have my lipstick on.”  Kolkhorst intends to have her lipstick on next session.
Friday evening, I attended a fundraiser for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson at the home of Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston).  A Houston super-PAC, Campaign for Primary Accountability, had just spent thousands of dollars attempting to defeat Congresswoman Johnson in the primary.  Johnson received 70% of the vote easily brushing aside the super-PAC and her two challengers.
Ellis said “If a Dallas organization had just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defeat me, I hope that I would not hold it against Dallas next legislative session – but I might.”  He organized the fundraiser to show Houston support for Johnson, who graciously indicated that she was always happy to assist Houston in its legislative efforts.  In fact, she had toured the Johnson Space Center earlier in the day in her capacity as Ranking Member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
The fundraiser was attended by the panoply of Houston business, labor and political leaders, including current and former Members of Congress Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee and Craig Washington.  Johnson reminisced that she, Washington and Congressman Mickey Leland comprised an Austin triumvirate in the 70’s working closely together on social justice issues.  Suddenly, “this bright and energetic young man from Houston [Ellis] began working with us.”
Many rightfully decry the hyper-partisanship that has gridlocked Washington, D.C.  Although clearly approaching the Texas legislature, Texas has so far avoided the worst excesses of partisanship with neither the House nor the Senate organized along partisan lines.
Kolkhorst and Ellis are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, yet each is highly intelligent, energetic, engaging -- and blunt.  As powerful members in Austin, each is also allowed to bring their talents and perspectives to bear on the public policy issues facing our state, regardless of party affiliation.  When the 83rd Texas Legislature convenes in January, Texans need all members to be on top of their game – like Kolkhorst and Ellis. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Analysis of Texas House Runoffs

Last week I researched the 104 Texas House runoffs that occurred between 1992 and 2010 (10 election cycles).  The first place finisher in the initial round won the runoff in 71 out of 104 races or 68%. 

I have always heard the statement that an incumbent in a runoff is in trouble.  I went back and drilled down into these 104 Texas House runoffs to determine which involved incumbents and which were open seats.  There was an incumbent in 19 of the runoffs and no incumbent in 85 of the runoffs.
The incumbent only won 6 of the 19 runoffs or 32%.  Historically, an incumbent in a runoff is in trouble.
Additionally, when you eliminate incumbent runoffs from the sample, the initial round first place finisher won 65 out of 85 runoffs or 76%.  If a candidate finished first on May 29,  the historical odds are that the candidate will go on to win the runoff 3 out of 4 times.

17 Texas House primary races will be decided in the July 31 runoff – 13 Republican and 4 Democratic.  Below is my initial assessment of these races.  The usual caveats apply, including that this is only a snapshot in time and much can and will change between now and July 31.

Office
Incumbent
Candidates
Party
Vote % 5/29
Assessment
HD11
Hopson
Toss up.
Chuck Hopson
R
47.15%
Travis Clardy
R
46.30%






HD12
New seat
Kacal is slight favorite.
Tucker Anderson
R
29.54%
Kyle Kacal
R
23.76%






HD23
Eiland
Faircloth is slight favorite.
Wayne Faircloth
R
38.60%
Bill Wallace
R
31.64%






HD24
Taylor
Bonnen is favorite.
Greg Bonnen
R
45.10%
Ryan Sitton
R
32.66%






HD26
Howard
Miller is favorite.
Rick Miller
R
40.83%
J. Chaumette
R
26.89%






HD40
Pena
Canales is favorite.
Terry Canales
D
30.45%
A. Hernandez
D
26.20%






HD43
Lozano
Toss up.
J. M. Lozano
R
44.19%
Bill Wilson
R
43.76%






HD59
Miller
Miller is slight favorite.
Sid Miller
R
42.48%
J. D. Sheffield
R
41.50%






HD67
Madden
Leach is favorite.
Jon Cole
R
32.30%
Jeff Leach
R
30.20%






HD68
Hardcastle
McKnight is favorite.
Trent McKnight
R
49.03%
Drew Springer
R
34.47%






HD88
Landtroop
Toss up.
Jim Landtroop
R
34.44%
Ken King
R
30.17%






HD91
Hancock
Sapp is slight favorite.
Ken Sapp
R
39.86%
Stephanie Klick
R
31.92%






HD95
Veasey
Collier is favorite.
Nicole Collier
D
48.20%
Jesse Gaines
D
38.42%






HD114
Hartnett
Keffer is favorite.
Bill Keffer
R
47.47%
Jason Villalba
R
41.13%






HD115
Jackson
Nguyen is slight favorite.
Steve Nguyen
R
35.04%
Bennett Ratliff
R
30.05%






HD117
Garza
Toss up.
Philip Cortez
D
35.06%
Tina Torres
D
33.99%






HD137
Hochberg
Wu is favorite.
Gene Wu
D
43.36%
Jamaal Smith
D
23.99%