With primary voting upon us tomorrow, it looks like I’ve run out of campaign to cover. Here then is a quick, scatter-shot batch of snippets on various races:
I haven’t been covering the primary race between incumbent Pete Sessions and Tea Party favorite Katrina Pierson for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not my district. Second, when it comes to incumbent Republicans drifting too far left, Sessions (with an ACU rating of 97%) doesn’t even rank among the top 100. Even though I was on the other side of the battle over defunding ObamaCare. I didn’t regard inter-party tactical disagreement as a reason for excommunication.
However, a lot of news has been popping up on the race:
Will the Arpaio kerfuffle blunt her momentum? Maybe, but Sessions more than 10-1 fundraising advantage will be a much steeper obstacle to overcome against an entrenched incumbent…
Given Senator John Cornyn’s deviations from conservative orthodoxy, many Tea Party supporters were relieved when Rep. Steve Stockman finally stepped up to primary him at the last minute. Stockman was a solid conservative, and people hoped he could at least give Cornyn a run for his money.
That hope proved short-lived.
Stockman has run a very poor campaign. He has missed numerous campaign events. I would say his fundraising has been poor, except the most recent FEC report I have been able to find doesn’t show him having raised any funds at all. (This is not the first time Stockman has had problems with filling out FEC forms.) His missing-in-action campaign is a sharp contrast with Ted Cruz’s smart, disciplined underdog campaign in 2012.
Other revelations about his past haven’t helped either. Records show that Stockman hasn’t voted in a primary in 10 years.
Given the dysfunctional nature of the Stockman campaign, it’s not a surprise that Tea Party supporters have largely given up on him as well.
I thought that Stockman got into the race too late to have real chance to beat Cornyn, but I didn’t expect him to do such a miserable job.
In comparison to the Lt. Governor’s race, the Attorney General’s race is relatively straightforward: There’s a conservative favorite (State Senator Ken Paxton), the well-funded big business republican (State Senator Dan Branch), and a longshot (Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman). A recent poll shows Branch at 42%, Paxton at 38%, and Smitherman a distant third at 20%. But the further down the ballot you get, the less accurate polls tend to be, so take that with a grain of salt.
Ken Paxton is a solid conservative that the majority of movement conservatives in the state have gotten behind (I’d guess that support is running about 85% among state conservatives compared to 15% for Smitherman). He’s also racked up an impressive list of conservative endorsements, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility,
And while Paxton hasn’t been formally endorsed by Ted Cruz, he is getting a lot of mileage out of the Cruz quote that he’s “a tireless conservative warrior.”
By contrast, I haven’t heard a single conservative say they’re supporting state Representative Dan Branch, who is perceived as a RINO in the David Dewhurst mold (without the record of achievement) and an ally of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. The representative of tony Highland Park, “his main support base appears to be establishment Republicans.” He’s a business favorite and has tapped extensive fundraising resources in the Metroplex. His attempt to rebrand himself as a Tea Party conservative is pretty laughable: Says the Houston Chronicle editorial board:
a respected GOP state representative from Dallas whose moderate positions and pragmatic approaches to governance frequently align with those of Speaker Joe Straus. Running for attorney general, Branch is portraying himself as the most conservative candidate in the race (a laughable claim), a raging anti-Obaman, a tea-party firebrand and an anti-abortion crusader. We haven’t seen such an extreme re-branding effort since the late Phyllis Diller’s plastic surgeries.
And that’s from the MSM. Most conservative activists I’ve talked too are considerably less kind…
A Branch ad:
A lot of conservatives supported Barry Smitherman‘s run for Railroad Commissioner, but support for his Attorney General run is pretty thin on the ground (David Bellow and some pro-life endorsements being notable exceptions). Red State’s Erick Erickson goes so far as to call Smitherman “an establishment tool.” I think that rather overstates things, but there’s a lot of sentiment that Smitherman has overstated his resume as a Harris County prosecutor, and has tried to move up the statewide ladder too far, too fast, with too thin a resume.
A Smitherman ad:
Some race tidbits:
So Russia is conducting a piecemeal invasion of Ukraine.
And the American state department’s response?
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 2, 2014
Ah, yes, “working with Russia.” I’m sure that has Putin quaking in his boots. How are we supposed to “work with” them? By helping them carry the loot back to Russia? Can you imagine George H. W. Bush threatening to “work with Iraq on Kuwait” after Saddam invaded?
If Russia invades another country, will we work with them some more?
We're going to continue to engage diplomatically. It's the time for diplomacy. Nobody wants this to spiral in a worse direction.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 2, 2014
I’m sure at this point, Putin must be quaking in his boots in fear at the thought of Kerry deploying more diplomacy to his tanks. Likewise, I’m sure the people of Ukraine are deeply grateful for those C-130s filled to the brim with diplomacy we’re sending…
Given Kerry’s repeated threats of deploying yet more diplomacy to stop Putin, it’s time to break out Iowahawk’s classic Johnny Nuance, the story of a man fighting outlaws in the old west using only diplomacy:
Johnny Nuance! Johnny Nuance!
From the shores of Martha’s Vineyard he rode his horse out West,
With a treaty in his holster and a medal on his chest,
Bringing law and justice to a wild and violent land,
Talking was his creed and sanctions were his brand!
It goes about as well as you would expect…
Friday night, I was finally able to get an interview with Texas Land Commissioner and Lt. Governor candidate Jerry Patterson, which I’d been meaning to do for quite a while. Below is a pretty close transcription of the interview (or as close as I could make it with my 45 words-a-minute fingers).
Lawrence Person: What do you see as current Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s biggest mistakes in office?
Jerry Patterson: His biggest mistake is not a mistake but a shortcoming, that being having no ability to lead and motivate both voters and members of the senate. We all make mistakes, but shortcomings are more serious than mistakes.
Lawrence Person: Likewise, what qualities or policies do you think separate you from Dan Patrick and Todd Staples?
Jerry Patterson: Policy-wise, there’s very little difference. Between me and Dan, my story is not going to change from day to day and venue to venue. I feel no compulsion to tell you what I think you want to hear to like me.
As for Todd, I’m a little more of a risk-taker, I’m bolder, and I’m less consultant-driven.
Lawrence Person: What, if any, procedural changes would you make in running the Texas state senate?
Jerry Patterson: The first thing I’m going to do is roll the tape of the evening Wendy Davis carried out her filibuster, and make sure all the Democrats who helped encourage that riot are not in charge of committees.
I will also make it easier for the Lt. Governor to recommit bills from one committee to another.
Lawrence Person: The Lt. Governor has tremendous influence over the composition of the Legislative Budget Board. What specific background and qualities would you seek in those you would appoint to the board?
Jerry Patterson: They need to be fiscal conservatives, and they need to be resistant to those who blow smoke into places you don’t usually see it, and they need to have those qualities on a consistent basis.
Lawrence Person: How did the Concealed Handgun bill come about, and how hard was getting that passed?
Jerry Patterson: It had been attempted several times before. I sponsored it in 1993, passed it, and Gov. [Ann] Richards vetoed it. But it wasn’t a real CHL bill, it was just a referendum on whether to pass a CHL bill. In 1995, we have a new Governor, George W. Bush, who won in part because he promised to sign a CHL bill if it came to his desk. In 1995, I was sole author of SB 60, the CHL bill. It was a difficult task. We had a lot of Democratic support, and a lot of Republican opposition. It was made more difficult when Selena [the Tejano signer] was shot and killed by a deranged woman in Corpus Christi. But I told wavering legislators I would campaign against them if they did not live up to their commitment. Then I had to deal with hostile points-of-order to kill the bill. I was the chair of the conference committee, and I hired parliamentarians with a meticulous knowledge of the rules to make sure I didn’t make any mistake that would allow opponents to overturn the bill with a point-of-order. I think the final vote in the senate was about 22-8. And that included five yeas who wanted to vote no, but knew their district wouldn’t be happy.
Lawrence Person: What do you think are the most essential actions Texas needs to take to secure the border?
Jerry Patterson: There are several. We have to first realize that this is a three-legged stool: border security, assimilation, and immigration reform. You cannot have border security without immigration reform, and you cannot have immigration reform without border security. We have to stop birthright citizenship, we have to stop this bilingual ballot nonsense. You know what my name is on the Spanish-language ballot?
Lawrence Person: No, what?
Jerry Patterson: It’s Jerry Patterson. We need to do what the GOP platform calls for: biometric ID card for non-residents, no amnesty, a guest worker program with no path to citizenship. We need to focus on coyotes, narcotraffickers, terrorists, felons. That’s where our resources should be used, not chasing kitchen help.
Lawrence Person: Any final thought or message for BattleSwarm Blog readers?
Jerry Patterson: I’ll always be honest with you, and I won’t change what I say to get your vote.
Thanks to Jerry Patterson and his staff for taking the time to do the interview.
I have another interview with Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick which, do to technical difficulties on my part, I’m still trying to complete. Once that’s done I’ll put that up as well.
The Lt. Governor’s race presents plenty of irony, namely in that it features incumbent Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, whose lost the 2012 Senate race to Ted Cruz, and three statewide office holders, all running as staunch conservatives, who endorsed Dewhurst over Cruz in that race.
Dewhurst’s strengths and weaknesses are the same he displayed in that race. On the plus side, he’s run and won high-profile statewide races, he’s Independently wealthy and thus can self-fund to an extent others can’t, and he helped govern Texas during a time our prosperity, job creation and fiscal discipline have been the envy of most states. On the negative side, conservatives have long had numerous gripes about Dewhurst, complaining that he gives too much senate power to minority Democrats and gives them too many committee chairs, and that he thwarts conservatives in many ways great and small. As I wrote at the time, “Dewhurst occupies that vast gray area between a RINO (think Arlen Specter before he went The Full Benedict) and a real movement conservative.” The 2012 Senate race also showed that Dewhurst is a remarkably poor debater and off-the-cuff speaker who does not seem to think well on his feet, and losing to Cruz damaged his political reputation. His social media outreach was poor during the Senate run, but seems to have improved for this race. As in the Senate race, Dewhurst has garnered the lion’s share of business group endorsements (with Staples second), and the clear majority of newspaper endorsements (hardly a plus for most conservatives).
State Senator Dan Patrick has a solid conservative record, but also a bit of a reputation as both a hothead and (as a former sportscaster) a something of an intellectual lightweight who has been dinged by some for poor debate performances. (I did a phone interview with Patrick that may or may not see the light of day due to a technical malfunction; in my brief interview he seemed bright, articulate, and knowledgeable about the Lt. Governor’s role in managing the senate and staffing the Legislative Budget Board.) Patrick was widely seen as a foe of Dewhurst during the 2012 Senate race, but ended up endorsing him at the last minute. Patrick is widely perceived as the primary choice of many social conservatives, and was prominent in the fight for the anti-TSA groping bill (which he sponsored) and the anti-sanctuary cities bill. The fact that both Jerry Patterson and Todd Staples have been attacking him in ads suggests he is indeed in second place behind Dewhurst. He has has been endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Young Conservatives of Texas, several evangelical ministers, and the late Bum Philips (Patrick was a sportscaster during the Luv Ya Blue heyday of the Houston Oilers in the late 1970s and early 1980s).
Jerry Patterson, the incumbent Land Commissioner, came into the race with the most buzz among and support among Texas conservative insiders, but that doesn’t seem to have translated into sufficient polling popularity with voters, with Patterson sitting in fourth place in the latest poll. Patterson gets a lot of credit for having written the bill that became the Concealed Handgun License law, and received an A+ rating from the NRA (Dewhurst, Patrick and Staples all received As). Several Texas conservatives I respect are firmly in the Patterson camp. Patterson has been endorsed by Dick Armey and Ron Paul.
Todd Staples, the incumbent Agricultural Commissioner, comes in at third place in the most recent poll, well behind Dewhurst and Patrick, despite having raised the second most money in the race behind Dewhurst. Staples also has a reputation as a solid conservative, and as a state senator penned the state defense of marriage clause. At 50 he’s the youngest of the four candidates by a decade. He’s been stressing border security, on which he did some work from the Agriculture Department. Staples has been endorsed by Nolan Ryan. and some property rights groups.
Are the polls accurate? Hard to say. At this point in the 2012 Senate race, people were predicting a runoff between Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard on the Democratic side, and Hubbard ended up coming in fourth behind Addie Allen and the Grady Yarbrough juggernaut.
Whoever wins the Republican runoff (which looks very likely at this point) will face Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte in the general.
Here is a debate between all four candidates:
Now some video ads from all four candidates. Dewhurst:
Now some race tidbits:
It’s a mere six days before the March 4 primary, and I haven’t covered the various statewide races nearly as well as I would have liked. (Maybe Ukraine will refrain from blowing up this week.) So I’ll try to catch up with some statewide race update, including a summary of the current state of play for those just tuning in, as well as some race tidbits (some of which are, alas, fairly musty). First up: The Governor’s Race.
Gregg Abbott is a better, more focused candidate with a better organization in a deep red state. Abbott has both experience running successful, high-profile statewide races, has a solid record of achievement as Attorney General, and unquestioned conservative credentials. I’ve seen Abbott work a room in person, and he’s very good at it. He has all Rick Perry’s strengths and none of his weaknesses. He came into the campaign with a hfty warchest and continues to raise money at a record pace.
Wendy Davis, by contrast, is a photogenic white woman whose main claim to fame is her filibuster in support of unlimited late-term abortions. Davis had a fairly indifferent record as a State Senator, and called herself a Republican back in the 1990s. She has been fundraising at a more-than-respectable clip, and pulling in impressive amounts of out-of-state liberal special interest money. She probably has more enthusiasm at the liberal grassroots level than any statewide top-of-the-ticket candidate since Ann Richards. Her campaign has frequently seemed very poorly organized, and indifferent or hostile to potentially friendly reporters. Her fibs about her life story and unconvincing flip-flops on guns and late-term abortions may have hurt here with swing voters, but don’t appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of her liberal base. She’s aided in her campaign by Battleground Texas, a well-funded attempt to “turn Texas blue” by registering more Democrats.
Obviously, Abbott is going to win the Republican nomination, and, despite her many stumbles, Davis is going to win the Democratic nomination. Abbott is going to cream her in November.
Now some race tidbits:
Yesterday I received a copy of The Link Letter in the mail, touting certain Republican Primary candidates and carrying ads for them. You should take these “endorsements” with several grains of salt, since they are strictly pay for play; candidates pay for ads and get endorsed. Houston has had these paid “list” newsletter endorsements for a while, but this is the first time I’ve seen them in Williamson.
The Link Letter is an advertising flyer, nothing more. Its endorsements should not sway you any more than any other advertisement might (which is to say, little to none).