Posts Tagged ‘Tom Leppert’

Roundup and Video of Last Night’s Cruz—Dewhurst Debate

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

If you didn’t watch last night’s Belo debate between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst, the executive summary is: Cruz won decisively. And despite Dewhurst’s agreement to participate in five runoff debates with Cruz, this debate was the last of two.

Here’s video of it from WFAA so you can judge for yourself:

Both candidates have improved their debating skills as the campaign has gone on: Cruz has gone from being exceptionally good to great, while Dewhurst has improved from dismal to merely poor. Dewhurst just does not know how to make clear, concise points during a debate. Time and time again, he started an answer, and then a second answer, and then a third, without finishing the first. Save Elizabeth Ames Jones, who has an actual speech impediment, Dewhurst may be the worst speaker in the Texas Senate race this cycle, major or minor, on either side. With all the money he’s spending on this race, and his obvious weakness, you’d think Dewhurst would hire someone just for debate prep.

By contrast, Cruz’s decision to attend essentially every candidate forum and debate over the last 18 months has served him very well, not only from generating grassroots enthusiasm for his campaign, but also how direct and concise his answers have become from months of honing them. I had some criticisms early in the campaign about Cruz sometimes reaching for his stock answers too transparently. But now Cruz seems to have a clear, concise answer for every question put to him, and has achieved such fluidity with them that they never seem canned or forced. None of the questions in last nights debate gave Cruz opportunity to use his father’s life story (compelling though it is), so he didn’t trot it out, which was the right decision.

By contrast, it was Dewhurst’s constant refrain of “I’m a jobs creator” that seemed forced and transparent. Even worse was his answer to the wage tax question, insisting he was against it, but never addressing all the contemporaneous media reports he was in favor of it. He also backtracked, saying the wage tax didn’t go anywhere, Cruz pointing out that it passed the senate, and Dewhurst admitting that yes, it did pass the senate (you know, the legislative chamber Dewhurst runs).

Of the seven or eight topics covered, Cruz dominated all but one. (On a question of cutting spending or buying the Texas-built F-35, both Cruz and Dewhurst said they would listen to the military experts, and for once Dewhurst’s answer was free of backtracking and stumbles.) On the few policy questions where the candidates differed, Cruz had demonstrably more conservative positions. (“I disagree with the premise of your question. I don’t think it’s government’s job to provide health care.”)

This was also far and away the best moderated of the Texas debates, nearly free of liberal policy assumptions, and moderator Brad Watson was extremely good at getting candidates to focus on the actual question. He also got in an introductory dig, noting that there was a runoff because Dewhurst couldn’t “seal the deal.” (Burn!)

After the debate, Tom Leppert endorsed Dewhurst, which I don’t see moving the needle much in either direction. It was a good (if transparent) move by Team Dewhurst to blunt any possible Cruz momentum from the debate, which suggests that going in that they were pretty sure Dewhurst would lose.

Texas Senate Race Update for July 6, 2012

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Been a busy week blowing things up and reading stories for an upcoming science fiction workshop, so here’s a quick senate race update:

  • Ted Cruz picks up the endorsement of Dallas-area U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess. Burgess had previously endorsed Tom Leppert.
  • The Cruz campaign released an internal poll showing Cruz leading Dewhurst 49%-40%. All the usual internal poll caveats apply.
  • More on the poll’s methodology. If memory serves, they never released any methodology on those Michael Baselice internal polls the Dewhurst team kept leaking to favored journalists…
  • And still more on the methodology.
  • Ted Cruz on Glenn Beck.
  • Past and current presidents of Texa Eagle Forum Split endorsements between Dewhurst and Cruz.
  • Cruz: Let’s have five debates. Dewhurst: OK. Cruz: OJ, let’s debate. Dewhurst Sorry, too busy simonizing my cat.
  • Cruz to Dewhurst surrogate Mike Richards: Thanks for coming out. Richards to Cruz: Die in a fire. I may be paraphrasing a little…
  • Kate Alexander offers up the current state of play.
  • Dewhurst sets up an Astroturf twitter feed: @TxSenFactCheck.
  • Dewhurst is willing to campaign after the election. Insert your own joke here.
  • Just How Far Does The John Wiley Price Corruption Story Reach?

    Monday, June 4th, 2012

    Sometimes you know there’s a big, juicy story swimming just under the threshold of public consciousness, but don’t have the tools, sources or knowledge to bring it to the surface. Such is the case with the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, a powerful, long-serving fixture in the Dallas black political power structure. Right now the story involves current Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and money that may have improperly made it’s way from Rawlings’ campaign chest to Price’s pocket via political consultant Kathy Nealy. The FBI raided Price’s office last year.

    The lefty Dallas Observer is more blunt in what the FBI is alleging: “The affidavit claims a pay-for-play scheme existed in which businesses would pay handsome consulting fees to Nealy’s company at about the time they were seeking to win a contract with Dallas County. A portion of that money would be funneled to Price, who would steer the favored contractor through the Commissioner’s Court.”

    Not living in Dallas, the first time I ran across John Wiley Price’s name was in connection to the previous mayor of Dallas, then-aspiring Senate candidate Tom Leppert. Leppert and Price seem to have cooperated in killing Richard Allen’s Inland Port project, Leppert allegedly because it competed with a similar project by backer Ross Perot, Price allegedly because Allen wouldn’t pay Price and his cronies $1 million in shakedown money. I should hasten to add that Price, who has been a fixture on the Dallas political scene long before Leppert even moved there, is to the best of my knowledge not one of Leppert’s cronies, or even particularly close to him. However, Willis Johnson, who was allegedly part of the shakedown effort, is one of Leppert’s cronies, and was (along with the late Lynn Flint Shaw) one of Leppert’s conduits into the Dallas black community.

    Price has an, ahem, interesting history. He was arrested for felony assault charges, of which he was acquitted just after the Rodney King riots. And his protege Aaron McCarthy is a member of the New Black Panther Party.

    But if Price committed the crimes alleged in the FBI affidavit, the question is: How deep does the corruption go? How many other Dallas political players were paying off Price, and in exchange for what? Price has been in office a long, long time. It’s quite possible he has enough skeletons in his closet to make it an ossuary.

    I don’t have the answers, and I don’t even have the knowledge or connections to properly dig for those answers. But I suspect we’re going to find out in the near future anyway…

    Texas Senate Race Update for May 28, 2012

    Monday, May 28th, 2012

    Since tomorrow is election day, here’s a final Senate race roundup. You might want to take time today to find your voter registration card, locate your polling place, and figure out who you want to vote for.

    Since it’s possible people who haven’t been following the race until now are tuning into this blog, you might want to take a look at:

  • My endorsement of Ted Cruz.
  • Previous senate race posts.
  • Websites of the 2012 Texas Senate Candidates, which is a pretty comprehensive list.
  • Now today’s update:

  • Ted Cruz gets some love over at Big Government.
  • Cruz says he’ll beat David Dewhurst decisively in a runoff.
  • Cruz on Memorial Day.
  • Dewhurst on his father and Memorial Day.
  • Ramparts 360 calls the amnesty smear Dewhurst’s Lowest Attack.
  • More on the Amnesty charge.
  • Peggy Fikac’s roundup of the race. Including this: “Retired teacher Addie Ratliff tossed a verbal grenade at Dewhurst. ‘He’s trash,’ said Ratliff, 74. ‘I just don’t like him. I think he’s a RINO,’ a Republican-in-name-only.”
  • Cruz has picked up six times as much money in donations from Midland as Dewhurst has.
  • Somehow I missed the fact that Dewhurst picked up the endorsement of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma back on May 18. I think they would have trumpeted that more, since it brings the total of sitting Senators who have endorsed Dewhurst to [long pause while Your Humble Narrator counts on his fingers for dramatic effect] one.
  • Dewhurst squeezing potential donors?

    One source familiar with Texas politics who supports Cruz says that he knows “a number of significant donors” who also have business interests in the state and have been “told by their lobbyists in Austin, ‘Don’t dare give money to Ted, don’t endorse Ted . . . because if you do you’ll never get anything else through in Austin.’”

  • Rick Perry’s endorsement of David Dewhurst is all about Rick Perry.
  • Dewhurst says Cruz hasn’t met a fighter like him before. Maybe, but when was the last truly competitive race Dewhurst ran? 2002? And his last contested Republican primary fight was against Jerry Patterson for Land Commissioner in 1998.
  • Speaking of candidates with one notable sitting congressman supporting them, here’s Rep. Michael Burgess on Tom Leppert:

  • The Tea Party is anti-Big Government, not anti-incumbent.
  • A hand-wringer piece about all the uncertainty redistricting has wrought in Texas selections, focusing on Sylvia Romo vs. Lloyd Doggett in CD35, as well as the Senate race.
  • National Journal offers up the obligatory what to look for on election night piece.
  • Craig James predicts that he’ll be in the runoff. Also predicts that Rob Schneider will take home next year’s Oscar for Best Actor.
  • Paul Sadler cements his standing as the MSM anointed Democratic candidate, snagging the endorsements of The Austin American Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, The Austin Chronicle, and The San Antonio Express-News.
  • The Democratic Senate race is a much more low-key affair. “Sadler has raised less than $80,000, Hubbard less than half that with $30,000.” Also this: “‘I’ve talked to people who have said, “Get through the primary and we’ll make sure you have money to work with,”‘ Hubbard said.” Psst, Sean, hate to tell you, but those people are lying to you. Chances are good they said the same thing to Ricardo Sanchez, and look where it got him…
  • Sadler and Hubbard also appeared on WFAA:

  • Texas Senate Race Update for May 25, 2012

    Friday, May 25th, 2012

    Last day of early voting before a long weekend, and only four days till the primary, so here’s another batch of Texas Senate race news:

  • Good profile of Ted Cruz by Robert T. Garrett of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Garrett also interviews Rice professor Mark Jones about David Dewhurst’s amnesty slime of Cruz, who calls it “a desperation ploy.”
  • George P. Bush also slams the Dewhurst amnesty slime. Enough to bring Grandpa41 and Uncle43 into the Cruz camp? Probably not, but you never know.
  • Man, the Houston Chronicle editorial board must really hate David Dewhurst: he skipped their meeting, but they went ahead and endorsed him anyway. Ouch!
  • The left-leaning PPP poll has Dewhurst at 46% and Cruz at 29%. Don’t see any reason to trust this more than the UT/TT poll, though both show Dewhurst shy of 50%.
  • Charting the polls in the race. But wait, didn’t they lop three points off Cruz’s total compared to the most recent UT/TT poll? At least they left out those fake Dewhurst leaked polls…
  • Ross Ramsey looks at what happens if Dewhurst doesn’t win. Also, what’s the deal with liberals like Ramsey and Paul Burka prattling on about how Texas is some sort of uninhabited wasteland during the summers? Yeah, it’s hot. Those of us who were born here just deal with it. I believe we might even be able to make it to our local polling stations for a runoff without melting.
  • Rick Perry vs. The World is not impressed with Tom Leppert’s empty suits ad.
  • AP piece on the state of the race.
  • Democrat Sean Hubbard gets some love from the Houston Chronicle. But it’s ruthlessly realistic love: “Hubbard’s chance of taking the oath of office in Washington next January is even less likely than the Astros sweeping this fall’s World Series.”
  • Since it’s possible people who haven’t been following the race until now are tuning into this blog, you might want to take a look at:

  • My endorsement of Ted Cruz.
  • Previous senate race posts.
  • Websites of the 2012 Texas Senate Candidates, which is a pretty comprehensive list.
  • Texas Senate Race Update for May 22, 2012

    Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

    With just a week to go in probably the longest Senate race Texas has ever seen, expect a lot of election news between now and May 29:

  • Ted Cruz endorsed by Sean Hannity:

    I am given to understand that this Hannity fellow is kind of a big deal.

  • Here’s the automated call Sara Palin is doing for Cruz:

  • Cruz’s pre-primary FEC report. He actually raised more money from donors than Dewhurst did.
  • Here’s Dewhurst’s FEC report.
  • Ted Cruz appears on Coffee and Markets.
  • Club for Growth ads are hurting David Dewhurst. Here’s the ad:

  • Club for Growth has also put up another anti-Dewhurst site: Catchy name, but not seeing anything new there.
  • National Review calls the latest Dewhurst attacks on Cruz “laughable.”
  • The Real Ted Cruz.
  • Blogger Whitney Neal on why she supports Cruz.
  • A more complete breakdown of that UT/Texas Tribune poll. Looks like the Democrats are headed to a Senate runoff as well.
  • Team Dewhurst puts up an endorsement by Rick Perry:

    It’s probably a more effective ad than all of Dewhurst’s previous ads put together.

  • KYFO put a poll up asking which Senate candidate people support.
  • Interesting breakdown of candidate spending per city.
  • The Statesman looks at Tom Leppert. Which is more than Texas voters have done.
  • Leppert also gets the nod from The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram editorial board.
  • Speaking of Leppert, a true story: At a party this past weekend, a friend (who is not the political junkie I am) asked “Who’s that creepy old guy with the suits?”
  • Craig James picks up two San Antonio endorsements. Just because I haven’t heard of these people doesn’t necessarily mean no one else has…
  • Texas Senate Race Update for May 11, 2012

    Friday, May 11th, 2012

    Certainly Sarah Palin endorsing Ted Cruz was the big senate race news of the week (compared to the tiny news of my own endorsement of Cruz), but there’s still a bunch of other Senate race tidbits:

  • Both Ron Paul and Rand Paul have endorsed Ted Cruz. Rand Paul, of course, has been in Cruz’s corner a while. Not as big as the Sarah Palin endorsement, but not chopped liver either.
  • In the wake of Richard Mourdock’s defeat of Dick Luger, The Weekly Standard wonders if Ted Cruz is next.
  • A look at The Club for Growth’s record of backing winners, and how they’re backing Ted Cruz.
  • Dewhurst skips another debate.
  • Dewhurst puts out a new ad featuring Mike Huckabee:

    TV Ad: Values from David Dewhurst on Vimeo.

  • Pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC put up another attack ad against Cruz:

  • Dewhurst announces the endorsement of Texas RNC member Bill Crocker. Might help a bit more than John Gordon.
  • I still don’t see how highlighting his father’s World War II service is supposed to convince me to vote for Dewhurst. (Cruz’s story of his father (who was at Sunday’s rally) at least dovetails nicely with his campaign themes.)
  • Actual headline from Tom Leppert’s website “Dykes Urges Support For Leppert For Senate”. Were they actually trying for a Fark link? (That’s Pastor David Dykes, by the way.)
  • Leppert’s pastor also goes to bat for him:

  • A look at last Friday’s Senate candidate forum. I didn’t liveblog it, but i did put up some random tweets.
  • Kate Alexander on the state of play in the race.
  • Any new information in the Texas Tribune round-up of the race? (scans it) Nope.
  • Even by the previous lame standards of Team Dewhurst leaks, this “internal poll leak” that shows Leppert about to overtake Cruz is lame.
  • Heh. Team Dewhurst has that “Ted Cruz on Chinese currency ad” appearing on the sidebar of National Review Online. You know, the magazine that just endorsed Cruz. I don’t think that ad will be winning Dewhurst any new supporters…
  • Big Jolly endorses Dewhurst. This is hardly a shock.
  • Glenn Addison endorses Ron Paul. As you can see further up this blog post, you can’t switch the subject and predicate in the preceding sentence…
  • Craig James gets profile in the Dallas Morning News. It’s a nice profile.
  • DMN talks about their Republican endorsement interviews. For the dozen or so conservatives their endorsement might actually sway.
  • James also put up an anti-Cruz radio spot:

  • Naturally, Democrats Sean Hubbard and Paul Sadler both back gay marriage.
  • As the anointed Democratic establishment candidate, it’s no surprise that Sadler picked up the endorsements of both The Dallas Morning News and The San Antonio Express News.
  • Addie D. Allen finally turned in a campaign finance report (some 15 days after deadline), and raised $9,889, of which $5,000 is a loan to herself.
  • Texas Senate Candidate Forum Tonight at 7 PM

    Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

    You can watch it here, or live on-air at various PBS stations around the state. From the poll found here, I’m assuming the candidates will be Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Tom Leppert, Craig James, Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard.

    I might watch if I get some other stuff done, but I won’t be liveblogging it.

    BattleSwarm Blog Endorses Ted Cruz for United States Senator

    Monday, April 30th, 2012

    Lawrence Person’s BattleSwarm Blog endorses Ted Cruz for United States Senator. I believe that Cruz is the best candidate, that he has the longest, strongest, and deepest commitment to conservative principles among all the candidates running, and that he will make the best United States Senator for Texas.

    Because I strive to be both fair and clear, I want to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of all the other Republican candidates in the race, and why I believe Ted Cruz is the superior choice for Senator.

    Let’s dispense with the candidates that didn’t run serious campaigns: Dr. Joe Agris never bothered to even put up a website and never campaigned beyond an event appearance or two; I can only assume his run is a way to advertise his medical practice. Ben Gambini did little better, only managing a Facebook page and a few events. Curt Cleaver at least made some effort, but not enough to make an impression,

    Lela Pittenger ran a semi-serious campaign, raising some money and appearing at numerous events, but I always got the impression that she was running more for ego than to take principled positions at odds with the more prominent candidates. Plus I never got the impression she put in the sustained effort into the nitty gritty, unglamorous work that a real longshot candidate has to in order to have any chance of succeeding.

    With all but one of the longshots dispensed with (we’ll get to him further down), let’s turn to the major candidates.

    Given how heavily favored he was coming into this race, it’s shocking how poor a job Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has done campaigning.

    To be sure, Dewhurst has many strengths, but two of his strongest (name recognition and personal wealth) play no role in my deciding who to endorse. And while I’m impressed with his U.S. Air Force service and his business acumen in amassing a $200+ million fortune, both of those attributes must take a very distant backseat to his decade-long record as Lt. Governor.

    Some of Dewhurst’s record is worthy of praise. While other state governments have spent money like drunken sailors in a Thai whorehouse using George Soros’ stolen credit card, Texas, under Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Governor Dewhurst, has generally controlled spending, has balanced the budget without raising taxes (though some of that has been accomplished through gimmicks), and actually reduced the state budget for the 2012-2013 biennium compared to the 2010-2011 budget. What share of credit does Lt. Governor Dewhurst take for this achievement? A fair amount. While constrained both by the overall direction of the Governor’s Office of Budget, Planning, and Policy, and by the Comptroller’s revenue estimates, the Lt. Governor has considerable control over the process by virtue not only of his oversight of the day-to-day affairs of the state senate, but also his ability to essentially pick half the seats on the Legislative Budget Board, which has a large hand in establishing and managing budget priorities.

    This, and his efforts at shepherding through the (constitutionally required) 2003 redistricting are among the primary reasons Dewhurst has been considered a conservative. And I have defended Dewhurst from charges he was a RINO in the past. Dewhurst occupies that vast gray area between real RINOs such as Arlen Specter and Charlies Crist and true movement conservatives; call him a “big business Republican,” the sort of guy who will defend the free market 90% of the time, but won’t let anything like principles stand in the way of doing favors for well connected friends. (That would also explain why, though he has mostly contributed to Republican candidates, he did make two donations to Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen.) I fear that Dewhurst is probably the most amenable of all the candidates of signing on with the sort of “grand compromise” that gets praised by the press for selling out conservatives rather than fighting to shrink the size and scope of the federal government.

    There’s been real dissatisfaction with Dewhurst among movement conservatives for years. Despite having controlling majorities in both House and Senate, conservative Republicans found their agenda being thwarted in many ways great and small by Dewhurst in the Senate and Speaker Joe Straus in the House:

  • Dewhurst, much more than Perry, has been willing to compromise on higher spending levels.
  • Dewhurst floated the idea of a “Payroll Tax” that Cruz has characterized (I think correctly) as a stealth income tax.
  • Last year Dewhurst floated the idea of raiding the Rainy Day Fund until Perry put his foot down and ruled it out.
  • Dewhurst has frequently chosen Democrats and moderate Republicans as committee chairmen.
  • Dewhurst has frequently compromised on conservative legislative priorities even when he didn’t have to. To be sure, part of his job description is hammering out compromises, but he has frequently seemed to seek out such compromises as a first resort, rather than the last.
  • Numerous insider accounts attest that Dewhurst personally killed Dan Patrick’s anti-TSA groping bill, choosing to knuckle under to the Obama Administration’s empty threats of stopping all air traffic to Texas rather than making liberals defend idiotic practices that are deeply unpopular with the public at large.
  • All this was bad enough, but his lackluster campaign and poor public speaking skills have given even more reasons for voters to look elsewhere. The Cruz campaign was right to ding Dewhurst for his repeated failures to show up at numerous candidate debates and forums across the country, but the Belo debate went a long way toward showing why exactly why Dewhurst has been avoiding such events: He’s not a good debater, he doesn’t seem to think quickly on his feet, and he seemed to grow worse and more confused as the night went on. Frankly, he didn’t seem up to the job.

    Then there’s the issue of his indifference or even hostility to both new media and grassroots conservative activism. The fact that Dewhurst was the only major Republican senate candidate not only unable to find time to sit down for an interview for this blog, but whose campaign even failed to even respond to repeated requests, is only a minor concern (after all, people are busy). But it’s emblematic of the larger issue of Dewhurst’s indifference to new media, the Tea Party, and voters. You can bash Obama failures all day, but that won’t make you stand out from any other Republican candidate in the entire country. Dewhurst is an insider, establishment Republican who seems to have made zero effort to reach out to Tea Party voters.

    This quote from Tea Party 911 blogger Barry Schlech neatly encapsulates what many Texas conservatives think about Dewhurst:

    There is not a lot of tea party support for Mr. Dewhurst because of his more liberal Republican views. He has probably sensed this animosity since he has been unavailable for or a “no-show” at many of the tea party events to which he was invited. He is seen, by many, to represent the “good ol’ boy moderate to liberal Republican establishment that is well entrenched in Austin. He is seen as a close ally to House Speaker Joe Straus whom the tea party does not respect. Many tea partiers are not happy with this liberal Republican clique in Austin and want to change to a more representative and more conservative legislature.

    All that said, David Dewhurst has some real strengths. He’s good at making and cultivating business and cultural connections, good at managing the intricacies of the legislative agenda, good at finding compromises and building consensus, and good at the backslapping minutia of legislative interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately, those are precisely the qualities I’m not looking for in my Senator. I don’t want a negotiator, I want a conservative fighter. I want someone to fight for shrinking the size and scope of the federal government and reign in insanely bloated federal spending, not manage it better. There are quite enough get-along-to-go-along compromisers in the senate already; we don’t need another one.

    There are no areas in which I think David Dewhurst would do a better job than Ted Cruz in the Senate, but many in which I think he would perform markedly worse.

    Speaking of people who I just don’t think are up to job, let’s talk about Craig James. James has a lot of strengths: he’s handsome, charismatic, personable, and has done very well for himself in his post-NFL business career. Politically James’ heart seems to be in the right place, he seems considerably more authentic and less calculated than Dewhurst, and his decision to release several years of his own tax returns was a savvy move for increased transparency the other candidates were forced to emulate. James seems to have awakened politically to the numerous problems facing the nation and how far we’ve drifted from a constitutional republic of enumerated powers. That’s a great first step on your political journey.

    Unfortunately, the next step in that journey is not “Run for the United States Senate.” The second step is to read widely, broadly and deeply of both classic and modern political thought. The Constitution and The Bible are great first steps, but you should also read The Federalist Papers and Democracy in America and The Wealth of Nations and The Road to Serfdom and Economics in One Lesson and The Gulag Archipelago and The Black Book of Communism and Darkness at Noon and Up From Liberalism and Conscience of a Conservative and Losing Ground and Liberal Fascism and, yes, Atlas Shrugged, even if you object to Ayn Rand’s anti-religious bias. Start there, keep reading, and soon you’ll have the intellectual underpinnings to deepen and articulate your views. (It would also help you get beyond the irritatingly vague and platitudinous nature of your answers on any issues that go beyond your standard talking points.)

    James doesn’t have that intellectual depth yet, and the fact that he hadn’t even heard of the Posse Comitatus Act is emblematic of his inexperience. His problems are compounded by his late start and his background. If you start out as a professional football player and then move into sports broadcasting, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to convince people that you have the intellectual acumen to run for public office. (Jack Kemp worked very hard at establishing his policy credentials.) James’ problem is compounded by his unwise decision to declare he was living on “Real Street” as his campaign’s central rhetorical motif. Craig, you were a professional football player and broadcaster. It doesn’t matter how many mayonnaise sandwiches you ate in your hardscrabble youth, the voting public at large is never going to believe an ex-NFL player/broadcaster is living on “real street,” no matter how hard you try or how many jobs you create as a businessman. Give it up.

    Craig James isn’t ready to be Senator. Could he “skill up” to be electable a few years down the road, once the Texas Tech controversy has faded? Very possibly, though more likely at the congressional than senatorial level. (Let’s face it, when the bar starts at Sheila Jackson Lee, there are few non-incarcerated Republicans that aren’t up to the task.)

    I’ll give this to Tom Leppert: When this campaign started, I really didn’t see myself ranking him higher than just about any of the declared candidates (which at the time included Roger Williams, Michael Williams, and Elizabeth Ames Jones) or Dewhurst. Leppert is intelligent, he’s dogged, he’s a very good one-on-one retail politician, he doesn’t make many mistakes, he’s assembled a campaign team second only to Cruz’s in their competence and grasp of new media, and he has much better stage presence than Dewhurst.

    So given all that, and Leppert’s solid conservative policy positions on a wide range of issues, why doesn’t he rank higher? Mainly because until October 13, 2010, when Leppert endorsed Rick Perry in the gubernatorial race, Leppert gave absolutely no public sign that he was even a Republican, much less a conservative Republican. Before he started running for mayor, Leppert was just another rich guy whose campaign contributions went to people on both sides of the aisle, including contributions to Democrats like Texas Senate candidate Ron Kirk in 2002, Hawaii’s incumbent Senator Daniel K. Inouye in 1992 and again in 1998, and congressional contender (and later Honolulu mayor and member of Bloomberg’s gun-grabbing Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition) Muliufi Francis Hannemannin in 1990.

    While running for mayor of Dallas in 2007, Leppert:

  • Sought the endorsement of the left-wing SEIU public employees union:

    When he first ran for Mayor, as a moderate and a supporter of working men and women, he was pro-SEIU, pro-public employees organizing, pro-collective bargaining.

    So committed to these ideals was Tom, that he vigorously pursued SEIU’s endorsement.

    So committed to these ideals was Tom, that he came to our union organizing launch in the Water Department — encouraging folks to join SEIU.

    So committed to these ideals was Tom, he frequently threw on an SEIU T-shirt and came to our union hall.

    So committed to these ideals was Tom, that he wrote a letter of support to Senator West and testified in favor of SEIU members getting a form of collective bargaining.

    Tom even signed an SEIU membership card!

    Now, that Tom wants to compete in a Republican primary, he has renounced his support of unions and even has the gall to declare he “has expanded the Right to Work.”

  • Sought the endorsement of far left pressure group ACORN, who have been quite busy committing voter fraud in Texas and elsewhere.
  • Did the same thing with the Dallas gay community, marching in their parades while running for mayor of Dallas, only to reverse course when he decided to run for the senate. “After being in office and reaching out to the gay community, he then basically turned his back and slapped us in the face because it was politically expedient to do so.”
  • And that’s just while running for mayor. His record as Mayor of Dallas has just as many question marks on both conservative and good governance grounds:

  • Why did he push so hard for the Trinity Toll Road to be situated inside a flood plain rather than outside it, against the wishes of the Army Corps of Engineers, driving up costs in the process? (The initial cost was estimated at $400 million; it’s now projected at $2 billion, and the construction still hasn’t started.)
  • Why did he push so hard for the city to spend $550 million for a city-owned hotel?
  • What role did the now-dead Lynn Flint Shaw (Leppert’s treasurer during his mayoral campaign) and Willis Johnson play in steering minority contracts under the Leppert Administration?
  • And there are at least two or three other big question marks about Leppert’s term as mayor. Indeed, one sign of how controversial that term was is how rarely he talks about it on the campaign trail, where he puts his business background first and foremost, as though his four years as mayor of Texas’ third largest city never happened.

    The least charitable explanation for Tom Leppert’s behavior is that he’s a pure political animal with no core ideological beliefs other than being elected. The most charitable explanation is that he’s been a “secret conservative” all along, and was just waiting for the opportunity to proclaim to the world what he actually believes. My own suspicion is that he, like Dewhurst, fits neatly into the “get along to go along” establishment Republican mold. Like Dewhurst, I doubt Leppert would be notably more conservative as a senator than the departing Kay Baily Hutchison. That’s not good enough.

    But even if he were a “secret conservative” all these years, why would I prefer him to someone like Ted Cruz who’s never been afraid to proclaim and defend conservative principles throughout the entirety of his career?

    So that takes care of all the major candidates besides Cruz. But there’s still one candidate we haven’t covered. If I weren’t voting for Cruz, I would probably cast my vote for Glenn Addison.

    Though a relative unknown, Addison has probably worked harder than any other candidate on the campaign trail, he’s well-spoken with a certain folksy charm, and he’s run a serious campaign in every aspect except funding. With his energy and effort, he could easily be a successful candidate in a down-ballot race.

    Addison has staked out strong conservative positions on just about every issue, but there are a few I disagree with. I oppose his desire to sanction China for currency manipulation (protectionism is still loser economics). His evidently friendliness with the John Birch Society (there’s a reason William F. Buckley, Jr. felt compelled to cast them out of the respectable ranks of the conservative movement) is not a plus. And the few areas that I do prefer his policies over Cruz (eliminating the EPA and the Departments of Education and Energy, for example) are ones which have absolutely no chance of being passed in the near future. Which doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be pushed for…

    If Ted Cruz were not in the race, I would vote for Addison knowing that he would probably be creamed by Dewhurst.

    Fortunately, Ted Cruz is in the race.

    Early on there was debate whether Cruz or Michael Williams was the best Tea Party candidate for the seat. Cruz won that “Tea Party Primary” so decisively that Williams dropped out. Not only is Cruz the unquestioned Tea Party representative, he is the one with the broadest and deepest conservative background. While the phrase “Ivy League Trial Lawyer” is technically accurate, you don’t specialize in 9th and 10th Amendment studies because you want to be rich, and you don’t work at the Texas Public Policy Foundation if you want moderate Republicans to consider you one of their own. Cruz is not only exceptionally sharp, an excellent debater and a gifted public speaker, he’s also a classic fusionist candidate with both strong free market and social conservative credentials, and fits the definition of the rightmost electable candidate in the race.

    Don’t buy the MSM consensus wisdom that Dewhurst is invulnerable because he’s rich. There are lots of “unbeatable” politicians who have been knocked off by lesser-known challengers. Ed Koch was a shoe-in for Governor of New York until he ran into Mario Cuomo. Charlie Crist was going to mop the floor with Marco Rubio until he didn’t. George H. W. Bush looked invulnerable heading into 1992. Despite Dewhurst’s numerous advantages, he hasn’t been able to poll above 50% and Cruz has been steadily eating into his lead. I’ve had relatives who aren’t nearly as politically aware as I express unbidden how impressed they are with Cruz. The grassroots excitement about Cruz is not only palpable here in Texas, but among conservative and Tea Party organizations across the country, with conservative senate stalwarts like Jim DeMint and Rand Paul eager to help Cruz join their ranks.

    I believe Ted Cruz is far and away the best best candidate in the race, and I urge all my Texas readers to cast their votes for him as the next United States Senator from Texas in the Republican primary.

    Texas Senate Race Update for April 26. 2012

    Thursday, April 26th, 2012

    We’re a little more than a month out from the elections, and the rhetorical blows are already raining down among the candidates:

  • The Dewhurst campaign doubles down on the Communist Chinese attack:

    The Dewhurst campaign also says the longer piece will be available to watch on Hulu “in exchange for viewing an entire program on Hulu without commercials.” I must admit that the idea of using hulu in this way for a political campaign never occurred to me. We’ll see if it’s cost effective…

  • The Cruz campaign hit Dewhurst for working with liberals to kill conservative legislation in the Texas Senate, the wage tax/income tax, his moderate tendencies, and for raising money from PACs that have supported liberal causes like ObamaCare and Cap-and-Trade.
  • Cruz gets profiled by the liberal Texas Observer. Though it covers everything you would expect it to cover, it’s actually a lot less of a hit piece than I expected it to be. And I didn’t know that Cruz was a pallbearer at William Rehnquist’s funeral. However, I think there’s one factual error (albeit one I’m sure the Cruz campaign won’t go out of their way top correct): As far as I know, Cruz has not been endorsed by Sen. Marco Rubio.
  • Tom Leppert calls his opponents “empty suits”:

    Craig James has to feel pleased that Leppert feels he’s worth of being attacked.

  • The Dewhurst campaign took time out of their busy Cruz-attack schedule to swat Leppert over the ad: “‘Tom Leppert is probably just using the same kind of creative math that got him into trouble when he raised property taxes and ran up Dallas debt,’ said Dewhurst spokesman Enrique Marquez.” Ouch!
  • Leppert picked up a passel of religious conservative endorsements.
  • Leppert appeared on KFYO in Lubbock.
  • Leppert will be visiting San Angelo on Friday.
  • Some behind the scenes tidbits on the Houston Chronicle‘s editorial board interviews with Cruz and Leppert. While it’s not the huge negative an endorsement by the Austin American-Statesman is, I’m not sure the Chron‘s endorsement is a net plus for a Republican candidate these days. (20 years ago it was.)
  • Craig James raised just over $1 million, but three-quarters of that was his own money.
  • The ground war has already started, as I got my first Cruz direct mail flyer yesterday.
  • A look at the air war. Interesting how Peggy Fikac calls Jim DeMint an “arch-conservative.” I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that she’s never labeled anyone an “arch-liberal” in print.
  • Trial lawyer and withdrawn democratic candidate Jason Gibson raised $25,980 between December 19 and when he dropped out February 2. I say “raised,” but every single donation he received was from himself…
  • Lela Pittenger raised $10,976 in Q1.
  • No Q1 FEC report up yet for Sean Hubbard or Addie D. Allen.